Friday, November 12, 2010

I Heart N.Y.

Submitted by Michelle
It is my last night in the city that never sleeps. Tomorrow I will fly home to the Southern California desert where the sun shines 364 days of the year and the pace is much slower, and though I'll miss the crisp cool weather and the hustle and the bustle of New York, I've got lots of happy memories to keep me going until I have the chance to visit again.

Whenever I am in the city I try to see my high school friend Brenda. Brenda and I re-kindled our friendship about 5 or 6 years ago. We hadn't seen each other since 1985 but a mutual friend put us back in touch and whenever I see her it seems as if no time has passed at all.
me and Brenda circa 2007
One of the many things Brenda and I have in common is our love of food and I can always count on her to pick a great place for us to dine in the city. This trip Brenda suggested Oceana, a seafood restaurant which has been a staple in New York City for over 15 years and has received glowing reviews in the New York Times and earned a Michelin Star. I perused their menu online and was eager to not only visit with Brenda but to eat at such a prestigious restaurant. Little did I know, Brenda is friends with the executive chef, Ben Pollinger, and when I arrived he was at our table chatting with her!
Ben was gracious, warm and quite modest, despite being a rock star of the culinary world. He recommended several dishes to us, invited Brenda to come by for a gnocchi making lesson on a future afternoon, and took a genuine interest in conversing with me. He also sent us several special dishes to sample throughout our meal. It truly was a treat to see my friend and to be treated like a V.I.P.

Another person I was eager to visit with whilst in the city was my niece Rachel! Rachel is a talented photographer and just began studying at the School of Visual Arts this past September. She has transitioned amazingly well from Los Angeles to New York and is taking advantage of all the culture the city has to offer.
Along with special people, there are certain places I like to frequent when in the city and Sabon is one of them. Sabon is a luxury bath and body product shop. Their lotions, soaps, and scrubs are divine and I couldn't resist purchasing their Carrot Body Lotion -- it is amazing.
me and a bevy of soaps
A new place Kathy was eager to introduce me to during my trip was Eataly, Mario Batali's latest venture into the world of Italian cookery. Eataly, in the simplest of terms, is a 50,000 square foot Italian grocery store with individual retail departments offering the best of everything from vegetables to gelato.
The meat department was spectacular, though I was a little grossed out by the pig staring at me.
The cheese section had huge wheels of parmigiano-reggiano waiting to be cut.
There were fish of all kinds...
amazing house baked breads...
and olive oil from every region of Italy.
I could have snapped pictures all day long and still not conveyed the enormity and splendor of Eataly. It really is a place that must be experienced in person.

Along with all the food to purchase, there were also places to eat within Eataly. Kathy and I choose the pizza and pasta department. We started with a simple plate of antipasti.
clockwise from top of plate: grilled zucchini with roasted garlic, grana padana cheese and cured meat, root vegetables dressed in olive oil and basil, and roasted yellow peppers.
I choose a simple pasta of house made fettuccine tossed in olive oil with bits of mushroom and cheese.
I swore I couldn't eat it all, but with the leisurely pace of our lunch and the 2 glasses of prosecco I paired with it, the pasta disappeared before I knew it!
Another Mario Batali dining experience I was treated to this trip was Del Posto.
This picture is horrible, but the only one I could take since one is not allowed to use flash photography inside the restaurant.
Located in the Meat Packing district of NYC, Del Posto offers the ultimate fine dining experience. Patrons are encouraged to eat in courses, and several sampling menus are offered. Me, Kathy and Gabe (her fabulous boyfriend whom I love dearly), choose a 5 course menu that allowed us to pick our appetizer, share 2 pasta courses, and then have our own main course and dessert. The service was spectacular and my favorite course was agnoloti in a lambrusco glassoto. Imagine this, tiny pasta pockets filled with veal, gently tossed in a red wine reduction sauce. Buon appetito!

Other old haunts I visited were Schiller's Liquor Bar on the lower east side of Manhattan, which serves a full menu of comfort food and not just alcohol...
...and Forty Carrots Cafe on the 7th floor of Bloomingdale's Department Store. Kathy and I seem to be drawn to Bloomies when it comes to clothes shopping and we always need a break for sustenance about half way through our day long retail excursion. Everything on the menu is delicious, much of it is organic and most things are low-calorie, which is actually genius since shoppers probably don't want to pig out when trying on clothes. This time around I chose a sampling of 3 sandwiches.
Classic tuna on a pretzel roll, egg salad on a herbed roll, and chicken salad on a plain roll. All were delectable, but that pretzel roll was to die for! We need some of those in California.
I did spend 1 day alone in the city as Kathy had to educate the students of St. John's University. I surprised myself by getting around with ease and was even mistaken as a local and asked for directions! Unfortunately, my cover was immediately blown when I couldn't be of any help, but I was glad to know I don't stick out like a sore thumb. Sadly, I didn't take many pictures that day, but I did manage to get one shot of the main concourse in Grand Central Station.
This trip appears to be all about food and while I suppose that is true, I think the sharing of a meal with people I love and re-connecting after time apart is really what I enjoy about traveling to New York. Food and friendship nourish the soul and on this trip I have been equally satisfied.

1 comment:

Ami, Bob, Jack, and Luke said...

Looks like a great trip, Michelle! Love all the pics and makes me want to head out East! XOXO