While there never seems to be enough time to actually EAT everything you came for in NY, there is certainly never a lack of exercise burning off what you’ve actually consumed. After a full adventuresome first day, our next was spent sight seeing. From exceptional views atop The Top of The Rock (Rockefeller Center), to the winding mid town streets- we hoofed our way through some of the center of the city’s most famous hot spots. And, of course through some of NY’s most famous shopping spots as well. From Gucci to Zegna, Cole Hahn, Prada and more…the shopping in NY is never a drag.
With an afternoon filled with street-side attractions, and with a pile of shopping bags to show for our ‘time well spent’ – we decided to head over to the lower east side of Central Park for one of the city’s most famous glasses of bubbly. A Champagne Cocktail from the Plaza Hotel. One of my favorite NY things! With windows that look out on to the corner of the park and with zillions of people flocking by- this was second best to nothing. It’s funny how the Plaza rolls, with the dining room always booked for proper tea, and the Oak Room already a buzz with happy hour, the Champagne Bar is one of THE most expensive joints in the city to enjoy a cocktail. With more than 30-40 different bubbles to enjoy, their signature cocktails always seem to be the best. With that, I opted for the house Bellini. Of course a cocktail famed from its original Harry’s Bar in Italy, this rendition is almost as good – very delicious. My husband chose the cucumber mojito – just as tasty! After plates of mini pork sliders and a chicken caesar later, I was convinced to try the famous ‘Sex in the City’ drink equipped with both tequila and cava. Again, yummy even if I did feel a bit ‘girly’ sipping something so PINK.
Truthfully, the weather couldn’t have been any better. With a sunny September day in hand, 85 degrees and not a cloud in the sky – we strolled back to our penthouse suite to make plans for dinner. Dinner…something I looked forward to all day! While there were many places on our list, we both agreed we were both in the mood for Italian. And who better to enjoy it with? Mario Batali. Famed for his classic Italian dishes, we knew we wouldn’t go home hungry after a vist to one of his NY originals, Babbo.
Babbo, an interesting NY restaurant snuggled into Greenwich Village is one that many New Yorkers do not miss. Knowing that our chances of actually eating within the next two hours without a reservation were slim, so we geared up for a lengthy wait at the bar – standing behind plates of delicious food and folks clamoring to sit at the bar. The ‘system’, if you will, at Babbo is really quite interesting. While the main restaurant is by reservation only, the bar area is set up by the front host as a line of folks waiting to eat at either the bar or its six surrounding two tops lining the walls of the entryway. Yet after just one hour of standing bar side weeding our way through the Wines by the 1/4 L’s list, we were seated.
With a list of food almost impossible to choose from, and plates of dreamy traditional Italian classics, we finally decided on a few. Starting first with a primi called ‘Mint Love Letters’, which happened to be an amazing dish of fresh made stuffed mint ravioli and topped with a meaty Lamb Ragu, I thought I had died already and gone to heaven. My husband’s dish, however, is still one that I cannot stop thinking about even this morning for breakfast! Mario’s classic Pasta Bolognese with handmade Pappardelle. Are you kidding me? I can’t stop dreaming of the meaty, earthy, silky notes of both the sauce and the pasta. I could have eaten the whole plate myself! And to top it all off, a fabulously 2001 Riserva Barolo to pair to it.
Moving on to main plates, my husband ordered of one of THE largest Pork Chops I have ever seen, drizzled in 30 yr old balsamic vinegar. My main dish, a plate of perfectly cooked sliced beef tongue, and a side of Mario’s famous Brussels sprouts with house pancetta. OMG is all I have to say about THAT dish! So flippin good and magically cooked. I mean, who cooks pancetta so perfectly? And crisps Brussels Sprouts like that? Mario Batali, that’s who! Our nite couldn’t have been any better with food and wine leaking from every orifice. We were two foodies in heaven, dreaming of house cured pancetta and bolognese that nite in our enormous NY apt.
The day next didn’t quit with delicious city treats. From our walk through Central Park, over to the Upper West Side where I never miss a chance to get a H&H NY Bagel and a trip across the street from it to one of the city’s most famous food markets, Zabar’s – I was in heaven. Back through the park, down the Upper East Side and more perusing into midtown, our stomachs were set on finding another stellar dinner. With some spice in mind, we geared up and headed on down to the Meat Packing District for another famous NY chef experience. Jean-Georges, a man after my own Frenchie heart with roots from Strasbourg, France is one chef that can fit any palate depending on your mood. Tonite, we down for a little heat and creativity which only spelled one thing: The Spice Market.
Upon our arrival, we decided that cocktails not wine were probably our best interest for the nite. And, a famous Jean-Georges cocktail to fit that bill…The Ginger Margarita. And oh boy, served by the pitcher for good reason – because one is just not good enough! Again, the menu was nothing short of amazing with choices wandering into every Thai Asian fusion corner imaginable.
Our starters which went from Peeky Toe Crab dumplings, Spicy Asian Slaw Salad to pureed Butternut Squash Soup topped with roasted pine nuts and creme fraiche were already more than I could handle. So good. To top off our beginnings, I took our server’s recommendation and tried the Concord Mimosato wash it all down. Concord grapes, a bit tannic and really sometimes a hard ‘grape’ of sorts to know what to do with. I liked the concord twist, however, on this rendition of a classic mimosa. We were explained that Jean was a big proponent of using sustainable NY ingredients, this was his way of using ‘local’ grapes to infuse his menu. They were again used in a Concord Cheesecake on the list for dessert.
After stuffing ourselves with first plates, we leaned into a delicious Green Curry Chicken which, a thick and creamy broth of delightful flavors and chicken along with a side of the restaurant’s famous ginger fried rice. The rice dish, the most interesting of this course, had a fried egg dipped in raw ginger served sunny-side up over the fried rice. All very tasty and certainly, very ‘food’ memorable. After dinner, our evening’s ventures continued with a trip down to New York City’s Famous Time Square and a nite cap at the hotel bar, The Bull and the Bear, before retiring for the evening.
While our trip left us nothing short of ‘Amazing’, we counted the things we missed from a New York perspective (pizza, bacon donut, Balthazar Restaurant, a trip to Ellis Island and more). Yet we were okay to miss a ‘few’ NY things, knowing that this was NOT going to be my husband’s last trip to one of my favorite U.S. cities. Vivacious, classic, yet full of adventure, this was one trip that will go down in the S+L travelling history book and one fabulous first anniversary.
Salut to future NYC visits and more!