My Christmas present this year from Craig was a trip to NYC on the train and a weekend just exploring the city! He knows me well. We left the kids in the capable hands of his parents and took off on Friday for the three hour ride into the city. Bumpy. That's all I'll say about that! I also finished reading "Julie & Julia" which did make me cry at the end and now I have to see the movie. Julie lives in NYC (well, a loft in Brooklyn and she works in the city... very appropriate reading for my trip.) We got to our hotel which was a very nice place to stay-- the Hampton in SOHO-- small but very comfortable and at 10 stories up, not so noisy. We had never stayed on the south side of Manhattan so this was a new experience and I wasn't quite sure at first if I'd like it. I think of myself as an uptown girl without the means, nearer to Central Park and the Museums. I ended up falling in love with SOHO and it's edgy, artist vibe. The first thing we did was hop a taxi to go to Moomah which we thought was in Brooklyn. Turns out the cabbie was from Brooklyn and gave us a little tour on the way and didn't charge us for the full fare... who says New Yorkers aren't nice? Well, Moomah ended up being in the Tribeca area, not far from our hotel so we ended up going back to the island and at least got to say we were over the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time!
Moomah was actually better in person than I expected. The light green and blues, the very cool tech woods in the back, the art all over the walls... and the food was excellent! We were the only adults there without a child but it didn't matter. We got their version of a blt... organic turkey, greens, and brie cheese with mayo and whatever else... it was wonderful! So, full from a late lunch/early dinner, we decided to head to midtown and see what was going on.
It doesn't matter what time of year you are in New York City, Times Square is always full of people and activity. We found Juniors Most Fabulous Cheesecake and Desserts and dropped in. We had seen a show about it on the Food Network, but it was not that great in reality. Sort of tourist-y and I just don't like tourist-y type things much anymore. I'm actually an expert at cheesecakes (self-proclaimed) because that was the only dessert I would order for years until I realized that most aren't that good at all and not worth the effort. Chicago makes some of the best, as well as my Oma whose is the absolute best if you could take out the cigarette smoke. She had the dense cakelike cheesecake, the perfect crust and the sour cream top layer. Perfect. I'm praying I have her talent in the kitchen... at least I'm trying!
I had seen billboards for the Broadway Show Wicked and I remembered that a good friend really liked it, so we thought we'd find the theater and try to get tickets. Of course it was sold out but as we were trying to decide what to do next, the theater guy convinced us to stick around for cancellations because he "guaranteed" that we'd get tickets. So we did. And an hour and a half later, with my feet totally killing me because I just HAD to wear my heeled black boots because it was NYC afterall, we actually DID get tickets and so did the couple from PA behind us and a lot more of the line! In fact, they were perfect tickets!! Left of center and in row G on the floor. I couldn't believe it. The show was FABULOUS... I laughed out loud, I cried (the kind of tears that you try to hold back but they just come out anyway... it was just that touching). It is definitely a "must see" if you're in NYC. It is now one of my favorites. That was all we could fit in on Friday before collapsing in bed!
Saturday we slept in since we had no kids or a dog to wake us up, missed the breakfast at the Hampton (thank G*d) and decided to explore SOHO. In a mag from the room, it said that artists were responsible for revitalizing the lofts and warehouse buildings in the area. Then some landlords kicked them out and rented the cool spaces for higher rent to dentists and the like. Looking out our hotel window, we could see people in dentist chairs getting their teeth cleaned. Maybe that mag writer had stayed in our room? hm. New York is a lot dirtier than where I live but there's a certain beauty all of it's own there... the old, antique feel. I always imagine what the places were like when they were first built. There is an abundance of very, very hip stores in SOHO. We HAD to stop in the Toki Doki store and buy t-shirts for the kids. Eileen Fisher, John Masters Organics (too cool... I ordered hair products from him years ago and couldn't believe I was standing in front of his salon which was gorgeous!) and just a whole bunch of other boutiques and art galleries. We found Balthazar restaurant and were able to actually get a table right away for brunch. THIS IS MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN NEW YORK CITY. It is gorgeous inside... very French and very quaint. I don't care if it's an "it" place, I love it and the food is beyond great. We had Eggs Norwegian-- Poached Eggs on Smoked Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce... which is the next thing I will learn how to cook at home! And a salad with asparagus and a cheese which I wish I knew what it was because I loved it. Mimosas and freshly baked bread. Heaven. The only thing missing was that they didn't ask me to stay for good. Because I would have.
After floating out of there on cloud 9, we decided to try to find Eileen's Cheesecake and we did. It was a tiny little place but we decided it WAS the best cheesecake in NYC hands down. By then I had my fill of cheesecake. So after good food, I craved good art. We took a crazy-I might die today-taxi car ride uptown to the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum which is housed in a gorgeous old building and I was in awe of that alone. The show was of all the design winners through the decades... everything from fashion, architecture (they showed U.C.'s DAAP building... my alma mater), Apple Ipods, Nike shoes, landscape design... just about anything very cool that you can imagine and more. We have to bring the kids back to see it. It's only a block north of the Guggenheim. We ended up walking south along Central Park all the way to the end and then took a taxi back to the hotel room to clean up for dinner. That evening we ate at a sushi restaurant in SOHO that one of Craig's friends from work suggested. It was a posh little place that had no real signage so we almost walked by... so NY... you just have to KNOW. It was okay but really no better than my favorite mojo here in Lancaster. We wandered back into the neighborhood and saw some art, then ended up back at Balthazar... my favorite restaurant in the world right now... and sat at the bar this time. I was tired and we couldn't get a table for dessert, so when the bartender asked what I wanted, I just kind of looked at him like "I have no f***ing idea and I don't want to think". My feet hurt because I put those stupid boots on for dinner again. Craig asked him what his favorite drink to make was (as I was rolling my eyes) and he knew just the thing. He made us something only they make called a Water Lily and it was one of the best tasting mixed drinks I've ever had... perfect for me, really. Amazing how this restaurant keeps getting more perfect. It was a combination of Ruby Red Grapefruit, a little bit of lime juice, simple syrup, vodka and very fresh mint leaves. So now I am happy again and we order dessert at the bar... I got creme brulee which if you really know me, you know I love that. That's my new cheesecake.
Sunday morning we took one more walk to a little bakery to get coffee and fresh baked goods before we had to leave. We caught the train home again. We had the perfect weather on Friday and Saturday... sunny and warm for January. Sunday was cold and rainy and fine if you're on a train reading magazines and daydreaming about picking up and moving to a loft in SOHO to become an artist and be a regular at Balthazar. I wonder how much a tiny studio would go for? We thought it would be cool to rent a little place to get away to any time we were in the mood for the city (which I have to say is quite frequently). I wish I could have gone to agnes b. and some other shops but that's something to look forward to next time. And we're taking the kids to see Wicked as soon as we can! Everyone had off work and school on Monday so we caught up with laundry and each other AND I was back in my own kitchen, making steak tacos from a recipe out of Cooks Illustrated which turned out SO good! I made my own pickled red onions which the German girl in me LOVES. Today I baked chocolate cookies which I can't begin to describe how good they are... just suffice it to say that Craig has found his new favorite cookie. I was going to do all kinds of illustrations for this post but I'll have to scan some of the sketches later. I decided not to bring the camera (mistake) so I want to draw everything before I forget it!
So... thanks for reading all of this, if you did, and now I'm late to make dinner tonight!! But it was worth it, wasn't it? ;)