Road Trip: NYC Part 1

My recent trip to New York was for work purposes, but I was lucky enough to take an extra day for being a tourist, and since the work that I have to do on this trip only requires my attention from 9-5 or so, I get the evenings to explore. Because the city never sleeps it is easy to find a lot to do outside of business hours. I also bring along a friend, which is great, because it is someone to adventure with!

I think I really fell in love with New York this trip. It is actually my fourth time in NYC, and the first time I really felt 100% comfortable and like I had my bearings about where I was all the time, and what direction I was pointing. That's a great feeling in a city because you can then just wander and know that eventually you'll find your way home again. I've never found NYC scary, but I've definitely found it disorienting in the past.

We flew Porter Airlines, which I do highly recommend. People think a drawback is that you fly into Newark instead of LaGuardia, but I found the taxi to downtown was the same price either way. If you take the train, I think the cost is the same as well. Newark is much brighter and nicer and significantly less busy. Porter is everything people tell you it is - the staff is friendly, snacks and drinks are included, and they even give you real ceramic or glass cups. You can carry on more stuff, your bags arrive before you get to the carousel, and security is much quicker to pass through. To top it off, the flight attendants wear those cute little pillbox hats, just like in the movies. I guess I shouldn't like that feature as much as I do but it really amused me. Everyone working there appeared to love their job, and that rubs off as well.
When we landed we had to get  to the hotel and then out again to the Javits centre, where the Stationery show was taking place. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the walk from 45th and Madison took us into Hell's Kitchen and through the 9th Avenue Food Festival. The festival closes the street down and various food vendors line up. We had a hard time deciding what to eat - there were so many amazing options like Brazilian, Cajun, Ethiopian, Thai, Turkish - but we ended up at a place with mini brioche sandwiches.

It was a gourmet shop and they were so tiny and cute. It might have been that everything they offered was miniature, but something was irresistible about the booth. We ended up with a variety of mini sandwiches and deep fried chicken fingers with a selection of dips. The brioche I found most memorable had buffalo mozarella, sprouts, chicken, a pesto-like sauce and red onions. Delicious. Of course I had my must-have-while-in-the-US unsweet iced tea. Iced tea is delicious but unsweetened iced tea is my favourite thing in the world. So refreshing, and good for you! I am planning to perfect my own home-brewed version this summer.

 After the day's work was done, we did a little shopping on Madison Avenue. I say 'a little' because we didn't buy anything. I really really wanted a Philipe Starck watch I saw,
but I managed to resist, telling myself there were going to be other things I might want on the trip. Plus, I need a watch like a hole in the head, and I don't really like wearing watches anyhow. I am still thinking about it though. So sleek and stylish!
I woke up thinking about it this morning.

Anyhow, we got changed and headed on foot to the Meatpacking District and took a walk through the Chelsea Market.
The market sits on the border between Chelsea and "MePa" and it reminded me of both the St. Lawrence market and the Distillery District in Toronto but with a dash of mustached-hipster. There was fresh fruits and veg, fish, meat and other delicious market things, and also tiny bakeries and art galleries and event venues. The Chelsea Market is home to the Food Network, but we didn't spot any celebrity chefs.

 As you can imagine, extreme hunger set in and so it was decided that we would have steaks across the street at the Old Homestead Steakhouse, which is 137 years old. Of course we both had steaks, and wine, but we started with the most delicious and garlicy bread I've ever had. It came stacked in tiny slivers like a Jenga game resting in a delicious alfredo-like sauce for dipping. Should we have eaten the entire tower, along with our crabmeat cocktail before the steaks arrived? Unlikely, but I'm glad we did.

Afterward we badly needed to walk off dinner so we hiked back to the hotel, stopping only to sit near the fountain in Bryant Park, in front of the public library, for a short rest (pictured above). Bryant Park was bustling even at almost midnight, and was lit up as bright as midday. The fountain is the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain, dedicated in 1912. This was the city's first public memorial dedicated to a woman. 

The next day we were scheduled to go to Surtex, the art licensing show. On our way we had breakfast in a convenience store. I know this sounds odd (well, I know it sounds odd to Torontonians) but truly, there is no comparison between convenience stores here and in NYC. At first I thought I had stumbled upon something rare - a great hot grilled sandwich place, (including all day breakfast sandwiches) with a salad bar too, that just so happened to also have everything a convenience store had. I thought, it's like a Rabba Mart, but better, fresh cooked and more delicious. But they are beyond better than a Rabba Mart because they also have upstairs seating and hot soups and single serving cereal and things like sliced avacado and blackberries on their salad bar options. As it turns out, these are everywhere. I think there is virtually one on every block, and I've never struggled to find one for longer than 5 minutes walking. It seems this is attributable to New Yorkers being health conscious but I think it also has much to do with the fact that so many workers in Manhattan commute from the outskirts and need to buy breakfast or lunch. I love the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables in this town!

In the next edition, I'll talk about our trip that evening to Brooklyn, our adventures at Fishs Eddy and our final day when we took in Haunted at the Guggenheim.

(pictures mine)

No comments: