8# Throwback Travel- New York: Grand Central, Central Park & 5th Ave (day 7)

Hi all! While I’m away on my babymoon to Tasmania, I thought I would continue sharing a couple of posts from my trip to America. These are from our last day in New York on day 7. There is just so much to see in New York, as you have seen from what we did. There is so much more I would like to do when I return one day. I am sure there will be many new attractions and delicious foods to try as well. On the last day we covered Grand Central Terminal, the MET, Central Park and made quite a few stops on 5th Avenue. We also dinned in a old-world Viennese cafe on the Upper East side and New York’s largest dinner.

So on my last day, Octavia and I began the day at the Piccolo Cafe, who are known for there authentic Italian fare and espresso. They have three locations, but I visited the little cafe is in Midtown on 238 Madison Ave. This location is quite tiny but was very popular in the early morning with locals. Their menu offers quite a range of pastries and panini with various fillings, pasta, gourmet eggs and salads. I ordered this delicious Salmon and Egg Sandwich, which was perfect to start the day.

Our first tourist stop for the day was the Grand Central Terminal, also commonly known as Grand Central Station. This iconic station is just stunning and a must-do if you visit New York. It was opened in 1913 and it’s retains its old-world nostalgia, due to its stunning Beaux-Arts architecture. Besides being a transport hub connecting Manhattan, it also offers shopping, dining, tours and other events.

After this, I visited The MET alone. Yes just right, I was by myself. I was not disturbed or rushed through my visit and I took photos of everything. I will do a separate post for this visit to show you all the amazing artwork that I saw.

Meanwhile, Marco, O and his mum visited Central Park. They took their time walking around and enjoying the gardens. I didn’t meet them until later and only got to see a fraction of what they saw. It was so hot this day and everyone wanted to leave. If we had more time I would have loved to do a tour of the gardens. This is probably not the best activity to do in the middle of summer.

For lunch, we stopped into a restaurant nearby on 5th avenue, within in the Neue Gallery. Café Sabarsky is an Austrian cafe, which was inspired by the turn-of-the-century Viennese cafes, which served as a hub for intellectual and artists. It’s headed by Michelin-star chef Kurt Gutenbrunner, who presents a menu with a modern take on Viennese traditional dishes. The dining room is relatively small but the interior is just stunning. The walls are flanked with dark wood, which is adorned with carved embellishments and there is a classic old-style bar. We each ordered a dish from the menu, including Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese, Bavarian Sausage with warm Pretzel & Sweet Mustard and Roasted Bratwurst with Riesling Sauerkraut, Roasted Potatoes & Dijon. The dishes were presently lovely and tasted very nice as well. They were rather small serves, but then for such a fancy place we probably should have ordered a bit more. Especially since I had to split my meal with my toddler.

After that, we took a walk from on 5th Avenue from the Upper Eastside to Midtown. This is a great walk to take in all the amazing architecture and high-end shopping scene. We made a few stops along the way. First, we stopped at the iconic Apple Fifth Avenue. To get to the store we had to go into a cube and down a spiral staircase. It was very crowded down there, just like every Apple store I suppose.

Next, we visited Trump Tower. Now, this was before the election, so I wasn’t so accustomed with the Trump name as we all are now. The interior is very grand, but also a little outdated. For me it’s reminiscent of the the grandeur of New York in the 1980s and 1990s. At the time we visited there weren’t any stores open. Since I had the pram, I had to take a lift to the first floor to get a view of the foyer. There was a doorman inside, who would only allow one customer or couple at a time. It was kind of nice to privately ascend up. While we were there we did get some ice cream from the Trump Ice Cream Parlor. It offers about 16 classic flavours. I believe I tried the Vanilla Honey Baklava, which I hadn’t come across before and it was pretty nice.

Next, we stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This is the grand church we saw while in New York. This church is 140 years old and is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. The architectural style is largely Neo-Gothic and is truly stunning both inside and out. It is massive in size and can hold 3000 parishes at once.

Not far from 5th Avenue in Midtown, we also made a stop at the famous Magnolia Bakery at the Rockefeller Centre. This New York bakery is various locations within the city across the US, as well as in Asia and the Middle East. The brand was made famous by the ‘Sex and the City’ series and for its cupcakes. Their menu offer a range of cupcakes as well as speciality weekly cupcake flavours. Additional they offer pies, cakes, mini cheesecakes, brownies, bars, cookies and sweet breakfast muffins, scones and loaves. This particular location is rather small and doesn’t offer seating, so we had to grab and go. For me the cheesecakes looked the most amazing, so we got the Blueberry and Caramel Pecan Cheesecake. Oh my goodness they were amazing. They were so soft, creamy and perfectly flavoured and sweetened. I was in cheesecake heaven. I also hadn’t eaten cheesecake in 6 years, but I promise you they are great.

Our last stop was the American Girl Place, near Rockefeller Plaza. We don’t have these dolls in Australia, but I had heard about them. This store is two levels and features the American Girl dolls, Bitty Babies, Wellie Wishers and merchandise. There is also now a cafe on the bottom level.

I hoped to buy a look-alike doll for my daughter. Unfortunately, she was not interested in American girls or Bitty Babies. Instead, she rather wanted to play in the little house, that is set up for small children. Since they are pretty pricey and would take up a big place in my suitcase I decided not to get one for myself.

For dinner, Marco really wanted to eat in a New York American diner. I reluctantly gave in, since I wasn’t expecting diner food to be that great or healthy. He chose the Tick Tock Diner. It is the largest diner in New York and has a bright classic diner interior. The menu offers fried starters and sides, soups, mac & cheese, burgers, tacos, burritos, pancakes, french toast, crepes, waffles, egg dishes, sandwiches, salad bowls, pasta, pizza and desserts.

Marco and I decided to go with burgers. He got the Cheese Burger and Fries and I got the Turkey Burger and Sweet Potato Fries. To be honest we were a bit underwhelmed by both the presentation and the taste.

Well that’s my last day in New York. My post on the MET will be out soon and then we will move onto Washington DC.

5# Throwback Travel- New York: Animal love in Central Park and Eataly (day 5)

Day 5 in New York was another full day in the heat of summer. We took a magical journey on horse and carriage through Central Park and visited the animals at Central Park Zoo. This was followed by a Broadway show, dinner at the amazing Eataly and visit to The LEGO Store.

But first, breakfast. As I mentioned previously I had been doing mamma-daughter breakfast dates out instead of eating the mass-produced food at the hotel. Today we visited Le Pain Quotidien again. O and I shared a big bowl of organic steel-cut oats and berries. It was really wholesome and satisfying.

Organic steelcut oats and berries, Le Pain Quotidien

Central Park

Our first activity of the day was a horse and carriage ride around central park. We found our coachman on 59th St, across from the Plaza. I can’t remember exactly how much it cost, but I’m sure it was around $60-80 for 30mins. I think if you book it is more expensive, but then I wasn’t visiting in high season. It included commentary by the coachman, of the history of the park and sites of interest. It was a lovely experience and a nice way to get an overview of the park in small time frame.

After that, I was a little hungry, so I stopped into The Plaza Food Hall. There are so many different delicious food options for a quick lunch. I’m not sure why I didn’t take any photos inside, but you can see a video of the food hall (see link). I had a prawn roll and seafood chowder from Lukes Lobster Red Hook, which hit the spot.

Central Park Zoo

Next, we visited the Central Park Zoo. I’ve always dreamed to visit this zoo since it’s so famous. It is probably the smallest zoo I’ve been to, but it had a nice variety of animals and is the perfect places to take little kids. Within the zoo, you can also find the Tisch Children’s Zoo, which offers children the opportunity to pet small farm animals.

Broadway

Afterwards, Marco and I went back to Broadway to see An American in Paris. We actually won the tickets in the Broadway Lottery. We entered the lottery every day and won twice, so Marco and Sally also saw another show. If your going to enter the lottery you do have to be flexible with your itinerary. This play was in the most beautiful and historic Palace Theatre. As for the play, I hadn’t heard of it or the original film. I really enjoyed the story and the performance. It would of well been worth paying full price.

Eataly

For dinner we visited the Italian market hall, Eataly. It is the brainchild of Oscar Farinetti, who opened his first location in Torino, Italy. He has since opened more across, Italy, the USA, and in various other countries. Eataly offers various coffee and dessert bars, deli, fresh food, pasta, seafood and meat markets; as well as speciality restaurants, retail, classes and events. This was the first Eataly that I have visited, but I have since come across another in Stockholm last year. I hope an Eataly will open in Australia in the near future. I also wish to visit the Eataly Bologna Ambasciatori, which is meant to be like a foodies theme park.

There are two Eataly’s in New York, in the Flat Iron and Downtown district. When we visited the Flat Iron location had just opened. I didn’t know what to expect, so I was blown away by the amazing food and wished I could try one of everything. Since I couldn’t cook in the apartment I just bought some beautiful exotic organic fruits, that I hadn’t tried before.

Since we were here for dinner we look for a restaurant that could accommodate us. There were four restaurants, including Le Verdure, Manzo, La Pizza & La Pasta, Il Pesce, La Piazza. Since my visit, it appears that Le Verdure was closed and replaced with Il Pastaio di Eataly and Serra D’autunno by Birreria was added. Anyway, on this particular evening, there was only room at Le Verdure, the vegetarian restaurant. I was pretty excited about this since I was looking forward to trying some traditional dishes inspired by vegetables.

We ordered a few things to share, including Pizza Fritta with Stracciatella, tomato & basil; Fritto Misto, Gnocchi alla Romana con Bolognese di Verdura and Cannelloni con spinaci e pomodori. This was one of the most amazing dinners we had in New York. The food was just so well made, crispy, crunchy and full of flavour. After dinner, I also tried a Pumpkin Tiramisu from the dessert counter and Marco had a Nutella crepe from Nutella counter.

The LEGO Store

On my walk back to the hotel, I came across The LEGO Store, in the Flat Iron district. This was the first one I had ever been to, so it was more exciting at the time. It was pretty packed considering it was nearly 8pm. Luckily my toddler was too tired to get out and want to play with everything she saw.

Tomorrow, we visit the Rockefeller Centre, see the view from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Natural History Museum and have dinner in Little Italy.

4# Throwback Travel- New York: Lower East Side, West Village and High Line (day 4)

I’ve been a little unwell the past month but feeling better today. So I can continue with Day 4 in New York City. We were finally done with our tours, so now it was time to check out some of the hipster neighbourhood in Lower Manhattan. We did breakfast on the Lower East Side, lunch in the West Village, walked the High Line and did a low key dinner with a friend. It was a pretty low key day, but boy did we do a lot of walking.

Lower East Side

One of the places you have to visit when in New York is the famous Katz’s Delicatessen. If not for the movie nostalgia and its history, definitely for their pastrami sandwich. This historical kosher-style delicatessen was founded back in 1888 and has been featured by numerous food shows. I have never been to a kosher eatery, so I was pretty excited to see what they would have on offer.

We arrived pretty early in the morning and there really wasn’t a lot open on the Lower East Side. Katz’s Delicatessen was open, so we took our time reading about their history and getting accustomed with the menu. Its a pretty lay back place, so we didn’t feel rushed to figure out what we were going to have. The menu is massive, consisting of hot and cold sandwiches, traditional Jewish dishes, breakfast omelettes, soups, salad platters and cakes.

We ended up going with the classic Pastrami Sandwich, which was chock full of freshly cooked pastrami, with mustard on fresh bread. We also had a side of half-sour and full-sour pickles and plate of Potato Latkes with apple sauce and sour cream. I’m don’t usually like cold cut meat sandwiches, but this hot pastrami sandwich exceeded my expectations. The meat was so juicy and satisfying. The sour pickles really complemented the sandwiches and the potato latkes were nice and crispy.

After breakfast, we took to the streets to see what the Lower East Side was all about. The buildings on this side of town aren’t highrise, so it has much more of a neighbourhood feel. The area has quite a few contemporary art galleries and home to many artists and creatives. It is also known as a place for night life and live music, so we probably should have visited later in the day. At this time of the morning, it was pretty quiet. None of the shops were open and it seemed most people were still in bed. We did find a few coffee shops open. In Australia, coffee is a pretty big thing and our coffee is a lot different from American coffee. So we were hoping to find something more similar to what we were used to.

We visited Ludlow Coffee Supply and their coffee was pretty good. Their barista/server was pretty rude though and I am not quite sure why. I don’t quite understand why anyone would be rude when they relying on tips. In my country, we don’t get tips, but its still unacceptable to have a bad attitude. Anyway hopefully they have nicer staff now. Other then that, it has a pretty trendy interior and was a pretty popular place for locals.

West Village

Afterwards, we walked over to the West Village, which took about 20 mins on foot. For us quite a bit longer with a toddler and a grandmother. We stopped at a local park and let O have a bit of a play. It was so unbelievably hot, so we hung out here for a while. The West Village has so many amazing cafes and restaurants in this area, as well as vintage stores and galleries. Its was probably my favourite neighbourhood in New York.

Pretty soon it was time for lunch and we visited another one of my must-visit eateries in New York. I have been a huge fan of Chloe Coscarelli for years, so I couldn’t wait to visit her first cafe. I have already reviewed this By Chloe on Bleeker Street, which you can see here. The food was amazing. It looked and tasted just as delicious as the food in Chloe’s cookbooks. Unfortunately, since our visit, Chloe was ousted from By Chloe. You can read about it here. To be honest I am not sure I would want to return to By Chloe given the chance. It just feels wrong after the way they treated her, and continuing to profit off her name and food genius.

The High Line

After lunch, we walked up to High Line, which begins on the north-eastern tip of Greenwich Village and continues through Chelsea. The High Line is an elevated public park, that runs along a historic freight rail line. It offers great views of Manhattans West Side and Hudson River, and features art installations and 120 different flora species. It runs about 1.45 miles (2.33 km) and a great place to take a relaxing stroll.

Friendly Catchup

After all that walking on the hot sun, we took some time to rest in the hotel. For dinner we met up with a friend of mine, who was air hostess and stopping overnight in New York. I really wanted to go do Momofuku Noodle Bar or John’s of Bleeker Street. However, it was so hot and nobody wanted to go so far away. Instead, my friend suggested the Olive Garden near Time Square. Marco was much more keen then me to try this Americanized-Italian food and I was a little curious.

Olive Garden at Time Square is a huge restaurant and is extremely popular for tourists. We had to take a buzzer, but it didn’t take too long to get a table. The menu is also massive, consisting of pastas, meat dishes, soups, salads, desserts, etc. It was quite overwhelming, we kept it simple with the Bread sticks, Famous House Salad, Angel Hair with Shrimp (no cream) for me and Meat cannelloni with meat sauce for Marco. The meals came out and were just massive in size. Mine looked a bit better than Marco’s dish, which looked a mess. My pasta wasn’t too bad, bit also wasn’t really flavoursome. Marco wasn’t such a fan of the taste of his. On the bright side the salad was fresh and the bread sticks weren’t bad. This would have been the perfect place to take your family if they love lots of options, big serves and have no dietary restrictions.

That brings me to the end of day 4. Tomorrow we do a horse and carriage ride through Central Park, visit the Central Park Zoo, see a Broadway show and dine at the amazing New York Eataly.

3# Throwback Travel- New York: Lady Liberty to Uptown (day 3)

On day three in New York, we continued our Big Bus tours, cruising to the Statue of Liberty and exploring the fancy side of town. We lunched on the Upper East Side, at one of the most amazing and elegant vegan restaurants, saw a Broadways show and had a cheeky late-night premium burger in Hell’s Kitchen. All in all, a pretty great day.

River Cruise to Lady Liberty

We had to get up pretty early this morning for the NYC Sightseeing River Cruise, which was part of our 2 day Big Bus pass. For breakfast, I went to a little hole in the wall bagel store near our apartment, which I can’t remember well and didn’t photograph. From memory, it was a pretty average. After, that we took a car down to the South Street Seaport in the Two Bridge area, where we took the Hornblower Cruise. It appears that this has been changed to a port off Hell’s Kitchen now.

The cruise went for about an hour and took us along the East River, passed the end of the Hudson River and into the Upper New York Bay. We got amazing views of the Financial District, Brooklyn, Governors Island, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. During the cruise, there was a recorded commentary and we could explore the top deck and the inside cabin. There wasn’t anything very exciting to eat or drink, just snacks. So I happy we had breakfast first.

This cruise didn’t get too close to the Statue of Liberty, but it did provide a great opportunity to take photographs of the entire island. It was pretty surreal seeing the lady of liberty in person. I did see many people exploring the island and I don’t regret not visiting it. I think we got a better view of the statue from the cruise than we would have below the statue.

Uptown and Harlem loop tour

Next, we took the Big Bus Uptown loop, which we got on from Bryant Park (20). It took us up through Time Square and the Broadway district, where we could see the outskirts of the Rockefeller centre. Then up to the Columbus Circle (southern left point of Central Park). From here we got off and onto the Harlem loop, which took us through the Upper West Side and up to Harlem. Harlem is a pretty hip area, with an amazing history, particularly for African Americans. As we passed through the Upper West Side, our guide pointed out the celebrities residents of the massive apartment building and important churches. The bus then took us back down to Columbus Circle, where we took the Uptown loop again up as far as the MET Museum. Here we got off to explore and have lunch. We didn’t have time to see the MET today, but I did return a couple of days later on my own.

Upper East Side

The streets on the Upper East Side as exactly how I imagined this fancy New York neighborhood to be. The buildings were all perfectly maintained with trees lining the narrow streets. It was much less crowded and very private, so I can see why it would be an ideal place to live in this bustling city. There are plenty of places to eat at this end of town closer to Central Park and in between the quieter streets.

One of the highlights of my trip was visiting Candle 79, which is a seriously great vegan restaurant on the Upper East side. It was top of my must-eat list for New York and it was highly recommended by Alicia Silverstone. It is a high-end vegan restaurant, serving organic, local and seasonal food. The menu items are well thought out and there was a small army of chefs in the kitchen producing all the amazing food that was coming out. It doesn’t matter if your not vegan or vegetarian and I guarantee the food will still wow you.

We sampled a few different dishes and I can say it was all really great and everyone was very happy. I had the Wild Mushroom Crepe with summer vegetables, tempeh, spinach, garlic truffle aioli. Marco had the Burrito with chilli-herb grilled seitan, caramelized onions, sautéed greens, chipotle black beans, brown rice and ‘mozzarella’. And Sally had the Spaghetti & White balls with truffled tomato sauce, roasted garlic, spinach, cashew parmesan. O just sampled what she liked. We also ordered a couple of desserts, including the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Bliss (chocolate & peanut butter mousse, salted peanut-caramel crust, berry coulis) and the Cannoli (chocolate chip-vanilla cream filling, coconut ice cream, chocolate drizzle). If you didn’t know the deserts were vegan, you wouldn’t off been able to detect a different. They were just fantastic.