Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for May, 2012

New York City is amazing for shopping, shows, people watching and nature walks. Oh, did that surprise you? Earlier during our séjourn Charlie at Hotly Spiced commented and asked what JT does whilst I am shopping — he explores — mainly to find cool spots to show me when we get together. I love that he gets excited about showing me his discoveries. This post will tell you about two new discoveries and one we did last year too. They absolutely knocked my socks off (well, they sure would have had I been wearing socks, but it was just too hot!).

I’ll tell you about the High Line first (or better yet, I’ll let the experts tell you about it) Excerpt from thehighline.com:
“The High Line is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line. Founded in 1999 by community residents, Friends of the High Line fought for the High Line’s preservation and transformation at a time when the historic structure was under the threat of demolition. It is now the non-profit conservancy working with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to make sure the High Line is maintained as an extraordinary public space for all visitors to enjoy. In addition to overseeing maintenance, operations, and public programming for the park, Friends of the High Line works to raise the essential private funds to support more than 90 percent of the park’s annual operating budget, and to advocate for the preservation and transformation of the High Line at the Rail Yards, the third and final section of the historic structure, which runs between West 30th and West 34th Streets.”

Now if you are going to NYC, I strongly suggest a visit to this surprising nature walk. Norma (From Garden to Wok) mentioned it to me when she saw were were going to New York this spring, but fortunately we had already been the year before, so I was able to tell her how excited we were to be able to see it expanded even more!. Splendidly landscaped with a huge variety native plants and trees, this gorgeous raised walkway provides a quiet retreat for a hectic day in a hectic city; New Yorkers alike love to take a break for a picnic, a little reading or even sun bathing (believe it or not). On the Sunday we were in NYC, we did not notice a large number of tourists, just a few; I would guess that the majority of visitors are native New Yorkers.

Every part of the High Line is set up for the enjoyment of the visitor, taking in views, nature and art specifically designed for the High Line. One of my favourite parts is the stage overlooking 10th Avenue. It is equally as cool from the High Line as it is viewing up from the street (we did that last year).

The Theatre of 10th Avenue. Darn, I was really counting on that parking spot.

Everyone loves grass.

I always try to colour coordinate with the art I visit

Cute little gargoyles that for some reason remind me of …

The other surprising escape is a wonderful path along the Hudson River down on the Lower West Side’s famed Financial District. Beginning at Chambers Street, this path goes all the way to Battery Park at the base of Manhattan. The 2.4 km (1.5 miles) walk will entertain you with sculptures, moments to pause and reflect on various memorials and spectacular views of New Jersey across the Hudson River. The New York CIty Police Memorial is a beautiful fountain and engraved wall with Police Officer names who have died in the line of duty; the Irish Hunger Memorial which is is dedicated to raising awareness of the Great Irish Famine during which about a million Irish died (we even spotted wild strawberries on this memorial). There is a bicycle boulevard that spans directly to the New World Trade Centre, it is really awe inspiring.

It’s really heart breaking that there are so many names

The Irish Memorial

Wild strawberries in the middle of NYC for my avid gardening friend Norma

Gorgeous Atrium along the path

Finally a photo of JT.

Boy, someone sure loves taking pics of his wife.

We’ll leave the commentary of these to your imagination

We walked all the way to Battery Park at the base of Manhattan, it was so incredibly hot and sunny (not complaining) we had to stop and pick up some water from a street vendor. I would like to point out that the water in NYC is quite reasonable even in the touristy areas like Battery Park. In Toronto, our vendors seem to enjoy taking advantage of the lowly wonderer and charge sometimes as much as $4 for a bottle of water they bought in bulk at Costco for 10 cents! We continue towards wall street to a very special area…an unexpected surprise…the old part of NYC. We pass by a 400 year old house, Fraunces Tavern est 1762 http://www.frauncestavern.com/. Very cool but they don’t have outdoor space and we want to sit on a patio for lunch so we continue to Stone Street. Basically just one restaurant after another; I highly recommend a visit, even if you don’t eat there. Original cobble stones line the streets, the buildings are old and quaint and they close the street down so that the restaurants can put their patio tables into the street. It’s very festive. We were there early as we had a 3pm plane to catch at Newark, but JT didn’t want me to miss this experience, and boy am I glad he saved some time to share it with me. This is a side of New York that is very unexpected.

This is the plaque for the oldest house in Manhattan

This is the closed off street with cobblestones and tables. It was a VERY sunny day.

We selected a cute little restaurant for lunch, but I’ll save that for another Restaurant Review Post.

Read Full Post »

Start spreading the news. I am leaving today. I want to be a part of it. New York, New York …
20120527-083329.jpg

Photo for Charles, to show that we can see the Empire State Building! It’s behind a condo which makes it look a little weird.
What a day! The weather was INCREDIBLE! Hot, sunny albeit a little humid (oh come on, it wasn’t that bad!)

20120527-051139.jpg
Even though it was an anniversary trip, I like to have a day to myself when I can run amuck in a familiar city (like New York, Paris and Chicago) okay, who am I kidding? I want a day to shop, unburdened by ‘how much time do you need in there’ so JT and I have a quick breakfast and we kiss good bye and split for the day! Woohoo!
Get ready, I’m about to give you my secret low-down. Shhhhhhhh.
I have my game plan in Manhattan, it’s tried and true and has reaped many great finds over the years. I’ve had to modify a bit as we are residing in a different part of town this trip. Truth be known, I love this neck of the woods!
Stop #1 is Century 21 downtown in the financial district. I get there on the Yellow line using the R train. They have a great shoe department and two floors of designer clothing of various budget levels, but you have to get there early otherwise it’s a total zoo to try things on and pay! I was there about ten minutes after it opened and it was already packed! But the fitting rooms were not bad, no waiting in line! Whew!
I scooted back up north on the same train.
Stop #2 Union Square: DSW, Nordstrom Rack, Strawberry! There used to be a Filene’s Basement but sadly they are all gone now. Moment of silence.
Then I walked the remaining route. 11-3pm. Note to Kristy: I wore flats!
Stop #3: Loehmans. Similar to TJ Zmax and Marshall’s, but one level up.
Stop #4: Chelsea Market, mainly for the Bowery Kitchen Supply Store I bought a chocolate chipper fork and a tube for plating stacked courses! I sat down for 10 minutes had a quick bite of sashimi at The Lobster Place and a little limone Gelato from Buon Italiay a real treat for me!!

20120527-070612.jpg
A Ruthys Cakes in Chelsea Market

20120527-071039.jpg
Beautiful Barbie Cake

20120528-041146.jpg
Cool lanterns at the Chelsea Market
Stop #5: TJ Maxx and Marshall’s around 17th and 6th. It’s around 3pm by the time I hit those two places and they were packed (did no one leave Manhattan for Memorial Day?). I spec out a few things but won’t wait the hour+ to buy them! Time to call it quits and I plan to head back the next morning.
The next day I went up to JCP, Daffy’s and Macy’s at 6th and 34th. I reach Macy’s after 4 and its a total zoo. Conspicuous consumption at its best. The variety and selection are absolutely overwhelming; like going to Ikea or Costco without a list! I am a dear in headlights! Why did I come here? The ladies shoe department is on the fourth and fifth floors! Two? I might think I’m in heaven. Well, not really. It’s a MESS! So many people you’d think they were giving them away for free. Shoes EVERYWHERE strewn on the floor. It’s so sad. I can’t even be bothered to search for my size. The selection is overwhelming. I think Macy’s best be done from 10-10:30 right when it opens. I leave empty handed :(.
Overall a good shopping trip. Next time I will plan to do it only from opening to noon over two days. I just don’t do crowds well anymore!

Read Full Post »

20120527-043014.jpg

That’s my Angelina pose!
The day turned out to have perfect weather, so JTs first pick for dinner the Riverpark was wonderful. Situated in Manhattan’s Kips Bay neighborhood, Riverpark is a Tom Colicchio restaurant (Top Chef Judge);
this restaurant is in an unlikely location of the main floor of an office building overlooking the Hudson river. We arrived on time and they seat us at a lovely window-side table (talk about lucking out!). Here is a gorgeous photo, mine was burnt out.

20120527-042123.jpg
It’s designed beautifully with attention to detail but not overwhelming so that the view can be the star.

20120527-043329.jpg
The ceiling over the large bar has lights like stars in the sky!
The restaurant gets most, if not all of its produce from its own ‘farm‘ amidst the sky scrapers in Alexandria Centre. Cool eh?
We start with half a dozen East Coast Oysters from Maine ($15); the waiter said the were briny, but they are not briny enough for my taste (I like to taste the ocean, my fav’s are Prince Edward Island oysters). I had the Salmon Tartare ($15) which was roughly chopped salmon seasoned very simply with capers, lemon and parsley, so delicious! JT had Baby Lettuces ($11) with marinated vegetables and herbs and a champagne vinaigrette.
Keeping with the smaller portions I had another appetizer of the Grilled Calamari Salad ($17) with farm baby greens, grapefruit and a Niçoisse olive vinaigrette – it was perfect! JT had the Smoked Ricotta Gnocchi with peas, long peppercorn, morels and pecorrino
which were tender with a hint of smoke in a very delicious broth-based sauce. A pleasant surprise to the traditional cream laden sauces (he too had the smaller plate ($17).
Our waiter was attentive but not in your face, he was knowledgeable about the food and wine, and when he didn’t know, he wasn’t afraid to ask. For the quality and ambiance, I did not find this place expensive.
Overall rating of Riverpark (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 3.5:5, food 4.5/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 4/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet). We paid for our meal in full.

Read Full Post »

The weather has been incredible and day one in the Big Apple was no different. When we landed it was a teeny tiny bit overcast and cool, but that’s great walking weather (and like Kelly’s family last week, we walked and walked and walked), so we were thrilled! Our amazing hotel, Eventi is located in Chelsea so JT selected a restaurant only about 12 blocks away. We always choose Mexican for our first lunch and NYC has a handful of exceptional restaurants and Crema will probably be our new flavourite! It has more contemporary décor with a touch of Mexican! It’s nice and cool inside even though the door is is wide open, it’s hot and humid outside and there is an open kitchen. We’re very glad because during our walk the sun came out blazing and I was really sweating (like the Eastern European that I am!).
We are seated and served immediately without reservations. The server described our food with detail and passion when he served us.
I had the Ceviche de ($14) which was
African Octopus marinated in orange citrus vinaigrette, avocado, cilantro and garnished with four flour tostadas with avocado mousse in a Mille Feuille presentation. It had black sea salt speckled on it (gotta get me some). Incredible! Beautifully presented and so incredibly tasty!

20120526-073132.jpg
JT had Flautas en Trilogia de Salsas ($12) it was crispy corn tortillas with shredded chicken, corn, caramelized onions and served with a trio of salsas: tomatillo-avocado, chili aioli paste, and a velvety pinto bean. Very tasty, and beautifully presented.

20120526-073243.jpg
We may even break our cardinal rule and come here again on this trip!

Overall rating of Crema (in my opinion): Decor 3/5, service 3.5:5, food 4.5/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 4/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet). We paid for our meal in full.

Read Full Post »

We flew off to NYC this fine morning. Toronto is hot and humid, Manhattan is slightly cooler but with higher humidity. As long as it’s not cold, I’ll be ok, I think I packed enough ;)! Okay, don’t ask!
I’d like to apologize if I’m not commenting on your lovely blogs, I will surely catch up on my return. Please forgive me 🙂
We flew United and had to pay $28 per checked bag! Really? Since when? We don’t pay with Canadian airlines. I’m already rethinking my wardrobe for Europe, although we are flying Air Canada! I’m sure they will catch on by the fall. For Manhattan I brought 6 pairs of shoes, 7 if you count the foldy/rolly ones!
We arrived at the airport with plenty of time, and thank goodness as we were ‘flagged’ by Nexus. We had to go to a special room and drop off our credentials and wait. JT has a common name and we were tagged! Lucky us. 😦 This has happened before and we discovered that there are a lot of criminals who have the same name as JT. Our kind US agent marked our info on their system so we are never tagged again, at least that is what he told us. We’ll see if the let us back in!
Our plane was a small Boeing turbo prop, at gate 91 out of 99; of course it was! I wore appropriate traveling shoes so the walk was a breeze (7 minutes, the sign said!)

20120525-182359.jpg
The first part of the flight was rough and we were tossed around like a plastic bag in the wind. Then it calmed fortunately. I’m reading 50 Shades of Grey on the iPad, for all the reasons. It’s an easy read; I’m on page 70, when do we get to the good parts? (and by that, the ladies will know what I mean!)
We pay $57 + 17 for tolls for a cab into Manhattan from Newark. Expensive, yes but it gets us to our hotel in about 40 minutes!
Our hotel is the Eventi, a Kimpton. Thank you Karen, Back Road Journal, for mentioning about joining loyalty programs. We were upgraded to a higher floor AND the concierge sent up fruit and bottle if wine for our anniversary!

20120525-183659.jpg
Free WIFI too! So great. View from our room, if you look far left you’ll see the Empire State Building (not in the photo):

20120525-182817.jpg
I’ll blog about lunch tomorrow.

Read Full Post »

I wrote this post from the cottage, sitting on my porch with this view! We had the most incredible weekend weather wise; high twenties Celsius and virtually cloud free.
20120520-112655.jpg

Saturday was our wedding anniversary and as a real treat we went to Scaramouche. Scaramouche is one of Toronto’s top rated restaurants and being so, we generally reserve it for really special occasions. It’s been around for about 30 years, situated in an unlikely location in the basement of an old apartment building. But what makes this place special is that although it is in the basement, the entire back side facing south is open with large windows offering up incredible views of the city skyline.
We had 7:30 reservations and the place was already packed with the wealthy silver-haired bunch finishing off; we were shown to a wonderful table directly beside a window and a great view. Our waiter, Andrew has been working there for 23 years, we have had him serve us before, and he seems to remember us. Andrew is an charming character and given the opportunity will offer up interesting tales in a soliloquy-like delivery; he is rather dramatic! Sadly he was not as dramatic on this evening, or he was busy, but there were no tales.
We began with a martini, I with my vodka martini, very dry without an olive nor a twist, and JT with a gin martini, with two olives. The olives are strange looking, kinda bluish green, Andrew told us the name but I already had a sip or two of the martini, so I cannot recall!
We placed our order and Andrew paces us very nicely. I’m still watching my portions do I order two appetizers, JT eats like a normal person. Although it is a fancy place and quite expensive, I do find the portions are rather generous (it’s usually the opposite, high price, tiny portion). Andrew starts us with a wonderful amuse bouche, a little mushroom mousse, which did its job very well and had us salivating like Pavlov’s dogs at the sound of a bell! Not surprisingly I order the Yellow Fin Tuna ($20) sashimi grade tuna tartare seasoned with lime, ginger, soy, coriander, shiso, caramelized daikon, soy and sweet chili sauce as my first course; the Asian flavours hit my taste buds perfectly. I would guess there was close to 100g of tuna on the plate, very very tasty. JT ordered the Three Goat Cheeses ($19) made of fresh Monforte, St. Maure, Bûche de chèvre with beets, walnuts, lentils and a mushroom crostini, with pesto and a Moscatel vinegar reduction. He said it was good but not over the top.
Our second courses were Spicy Steak Tartare ($18) hand-cut filet mignon with garlic crostini garnished with watercress. It was about 70g of meat and a little too saucy in my opinion (like mayo). The flavours were good, just too creamy; JT had Lamb ($46) roasted rack, slow cooked shoulder with eggplant, black olive, artichoke preserved lemon and pine nut and a salsa verde. He said it was good but again not over the top and for forty six dollars you expect OTT!
We finished our dinner with a cappuccino which was OK, definitely not the best coffee I’ve ever had.
Although the dinner was good, it wasn’t the level I’d expect for a $200 meal; everything was fine, it just didn’t meet our lofty expectations set by our previous dining experiences at this place.

Overall rating of Scaramouche (in my opinion): Decor 2/5 (except for the view which is 5/5), service 2/5, food 3.5/5, Value 2/5, Noise: 4/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet). A note about this rating: we valued it to expectations garnered by the expensive cost and high level of this restaurant. We paid for our meal in full.

Read Full Post »

Saturday was our 26th wedding anniversary; what’s even scarier is the other number, the number of years together! I won’t even bother to say it, you wouldn’t believe me anyway! I’m really not that old, really. No really!!!!
This past weekend was also very special because it was Canada’s first ‘summer’ long weekend: the May ‘2-4’, also known as Queen Victoria’s birthday; it is a national holiday in Canada (I don’t think it even ranks in the UK!) it is the first weekend of cottage season for most and JT and I are fortunate to be in this crowd. The drive up north could be treacherous, the normal 3.5 hours could take in excess of 4 or 5 hours with the traffic, but we planned to leave early on Saturday so we beat it.
Our cottage is remote; it was remote in the late 1800’s when JT’s grandfather purchased the land (it took him three days to get there using three forms of transport: train, horse and buggy and finally a row boat), and it’s still remote; no fancy grocery stores, one has to plan everything — everything. There are three family cottages on the land (100+ acres); JT’s sister, known as Sid (because her iPhone always auto corrects ‘Sis’), used to occupy the old log cabin, they renovated about 20 years ago but they prefer something less rustic than the electric toilet (don’t ask) as they are now using the main cottage that used to be JT’s parents place (Dad is just too frail to come up). We use the boathouse, a small 400 square foot place, two bedrooms. It’s small enough to clean top to toe in an hour and it’s large enough to have our closest friends over. But the absolute best (the best Jerry, the Best) part is the porch—it’s right on the water, we overlook the Bay and it’s perfect.
Part of the menu planning is having little munches for cocktails, and I couldn’t help but want to make my friend Charles’ (Five Euro Food) and Jessica’s (kitchenbelleicious) Roasted Chick Peas and of course, my friend Barb’s (Profiteroles and Ponytails’ version), and there was also Betsy (Bits and Breadcrumbs who also did a take on them! Absolutely wonderful, although because we did not use the allotted oil, we had to roast a wee bit longer, but well worth it. I really liked the texture, JT was so so! I may have lied, I didn’t make them! JT made them whilst I was at the salon getting my roots hair done! We had them for cocktails on Sunday night. Very tasty indeed. Plus they are a protein and we reduced the oil a bit to limit the fat. Still calories but at least they are good calories! Because they are a protein, they will fill you up a lot faster than potato chips, which is fine by me! I changed up the flavouring since Sid doesn’t eat too hot foods (also added a touch of sugar to help calm the heat)

Crunchy and just slightly hot, perfect with that martini. May I get you one?

Roasted Garlic Cumin Chick Peas

Ingredients:

  • 1 large can of Chick Peas (~500g)
  • A quick spray of non stick spray
  • 2-3 tsps Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • A handful of garlic cloves, minced finely

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Add all the spices to the drained and dried chick peas. Mix well.
  3. Give the pan a good spray and lay the chick peas out to an even layer.
  4. As Charles so eloquently put it: roast for about an hour until the peas are shrunken and crispy, and a rich golden brown in colour. We found that because we did not add the oil, we had to roast for about 1.5 hours to get them crispy. And we even let them sit in the oven as the oven cooled down (tasting throughout, of course, the insides had to crisp up)
  5. Allow to cool and enjoy with your flavourite cocktail (our’s was the traditional Vodka Martini, stirred, not shaken!)
  6. Cheers!

I know you want to just dig in, but it’s so much more civilized with that wonderful wooden scoop!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: