Saturday, December 17, 2022

Eat Like a New Yorker

Trip date: May 2022

Choosing where to eat and drink in NYC is so tough! There's always the list of places you've read about since your last visit, and if that last visit was before Covid as mine was, that's a pretty long list! And then there are the places you've been in the past and loved and want to go back to as well as the classics that you haven't made it to yet. So my friend Lorraine and I had a lot of work to do with our lists but I think we nailed it!


Breakfast:

When in NYC you just gotta have a bagel! One morning we stopped by Ess-a-bagel  and then ate in one of the little parks that dot the city. My lox with scallion cream cheese on an everything bagel was absolutely delicious!

Our hotel, The James, was just blocks away from Dominique Ansel Workshop so we walked over one morning and sat outside at one of the handful of tables they have on the sidewalk. The pastries here were fantastic! We shared a kouign amann and a strawberry/lemon verbena danish. I wish I could have tried about 5 more things! Yum!

While walking in the Meatpacking district on our last full day in the city we passed by Fabrique Bakery which is the bakery in Stockholm to get your cardamom bun from. I was very happy to grab one to go and can confirm that they are just as delicious in NYC as in Sweden!



Lunch:

My friends know that French bistro food is one of my favorite things, so Frenchette had been on my list for some time. The interior is slightly casual with Art Nouveau touches and the menu was more creative than I expected. We ordered a lovely white from the Loire and then shared an amuse of mortadella with tonnata. Divine! I couldn't resist the schnitzel, I rarely can, and since this one came with huckleberry compote and spaetzle it was like an entree made with me in mind. And it was fab! Lorraine had the roast chicken which was stellar and served in it's own pot. A really wonderful lunch!

One day we met my friend Albert for lunch at Barbuto. Luckily Albert knows the menu inside and out, as we were running quite late, and took the initiative to order. Oh my, what a spread we all shared! A (huge) meatball, kale salad, carbonara, roasted potatoes, and roast chicken! Everything was fantastic! 

Dinner:

Cosme opened way back in 2014 but I still hadn't been. With one Michelin star and being on the World's 50 Best Restaurant list in the past, I was very excited when we landed a reservation!

The octopus tostada was one of the best things I have eaten in a long time! The kampachi pastrami sopa was a little bit mind blowing! The uni that topped the black garbanzo bean tetela (a Oaxacan specialty stuffed triangle corn pocket) was excellent and the texture perfectly complemented the beans inside. And of course no one should go to Cosme and not get the signature duck carnitas. Or the corn husk meringue. We had both! It really was just an excellent dinner, with some really gorgeous flavors and textures. Loved it! 

Another place long on my list was Atoboy; I was very excited to try the Korean inspired dishes here. Since opening in 2016 they have opened Atomix, their two Michelin star tasting restaurant, but we didn't have time for a tasting menu on the dates they had availability. So Atoboy it was, and boy was it great!

The menu is 4-course prix fixe with optional add ons. It's a very casual atmosphere but the flavors are so elevated! Another octopus dish, this one with rhubarb! Stunning. And because 4 courses weren't enough (sarcasm) we added on the fried chicken which comes with it's own bunch of delicious sides.

Another excellent meal! I definitely would love to try the tasting menu over at Atomix next time!

It had been ages since I had a slice in the city and Lorraine had suggested Prince Street Pizza in NoLita. My square slice was loaded with crisped up pepperoni and the perfect amount of melted cheese. The crust was thick enough to hold it all but had optimal crunch. Soooo good!!  

And then there was Le Bernardin

⭐⭐⭐

There are only five restaurants in NYC with a 3 Michelin-star rating. Le Bernardin has had their stars for 10 straight years and is also currently listed at 44 on the 50 Best Restaurant list. Lorraine and I decided to go for lunch on our last day in the city.

When we made our reservation we expected to do the 3-course lunch prix fixe menu, but upon being seated and presented with a few different menus we discovered they were offering the Chef's Tasting menu at lunch (only offered for the entire table). We decided to go all out and order that with wine pairings. I mean, all we had planned for the rest of the day was a flight home!

Le Bernardin is an all fish/seafood restaurant and boy do they do it perfectly.  And the service was impeccable! Always there but never intruding. The dining room was designed by the award-winning group at Bentel & Bentel (The Modern at MoMa, Craft in LA, Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston, etc) and is sleek and modern and filled with natural light in the daytime.

I am someone who loves a true 3-star experience. I want the sauces, the caviar, the foie gras, etc. These are the things I can't get just anywhere and I was thrilled to see Le Bernardin pull out all the stops; and at lunch!

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the people watching is also quite a show! You've got the "ladies who lunch", each sporting their most recent plastic surgery, the old men with ridiculously young girlfriends, wealthy tourists wearing crazy athleisure wear, and old-monied families looking quite bored with each other. 

It would be impossible for me to pick one favorite dish from this meal but the dover sole with green almonds served with Reblochon-style potatoes was a stunner. Amazing flavors and textures. 

This meal was absolutely spectacular. It's expensive, obviously, but the service, atmosphere, ingredients, presentations, wines, etc. made me feel I got what I paid for. If I had any quibble it would have been that I was so full I didn't have room for my mignardises so it would have been nice of them to offer to send them with me in a little box. 

And with that, I wrapped up a fantastic return to NYC. Lorraine and I took a Lyft Lux to Newark Airport where I changed into joggers in the bathroom for the flight home. Klassy! I had used miles to fly First Class on Alaska, where I drank canned wine. Oh how fast a situation can change! haha!

All NYC photos here.

Other posts from this trip:

Back to New York

Drink Like a New Yorker

Friday, December 16, 2022

Drink Like a New Yorker

Trip date: May 2022

Checking out the cocktail scene in NYC is not for the faint of heart! So many bars... so little time! In no particular order... 🍸

I had read a few things about Patent Pending, housed in the old building where Nikola Tesla lived. It was very near our hotel and sounded cool. Their website says "Patent Pending is taking limited reservations each night, in 1-hour, 30-minute blocks. Each block is $114 per person and includes a welcome sip, three drinks, small bites prix fixe, and includes gratuity so no need to tip." After a recent amazing experience in San Diego's Young Blood I was very excited about another prix fixe experience!

Unfortunately that is nothing like what we got. We were welcomed with a fun little drink from the bartender. But then our waitress gave us the menu and told us that we would just pick our own drinks. The menu is very cool, most of the drinks have too many ingredients in them for my taste, but they are still quite inventive and tasty. The "small bites" was a plate of very basic cheese/melba toast/olives.

Bottom line; the space is very cool and the drinks are interesting. If you are in the Trinity Church area, stop by and see if they have room for you. But I wouldn't book this as a prix fixe experience. 

🍸

Down in the Financial District we showed up in the lobby of newish Overstory right at 5:30pm when they opened. We were looking like drowned kittens as we had been caught in a crazy rain storm but the hostess was very nice and only had us wait about 10 minutes before escorting us to the elevator. The lift goes up automatically and then another hostess escorts you up a flight of stairs to the 64 floor. 

There's a wrap around terrace with amazing views of the city and surrounding. Inside, the tiny bar is very elegant with an art deco feel, the service exemplary, and the cocktails were fantastic! Complex flavors and aromas with interesting glassware and garnishes; I absolutely loved it. 

Overstory was voted #27 on the 50 Best Bars list and they definitely live up to the award. 

🍸

There is a lot of history at Bemelmans Bar inside the Carlyle Hotel and it can be hard to get into. But we went after visiting the Met on a Saturday afternoon and had no problem getting a table. Named after Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of the Madeleine stories, the entire bar is murals of whimsical characters living in NYC drawn by him.

You're not here for the cocktails, so stick with classics or wine. You're here to sip a drink where Rashida Jones and Bill Murray did a scene in On the Rocks. There have been many movies filmed here but that's the one I like best. The local family sitting next to us had quite a spread of appetizers which looked lovely, so maybe grab a snack too. 

It's fun and historical, there's a documentary all about the bar and the hotel, full of celebrities recounting their stays there, called Always at the Carlyle. Even walking through the lobby is fun; it's understated and feels almost secretive, plus you never know who you might run into! Great spot!

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Another new spot we visited was Chez Zou, inside the Pendry Hotel on the west side. I tried their Saffron Gibson which was served in a Jarra which is similar to a cruet. The waiter will pour your cocktail and then there is extra for you to pour yourself. The ultimate sexy sidecar. 

The atmosphere here felt tropical, but not in a tiki way. Pretty palm trees are scattered throughout and round tables with plush armchairs fill the space. It's very comfortable and slightly posh. This was one of my favorite stops; great cocktails, great space, great service.

🍸

On our last full late afternoon/ evening we decided to do a mainly Greenwich Village cocktail crawl in order to revisit some faves and check out some new-to-me spots. 

We started at Mace, which I hadn't been to since they were in their old location; I was very happy to be back. I love the use of spices and herbs in these super unique cocktails and I'm a big fan of the co-owners Greg Bohm & Nico de Soto. The new-to-me space is very pretty and my drink was tasty and odd, in a good way, just like I remember in the past. Pro tip; Nico heads up one of my favorite bars in Paris- Danico- and the menu there has a very similar style in the way they build their cocktails, so if in Paris...

🍸

Next up and just a short walk away was Katana Kitten. Since opening in 2018 this bar has been the darling of the cocktail world, and now I know why. It's just damn fun!! And delicious! On our crawl we had decided to do just one drink at each stop, but we just couldn't leave here before two. Seriously, it's just a super fun vibe. And sitting at #9 on the 50 Best Bar list is no fluke. The drinks read a little basic but the flavor and craftsmanship are excellent! Also there are disco balls everywhere! You can't *not* have a good time around so many glittering balls!


🍸

Lorraine had been to Bar Pisellino and suggested it for a snack so off we went. It is an absolutely charming little corner Italian cafe, serving a small selection of aperitivos and cocktails as well as delicious paninis. We enjoyed a couple of very refreshing Daisy cocktails along side a little sandwich outside on one of the marble sidewalk tables. Great stop! Could absolutely see spending a leisurely afternoon here!


🍸

We headed back near our hotel to the NoHo neighborhood for our last stop at the newly reopened Temple Bar . This bar was the OG back in the days before you could find a classic cocktail on every corner of the city. They opened in 1989 and closed in 2017. But now they are back and boy is it a great spot! And it's really not a huge surprise with owners Maneesh K. Goyal and David Rabin joining forces with Michael McIlroy and Sam Ross, who head up the award winning Attaboy.

It's dark and sleek and sexy. Drinks are meticulously stirred and shaken. It's exactly the kind of bar I love! Pro tip, look for the skeletal chameleon on the exterior, the only "sign" of the bar. 

And with that we were rather tipsy! So many incredible places to have a drink or three! 

All NYC photos here.

Other post from this trip:

Back to New York

Eat Like a New Yorker


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Back to New York

Trip date: May 2022

My friend Lorraine and I had purchased tickets to see SJP and Matthew Broderick in Neil Simon's Plaza Suite... in 2019! Obviously Covid had other plans so after being rescheduled twice we were finally heading back to New York and to Broadway!

Normally I'd use miles to fly first class on Alaska but the price for Premium was only $286 to Newark and I couldn't pass up that deal! Additionally I took advantage of a 50% off Alaska Lounge offer via my Alaska credit card and was the last person allowed to use it that morning as they were quite busy. This end up being a great perk as my flight was delayed over 2 hours; free breakfast and mimosas while working was much more comfortable in the lounge.

I took an Uber into the city for $56 and met Lorraine at The James Hotel in NoMad. This was an excellent hotel for us- the room was huge with two Queen beds and the location was great for all the walking we did. 

The show was at the Hudson Theater which has some great history and is one of Broadway's oldest theaters, opening in 1903. The original operator of the theater, Henry Harris, died on the Titanic! It's also been a radio studio, tv studio, adult film theater, movie theater, and the Savoy nightclub before reopening in 2017 as a theater. It's tiny compared to more modern venues with only 970 seats (compared to ~2800 seats at the Paramount in Seattle where I live!) so our 8th row seats felt very intimate. 

The show was great fun and as someone who is rarely, if ever, around celebrities I loved being so close to Broderick and Parker in their performance. It had been a long time since I'd seen a show on Broadway and this was a great return!

We did a lot of sightseeing over our long weekend as no matter how many times I've been to NYC there are still a million things to see and do. One thing that had been on my list for years was the Morgan Library. 

Founded in 1906 by J.P. Morgan his library is a treasure trove of some of the earliest printed books, like the Gutenberg Bible, sheet music from Beethoven & Mozart, ancient manuscripts, murals, porcelain, etc. And it's all in an absolutely stunning room.

The museum holds special touring exhibits as well as Morgan's collection of 1,157 ancient Asian seals which date from the end of the fifth millennium B.C. to the fourth century B.C. It's quite unique!

Besides the library you can also walk through the study which is where Morgan met with friends and business associates. I loved exploring here!

Far away from the Murray Hill neighborhood we took the subway down to the World Trade Center and exited through the magnificent Oculus. 
It's a stunning building, built along with the 9-11 Memorials on the grounds of the fallen World Trade Center buildings. Besides being a transit hub, it's also a shopping mall. 

From here we walked around the 9-11 Memorials; two reflecting pools built on the site of the two towers that were destroyed, the names of all those killed engraved in bronze. 400 oak trees are planted on the grounds as well. It's a touching and somber and beautiful area.

From here we walked to the Fearless Girl, which has been moved in front of the NYSE, but not before Lorraine took me to the lobby of Waystar Royco (I'm a BIG fan of that show!)
We continued on to the Charging Bull sculpture and it was about then that it started to rain. And I mean REALLY RAIN! Here in Seattle we get rain obviously, but it rarely pours down in sheets like I've experienced more than once on the east coast! So we ducked in the 176 year old Trinity Church which I hadn't been to since my very first trip to NYC when I was in college!


Another place I hadn't been to in years was the Met! In the past I've just wandered some of the main halls but for this visit we had tickets to two very cool exhibits. The first was In America: An Anthology of Fashion where clothing from the 1800's to the present were on display in the American Wing period rooms. 


The rooms highlighted designers or styles that were influential of the time. There was a lot of great stuff here including a dress of Mary Todd Lincoln's, a side by side comparison of a couture dress and it's mass marketed knockoff, and an amazing display of American designers doing battle in a nod to the Battle of Versailles
In nine rooms, small vignettes were created by movie directors. Scorsese was given the Frank Lloyd Wright room and created a very retro Hollywood cocktail party scene. 

The second exhibit, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, was downstairs in the Anna Wintour Costume Center. 

100 outfits from American designers were showcased, each in their own window. The "squares" made up a "quilt" of American fashion culture. 
It was a stunning display; pure eye candy! 

So great to get back to NYC, and so much fun to revisit some old fave places while discovering new ones. 

All photos from New York here.

Other posts from this trip:

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Sky High Vail

Trip date: April 2020

When a friend with a house in Vail say's "come visit", the only correct answer is yes! I'd never been to Vail, hadn't seen my friend in years due to the fact that he lives in Australia and Covid, and was more than happy to get away for a weekend with friends!

Another friend Gail, decided to go as well so we used her Alaska Airlines companion fare. Unfortunately Alaska was having lots of staffing issues at the time and our flight got canceled a few days prior. I was able to call and get them to reschedule us on United for the same price but the different schedule meant we had a while to wait for our transfer from Denver airport to Vail. Luckily my Priority Pass covered us in one of the restaurants so we just did a little work with some wine.

The cost to fly into Eagle County Regional was ridiculous so we booked a shuttle with Epic Mountain Express which runs from DEN to Vail and other surrounding destinations. It's a 2 hour drive through the mountains and we were very happy to let someone else navigate the snowy roads. There was another couple in the SUV with us and we all decided since we were vaccinated that we were ok going mask free for the ride making it much more comfortable. 

It had taken a whole day to get out to the mountains! Our friend David met us at the transfer drop off and we headed to Deca+Bol for drinks and dinner. Deca is a nice bar/restaurant connected to Bol, which is a very swanky bowling alley. Very fun and delicious!

It was the last weekend that the ski resort was open, but none of us were skiing. Instead we spent the first day exploring Vail village. We also spent it trying to catch our breath!! I hadn't realized that Vail is 8150 feet in elevation. That is higher than Machu Picchu by over 1,000 feet! We were all really feeling it, even just going up and down the steps in the house!

It was a gorgeous day in the village, perfect for walking around in the warm spring weather. We had a pretty good lunch at Segundo Mexican and took a break from shopping for some wine on the patio at Pepi's. 

One of the better shops in the village is the high end western store Kemo Sabe. They have a pretty incredible selection of hats made specifically for them by Stetson as well as boots, clothing, and jewelry. David found a gorgeous new hat that they branded with his initials and I left semi in love with a diamond necklace. Definitely not a typical western wear shop!


We continued with some wine in the hot tub back at the house; such great views of the surrounding mountains from their deck! That night we had an excellent dinner at Slope Room. All our dishes were cooked perfectly, the wine list was great, and they even brought out a special dessert for David who's birthday had been earlier in the week.

After dinner we headed to the Four Seasons to check out their cocktail bar Remedy. It was incredibly basic and the bartender didn't have much of a clue about anything other than vodka or gin and tonic. Not recommended. 

The next day David drove to us to Beaver Creek Village to do some exploring. First up was Golden Eagle for lunch where I had some excellent elk tacos! I thought this village seemed even nicer with its outdoor fire pits, lots of public seating, and sculptures dotting the property. We did a bit more shopping before heading back to the house for wine and hot tubbing.
Before we went to dinner I decided I wanted to buy the necklace at Kemo Sabe so I texted the sales guy and arranged to stop in. When we arrived he invited us upstairs to their private bar for a few drinks! 

We had a great time at our little private happy hour! If you aren't in the market for expensive jewelry, the upstairs is able to be rented out for private parties. It's a cool space filled with taxidermy, antiques, and booze!

Dinner afterwards at Mountain Standard was very fun and delicious. But the gem of the night ended up being King's Club! As there were no Ubers to be found, we ducked into the Sonnenalp Hotel to have them call us a taxi. When they said it would be a while we grabbed seats at the bar and were treated to some live music, and great people watching!

I'd definitely head back here and make a full night of it next time! 

What a relaxing and fun weekend catching up with David and having him introduce us to a place he absolutely loves! Gail and I caught our Epic shuttle the next morning for our ride back to Denver. This time we were in a minivan packed like sardines; not a pleasant trip. But the scenery heading over Vail Pass, at elevation 10,666 feet, was stunning and I was very happy not to be driving!


We had Premium Class flights on Alaska Air on our way home, and half way through the flight they announced that the mask mandate was over. An end to Covid? Obviously not, but at least progress!

All photos from Vail here

Saturday, November 12, 2022

PDX Post Covid Weekend

Trip date: March 2022

A full year after the start of the Covid pandemic, I had purchased tickets to see Chelsea Handler at the Keller Auditorium in Portland, and invited my friend Elisabeth to come with me. She lives in Portland and since we only get to see each other a couple of times a year we decided to make a full weekend of it. Roadtrip!

Sleeping: 

We stayed at the Marriott Bidwell Hotel which used to be called the Marriott City Center. Newly remodeled, our double queen bed room was very large and had a modern Scandinavian/ hipster Portland feel to it. The hotel has a little shop in the lobby which sells snacks, wine, and souvenirs. Parking is $45 a night so I left my car at Elisabeth's. The Marriott charges $25 a day for god-only-knows-why but they also give you $25 food/beverage credit to use at their 2nd floor bar/restaurant called the High Horse. We just had rosé and a shrimp cocktail during happy hour (which was very good) but others around us had cocktails and seemed very happy with them. 


I really liked this "new" Marriott and would definitely stay here again, the location especially can't be beat!

Seeing:

Besides attending the Chelsea Handler show, which was excellent, Elisabeth took me to the Lan Su Chinese Gardens. I didn't even know these gardens existed! It was a 10 minute walk from our hotel, and once we entered the gates I felt a world away! 

We had tea and veggie steamed bao while sitting outside next to the pond; surrounded by so many gorgeous plants and trees. It was really lovely with everything just starting to bloom in the warm spring sun. 


We also took in an awesome exhibit of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the PAM. I have always found this museum to have excellent touring exhibits that are very in-depth. 

There were two floors of work from Frida, Diego, various friends and colleagues, outlining both of their careers and their relationship. It was super informational and really well done.

Almost everything was from the collection of Jacques and Natasha Gilman who were not just collectors but personal friends of Kahlo/Diego. The exhibit included paintings, photographs, sketches, and even some clothing. It's a wonderful collection if you see it touring near you I'd grab tickets!

Eating:

I was super happy to revisit some places and to try new-to-me spots. 

Tucked inside of Kachka, is the more casual eatery Lavka. For lunch you enter upstairs in the grocery/deli and order with the cashier. The menu is almost the same but smaller. We both had shots (of course!), pelini and then shared a delicious dark chocolate spread on toast. And we picked up some fun items from the shop!

Elisabeth introduced me to the absolutely lovely restaurant Coquine in the Mount Tabor neighborhood. Dinner was a 4-course menu that was very seasonal PNW and had thoughtful wine pairings. My main of braised lamb shank on a bed of spiced cauliflower was fantastic and served with a 2008 Tempranillo. 

Drinks and dinner at Eem was maybe the highlight of my weekend. This spot gets lots of love from locals, our Uber driver was very excited that we were going here, and for good reason. The food rocks!

We had mushroom friend rice and then I had the white curry with burnt ends. Holy hell! Those flavors are haunting! I feel like I need that curry again as I write this!!

I was really looking forward to brunch at Lazy Susan, but I have to say it was a complete mess. Maybe they were short staffed but it was almost comical at how bad the service was and how inconsistent the dishes were. YMMV.

Drinking:

Portland is always a hotbed of cocktail bars and post pandemic was no exception! I had big plans to get back to a few personal favorites but that didn't happen because of the new spots that held our attention. 

Finding Voysey was no easy feat but that was half the fun. Inside of Loyal Legion beer bar we made our way to the back where we found an unmarked stairwell and followed in down. 
We were able to sit up at the bar and absolutely loved our two rounds of cocktails. I'd say most of the drinks were pretty spirit forward, which is my preferred style, but the menu was super well rounded and had some interesting new-to-me products.

At Eem we had absolutely delicious tiki inspired drinks while we waited for our table. We had these outside in semi-private booths each with their own gas fire pit.

Over at Scotch Lodge in Southeast Portland, Elisabeth and I both felt as if we had gone to heaven in Tommy Klus' (of Multnomah Whiskey Library) den of whiskey. There's a massive list, from very approachable to incredibly rare, that you can order by the glass. And there's also a fantastic cocktail menu (not all are whiskey based). 

Additionally Scotch Lodge has delicious food, is in a super sexy space, and has Instagramable wallpaper. I mean, what else could you want?

Portland never disappoints and this time was no exception! 

All Portland photos here





Eat Like a New Yorker

Trip date: May 2022 Choosing where to eat and drink in NYC is so tough! There's always the list of places you've read about since yo...

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