See below for failed live blogging intro to our trip to NYC. Picking up where we left off (having lunch with Gojira at Financier Patisserie where we had lovely sandwiches and salads and Gojira ate cold haleem with a plastic fork) . . .
Hotel. Renaissance New York Hotel 57 @ 130 East 57th St. Loved the Aveda products, the stylish decor, the docking station for iproducts, the proximity to Central Park, MOMA, and the subway. Hated the price (even discounted), the $17 fee for wireless connections (luckily, there was a Starbucks and a Borders nearby which offered free wifi), and fact that you had to take the elevator from the ground floor, walk across a lobby, and then take a second set of elevators to the room floor. Still, since our prior reservation in Gramercy fell through (Li’l Kim (contact me for real name)! Thanks for NOTHING! You are on my ON NOTICE board!), this was good for the one night we agreed upon.
Central Park. It was so beautiful there with the greenery, the bridges, and the pond. But even after a cool shower at the hotel and standing in the shade, we were sweating fiercely after a few minutes. To cool down, we headed to the Museum of Modern Art for our yearly free-after-four p.m. tour but stopped on the way to rub our filthy shoulders with the filthy rich at The Plaza Hotel. I thought if we went to the top floor, we could get an amazing view of the park but the whole floor was completely windowless! The only way to get a view would be to knock on one of the residents’ doors and I didn’t think finding a friendly Eloise there would be likely.
MOMA. We found a nice, soft bench to perch on and admired some lovely Rothko paintings. I was cooling down, mellowing out, and enjoying some quiet time when TP decided to ask a guard whether he could drink water in the museum. Not only could I have told TP the obvious answer, but for some reason the guard glanced at him, glanced at me, and then marched over to me to explain in a very condescending (or very friendly according to TP) manner that I was welcome to leave the museum and THEN drink but there was no drinking allowed in the museum. He demonstrated how I could uncap the water bottle and drink but it all had to be outside. He rephrased the prohibition about three different ways. I finally got him to understand that (a) I didn’t ask him the question and (b) I got it now leave me alone. I was not in the mood to be reprimanded by a guard for a crime I didn’t commit or even contemplated committing. Phooey!
Subway. Relying on my 2008-2009 map of NYC, we found the nearest subway, pored over the multitude of signs alerting passengers of the latest transit fee changes, track maintenance, and train obliteration.
Epistrophy Cafe. Following Gojira’s directions, we met up with her and walked over to Epistrophy Cafe in Nolita. Wait staff took pity on us and moved us from our table by the window where we were sweltering to a table farther in and under a fan. Caprese and Limonata to start. Artichoke Ravioli, Lasagne Rosse, and Pappardelle a Sugo di Carne battled for first place. All favorites.
Lower East Side. Popped a few watermelon sorbet ice cubes in our mouths to cool off but the sweetness factor was overwhelming (who adds sugar to watermelon?! interro-Gojira-that’s-who) so we chugged some water and then some vinegar to balance our taste buds. As we were bidding Gojira and Dr. Clothilde goodbye, my excitement of lightening my load by giving Gojira some heavy objects (vinegar, HP Brown sauce, wasabi, pocky, pretz, a book, a shirt) faded when she returned some of my stuff (books and the entire season of Buffy on DVD) and added a bit more, the combined weight of which resulted in an even heavier bag. Curse you, Gojira, and your prompt return of other people’s belongings!
7am Starbucks was not ready for me yet so I walked around the block, stood beside the closed Borders to snag their free wifi signal, and finally got my mocha and lemon iced pound cake to start my day.
8am Morning routine of waking TP up so he could go to the gym while I lounged in the comfy bed watching cable while chatting with LB. After getting dressed and engaging in some petty thievery (unattended house cleaning cart filled with Aveda products = just ASKING for it), we went to the diner (Palace Restaurant Coffee House? – editor’s note: yes! palace restaurant @ 122 east 57th street – how did i confirm this? spring cleaning of my george costanza-like wallet revealed the business card i, like the pack rat i am, snagged) next door for breakfast.
10 bang on the dot, bogart some more free wifi at Borders before wrapping up our stay at the hotel and heading out. On our way to the subway, we saw a street fair in progress on Lexington Avenue just screeching for us to visit. Who are we to deny the vendors the false promise of a sale?
Murray Hill a.k.a. Curry Hill. Spent a goodly amount of time perusing the wild and wide variety of spices, teas, salt, hot sauces, you name it at Kalustyan‘s. Desi staples heaven. TP was swooning. FACT.
Saravanaas. Relying on a New York Times recommendation five years old, we met up with Gojira at Saravana Bavans restaurant. One look at the 95% desi patronage seated and appearing quite content was enough to convince us that we had chosen wisely.
LES and SOHO. Such dutiful parents, after taking the subway to the LES and dropping off our luggage, we trekked over to Pearl River to pick up some trinkets for the kids so we didn’t arrive home empty-handed. We tried to wedge ourselves into the throng of carbo-crazed people standing (read: cutting) in line at Balthazar Bakery but the heat and humanity were too much for us so no chocolate bread for LB and KG after all.
Caffe Roma. Cannoli in Little Italy
Chinatown. Two blocks away, we put Italy behind us and entered China. THIS is what a Chinatown should look/smell like. Not that ridiculous Disney-version that we have in D.C. The pedestrians were spilling off of the sidewalks and onto the street along with all of the fish water, dish water, and don’t ask water thrown out of the shops. The hustle and bustle and pungent smells reminded me of our trip to another Chinatown . . . one in China. TP and Gojira wanted bubble tea. Rather than waiting in line at a crowded store, they went to one that was completely empty instead. Ought that not have been a clue as to the quality of their product?
LES flea market. With their tummies gurgling from suspected food poisoning (TP thinks the tapioca bubbles may have been in too close quarters with the dishwashing bubbles), we slowly made our way to the Lower East Side flea market. Gojira’s steel-lined stomach perked up at the sight of Luke’s Lobster Rolls and we shared a roll and enjoyed having the dripping butter sizzle and fry on our over-heated faces.
Caffe Falai. Although we didn’t have any more appetite with all the walking in the heat and stuffing ourselves with post-lunch snack after snack, by the time we found ourselves near Caffe Falai with its dizzingly delicious bomboloni, we found extra room after all. Betsubara, zindabad!
[image of cream filled doughnuts not available and I think you know damn well why]
Nobu. Off to meet his old college buddy, TP left us to our own devices (e.g. ipopping, snickering, napping). As a treat, we hailed a cab to drive us to Nobu in SoHo. Not so much a treat, we fought with the cabbie when a dispute about whether I pushed “credit card” or “cash” on the touch screen to pay. We suspected that the cabbie took “the scenic route” and added mileage to our trip anyway so I didn’t have any qualms about handing him a $10 bill instead of the $10.20 he asked for. Reminiscent of similar skirmishes with Egyptian cabbies, we tossed the money in his direction, scrambled out of the cab, and tumbled into the cool confines of the restaurant. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
Ate, sweated, and eventually, left. Thanks for all the memories, Gojira, NYC, and waistband! We’ll miss you!