Friday, March 4, 2011

A couple of perfect winter days in New York City

It is the end of February and although it is probably not the most obvious time for a visit to New York City, I am boarding the plane from SFO to Newark for a short vacation in the big Apple. I am staying with a friend on the Upper East Side. After a quick shuttle from Newark to Grand Central and a cab ride to her place, I arrive just after 7PM. Just in time for dinner.

We are meeting up with another friend, who has just moved to NYC and we are ready for a nice girl’s night out. We decide to try to get reservations at David Burke’s Townhouse on 61st and are pleased we are able to make last minute reservations on OpenTable. We are a little early so we have a seat at the bar, order drinks and some appetizers from the bar menu: Lobster rolls and tuna tartare presented in little lollipop like glasses. Just after our appetizers arrive our table is ready. We move into the main dining room and browse the menu. It all looks great and between the 3 of us, we order the Crab cake, Lobster risotto, Burrata mozzarella and as sides the tater tots and Brussels sprouts. When our food arrives we admire the original and creative presentation of our dishes, specially the crab cake, but the grand finale of the night is the dessert: the house famous cheesecake lollipop tree. Although too sweet for my taste, the presentation is stunning; David Burke is definitely living up to his reputation.

                                Crab cake

Cheesecake Lollipop tree

The next morning I wake up to one of those perfect winter days: crisp, cold and clear blue skies. It’s a perfect day to walk around and do some shopping. I take off from 92 second towards Central Park. The Park in its winter coat is magnificent. Looking out over the Jacky O reservoir, frozen and covered in snow I realize how much I love this city, whether it is in spring time with the beautiful spring blossoms, during Christmas with all its festive decorations, or on a cold February morning like today. I walk in the snow covered lanes towards the great lawn and back out past the Met. My eyes are shining, my head is singing “I love this town” as I walk along Madison Avenue in search of a Starbucks. Warmed up and recharged by a latte and a pastry, I hop onto the 6 train, destination NolIta for some retail therapy. I get out on Spring St, and spend a couple of hours happily browsing the little shops on Mulberry, Mott and Elizabeth st. I find an amazing paper store called Kate’s Paperie and a funky store called Pylones, with all kind of fun household design items (a dish brush that is a man, his hair the brush, a cheese grater that is a little ballerina). From Spring Street I walk to Washington Square Park where I sit on a bench for a while listening to a musician play the guitar enjoying the winter sun. I walk back thru the Village where I catch a train back up town.

That night we have dinner reservations at Le Paris on Lexington, between 92th and 93rd. What a wonderful little neighborhood bistro: small, quaint and with that warm bistro atmosphere and amazing french food. There is a small dining room down stairs and a loft with several tables upstairs. I am glad we have a table upstairs, overlooking the dining room and bar downstairs.

Our table upstairs

I have the Steak tartare with frites, my friend the moules frites. Our food is excellent and we share the profiteroles for dessert. It is so good that we are tempted to lick the plate.

Rain is lashing against the windows on Friday morning. But it doesn’t impact my mood. I bundle up in my big black coat, scarf and hat and brave the weather to go as planned to the Metropolitan. I stop for breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien on Madison av.

The Met is overwhelming and busy and I only have 2 hours this morning, barely enough to have a glimpse of all the great art so I will have to come back. I dash out again to meet my friend Andrea at her new apartment and to get our nails done. This is NY: manicure in a local nail place $ 9.00. Walking back on Lexington av., I find the perfect purse that I had been looking for for months to replace my beat up red one. There are those days, when you feel things are meant to be and everything just seems to be perfect, this is one of those days and it only gets better.

Tonight I have tickets for Bon Jovi in Madison Square Garden. When I booked this trip, I realized they were playing and managed to get last minute tickets. To see them here, in NYC in MSG, was on my bucket list, but I didn’t think it would happen. Tonight it is….happening, oh it is happening; the perfect concert. No opening act, they start playing just after 8. The concert in Chicago last summer was great, but tonight, tonight is something else. I love the set list, every song. The sound and the crowd is so much better than in San Jose last year; the audience absolutely loves every minute, singing, cheering, clapping, asking for more and now I understand why they love playing here. Madison Square Garden is exploding; this is a party that nobody wants to end, including the band. It ends with Keep the Faith, but they come back for the encore: “Dry County”, “Wanted”, “I love this town” and of course “Prayer”. I am happy, 4 encores, that is rare but still a bit disappointed: no “Always”, no “In these arms”. After “Prayer”, the crowd just keeps cheering and clapping, but normally this is the end. They have played for 2 ½ hours by now. Jon looks back at the band, nods his head and looks at the audience and asks “do you guys want to go home?” the response is deafening…. The answer: “neither do I.” and here we go…..4 more encores: “Always”, “These Days”, “In these Arms” and “Just Older”. I walk back towards Times Square thinking to myself “It can’t get much better than this” as I know I have just experienced a very special performance.

Saturday; my last day already. The rain is gone again and it’s another beautiful sunny winter day. I walk over to my friend Andrea’s apartment on 63rd. The cable car to Brooklyn leaves right outside her apartment and as we both have never done this, we decide it’s a perfect day for it. It’s easy, you just use your metro card and it’s a fun ride; the views of the city are great.

The rest of the day we spent shopping on 5th avenue before returning to Andrea's place to relax for a bit before going for dinner. Dinner is at a restaurant I read about a couple of weeks before and was dying to try: the Fig and the Olive. There are several in Manhattan and we have reservations at the one uptown, on Lexington between 62nd and 63rd. Our table is ready when we walk in and we sit down and order a bottle of white wine while browsing the menu. They bring us freshly backed bread with 3 different types of olive oil, one from Greece, one from Spain and one from Italy; they are all delicious. The restaurant is almost full and there is a nice buzz. For starters we order a selection of the Crostini’s. I like all of them except the one with Bresaolo, goat cheese and black olive, but that is my fault as, although I love olive oil, I don’t like olives. My favorite is the mushroom crostini and I decide I have to try to make this at home for one of my dinner parties. For my main course I decide to order 2 starters instead of a main: the beef Carpaccio and the fig Gorgonzola tartlet. My friends order the shrimp and scallop paella and the lamb skewers. The food is wonderful, none of us is disappointed and I can add another great restaurant to my list.

Some people hate flying, not me.On Saturday morning I received a txt message from United to confirm my upgrade for the next day.  I get to the airport on Sunday morning, looking forward to my flight back to California. And when the captain announces that we have a strong head wind and flying time will be an unusual 6 hours and 20 minutes back to California, I just sit back, sip my mimosa and relax. What can I say, I just love to fly………


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