Saturday, May 5, 2012

Big Apple Anniversary/Part 2/Food Tour

The first night we arrived in New York we got off the plane starving. Our plans were to try the much raved about, Eataly. This is an ultra sleek and trendy market and home of numerous restaurants (coffee, pizza, gelato, paninis, pasta, wine and cheese, these are all individual places to eat not just what they offer! Choices abound.). It's huge, crowded, and chaotic. We walked in hungry and overwhelmed during the 7:30 dinner rush. Once we got our barrings we put our name on the list (every place had a wait) for the restaurant on the roof. Excellent Italian food and a view of NYC were an appropriate way to start off our anniversary trip. We will certainly be going back to Eataly on our next visit. But this time we will have a plan as to avoid the deer in the headlights experience of this trip.
The next morning we headed out fairly early to the Lower East Side where the Tenement Museum was calling our name. But as we strolled through Little Italy on our way, we could not pass up the chance to grab a bite at Ferrara, a 100 year old Italian cafe. Mark and I each had an Italian pastry and split a savory panini with coffee. I personally don't do well with sweets for breakfast but when in Rome (and when they are this good) why not! Just as a side note, wherever I go I am always aware of how people generally eat in the area. A few locals in the cafe caught my attention by their sweet coffee drinks with whip cream and massive amounts of pastries. I would pass out of a sugar coma if I ate all that with no protein, aspecially at breakfast. I'm curious if this is a daily routine or if they do this every once in a while. You can take the dietitian on vacation but you can take the dietitian part out of vacation. Sorry.
After a late breakfast and a busy day of museums we were not hungry for lunch until about 2:30 or 3. We had made our way to SoHo in search of Housing Works Bookstore when we stumbled upon Back Forty about a block from the bookstore. This is a locavore/farm to table restaurant, not something I expected to find in the middle of an enormous city (there definition of local I'm sure is more than a few miles radius ;). We were quickly enticed to try the appetizer of green chili pork faee nuggets which were bits of pork jowl fried with a green chili sauce served with a pickled red onion. Have you ever had a combination of food that was so well thought out that it brought together flavors in ways you could not have imagined? Mark and I could have ordered platters and platters of these. Instead we moved on to the main course where each of us had a grass-fed burger. And I must say it could have been the best burger of my life.
Day 2 led us WAY uptown to The Cloisters. But before we got to 191st street we stopped in on the Upper West Side and ate breakfast at Vive la crepe! By the 3rd bite Mark wanted to open up a Vive la crepe in our own town! He had fallen deeply in love. Mark had some kind of omelet in his crepe and I had gruyere and ham. Did I mention that these crepes are folded into a cone so you can carry it away and eat on the go? This is a version of fast food I can handle. For dessert Mark and I split a dark chocolate crepe that oozed deep, rich, melted yumminess.
After visiting the Cloisters we made our way back down to Uptown and sought out a place for lunch. Once we noticed we were starving, we simply looked around for a place to eat. One does not need to search far in NYC. There sat Cafe Fiorello with outdoor seating available on a perfect sunny spring day. We split a margarita pizza and each had salads. The food and service were great but the experience was more than that. The temperature was perfect with sunshine but still comfortable in jeans and a 3/4 sleeved shirt. Patrons around us seemed likewise to be having a wonderful day and we all exchanged chatter. Two ladies a table over announced to the rest of us that they had not seen each other in over 20 years and had just run into each other by chance. Another charming couple beside us were from Mexico and in NYC wrapping up a 3 week honeymoon which they spent mostly in Europe. The whole afternoon was nothing less than delightful.
I must note that people everywhere were like what I just described in the previous paragraph. Tourist and locals alike were always very friendly. Mark and I experienced the same thing both trips to NYC. Many times a New Yorker would joke with us Texans about how rude they were. And I would think to myself, "Rude? Here you are talking to a stranger." Don't tell the New Yorkers but their bark is bigger than their bite.  They are a friendly bunch whether they admit it or not.
Saturday we tackled the monstrous Metropolitan Museum of Art. And once again we suddenly noticed we were starving. I knew if we left the museum for lunch I would never get Mark back in. So we dined inside at one their many restaurants. The food was good but not necessarily memorable. But the setting was gorgeous as I ate facing and enormous wall of windows 3 stores high overlooking Central Park.
For our last night in NYC Mark and I chose to eat at our favorite restaurant, Les Halles and celebrate our 10th anniversary. Our waiter greeted us and then noted that he was completely doped up on allergy medicine. I was a bit worried about his server capabilities at this point. But he came though with flying colors and the meal was a hit. Mark secretly asked the waiter if we could move to an outside table for dessert seeing how it was a beautiful night. He obliged gladly assuring us it would not mess up his tip for us to change tables. There we met yet another friendly couple at the table next to us.
Some moments in like are so picturesque you feel like you are in a movie. Most of our trip felt this way. It was great to be together, just the two of us like it was in the beginning 10 years ago.