I’m mad at everybody, everyone I know. Every single important person in my life is on notice. You are all IN TROUBLE. Here’s why. None of you – not one – told me about how great New York City is. Why am I just discovering this? Why am I the last to learn that New York City is fantastic.
I mean, all these people seem to know. Why else would they be massing on the streets like that?
There’s certainly a reason they’re all jammed up there on Fifth Avenue. In fact, I was jostling around in that crowd marveling at the shopping opportunities, trying to keep track of Casey and Kevin, my friends who live in Manhattan who were showing me around when suddenly, my phone rang. It was my only other friend in New York City, Melissa, and she was just around the corner, with her husband Jay, at the Peninsula Hotel.
They were poised in the lobby waiting for Salon De Ning, the roof top lounge to open. They were wondering if we wanted to meet them for a drink. Of course we did. And we turned on a dime and marched over to the Peninsula and had a drink.
Now, the point of that little vignette is not the Peninsula, or the drinks even – Lemon Drops all around – both the bar and the drinks were just fine. It’s the fact that one moment we were three people walking down Fifth Avenue and the next we were five people laughing over cocktails perched high above Manhattan, feeling pretty good about every little thing. That’s the first thing I noticed about New York City. Everyone wants everyone to join them for a drink and a bite and a chat. And there are so many places to do just that.
So, I was in New York City for a seminar but I arrived a few days early to check out all the places I had ever heard about or read about or seen in a movie. Let’s see, I drank at the Algonquin bar, toasted myself at the Ritz, walked through Central Park, zipped through Zabar’s, strolled around Strawberry Field, peered past the Dakota doorman, shopped on Fifth Avenue and, paused at the Plaza and the Carlyle and the Essex. I examined the Pieta at St. Patrick’s and Atlas at Rockefeller Plaza, explored the Explorers Club, paced in the Met and walked and walked and dropped down into the subway and came out again at Trinity Church where I remembered 9-11 and made my way through the Meatpacking District to the Empire State Building and then back again to Times Square.
But you probably already know about those places because YOU’VE no doubt been to New York before – unlike me who’s been living under a rock, apparently. So I don’t want to talk about those things. I want to talk about what you might not know about… the restaurants I absolutely loved.
My favorite is a little tricky to find. In fact, it looks like The Corner Deli on the outside. I mean that’s what it says right there in neon, right?
But that’s not what it is. When you go inside, it’s really a place called Taqueria. But that’s not why you’re there either. You’re there to get into La Esquina Brasserie. So what you do, if you have a reservation – which we did, thanks to Melissa – is you walk up to a guy who stands in the back of Taqueria blocking a door. You tell him your name.
Melissa did just that and he called down to make sure we were cool or something. Then he opened the door to a staircase lit by candles that led into a speakeasy type situation.
We clambered down the steps…filled with incredulity and anticipation. We checked our coats and went to the bar. It was about then that I had to have a private “Come to Jesus” talk with my inner claustrophobic self to keep her from running back to ground level. I offered her a Margarita and the next thing you know we were all toasting the Peninsula Five – together again – in New York City and enjoying a great Mexican feast. It was the kind of feast that rivals another of my favorites, Dona Tomas, here in Oakland. But I can’t show you any of the food because Nice Young Man in Charge walked up to our table and asked me to stop taking pictues… which I did. When I don’t take pictures I forget what we ordered but I do remember that the Elotes Callejeros was crazy good.
Onward, to my second favorite place in New York City. Eataly. It’s like “Italy” only with Eat on the front. And that is exactly what you do there, in what seems like a thousand places, all under one roof. You can buy things to eat later – at one of the many little shops selling precious food items – like this one…
Or this one…
or you can eat in one of the several restaurants inside. All this is the brain child of Italian Chef Oscar Farinetti who opened an Eataly in Turin. Then a couple years later with the backing of some big food names like Mario Batali, he threw open the doors of a fifty thousand square foot homage to Italian food in New York City.
and then impulsively picked the latter, Il Pesce. Table for one.
I don’t like to prepare fish but I love it when others do that for me. I especially wouldn’t prepare it the way they did – where the fish is looking like it just flew out of the sea and landed on the plate. I noticed people at neighboring tables were enjoying that so I asked my cute waiter about it.
He called it the Whole Market Fish. You can have it grilled or roasted. I forgot which fish it was exactly but it was fantastic … so fresh and delicious and so was the butternut squash.
Speaking of fish there is one more dish that I am still thinking about that I had in New York. It’s the risotto at Gennaro on Amsterdam on the Upper West Side. It’s a neighborhood restaurant near where my friends live. They took me there for the gnocchi which they say is fantastic but I pulled a fast one and ordered the Seafood Risotto which I am now realizing was the special that night because I’m not seeing on the menu. I didn’t take pictures there because I can’t be the weird girl taking pictures of my food everywhere I go. So you will just have to take my word for it that it was the best ever.
Anyway.. I love New York City. I love the way the night is always young – especially if you’re on California time. I love how there are so many things to do with it. I love the energy it gives off which seems to add an extra little hop to your step. I love how long its been there and how so much of its past is still sitting out there in the open for you to examine. I love how safe it feels and how the police officers ask you if you need anything. Yes, I think New York City is pretty special and unlike all of the important people in my life, who are still IN TROUBLE, I am going to strongly suggest, right here, right now, that you go and check it all out!