It’s been about a week since we returned from our little getaway to NYC. I am happy to say that I now fully understand all the I (Heart) NY paraphanelia. New York City is brimming with art, and artists, and it’s no wonder so many people love to live there, and love to visit. Being there is inspiring, and because my husband happens to be incredibly romantic (yet anti-cliché…there were no smooching visits to the Empire State building), he planned a few “tastes” for my introduction to this lively city. Here are a few impressions…
The art really began when we arrived at The Surrey, a gem located in the Upper East Side.
Done entirely in black, gray, and white, this boutique hotel was a beautiful combination of classic meets modern. It was the kind of casual elegance I thoroughly enjoy and prefer.
The service on offer includes a mixologist waiting at any hour of day or night (we heard some good stories!) to arrive at your door with drink caddy in tow, filled with fresh herbs, citrus, juices and spirits to get your party started. We made friends with the fire-guy who came to light a fire in our marble place which warmed us after the sunny yet 20 degree F temps.
Cafe Boulud (Chef Daniel Boulud) was the restaurant in residence, from which we ordered room-service for dry-aged sliders and fries at 1 am (upon returning from city adventures) and treats like molten chocolate cakes, goat’s milk sorbetto, and ricotta cheesecake.
Our balcony offered a glimpse of Central Park (5th Avenue) to our left and a not-so-bustling neighborhood to our right, complete with a nice buildingscape directly across the way.
For some favorite food stops, we are grateful to many dear friends for their fantastic recommendations.
Starving from a morning of exploring, we headed for newly-opened Eataly, a food market with restaurants scattered throughout, which originated in Torino, Italy, and has since expanded to several locations in Italy, Japan, and now New York City.
This is a place I could visit, day after day. The offerings are absolutely fresh and the variety was astounding. I counted 8 varieties of clams alone at the fishmongers (sigh). Other things that stood out were the ribeye rack at the meat counter which I have never seen displayed in my life, a $95 two foot tall cheese grater that I coveted but could not possibly justify buying, or visualize passing airport security, and fresh Vermont goats milk in little jugs. Yum.
After some very tough decisions about which little “restaurant” within Eataly to enjoy, we decided on La Piazza, which offers salumi and formaggi. We opted for the salumi misti and some fresh mozzarella with a few wisps of proscuitto di parma. The salumi were fantastic — as if we had been transported straight to the old country.
As if to prove Eataly’s authenticity, three Italian travelers joined us at the bar, and after expressing their disbelief at not being able to order in Italian, communicated with their server by pointing to our selections. If the Italians are ordering what we have for lunch, we must be doing something right. We later ran into them at the gelato stand. At which point they waved and shouted “Ciao!’ with pride on their faces. I believe they felt very much at home. Eataly, arrivederci!
In a similar vein, we fully enjoyed Maialino, one of the hottest new restaurants in New York. Maialino means “suckling pig” in Italian, and as anticipated, it was a specialty. We skipped the more formal dining area for the “bar” area which was bustling and lively on a Friday night.
We began with some salumi and formaggi (can you guess at our weaknesses?), which were wonderful, although we have to give Eataly’s salumi the edge. But the cheese prize goes to Maialino — there were the usual: parmesano, pecorino, mozzerella — but thanks to our knowledgeable server we instead tried three that we had not yet heard of: Basajo, Testun (perhaps the favorite) and Tronchetto.
We shared the 1/8 of the roast suckling pig, which is just recently being offered to guests dining in the bar. Along with a side of roasted wild mushrooms, and some wilted spinach, we really couldn’t ask for much more…except maybe room in our stomachs! Did I mention the Nebbiolo bar? This is a new favorite, for sure.
Prior to taking in the Metropolitan Opera, we dined just around the corner at Jean-Georges, the flagship restaurant of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which I would describe as French cuisine with a decidely Asian influence. The wine pairings were good, but we felt Le Bernardin clearly had the upperhand. We were both pleasantly surprised with our “booth,” which was tucked into the wall, 1950s supper-club style, and provided a full view of the main dining area, completely unnoticed.
Seeing Carmen at the Lincoln Center was an unforgettable experience — from the bewitching notes of the orchestra and the ballet dancers who opened Acts I and III to the final scene, complete with a slain bull and Toreador juxtaposed to slain Carmen and her tormented lover, Don José. Beautiful. I am hungry for more.
The Met. We spent five (very short) hours wandering the halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which took us through the Egyptian collection, the new American Wing and European painting up to the beginning of the 20th century. I found a couple of food-related works quite intriguing, including a gold sieve made by the Egyptians in approximately 2,500 B.C. for straining beer. Proof humankind was clever from the beginning!
Also of note was an oil painting by Italian artist Fede Galizia, a Still Life with Apples and Peaches (oil on wood, 1607). Notice (in the photo below) that the apples aren’t perfectly smooth as we are now acustomed to seeing. Why? I believe that these are a variety of heirloom apples which are now making a comeback (at least in the USA). Very exciting to see a bit of food history here.
Of course, a trip to New York requires a visit to Broadway, so out of curiosity, loyalty to U2 (music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge), and maybe a childhood fantasy (ahem… Dave), we found ourselves at Spiderman Turn Off the Dark. Still in previews, and slated to be there for an unprecedented 16 weeks, this was indeed a spectacle, and Act I was fabulous. To have Spidey soar off the stage and over the audience in pursuit of bad guys was fascinating, and more than a bit startling. However, the “book” and plot have a ways to go, and the jury is still out (way out) on Act II. Our suggestion: add a few numbers and a grand finale to Act I, scrap Act II wholesale, and call it good.
By the hour, we were reminded that in the Big Apple, the sky is the limit when it comes to creating and experiencing art. There is truly something for everyone.