Last week we celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary in the Big Apple and it was lovely. We drove to Buffalo Tuesday morning and caught a very inexpensive flight to JFK ($270 Can for the two of us). The weather was amazing mid to high 20°C (which was a bit warm). We arrived on Tuesday May 19 (which is our anniversary) around noonish and found a great Mexican restaurant for lunch – Cafe Frida (Photo from their website). They made the most excellent guacamole and home made chips. I had the Mexican Chicken soup and JT had soft torillas with pulled pork (or maybe chicken!). Both were amazing.
Our apartment was on the upper west side (on 81st between Amerstdam and Broadway) and it was actually someone’s apartment who rents it out when they are traveling. It was really strange because they didn’t even move their personal belongings out of the way. When we mentioned it to our friends Marla and Claude (Marla is a New Yorker) they said that it was quite normal). The actual place could have been nicer, but the bed was a king and very comfortable (brand new apparently), and it was clean. It was nice to be in a more residential area, but we did discover that everything we did was downtown, so we’ll not be coming back!
200 West 81st Apartment
We did quite a bit of walking around town after lunch, wasting time to get back to the apartment so the cleaners would be done!
Our anniversary evening JT booked Jazz at Lincoln Center where we enjoyed Bill Charlap Trio with Peter Washington and Kenny Washington. The music was OK (the last time we were here with Geo, the group was a bit more upbeat). We had Sizzling Artichke and Spinach Dip with Crisp Pita Chips (baked not fried!) and the Artisnal Cheese Plate (which was disappointing, since there were only two types of cheese on it).
After dinner we went back to our hood and had some drinks at McAleer’s “Irish” Pub (it was more of a sports bar than Irish Pub – but the drinks were good).
The upper west side is a the cool residential side of NYC (upper east side is the hoydy-toydy side with the splendid brownstones and the upper crust). Young families live in the upper west side so there are lots of cool restaurants and shops. The one shop in particular we stumbled upon (mainly because JT noticed that our apartment had some olive oil in the shops brand – no we didn’t try it, ick!) Zabar’s is a gourmet cheese shop, grocery store and kitchen store all in one. They stock almost everything from really expensive espresso makers to copper pots from France – and the food selection was amazing! I would recommend a trip to this shop if in NYC. We bought breakfast goodies on Thursday to have in the park!
On Wednesday morning we went for breakfast at JK and Sons, a local diner (poached egg on toast), and then we ventured up to Central Park to rent bicycles. We rented for 3 hours (which turned into about 3 laps around the park and a wicked sunburn!) The park was PACKED – doesn’t anyone work?
Biking in Central Park
Lake in Central Park
We returned the bikes and walked up to Rue 57 a French restaurant we discovered once a few years ago with Paul and T. I had a warm mushroom salad with shaved parmesan and JT had the Tuna Nicoise Salad (which was enough to feed about 3 people!!!). It was hussle and bussle loud, New York French! We continued to walk around the town (boy it was hot!). We found Jim Lahey’s Sullivan Street Bakery (we bought a small bread for breakfast in Central Park) – Jim Lahey is famous for his no knead bread!
Sullivan Street Bakery
Wednesday evening was our night at Susur Lee’s new restaurant Shang. The restaurant is lovely. Our waitress was a woman from Toronto, who grew up in the same neighbourhood as JT and I. She recommended 3-5 courses which are sharing courses. We had 4 but could have done with 3 – they weren’t huge portions, but enough for two! The chef decides what order to bring out the food. We first had the Singapore Slaw with Salted Plum Dressing (delicious! of course, I will say that about the entire meal). Then shortly after, our waitress brought out the Lobster Lettuce Wrap with Lemon Balm, Shallot, Chili Lime Juice – which was fantastic, unbelievably delicious! The third course was the Fresh Ground Coconut Curry, Cauliflower, Lentils, Potato, and Stewed Fruits – really reall rich, but very tastey. And last but not least we had the Caramelized Wild Sablefish, Mustard Green Relish, Miso Mustard and Salmon Caviar which was the weakest of all the four, and frankly could have done without. Tastey but not as tastey as the others. No room for dessert. Highly recommend this place.
Thursday was shopping day and after our bread and cheese breakfast in Central Park, we split up. JT went to a custom packaging show in the morning and I shopped and shopped. First stop was Daffy’s at Broadway and 57th, then a quick subway ride down to another Daffy’s at Madison and 44th, then off to meet up with JT at Filene’s Basement (which is in chapter 11, sadly) at Union Square. I also hit DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse in the same place). Lunch was a salad from a grocery store nearby and JT had Sushi at Union Square Park (we had a hard time finding a seat, it was so crowded). After lunch and an iced coffee at Starbucks, we headed down to Century 21 (no trip to NYC would be complete without a trip to Century 21!). It was exhausting, and sadly, not so fruitful! We’ll have to go back to finish off! JT spent some time taking in some sites.
Former World Trade Centre
We subwayed back to the apartment just in time to get ready for dinner with Claude and Marla at Balthazar’s (JT knows Claude from business and he now lives on Long Island with his wife Marla).
Dinner at Balthazar’s consisted of garlic butter escargo and steak tartar (for me) and JT had the creamed avocado soup and Fresh Tuna Nicoise. It was an experience; it is a very French restaurant – all the wait staff spoke English and French! We stopped off for a nightcap at a local Italian Restaurant.
Thursday Night Nightcap
Friday morning was breakfast at McDonalds – egg mc muffins (Balthazar’s was very expensive – over $200US for the two of us!) so we wanted cheap! A quick ride on the subway (yes, you guessed it, downtown) we went to a new find (thanks to Marla) called Loehmann’s. Loehmann’s is a much more civilized version of Century 21, really good bargains too. Did a bit of shopping but not much. We had to check out at noon because the apartment was booked for the next people, so we taxied it to JFK airport. All taxies seem to have little TVs:
We ate lunch at JFK at Deep Blue Sushi not bad for an airport restaurant! We shared a Pad Thai and wine, of course!
The drive back to Toronto was relatively uneventful, with the exception that we were stuck at the boarder for an hour – just volume, it was the American’s Memorial Day long weekend! Oh, we got 2 1.14 litres of Smirnoff Tripple Distilled Vodka for $25 – the deal of the century!
I am dieting for 2 weeks, no booze – period.
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