Monday, July 09, 2012

[Travel] New York Weekend

New York Weekend: I had a brief respite from my incredibly sad dearth of travel this year with a long weekend in New York. The crew consisted of Miss Kate and Miss Anna, and Anna's friend Brianna. (What could be more exciting for a pair of 20-year-old girls than to be in Manhattan?). As usual, it was whirlwind.

Hovering over the whole weekend was the heat. We managed to choose one of the hottest weekends in history for this -- approaching, if not exceeding, triple digit temps. The radiation from the sun, the concrete buildings, and the asphalt streets made the city feel like a convection oven. In hell.

And yet, we were able to be outside quite happily for some stretches. This is no doubt on account of being in Manhattan which is always a thrill. We hopped a cab to Soho to check out an art gallery that someone we know was thinking of getting involved with, and followed that up with a walk on The Highline.
Not really momentous, but very cool nonetheless, The Highline is an elevated walkway built at least partially over the tracks of an old rail line. Cultivated with plants and flowers and providing a more detached view of the city than street level, it is a strangely serene way to walk through the Greenwich Village and Chelsea.

The next stop was Eataly, the tackily named Italian food palace. Eataly is a brainchild of celeb chef Mario Batali and consists of multiple Italian eateries along with extensive offerings in produce, wine, beer, kitchen supplies -- anything to do with food, dolled up Italian style. It's really quite a cool place. Perfect if you want to counter hop for vino, antipasto, pizza, pasta, pesce -- sort of a make your own tasting. There are also full service restaurants. Although very Italian, the food was much over to the lighter side, e.g. the delicious appetizer of a simple grilled artichoke and a creme sauce dip. Great fun place to eat. Highly recommended but my guess is that it is busy all the time. We were there at 3 on a friday afternoon and still had to wait for a table.

Pretty sweet. Those were the two new things I wanted to do in Manhattan this time around - The Highline and Eataly, and that was just the first day. Now it was back to the familiar. That evening featured a walk over to Columbus Circle for ludicrously expensive cocktails and the exceedingly posh Mandarin Oriental, while the young 'uns went off to be beaten down by Manhattan nightlife in the inevitable way 20-year-olds will be in a world where you need to be 21 to have any fun.

The next morning started with a walk in Central Park, before it got too hot to breathe. At the boathouse pond the turtles were out in force, including one particular snapping turtle of Loch Nessian proportion. This shell on this thing had to be approaching two feet in diameter and it had a tail like something out of the Jurassic. A mother duck brought her chicks over to snag some bread crumbs and the brute forced her to push her chicks out on to land for safety. A truly vicious looking creature. Dabbling one's toes is contraindicated.

We followed this up with a new restaurant discovery: Brasserie Pushkin. An exquisite looking place, vastly more sophisticated than the four sweaty tourists in shorts that stopped in for brunch (that would be us). The scrambled eggs with salmon, spinach, and caviar in a glass was one of the most flavorful things I have ever tasted. This place goes on the list for a future dinner adventure. But don;t miss brunch.

The last major event was, naturally, a Broadway show. The girls wanted to see Book of Mormon but that is sold out through kingdom come. We managed to snag four pretty good seats for Nice Work..if you can get it, which is about the perfect Broadway show to see if you only get to see a single show every year or so. A farcical comedy set in the twenties, tightly written but highly dependent for comedy on the delivery of the material and the actors, including big name Matthew Broderick, come through. The music is all Gershwin -- songs you know by heart. Theatre purists and aficionados could find a lot of fault I'm sure, but the Broadway producers know what people want. They want a fun show, lots of laughs, toe tapping tunes, something to chatter happily about afterwards at dinner, and a fun story to tell the folks back home. Nice Work... delivers on all counts.

And that was pretty much that. Like all my New York trips, it was a minor epic, over too quickly. We all scattered to various ends of the country (some of us got a ride to the airport in the hotel's Escalade -- thanks Doubletree). I felt lucky. It had been too long since I was in Manhattan, and sadly, it will probably be too long until I'm there again.