Welcome to the second part of my New York trip report! This time around, I’m sharing our dinner recommendations and experiences, some other fun things we did around the city, and an account of the lovely evening we shared with Norma of Platanos, Mangoes, and Me and her family. I’ve spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve in New York twice, so it seems fitting to wrap up my summary today. The city is truly magical during the holidays.
While our lunch choices were driven mostly by the research we did through the Cooking Channel programming and website, the evenings were a little more laid back and we focused on Murray Hill finds. My favorite of these, and our last meal in Manhattan, was at Le Parisien, a tiny charming bistro on East 33th St (miles removed from the stretch of loud bars and restaurants in adjacent 3rd Avenue). We started with onion soup and escargot with garlic butter, moved on to steak frites, and finished with a delicious tarte tatin. The menu was typical French fare, but it extremely well executed, the service impeccable and friendly, and the prices more than reasonable for both food and wine. Since it was so small, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation from the two tables to my left. They were people from the neighborhood praising this little gem. We felt so at home, I was a little sad when the waiter/maitre d’ told us he hoped to see us soon.
On the opposite corner of the quiet/intimate spectrum lies Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Eataly. Much has been written about Eataly since it opened on August 2010 – the descriptor that most rung true while walking through the maze of bins, counters and shelves was cavernous. It was also packed with people; the line at the gelato stand reached the cheese stands, strangers shared the piazza standing tables while enjoying wine and appetizers, and close to 9pm there was still a 20 minute wait at Manzo, the most formal of its eateries. We had fun browsing around the different areas while waiting to be seated at the restaurant. Once in, we forgot all about the crowds. Eduardo and I shared an baby arugula salad with pomegranates, Parmesan, pumpkin seeds, and balsamic (large enough, thankfully!). I ordered a duck dish with shiitake mushrooms and polenta, and he had the roast lamb loin with spaghetti squash, chiles and brown butter. Both dishes were delicious. Since the gelato area was closed by the time we finished our meal, we ordered the chocolate crostata – the chocolate filling was silky and delectable. Since the restaurant was dark, I have no salvageable pictures. On a fun note, from our table we could peek into the cooking school area, outfitted with bright orange stand mixers. Eataly is located right in front of Madison Square Park, so if you need a bathroom break while waiting in line at Shake Shack…
It is very difficult to plan a trip to New York and not set aside some time for shopping. One of the highlights from our time walking around SoHo was visiting the Sur La Table outpost on Spring Street. Eduardo and I must have spent an hour browsing, oohing and aaahing over all the gadgets, linens, appliances, and holiday ornaments. I even tweeted from the store – it was so much fun. We bought a couple of gadgets and gifts for friends and tried coffee from the Nespresso display. We even ended up ordering the discounted Pixie model on cyber Monday from their online store (along with some refillable capsules to use with Puerto Rican coffee via Amazon.com).
On the museum front, we made sure to visit the Diego Rivera exhibit over at MoMA. I had seen some of his murals in Mexico City on a childhood trip with my family, but it was interesting to see pieces from his time in New York. MoMA is probably my favorite Manhattan museum. I think I’ve been there at least five times. In addition to MoMA, we went to the Museum of Natural History. I had never been there before! The dinosaur exhibit is every bit as impressive as it appears on movies/tv, as are the displays about the different cultures of the world.
We stopped at the Eugene O’Neill theatre several evenings before 5pm to participate in the raffle for Book of Mormon tickets. Twenty-two lucky persons get selected out of a couple hundred to go into the sold out shows of the Tony winning musical. We were not lucky, but it was fun anyways – the emcees knew how to work the crowd.
On a sobering note, we stopped by the World Trade Center memorial. While the admission is free, tickets need to be reserved in advance for crowd control. The lines and airport-like security measures lead up to the peaceful park where these two massive fountains occupy the space where the Twin Towers were erected. It was every bit as impressive as shown in the anniversary services for this year’s September 11.
Blogging Lagniappe – A Post within a Post
After trying to get together during September, I finally got to meet Norma of Platanos, Mangoes, and Me!
Norma, despite a recent injury, insisted we visited her at her apartment near SoHo where she and her family made us feel right at home. The gorgeous evening skyline picture on top of this post is the view from her place! She received us with homemade chorizo verde, which I had never had before and lamb meatballs. Once on the table, we started with a baby greens salad with pan-seared shrimp, dressed simply with lemon juice. From there, she served us orechiette pasta with clams, sausage, and broccoli rabe that was to die for. The saltiness of the natural clam juice, the slight bitterness of the rabe and the sausages richness melded beautifully.
We wrapped up the meal with this showstopping flan, beautifully decorated with berries. I had never had flan with berries, and loved how the acidity of the fruit cut through the rich baked custard and caramel. I will be stealing this idea soon 😉
More than anything, we enjoyed the lively conversation and knowing that despite some differences, our food, roots, and blogs will keep us connected for a long time. Unfortunately, Norma’s injury was misdiagnosed, and now she taking a break from blogging. Even so, make sure to drop by and say hi! She has some of the best Puerto Rican comfort food recipes and pictures you could ever find online.
After New York, we traveled to Boston for a few days. It might take a little while, but stay tuned for a brief trip review. There will be lobster rolls!