I visited New York City with my good friend, Kristina, last weekend and really -- wow -- we had such a great time and I was so able to relax and we ate such great food and laughed so hard...
In New York, I:
• had an awesome lunch with my high school friend, Meilan, and her daughter at Alice's Tea Cup on the Upper West Side (before Kristina arrived, otherwise she would have joined us too!). I can still taste this meal--sandwich of roasted cumin carrots with olive tapenade, goat cheese and arugula with the tastiest cup of decaf Earl Gray I've had in a very long time--and it was so nice to catch up with Meilan in person (vs. FB).
Po Restaurant in the West Village with Kristina on our first night there. We felt a little sardined in the small space but the food was incredible, the atmosphere was awesome and we talked non-stop throughout the meal (taking turns telling stories so the other could eat, of course, this is a recurring thread of the weekend).
• confidently hopped on subways and figured out where everything was fairly well, only needing cabs when it was either too late to bother with the trains or if we were too hungry to think straight and likely to get lost in Brooklyn when meaning to go to Central Park.
• explored Chelsea Market Saturday morning and was pleasantly surprised by the offerings. If I lived there, I would go there every week. We had yummy iced coffees and ate delectable artisan cheese melted into crusty French breads. We also both bought a new cookbook (the same cookbook) at the Market and I can't stop drooling over it: The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World. I made the Japanese-Style Braised Tofu in my crockpot at home tonight and cannot believe how easy it was and how awesome it tasted. (Thank you, New York, for reminding me that I have a very alive and curious food palate!)
The City Bakery and even had to buy a "Hot Chocolatarian" t-shirt to prove it. We missed their Hot Chocolate and Knitting Festival by two weeks, but the place was still decked out in it's marshmallowy party clothes. So flippin' fun. They ask you "would you like a marshmallow with that?" when you order your hot chocolate because a.) it costs extra, b.) it's homemade and c.) it's huge. If you go, say "yes, please" to that question. You won't be sorry.
• stayed in a really awesome 3 1/2-star hotel in the middle of Times Square on the 26th floor overlooking The Lion King theater with a general awesome front row seat to the City That Never Sleeps (it really doesn't). I think I'll try to stay in the Village next time, since most of what I wanted to see/eat/buy was down there, but Times Square is nice and central. A bit crazy and touristy, but when in Rome...
Avenue Q off-Broadway show at the last minute at the tkts booth in Times Square. We ordered drinks to be delivered to us during intermission (how very New York) and laughed for two hours straight at this definitely-OMG-totally-not-for-kids-even-though-they're-Muppets show.
• had a late-night dinner at momofuku after Avenue Q where we didn't even place our order until almost 11:15pm, which is long after most kitchens close around here. The place was packed. We sat at the noodle bar so we could see the chefs make everything and it was like a symphony of food with the head chef as the conductor. Amazing coordination. Amazing food. There was a line out the door at midnight! (That's ginger scallion noodles with shitake mushrooms and a good porter beer. YUM.)
• Recovered from the bad breakfast by attending church (I know, so not a New York weekend visit thing to do!) and really enjoyed the experience. We're both Unitarian-Universalists, so it was fun to see another UU church and connect together on that level too. And of course, since UUs are so cool and liberal and we're both knitting fanatics, we knit together all the way through church too.
• had an awesome flatbread pizza and ginormous homemade chocolate chip cookie for lunch at Birdbath back in the Village. Birdbath is the totally "green" arm of The City Bakery and while we were expecting a bit more in size and offerings, it was truly charming and delicious.
The Lion King after I raved about how awesome it is. If you know Kristina and her happy, fun-filled, don't-even-think-about-trying-to-say-no attitude, you know why I couldn't say no. It was my third time seeing this show over 15 years and WOW! it still floored me. I have chills just thinking about it now. If you ever have the chance, go. Don't hesitate. It's truly amazing.
• visited my very favorite Thai place in New York--Galanga-- for, oh, the fourth time in my life for dinner after the show. I felt kinda bad about going back since it seems silly to repeat a visit to any restaurant in a city so packed with amazing food, but...it's really good Thai and I know where it is. It didn't disappoint and we rolled all the way home, filled with Pad Thai, curries and green papaya salad (which I couldn't get off my brain and just recreated here at home tonight. It turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself!).
• was really, really good overall in my attempt to not use any disposable items while traveling (I even used my new bamboo utensils a couple of times!) but it somehow seemed right to get a Starbuck's in the middle of Times Square for a last walk around oohing and aahing at the lights, the people and the general hubbub on our last night. We both prefer non-corporate coffee and we both hate the waste, but... That caramel macchiato was good.
• had an amazing time with an amazing person in an amazing city. It's hard to believe that this whole thing was arranged by text message just a month prior for two friends to meet up in New York, coming from different states and completely different lives, but sometimes, things just work. It was perfect timing for both of us and we had such a perfect time together. I'm very thankful to have such a good friend like Kristina who says "YES!" to life!
Farewell, New York. I'll be back...