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Saturday, November 20, 2010

New York, New York, part two

Alright, back to our whirlwind trip to New York City!  Here's the link to part one if you missed that...

After our wonderful tour of the Cloisters, we dropped our friend Steve off at his office, and headed back to the Waldorf to figure out where we were going to go for dinner.  The company I was visiting was having a meet and greet dinner and we could bring guests for $175 each.  I think not.  Highway robbery!  So, we were off to dinner on our own.  Steve had mentioned three restaurants he and Patricia enjoy.  We were very tempted to go to his favorite.  But, it was further away than De Grezia Ristorante which he'd mentioned also.  Italian sounded really good too.  So off we went.  

De Grezia is a charming little place below street level.  The service was impeccable.  One dish was positively outstanding and two were very good.  All in all, I'd go back tonight if I could.  So we keep the meal within budget and calorie constraints, we normally split an appetizer, pasta and entree.  That way we get to taste more too.  We found a reasonably priced MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir to pair perfectly with our dinner.  It's one of our favorite wines so is a go-to when I see it on a wine list.

We started with the eggplant napoleon. 

It's breaded and fried eggplant layered with ricotta, fresh mozzarella and roasted tomatoes and peppers then drizzled with a basil pesto dressing.  I think my eggplant tomato stacks are better.  Chilled fried eggplant just doesn't do as well as chilled non-fried or hot fried.  A four on a scale of one to five. 

Our pasta course was totally outstanding.  It was a mushroom ravioli. 

No, it was porcini mushroom ravioli in a creamy white truffle sauce.  I could have licked the plate but I constrained myself.  Oh, my.  The I'll have what she's having scene flashed before my eyes.   No, I did not make a fool of myself in the middle of a lovely restaurant.  I certainly wanted to.  The pasta was perfect.  It was the perfect thickness.  Cooked to perfection.  Just enough filling.  The filling was oh, so flavorful.  And, the sauce.  Be still my heart. 

My goodness, it's tough to follow that pasta course.  Our entree was grouper on top of broccoli rabe with some kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes and other accoutrements.

The fish was perfectly cooked.  The broccoli rabe was very bitter.  Spinach would have been a far better choice.  And, the sauce?  Well, let's just say I had about a third of an olive and a 1/4" square piece of tomato.  A three on a scale of one to five. 

You already know the answer to this, but yes, we'd go back.  And, I'd highly recommed De Grezia. 

Well, that wraps up our first day!

Up and at 'em early on Thursday.  Breakfast was served at 7:00 in the meeting room.  I got there right on time and scored an aisle seat.  Connie spent most of the day up in our room working on the laptop.  I spent it cramming my mind with info.  By 4:00 when the meeting ended I was done.  You know the saying, the mind will absorb what the seat will endure?  Well, my seat had endured and was done.  Connie had a glass of wine waiting for me in our room.  What a sweetheart. 

Time to head for Broadway.  On the way we took a quick tour of St. Patrick's Cathedral

and stopped by Rockefeller Plaza - where I snapped probably my favorite photo of the trip:

We got to Times Square and the 50% off ticket booth and found a HUGE line.  It moved pretty quickly and we had our Addams Family tickets in about half an hour.  And, guess what, they were NOT 50% off.  I'm not sure what sells for that but these were not 50% off.  Now, we had to find a place for dinner.  I looked over and saw a place called Blue Fin.  Talk about a stroke of luck.  The menu looked lovely and not too terribly expensive - especially if we got a couple of appetizers and a couple of sushi rolls instead of entrees.  We got the last two seats for two - at the end of the sushi bar.  Now, I'll talk to a wall so you KNOW what happened next - I chatted up the fellow sitting to my left.  Tom was his name.  He's a retired personal manager for the likes of Bob Fosse...  Fascinating fellow.  Here's a picture of me with Tom outside the restaurant. 

We enjoyed his company thoroughly!!!  By the way, that Mickey D's Golden Arches in the background?  It has flashing lights and it thoroughly Times Square!

So, you're wondering, what did we have to eat?  We split a bowl of lobster bisque.  It was very good but still not as good as our friend Kathy's at Aesop's Table right here in Indy.  We've tried lobster bisque all over the country and Kathy's is the best.  I have her recipe and some day when I have a whole day I'll make it.  Til then, I'll get my fix quarterly when I allow myself to buy a bowl of decadence!  Ok, back to Blue Fin.  We also split a tuna tartare appetizer. It was tuna layered with crispy won-tons and avocado.  Very good.  Both the soup and the tuna tartare were a four.  We split two sushi rolls for dinner.  One was the yellowtail roll.  It has shrimp, crispy wontons and spicy eel sauce.  It was a five.  The other was the bbq eel roll.  It was good but not something that I'd order again.  A three.  Turns out Blue Fin is a part of the B.R. Guest Restaurants.  We'd happily go back.

On to The Addams Family. 

I know, you're snapping your fingers, aren't you?  We did too.  The play was good but was a bit contrived.  Ok, so the Addams Family is more than a bit contrived on it's own, this is just a scootch more contrived.  A couple of days ago we went to see a play called Kitchen Witches at Theatre on the Square here in Indy.  It's done in a very intimate theatre that seats 60.  When they finished I told one of the actresses that I'd enjoyed their performance more than the Broadway Show.  We're very lucky to have some great theatre here.

So ends day two.

Day three we got up pretty early so we could cram in all the things we'd not done and REALLY wanted to get done.  First on Connie's list was to try a bialy.  Yeah, I know.  I'd not heard of them either until I read about them in Jane and Michael Stern's book - 500 things to eat before it's too late - or something like that.  They're like bagels but aren't boiled so have kind of a nubby texture instead of the smooth.  The center is filled in and topped with onions - and in the case of the ones we got garlic was available too.  The dough itself is less dense than your typical bagel.  All in all, we really enjoyed these.

Back on the subway to find the oldest bar in the city.  McSorley's. 

Established in the 1800's.  And, it looks every bit that old.  They weren't open yet and we didn't want to hang around til they opened so we took some photos and headed off to find Russo's and their mozzarella.  On the way we got a bit sidetracked by a cheese shop...go figure.  So, Russo's was a bit of a disappointment.  According to the New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill, they have all kinds of fresh mozzarella, smoked...  Well, the selection was quite limited.  My guess is that in the 20 years since she wrote the cookbook the ownership has changed and their focus has changed along with it.  

Along the way we found a wonderful tribute to the New York Fire Department:

Just proves it's important to pay attention to the details too!

Back on the subway and back to the hotel for a minute.  Then, off to Connolly's Pub for lunch.  I ordered the fish and chips and Connie ordered the smoked salmon blt.  We both eyed each other's lunch and decided the best thing to do was what we typically do - split.  Both were very good.  I'll make the smoked salmon blt at home.  It had the salmon, goat cheese, bacon...  Yummy.  The fish was beer battered and perfectly cooked.  And, the fries were fabulous.  I hated to leave most of them but there was no way I could finish mine :-( 

I knew I'd seen Magnolia Bakery on our trek back from the play.  A friend just loaned me their cookbook so I'd just read about their wonderful goodies.  It seemed their vanilla cupcakes were their signature item.  Off we went searching for the bakery.  Finally, when my feet were about to give up, we found it.  Connie stayed outside  - far away from the gaggle of women inside.  I got in line.  My turn, finally.  I got a vanilla cupcake and a caramel cupcake. 

They boxed them up in a cute little box and off we went to find Central Park.  We got to the southern edge of the park and found a spot on a bench and opened the box of goodies.  Hmm.  The vanilla cupcake was dry.  The frosting was way too sweet for us.  Half of that got thrown away.  The caramel cupcake was better.  Much better.  Moist and gooey.  But, my guess is that the caramel cupcakes Annie just had on Annies-Eats are better.  I'm probably not going to make them to compare but I can tell you right now Annie's about the best baker in town.  If you've not visited her blog, it's worth the visit. 

Central Park was amazing.  Not at all what I expected.   We watched the horses for the horse-drawn carriages at the water trough for a bit, then meandered along a path toward the southeast corner.

Our time in NYC was coming to an end.  Time to head back to the hotel, retrieve our bags from the bellman and catch a cab to the airport.  Ah, but one more surprise awaited on our way.  Snow on the sidewalk.  On a lovely 50 degree day.  Yes, indeed, movie making.

After the wonderful food we'd had, I expected dinner at the airport to be a total letdown.  It wasn't.  I had a tossed salad topped with granny smith apples and toasted walnuts.  Very nice.  But, the winner was the Cuban Black Bean Soup with Mojito Cream on top.  YUM!  On the plane and sound asleep.


Monet said...

You are making me wish I was in NYC this week! Such a lovely post filled with great pictures and eats! Your mushroom ravioli looked so very good! And I've heard from numerous people that the vanilla cupcakes from Magnolia's are a bit on the dry side. Too bad! Thanks for sharing, love!

Liv Wan said...

Thank you so much for such detail information about NYC. I always want to go to NYC one day and I certainly will book mark your blog for plan my trip in the future. :) Thank you again for your blog. (I can't get over those lovely cup cakes. Oh my, I wish I can go to NYC now and buy some of those lovely cup cakes)