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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

NYC October 2011 Day 1



I used to go to New York quite a bit in my younger years but it has been at least 20 years since my last visit and Shack had never been. We have kind of entertained the idea of going from time to time but we always ended up going somewhere else. We almost went last summer on our road trip to Newport but decided on Boston instead and then last Xmas, it was on the short list but New Orleans won out. This seemed like the perfect time to go. The fall weather is remarkable right now- New York can be really stinky and humid and terrible in the summer. The kid is old enough to leave home in the care of The Neighbours so we could actually go on our own which is something we have not done in the 12 1/2 years he has been in our possession and seeing that I barely saw Shack all summer due to his crazy work schedule, we jumped at the chance to get away.

You don't know Shack but if you did you would understand that driving was the only acceptable way to get there. The car to Shack is what the puck is to Wayne Gretzgy and there is no such thing as a drive that is too far, too long or too mundane for this man. We both really love those 8 or 9 hours to sit side by side, top down, hair blowing in the wind like a starlet, talking when we feel like talking, listening to Tina Fey read Bossy Pants when we don't. It was an awesome drive through the hills of Upstate New York and Pennsylvania. My only regret is the fact that I did NOT photograph the gas station ball park franks that came with a big, steaming vat of complimentary meat sauce! We did not partake but we watched in awe as local after local grabbed a dog out of the jar where they were stacked vertically like combs in a barber shop and covered with complimentary meat sauce until you could no longer tell there was a hot dog under there. I wisely stuck to my usual road fare of nacho cheese Doritos and Werthers.




As we were getting ready to go on the George Washington bridge to Manhattan, I mused that it was too bad that I didn't download New York New York to play while we cross and I had barely gotten the words out of my mouth when, out of the speakers, blasted Frank warbling that he was going to make a brand new start of it! Shack had beat me to it.

We stayed at the Millennium Hilton which is a very nice hotel although for a Hilton in the financial district to NOT have wi fi available anywhere but the lobby is kind of nutty, no? That was overlooked once we got into our room and saw this incredible view. We were on the 34th floor and looking directly down on to the World Trade Centre site. It was a little loud during the day but to be honest, it was just a bit of white noise, we were not really there during the day much at all and there isn't one spot in New York that is NOT loud all the time, so we didn't care at all.

Magic meat and cheeses of Little Italy


We got in around 3pm, ensured that the valet was going to guard Shack's penis mobile with his life, dropped off our bags in the room and promptly left to start to walk uptown. Even though Shack has never been there, he is also a bit of a human compass thank god, so the combination of me knowing where the different neighbourhoods are, more or less and him steering us in the right direction, we made it to canal street to check out Chinatown and Little Italy. We walked down Mulberry St as I am frantically checking Chowhound to see if any of these touristy looking restaurants are decent when Shack announces "let's go here" and sits down at an outdoor table at Il Fornaio. We ordered an antipasto plate, some meatballs and a really tasty bottle of chianti. It might not have been the very best antipasto I have ever had but it was really good and, more importantly, it was our first meal in New York and that made it perfect. The meatballs were actually quite delicious with a great, soft, meaty texture in a good, solid tomato sauce. The chianti went down very smoothly and I would happily go back to eat here, touristy area or not.



While we were paying our bill, this green 1975 cadillac comes screaming up mulberry, which is a very narrow street, blasting Frank Sinatra with a very dapper old gentleman with what appears to be a nice blow out at the wheel. We stand up and watch him turn right and Shack insists on going to the corner to see where he is off to. When we get to the corner, he is about to back into a parking spot in front of Florio's at Grand and Mulberry (more about that place later). A waiter runs out and starts making people move their cars so that Mr Cadillac can fit his car in. All the while the Frank is blasting from his car, he parks, gets out and says to the waiter "It was the fucking altahnaytah, fogeddaboudit, the fucking altahnaytah!"
This guy looked like he stepped straight out of a Soprano's casting call and Shack was in love. I knew that at some point we would be back.


It was lovely to sit in the window of the John Dory and watch all of the evening hubbub 
After that we went down into the subway, bought our 7 day metro cards and took the subway uptown to Herald Square and poked around up there. We were thinking of going up the Empire State building but there was a huge line up so we skipped it and started walking down 5th avenue. I had a list of places I wanted to try to find and we happened to walk by The John Dory Oyster Bar  and we were very happy to see that they had a couple of spots at the bar, looking out the window. It was cramped but we were exited to have some of the delicious oysters everyone was eating. Unfortunately, we waited almost 25 minutes before we could even flag down a waitress to take our drink order. She recommended the Brooklynite (angostura, lime, honey, anejo rum)  and Shack ordered an IPA and although they were both delicious, we waited another 20 minutes or so for those to come so by that time, we had been there close to an hour and Shack was too irritated to eat anything there. We finished our drinks and left, oysters untasted unfortunately, in search of better service. We stumbled upon Eataly, the Italian food emporium owned by Mario Batalia and Shack's favourite tv chef, Lydia Bastianich. We walked around and looked at all of the beautiful italian oils, and vinegars, condiments, pastas etc. There were counters brimming with fresh seafood and meat and cheese, restaurants serving such delicious looking food that we kind of got too overwhelmed to choose one and we left without eating one thing.



Luckily, a couple blocks down we stumbled upon the Eat at Mad Sq Pk event that was running until the end of October. Coming from a city that doesn't allow food trucks that sell anything other than hotdogs and hamburgers, we were beyond thrilled. We got a delicious clam chowder from Red Hook and when we saw the Calexico truck, I realized that I had been following them on twitter hoping to find them and there they were, right in front of us! We had a beer, a trio of delicious meaty tacos and I had some sort of bean thing with guacamole. We were in heaven and if we could have eaten more, we would have but we were full and wanted to keep walking.







Sigmund's Spices and Tease

Fabulous Clam Chowder was had from Red Hook

I would give my left arm to have trucks like this in T.O.

Yum






We meandered through the city, heading south until we finally reached our hotel, happy with full bellies and anxious to get this sleep thing over with so we could start all over again the next morning.