Tuesday, October 06, 2009

New York Trip report, final installment

Day 6
Hubs and I slept late on Thursday, but when we finally got going, we took the subway to the Brooklyn Bridge. We walked about half of it and got great views of both Brooklyn and Manhattan's financial district. There are plaques and little signs with information about the bridge's construction and history along the footpath, and I really enjoyed taking pictures of all the cool cable formations that make up the bridge's support system.

After that, we decided to swing by Chinatown, which was only a subway stop or two away. Have I mentioned my love of Chinatowns in previous posts? Every time I go to a major city, I investigate to find out if it has a Chinatown. And if it does, I go there. Why? Not only can you find cheap souvenirs, you can eat DIM SUM! If you've never had dim sum, allow me to enlighten you. It's almost like the Chinese version of a buffet. You sit at a table, and some nice waiter or waitress brings you a lovely pot of hot tea, plates, silverware and cups. You pour your tea, sweeten it, and take a few sips, letting the cup warm your hands.

Before you know it, another waiter/waitress comes by, pushing a rolling cart filled with all these little covered dishes. He/She begins opening the lids, and the little dishes are each filled with all kinds of things: steamed dumplings with every imaginable filling (and you KNOW how I loved a steamed dumpling, right?), pork buns, egg rolls, spring rolls, sesame cookies, little pastries filled with chicken and pork and other stuff, little heaps of steamed veggies, tender little morsels of beef and chicken. So you point to what you want, and she puts the little covered dish on your table, marking the piece of paper at the table's edge to reflect what you've chosen. AND THE CARTS KEEP COMING. And each one of them offers something different. You don't even get up from the table! You just point and eat!

And here's the best part. Dim sum is CHEAP. Like, two people can order half the stuff on the cart, and still pay only $20. I've eaten dim sum in three U.S. cities: Honolulu, Portland, and now, New York, and it's been yummy every time. The only challenge is not to fill up on the first two carts, because there are usually at least four. (FOUR! Woo to the hoo!)

Anyhoo, hubs and I found a little place in Chinatown called Mandarin and had a great lunch, then we poked around all the cramped little shops and bought touristy souvenirs. I got a scarf, some chopsticks, and a bunch of T-shirts.

That night for dinner, we hit the street for a good slice of pizza. We ended up at Naples 45, a great Italian restaurant right behind Grand Central Terminal, in the bottom of the MetLife building. The restaurant imports alot of its ingredients from Italy, and everything else is made from scratch on site. I got a kick out of watching them toss the pizza dough.

Hubs and I ordered two small appetizers - the meatballs (which were YUM) and the fried calamari (the best I'd ever had. IF ONLY they served it with a saffron garlic aioli, like they used to at Del Sol. That was the best stuff EVER. Unfortunately, Naples 45 serves theirs with a spicy marinara. The sauce was ok, but not a show-stopper.) Then, I tucked into a super pizza. It was very simple - just tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil - but all of the ingredients were so good that it was nearly perfect.

After dinner, we headed out to rue B (a little restaurant/bar on the lower East side) to meet up with Paul and Brooke for drinks and dessert. Brooke is a darling, delightful former co-worker of mine, and she lives in Brooklyn as a newlywed with her precious husband, Paul. They'd been apart for about a week right before we arrived in the city, and they made the most adorable goo-goo eyes at one another all evening! It was wonderful to see them so happy, and we had delightful conversation for a few hours before I declared that I was old and needed to hit the hay!

We caught a cab back to the apartment and sank gratefully into bed.

Day 7
We lazed around our last full day in New York City. After a late breakfast, we went to Central Park. We spent some time at Bethesda Terrace, then we ran around in Sheep Meadow for a while. After that, we sat a spell at Strawberry Fields. The park is absolutely beautiful and, for all the greenery, it's pretty densely packed with attractions - statues, lakes, fountains, amphitheatres. There's just alot there. In the more touristy areas of the park (Bethesda Terrace, Strawberry Fields), there are lots of visitors, but the less high-profile areas just seemed to have a smattering of New Yorkers in them.

After enjoying the park for a while, we figured we'd seek out a classic New York deli for lunch. We ended up at Carnegie Deli, where hubs and I split the biggest open-faced Reuben sandwich that I have ever seen. I was only responsible for eating half of it, and I think I left about 30 percent of my portion on my plate. If only I'd been more discriminating, I would have had more room for cheesecake! (Their desserts looked DIVINE.) The place was packed, though I think alot of the customers were tourists. (The deli's proximity to Times Square definitely skewed the clientele.)

After that, we turned our attention to souvenir shopping. We picked up a bunch of campy stuff for the family back home, plus nabbed a few things for ourselves, at the big and gaudy Grand Slam shop near Times Square. Fun!

Then, it was pack, pack, pack. In the morning, we were off to Jackson again, where I was so excited to see little man that I nearly wept! We had a really great time, and I'm soooo glad that hubs and I decided to take some time out for ourselves. We've already decided that we'll return to NYC, for a shorter trip, some time in the future!

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