Category Archives: New York

New York (part three and final part)

New York (part three)

So we’re on the final few days in New York and the fun bits are yet to come.

First we had lunch at place called Chipotle, a Mexican fast food restaurant like no Aussies have ever seen before.  I have been in search of a few ideas for a lunch concept and the idea I had in mind was some where business people can come in, spend 10 minutes max in the restaurant and leave with a fresh product that will satisfy a large cross section of people, from the health conscious eater to the indulgent eater.  Chipotle was excellent.  We arrived just before the lunch rush.  As you enter, there seemed to be an expectation that people who go into this restaurant knew exactly what to do and it was obvious we didn’t.  We lined up and as we got closer to the counter, the menus we had been staring at still made little sense to us so as we have done before, we followed what  the people before us did.

What we ended up with was a huge burrito!  We figured out that you order a burrito and just keep moving up the line with each server adding an ingredient in it, kind of like Subway.  We liked the sound of all the ingredients so we just kept adding things into it.  What surprised me was, how the fricken burrito could fit all the filling in, I mean it must have been a super stretchy burrito because as we ate into it, the burrito was perfectly formed around this bulging filling made of freshly cooked rice, beans, salsa, chicken, avocado.  It was super fresh and tasted really good.  I was surprised at the quality, probably because in my mind, I always think that nothing good could come out of a fast food franchise but here I was being proven wrong.  We sat there for about 20 minutes and noticed that the place was full and the line up was almost to the door but surprisingly, it moved quickly.  The patrons seemed like they were seasoned patrons, they knew exactly what they wanted, ordered, moved along, payed and with in ten minutes, they were out.  I also noticed a little window on the side saying “Phone Pick Ups”.  Yep, you can phone in your order from the office, come in and pick it up and your off, back to the office within five minutes lunch in hand.  Now, I seriously know that if I lived here, it would be so hard to diet with so much temptation around the place and all of it so convenient.

After that, we walked to MoMA.  The Museum of Modern Arts is located on 11WEST 53RD ST.  MoMA was a great experience.  I loved the Louvre in Paris when I went there and I expected the same experience from MoMA.  I really enjoy art and culture, I think it enriches the soul because in my mind it tells us so much about humanity and reminds us that we’re human, intelligent; that’s my opinion any ways!

Plenty to see and experience in this huge building.  The building is made with minimalistic approach with straight lines of metal, wood and glass, beautiful building.  The exhibits range from the photographic exhibits from Cindy Sherman to the famous painters of Matisse, Picasso and Monet’s Water Lilies.  You will need three or four hours to visit all the exhibits here, depending on how much time you really want to study the work.  Some are really interesting and with any thing, you’ll find some that are a miss with your tastes and move along quite quickly.  I loved Monet’s panels of Water Lilies.  I loved the story behind the paintings, the history and just sitting there in silence staring at these huge panels of art, it was really kind of peaceful.

From here we went to The Late Show with David Letterman.  Located in the famous Ed Sullivan theatre on West 53rd and Broadway (near Time Square); my excitement started to mount as we got closer.  For as long as remember being a chef, I have always watched The Late Show with David Letterman.  In Australia, the show is aired late at night, usually when I get home from a shift in the restaurant, so around 1130 at night.  I got so hooked on the show, I started taping it at one stage so it was one of those dreams that was about to come to reality.  I wondered what it would be like to sit in the audience and watch celebrities in the flesh, see David Letterman in the flesh and to see the set with CBS Orchestra.  Some people think it’s lame but hey!!

Outside the Ed Sullivan Theater

Unfortunately the show wasn’t that interesting.  No celebrities on that night, typical!  Instead they had the ex president of the Maldives.  The topic of conversation was interesting but I was more in the mood for some one like Drew Barrymore in the infamous episode when she lifted her shirt up at Letterman, NBA players, famous bands playing at the end etc, but we got a pretty lame show.  I mean, it was still special to be part of the audience and super cool to see David Letterman and Paul Schaffer but the contents of the show wasn’t what I expected.  Not to worry, I still love the show and probably always will until I actually leave the cooking industry!

During this time, we also walked around Time Square during the day, which was rather different, seemed lack lustre in the day light and whilst on West 54th, we also stood outside the famous club, Club 54 which no longer trades as a night club but still has the sign out the front of the building, very cool to see in person!

The famous Club 54

From The Late Show, we hoofed it to Madison Square Gardens (via Macy’s for my friends benefit)

As we arrived (with hoards of people around the stadium, arriving at the same time)I swear, I almost had a tear in my eye! I was so excited it is almost hard to describe just how excited I was.  You have got to understand that basketball is in the Leslie blood.  I love the game, my dad played and coached and I practically grew up in basketball stadiums.  I watched as many NBA games as I could growing up and straight after watching the game, I would practice the moves I saw on TV.  I grew up watching Larry Bird and Magic Johnson early on and then my idol, Michael Jordan along with Shawn Kemp, Clyde “the Glide” Drexler, Carl Malone and pretty much all the players that made up the first Dream Team.  To be at the hallowed grounds where I watched these masters of the game play from years ago  on TV and from so many miles away; well I can tell you the feeling was overwhelming.

Madison Square Gardens is located just up the road really from the Ed Sullivan Theatre on 7th Ave and West 32nd St.  We had seats way up in the nose bleed section but the view was still awesome.  I must say that the tickets were rather steep, I paid $145AUS for one ticket but hey, I would have paid more just to get in and see a game and experience a childhood dream come true.  It wasn’t my team playing (that would be Chicago Bulls) but Knicks at home against Magic was good enough.  First we had a beer at the top of the stadium looking at the rafters where the some of the greats of the game have hung their numbers in retirement like the great Patrick Ewing.  Then armed with a few beers and a couple of hotdogs, we watched the Knicks steam roll the Magic, just like they were putting on great show especially for us.  Upon leaving, I just wanted to shout out with joy.  I couldn’t believe we just saw the Knicks at the Garden!!

Retired Knicks numbers

View from our seats

The next day was kind of a catch up day.  I was in search of pair of Jordan 5’s so we searched pretty well all of Manhattan for them but with no luck.  We went back down town into SOHO and went for a bit of shopping excursion.  Nothing much to report here from a blokes point of view except, if you want the coolest clothes, shoes and anything fashion related really, come to New York with an empty suitcase, because shopping is at its best and bloody cheap.  Sneakers at almost half the price, shirts at a quarter of the price compared to Australia and that’s just the start.  I left Australia with my suitcase weighing in at 9kg, when I got back from America it weighed just under 22kg.  Shop till you drop because it is a shopping Mecca.

That night we went to Nobu.  I started cooking over 15 years ago and there is no other chef who has inspired me more than chef Nobu Matsuhisa.  I love his story, his food and I like how humble he is.  His flavours, I think are unique and his presentation always inspires me, simplicity with elegance.  He gets the best out of ingredients with out loosing freshness or integrity of the produce.  In the world we live in where conventional cooking is no longer recognisable, Nobu’s food, in my humble opinion, is still the best.

Located at 105 Hudson St, Tribeca, this Nobu restaurant is the original restaurant opened with Rodert DeNero in 1994.  The restaurant looked so unique.  As we walked in we were greeted by the host and we were taken past rows of what looked like leave less trees growing in the restaurant.  This building was once an old bank and we were sat right next to the vault which was converted into a bar.  The restaurant was dimly lit but you can tell the walls were painted in earthy colours, which makes you feel like you’re in country side in autumn along with the trees scattered about.

We ordered a few dishes from the menu which was undoubtedly Japanese with Nobu’s modern flare.  We had a tasting menu, ordering down the menu with a selection of dishes which included some of Nobu’s signature dishes like the Monkfish Pate with Caviar, a delicate pate with exquisite flavours, sweetness, smooth texture and the sauce was something I have never tasted before.  I’ve read about this dish in his cook book but never imagine it would taste like this, in one word – divine! Tiradito Nobu Style, Eggplant with Miso and Beef Toban Yaki to name some of the other dishes we were treated with.   The bill, which I thought would break the bank simply because the food was excellent, was actually reasonable.  What we paid for that night for three people with tip, you would easily pay for one person in Australia in a high end fine diner and I can tell you what I would rather any time!

Nobu lived up to my expectations.  It was another realisation that I had just experienced another dream come true.  I read about this restaurant and this great chef, I walked away totally satisfied and absolutely happy with experiencing Nobu!

On our last day, we went to Harlem to experience “soul food”.  The best soul food was said to be Sylvia’s Soul Food.  Located at 328 Lenox Ave, which is a block or two away from the 125th St subway station.


The restaurant is nothing fancy, nothing compared to where we were dining the night before but we weren’t here for the décor, we were here for soul food.  We don’t get a lot of this type of food in Australia but I can tell you that if we did have a restaurant like this, it would be jammed packed.  Why? Because who doesn’t like pork ribs done in so many flavours like tender beef ribs done in a rich sauce, Southern fried chicken and the dish I really wanted to try, chicken and waffles; sounds wiered but looked so bloody good.

Sylvia’s Soul Food

Like every thing we have eaten so far, again I have to say just how huge the servings were, like it’s super sized if you were to compare with Australian serves and again bloody cheap.  We ordered ribs! My friend ordered pork and I ordered beef ribs both with a rich, sweet, spicy sticky sauce.  Also, both had sides that you ordered with it, huge servings of mac and cheese, gumbo, mashed potato and collard greens, which I could have eaten until the cows came home.  Again, it was another reminder of how fat I would be if I lived in New York because there is always cheap but excellent food like Sylvias Soul Food.  Aussies, if you’re in New York and want good tucker, go here mate, you will leave feeling like kings who have just devoured a feast!

Beef Ribs, Sylvia style

On our last night, we went to Brooklyn for our last meal in New York.  I never realised how many great little eateries there are in Brooklyn  I learnt way too late that the different ethnicities here meant that there were a plethora of choice in food and style of food.  If I ever come back here, I will definitely spend more time of Manhattan to experience the ethnic foods available.  Instead, we chose a funky place called Submarine 21.  Looked new.  It looked like an old pub painted all black with booths and bench seatings which were closer to a very small service kitchen. This place only served subs from veggo’s, chicken and chorizo sausage subs.  Served with waffle cut fries, they were really tasty.  Unlike the subs you get at Subway, these subs came in a freshly baked sub with freshly prepared ingredient’s.  Again, simplicity at it’s best!

So that’s New York in eight days! Eight days is not enough.  There were still so many things I wanted to see but ran out of time to and my preconceived ideas of New York were some what a little skewed.

In a nut shell, New York is safe, clean, cheap, fun, with so many great restaurants and with so much shopping.  There were other restaurants I wanted to go to but I am sure this will not be the last time I will be going to NYC, no way in hell!!


New York (part two)

New York (part two)

So we were in on the third day in New York by now.  We left the hotel early and as usual we caught the train to Central Station.  New York Central Station is a landmark , much visited by the tourists, so being a tourist we headed that way.

This reminded of the scene out of “Friends With Benefits”

Massive building with huge marble facades

I love the old ticket boxes

You’ve seen it in many movies before and the movie that plays in my head is Friends with Benefits on the very last scene and for some reason The Untouchables, the scene where the baby’s pram is rolling down the marble stair case in slow motion but that movie was in Union Station, Chicago.  I guess it’s because they look the same with their huge marble facades, marble stairs and brass stair banisters.  So bloody big and I love that they kept the old station ticket boxes and wooden benches but what I loved the most was the food stalls (of course).  It was located under ground and as soon as you come in, you see rows of tables then just behind that was the array of food stalls selling things from salads and soups and from Mexican to Asian food.  Usual gamut of choices but what made it stood out for me was their set up.  Yeah it was a food court but they didn’t make it look cheap, they really did build it to fit the grand old building, keeping the integrity of it.

From here we made our way to Union Square where I was introduced to the “whole foods” concept.  Whole foods is a fantastic concept.  Food packed in ready to be cooked, minimal prep time for the consumer, just simply buy and eat or in some instances, you just need minimal cooking time; cool idea for the time conscious New Yorkers.  I also saw a lot of hot food and cold food ready for packaging then sold over the counter, another cool idea.  This way you really you do get a home cooked meal but with out the fuss of getting your kitchen dirty.  I assume this is to save time in the kitchen.  Seeing that the apartments there didn’t really have a lot of kitchen space, it’s not only uninviting to cook but chuck the hussle and bussle of New York in there and I see why this whole food concepts would really take off.

View from Union Square 

Pre-cooked food ready for packaging

Packaged sauces, curries etc

Hot food pre made

We were on another walking tour of NYC, so again we started in mid town and made our way down.  I had a list of restaurants to visit, whether to eat or just to have a look at what they were doing.  One of the restaurants was Momofuku.  Momofuku is made famous by an American-Korean chef, David Chang.  I have read a lot about the chef, his history and the food he cooks.  I was so looking forward to experience it all first hand, so under the guidance of my friend, we made our way to 171 1st Avenue.  When we arrived, we stood out side the door and again, I found myself with a smile from ear to ear.  Another tick off the list.  I think we stood at the doors like geeks for at least a couple of minutes before entering.

We were seated right on the bar over looking the kitchen, prime position to observe the chefs doing their craft.  The restaurant was set up in booths on the right hands side as you walk in then the bar on the left where you can also sit at and eat.  Further down the narrow galley like set up, the kitchen is on the left and bar stools where you can eat and watch the chefs.  The furniture was made of light wood, reminiscent of Japanese interiors.  We were excited and eager to taste the food so we ordered a couple of Japanese ales and started with pork/shitake –hoisin, scallion and cucumber steamed buns.  Very nice. The filling had braised pork, all sticky and super tender and soft that it almost fell apart when you picked it up.  As described, it was sauced with hoisin and finished off with cucumbers and sliced spring onions or scallions as they called it and it was wrapped in flattened version of Chinese steamed bun, folded in half with the filling in the middle like a sandwich, great idea from a service perspective (chef thinking cap on here) and a fantastic way to start a meal.  We then had a serve of the Grilled Octopus- scallion kimchi, salsify, cara cara orange, a refreshing little number with an awesome orangey sauce that went extraordinarily well with the octopus; it was so refreshing.  My mate had the Chilled Spicy Noodles – Sichuan spiced sausage, cashews – which was a salad type dish with these spice covered nuts and egg noodles.  It was very spicy from the chilli oil I presume but the sausage was just magic. I had the Momofuku Ramen, pork belly, pork shoulder and poached egg.  It was a ramen type dish with a nice broth.  It was nice but we couldn’t finish it all, we had so much to eat by this point, especially starting out at Union Square eating pulled pork (which wasn’t that great, greasy, I’ve had better and made better).  In all, I was glad I had eaten at Momofuku but as we got talking to the chef’s I did find out a few of their trade secrets which unveiled the curtain of mystery and from there it just didn’t seem as special, from a chef’s point of view.  I loved that we ate there but I think there are places like Wagamama is as fitting or on the same level but still, I can now say I ate at Momofuku!

Excitement was mounting………

Cool Japanese like furniture

Steamed buns

Chilled Spicy Noodles

Momofuku Ramen

We left there and found out he Momofuku milk bar around the corner.  Another cool thing we just had to visit.  Again, we sat outside like tourists and took pictures.  We were way too full to eat so I’m sorry to say that we didn’t even get to eat a cookie!

Momofuku Cookie Bar – cool concept really!

After that, we went further down town to the financial district.  First we walked around SOHO for a bit of shopping  then down to Chinatown and walked around there for a bit of sight seeing.  We also took our time taking pictures of the two bridges and getting to know lower Manhattan.  It seems to me that this area of Manhattan is hip, happening and where the “cool” people seem to be.  It is safe and you do get all the hip restaurants and cool shopping precincts.  I love this area and if I was to live in NYC, I think I would enjoy living in this part of town.

The two bridges, Manhattan (left) and Brooklyn (right), looking into Brooklyn

The financial district is some what different, more buildings – huge buildings!  When we popped out of the subway, I thought I was in the business district of Sydney.  It was a concrete jungle.  We were close to Ground Zero and I was curious as to where these two towers once stood and to find out a little more of what happened that day.

I remember exactly where I was that on that fateful day.  I was in Oxford , England getting ready for work.  I saw it being played out on TV  and it all seemed surreal and I really wanted to see where it was and to pay my respects.  We made our way to the 9/11 Memorial.  It was a solemn moment, seeing the two infinity wells where the two towers once stood, the names of the victims inscribed on the side.  It was a beautiful memorial in such a beautiful space to pay your respects and as you look up, you see  two towers being built, supposedly it will be the highest buildings in New York once more.

Infinity pool with names of the victims inscribed on the side

Beautiful memorial

New towers reaching for the skies

On our way out from the memorial, we get a call from the staff of the David Letterman show.  Earlier in the week we entered our names for a couple of tickets to the show and they called to say we were lucky in receiving two tickets for the next days show.  Now we had David Letterman in mid after noon followed by a Knicks game at Madison Square Gardens, can this trip get any better?  But for now, its photos by the bronze bull in the financial district, walk up Wall Street and a bit of shopping at the outlet stores then dinner at Peasant.

Bronze Bull, depicting aggressive financial optimism 

Looking down Wall St

Financial District looking towards Wall St

Peasant is an amazing Italian restaurant, located on 194 Elizabeth St in Nolita.  Peasant is an Italian restaurant oozing with that lower Manhattan attitude and it was noticeable right from the start.  The restaurant was recommended by a colleague who used to work here a few years ago and he had instructed his friend Paul, who still works there to show us Peasant in full light.

Paul greeted us and sat us down right next to the kitchen.  From here you can see that this place was full of energy.  I love the décor, wooden floors and exposed bricks, the kitchen is open and you can see the action happening in the wood fired oven, with the chefs behind stoves and the guys plating up in front and centre!  The restaurant was a cross between villa in the middle of an Italian country home and a trendy art gallery with food! The place hummed, it was full of buzz but not too loud that it was distracting.  Just from looking around the full restaurant you can see that this is a place to be seen, cool and hip and the people eating there that night certainly looked like trendy New York crowd.  I was fricken loving the atmosphere and being so close to the kitchen, I can smell the goodness being cooked up.

The waiters were very good; I mean they were on another level.  They knew their stuff and more importantly they knew their product and passion oozed as they described the dishes, it simply made you want to try every thing and from looking at the menu, we truly did want to try every thing.

The menu ranged from salads, pizza’s, pastas right through to suckling pig and baked sardines.  I don’t know if New York coolness was getting to me but even the way the menu was written sounded cool like Polpi In Purgatorio which translates to baby octopus, chilli peppers which is one of the dishes we had.  We ordered but we got more than we ordered!  We had cow’s milk cheese and roasted tomatoes which was simplicity, authenticity and freshest indgredients at it’s best.  Baked razor clams, prosciutto amongst other things and of course, we could not leave with out trying the Porchetta Arrosto, rotisserie suckling pig which was cooked to perfection.  That wood fired oven certainly was working over time.  It seemed almost everything came out of that oven and it made look and taste fabulous.  The octopus was definitely my favourite.  It came out sizzling in an earthen-ware dish, fresh from the wood oven I assume.  Just when we thought we could eat no more, chef and owner Frankie de Carlo sent out desserts which sent us over the edge.  Along with a bottle  Italian rose for the night; we truly made a good effort at putting away this fine food, served by absolute pros and cooked by geniuses! Peasant restaurant, thanks for the lesson in Italian cuisine!

We tried to find this cool Mexican bar  I heard so much about which was supposed to be near by, but with the cold and being tired from the day’s activities, we decided to call it a night, I mean, the next few days in New York were jammed packed!  The best is still to come!!!!

To be continued…………………….

New York City (part one)

New York (part one)

The title alone looks exciting right!  Just reading that gets a lot of people excited and rightfully so.  New York is one hell of place!

I organised this trip right on the 11th hour.  My good friend was going to be there and she knows New York really well and my mum and dad were going to be there to celebrate my mum’s 60th birthday which meant that that my sister was also going to the States to meet up with them, seeing she lived close by and to give my parents the opportunity to see their grand children and for me to hug my niece and nephew.  This was enough reason to convince me to go to NYC.

Since I was a kid, I have had a fascination with America.  I have a bucket list and on the America bucket list is to see Michael Jordan playing in Chicago, Bruins in Boston, Grand Canyon and to eat a hot dog in Central Park, amongst others on the list.  I couldn’t do a lot of those things on this trip (some for obvious reasons) but I could definitely achieve the last at the very least.

So I left little ol’ Adelaide on a Sunday and the exciting thing about that is that I arrived in New York on the same day.  Now that to me is travelling at it’s best, you don’t lose any time what so ever, like 6 hours (but in reality it was almost 30 odd hours of travelling).  I arrived in JFK and immediately felt the electricity.  Tired from travelling, I thought the jet lag would kick in, but it didn’t, not yet anyway.  I managed to find an airport transfer bus, suggested to me by a fellow Aussie (now a New Yorker) who sat next me on the plane from LA to New York.  Nice lady, she actually mentioned a few other places for me to visit especially the hidden eating places since she found out I was a chef.

Checked in and ready for the shower my friend arrives at my hotel door, I was so glad to see her and it only made the excitement go to another level, the prospects of seeing NYC with a friend and with some one who knows the place.  After a quick chat and a shower, we were off to Manhattan Island in a yellow taxi, another cliché I so wanted to experience.  Destination unknown, we told the driver to drive down town and we ended up in the Meatpacking District. Amazing! The first thing I noticed was, taxi’s are so bloody cheap.  My hotel was over the Queensboro Bridge in Queens which comes out onto Manhattan on 59th and a taxi ride from there to Meatpacking District would have cost me a cool 25 bucks had it been in Adelaide but it cost nothing more than 15!  The second thing I noticed was pebble stone roads.

I don’t know if the cab was going fast or if I was tired from the travel but I couldn’t get my bearings quick enough and I only started to notice my surroundings after I got out of the cab.  It was cold, damn cold, the kind of chill that was similar to the one I felt in Ireland where the wind was cold enough to cut through all the layers of clothing and it woke me up like a boost of adrenalin.  We walked around a while for a bit of site seeing but we were a little peckish so we hunted down a restaurant.  My friend took us to the Spice Market, a restaurant on the corner of West 13th and 9th in the Meatpacking District. It is a magical looking restaurant. The doors you entered through were made of this beautiful thick wood and you were greeted by  hostesses on the other side of the door, happy people with a welcoming gesture to take our coats. Immediately you are in awe of this restaurant’s décor.  Wood every where with intricate carvings on the edgings of every banister, cornice and furniture.  It instantly reminded me of the those Chinese kung fu movies where the fight scenes are in one of those multi story buildings from old Chinese restaurants like a scene from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The furniture reminded me of Balinese furniture with an eclectic mix of bench seatings, buckets chairs, and even seats at the bar over looking the chef’s pass.  Sat at a table for two, we had a great view of the kitchen, right in the action.  The food was heavily influenced by my Asian flavours, from Vietnamese cooking, to Malay and of course Indian .  These flavours were something I was totally familiar with in eating and cooking and I assume a lot of Aussies would be too.  Thai beef skewers, Vietnamese spring rolls and Indian curries appeared on the menu, so we were comfortable and confident in making the choices.  With all the dishes served family style, we ordered the usual suspects like tuna with Asian pear and lime, a hot pot, rice and some vegetables.  The food was good but apart from the surroundings, which was absolutely magical, it didn’t really blow my mind, in fact, for Adelaidians, I think Ying Chow or East Taste would have been a better culinary experience.  We left happy with the experience and we continued our walk around the Meatpacking District, which was amazing and started to head up town.  My friend and I had a lot to talk about and catch up on and before we knew it, we found our selves walking past Madison Square Gardens, then into the theatre district in Broadway.  Another reality check.  It was one of those moments that I just found my self smiling.  I was there; I was really there standing on the streets that glowed with neon signs and brightly lit, huge billboards.  I was standing on one of the streets of New York which is a land mark that billions of people know and I even saw the guitar playing cowboy in his white jocks, cliché number two ticked off (Time Square that is not the guitar playing, jock wearing cow boy).  We continued our walk past Rockefeller building then it was time to call it quits for the night.

Time Square at night

Huge neon signs

Outside Rockefeller Building

The next day, the jetlag kicked in so I was in the gym trying to kill it by running on the treadmill at 7 in the morning; didn’t work though, I was wide awake and raring to go so we had an early start that day and I’m glad we did.

The subway is the best way to travel in NYC.  Again, using the movies as my guide, I thought the subway was dangerous, dirty and really dodgy, not to mention how confusing it all seemed but in reality, it was clean, a cheap way of travelling and really, really safe.  My friend was the subway expert.  In my head and I dare say only in my head, I called her the subway “Nazi”.  She had that time table and map to fine art and I did not dare mess with her system, which suited me fine but if she wasn’t there, I would say that my pea brain could have easily worked it out.

We started up town on 5th Avenue , home of the shopping precinct.  Rows and rows of famous retail brands.  The longest road of shopping I have ever seen.  It was cool to walk on this famous strip but I don’t think I was as excited as my friend; none the less it was good to see the fashion of NYC.  I won’t write too much on this subject except for, if you want fashion and fashion accessories at the top end, go here, you’ll find every thing.  I was excited though to see the Apple store on the corner of 5th Avenue and 59th.  On ground level you see a glass cube with the Apple sign in the middle, pretty cool design which was very fitting of Apple really, then you travel underground to one of the biggest and busiest Apple stores in the world.  Being an Apple fan, I was very chuffed to be there.

Trump Tower on 5th Avenue

The entrance o the iconic Apple store on 5th Avenue

That day, we must walked and caught the subway every where.  I was glad to play the tourist, being led around this fine city, I could really switch my head off (which is rare) and it doesn’t happen often but I could really take it all in and enjoy the moment, immerse myself in the sights, smells and culture of the city, I knew I was creating memories that would last until my dying day.

We zig zagged around lower Manhattan  and made our way to Greenwich Village.  We visited the famous Bleecker St, known for all it’s eateries including The Magnolia Bakery, made famous by the TV show, Sex in the City.  The baked goods were good but again nothing compared to some of the top bakeries in Adelaide or Melbourne I thought.  We enjoyed walking around the place, seeing the New York architecture and the terrace apartments with its streets lined with cherry blossom in lower Manhattan, the most picturesque and beautiful part of the city.  I couldn’t help but day dream of what my life would be like living in one of these apartments; day to day living and working in Lower Manhattan, even just saying that name seems cool.

Bleecker St known for all the paces to eat

The Magnolia Bakery made famous by the show “Sex in the City”

I finally found what a pumpkin pie looks like!!

The scenery lived up to my expectations but  I was still waiting to be wowed by the food.  We finally found Zabars, a delicatessen full of Italian cheeses, small goods, salads, whole food, pre-prepared food and the list goes on.  It was a shop with everything you wanted to eat, like a scene out of a small Italian village shop with salamis hanging all over the place and cheeses displayed every where and the smell of fresh bread looming around.  The place was jammed packed full of food and upstairs was jammed packed full of cooking gear, again I was like kid in a lolly shop!  But we didn’t stop there for lunch, instead we caught the subway to Houston St on the Lower East Side and headed for the infamous Katz’s, the Jewish delicatessen that sold the well known “Reuben” sandwich.  Katz’s is home to the Pastrami on rye sandwiches, the matzo ball soup and where the famous orgasm scene from the movie “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed but more importantly, it is the home of the very well known juicy corn beef sandwich called the Reuben!  Upon seeing the Katz’s sign I was heavy with excitement and anticipation.  Entering the restaurant, we walked through a very old turn style, first sign that this place has history and we were then handed what looked like a small bus ticket, which we later found out was our food docket.  The people who worked there must have thought we knew what to do with it but instead we just stood around wondering what the hell to do next, and more importantly how to order.  I asked a dude walking past me with this massive sandwich on his plate how it all worked and he helpfully went through the process with us, so from there,  we were off.  I stood at the counter and ordered the Reuben.  Whilst I waited, the guy behind the counter making my sandwich was very chatty and handed a side plate with small sample of the meat that was in the Reuben for a taster as I waited for my order to be made.  I felt special, I thought I was singled out with a nice a gesture but as I looked around, I realised every one was getting a sample.

When I got my sandwich, served with a huge pickle, I really thought I had a slice of heaven on a plate.  I just had a taste of the juicy grilled corn beef and now I see it absolutely piled high, jammed between two slices fresh rye bread with sauerkraut and thousand island dressing oozing from the sides.  We quickly found a seat close by and attacked this sandwich goodness and I must say, it was better than I expected.  It was the best sandwich I have ever tasted and just when you think you can eat more, you put away the last bite and that feeling quickly subsides.  As I sat there digesting my food, I was also trying to soak in this restaurant land mark.  It was a truly magnificent idea for restaurant that reeked of history.  The floors were made of wood and looked as if it had been there since the birth of this building.  It was covered with wood shavings to collect the dripping juice and grease from the meat and this was swept away regularly and a fresh layer of saw dust replaced it.  The walls were filled with pictures of famous people who dined there in the past  and it seemed to fill the wall.  The buzz and the atmosphere from both the patrons and the servers added to the experience of this place.  It has been there for years and judging from my experience, I am confident to add that it will still be there the next time I have Reuben at Katz’s.

View from Houston St, lower East side

Reuben on rye

We continued around down town then we decided to go to the Chrysler Building and the then onto the Empire State Building.  As we lined up to go up the building, the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” was playing in my head.  I wondered if what saw in the movie was what I will see in a few minutes and as we stepped out of the final elevator, I found out that it did look like the movie.  The first thing that hits you is the cold wind, bloody freezing cold.  I made the error of putting on light jacket, but since I was up here in a once in life time land mark, I had to brave the cold.  From here we could see the all of Manhattan from Harlem right down to the financial district and all the places in between.  Over the East River where we were staying in Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn.  I could see the Statue of Liberty and New Jersey over the Hudson.  From here you can definitely see New York and all it’s Borough’s, it was a perfect end to the first full day of NYC.

That night we went to place called Eataly. It was mind blowing!  One of the largest places dedicated to food I have ever encountered.  These Americans it seemed, really knew how to present food to the punters.

Located on West 23rd and 5th Avenue, you entered into a building that seemed to wrap around the whole block. From the 5th Avenue entrance you walk into a long corridor greeted immediately with café from Lavazza coffee.  Espresso coffee, I was so glad to see that because coffee in America is shit, sorry but it truly is and seeing Lavazza hanging on the walls, I knew there was hope of getting good coffee.  As you walk on down the long corridor, you walk past rows of gelato then onto chocolate heaven.  Rows and rows of chocolates so wonderfully presented in their cabinets like precious little jewels.  They looked so tempting, even for some one like me who doesn’t eat chocolate.  We proceeded to walk around the corner into a large space with stand up tables and surrounding that were tempting small goods stalls a couple of bars you can sit at where chefs cook in front of you.  Cheeses from here to wazoo, it seemed we arrived at food Mecca, enough for us to decide on parking our butts on stool at Eataly’s fish counter called Le Cucine di Eataly – Il Pesce.  We ordered an array of seafood from grilled prawn, squid and lemon skewers called Spiedino Misto $17US, which was so perfectly cooked that we ate everything on that skewer, even the grilled meyer lemon; to fried mix seafood of calamari, fish and prawns called Fritto Misto “alla Ligure” $23US, simply lightly battered, fried and served with fresh lemon, so gorgeous, you can taste the freshness.  Sometimes simplicity is the best! Matched with an absolutely wonderful Italian Rose (Il Rosato, a Sangiovese, Merlot by Costello Di Ama), we were in heaven.  I sound like a hypocrite but I am almost ashamed to say that that wine was one of the best wines I have ever tasted.  I love my wines and boy I fell in love with Italy in New York that night because of the food and wine, I got flashes of when I was in Florence with it’s strong culture that revolved around food.  We were surrounded in food, literally.  When we finished eating, we continued to look around.  I saw people ordering wine and slices of parma ham and eating it standing up at the standing tables, just like they do in Italy.  They ate their small goods served on paper, finished their wines and moved on, possibly to the gelato stand to have their desserts.  We found out there was a fruit and veg stall there, a bakery, and other restaurants.  Like I said, it was that big that you would think you were in Italy.  That place was absolutely fantastic; love, love, love that place and if you are ever in New York, visit this place and experience Italy in New York!

To Be Continued………………………