New York City Staycation


I’ve been MIA for a while, and I’ll explain about where I’ve been soon.  In the meantime,  I think it’s time to bring things back to NYC.

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It’s easy to love NY right now. The flowers are blooming, the air is crisp, the skies are blue.  It wasn’t so easy to love NY just a few weeks ago, in the middle of winter, when the air was freezing, my skin was itchy with eczema, and I was going stir crazy with cabin fever. It just happens that our anniversary falls in the middle of February, right around Valentine’s, when the seemingly endless winter makes NY anything but romantic.  This was our 5th Anniversary and honestly, I was hoping to get the hell out of town . . . but that just wasn’t in the cards at that moment.  So we decided to have a little stay-cation and pack it with a bunch of our NYC favorite things—along with a special splurge—and remind ourselves of what makes NYC great, even in the bleakest part of winter. 

We started our tour of treats on Valentine’s with a low-key lobster roll date.  If you follow my instagram feed at all (http://instagram.com/nibblinggypsy, @nibblinggypsy), you probably know that I LOVE Luke’s Lobster rolls. Ever since I first tried them in the East Village, I’ve required a regular fix of these guys. Luckily, they soon opened a location near me on the Upper West Side. Nothing says love like lobster.

Lobster Roll in Fall

One of the best parts of living here is that you can find just about any cuisine anytime. (Well, the options in Mexican food are a little lacking, but otherwise take your pick.) In the middle of winter, ramen is a go-to to keep warm. There are several noodle shops that get buzz downtown, but accessibility is key when you need to thaw out, and we live uptown. Our favorite hole in the wall is Menkui Tei.

Two broths blended together
 

I’m sure it’s unorthodox, and possibly even blasphemous, but Greg and I like to mix the Extra Spicy with the rich pork broth of the Tonkatsu Ramen. Their Shumai are also pretty rocking. 

Shumai

We made a romantic evening at home one night with a selection of meats from Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto.  The restaurant serves a delicious selection of Italian food typical of Parma; however, the attached salumi shop is becoming kind of indispensible to Greg and I.

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Anytime we want a no-fuss treat at home—whether to entertain or just to splurge on ourselves—we pick up few meats from the Salumeria, a couple of cheeses, and bread and pair it with some good wine.   (The Porchetta, Sopressata Picante, and Prosciutto di San Daniele are some of our favorites, but its always fun to try new things.) This spread makes for a cozy evening that feels extravagantly decadent, but with a reasonable price tag.

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Ok, so we did more than just eat on our little staycation.  Central Park has a soft spot in our hearts. It’s the place I go to take mini-escapes from this city’s almost constant crazy times.  For his part, Greg has photographed it up and down.  We might go there all the time, we definitely had to make it part of in-city break as well.


Just a few blocks south of the park is MoMA. This is one of my favorite of NYC’s countless museums.  It’s a manageable size to tackle in the afternoon, they have great collections, and they tend to have great exhibitions as well.

 

 And then there are the cocktails.  Yeah. The cocktails. Nothing caps off an afternoon of gazing at fine works of art like a finely crafted cocktail in a stylish and chic setting, and luckily there’s the Bar Room at the Modern to help you out.

Whiskey

Nonesuch Improved: laird’s bonded apple brandy, cardamaro, maraschino liqueur, lemon, angostura bitters

Ok, these were some of the already favorite NYC things we packed into the weekend. Nothing particularly extravagant, just favorites . . . but there was also a splurge . . . Le Bernardin!  That NY classic and restaurant home of the ever- elegant Eric Ripert was on my NYC fine-dining bucket list.  Le Bernardin offers three tasting menus for lunch and dinner: a basic 3-course prix fixe for lunch or 4-course for dinner; the Le Bernardin Tasting menu; and the Chef’s Tasting.  The offerings on all of the menus are rotated regularly. We got in for a late lunch and took advantage of the Le Bernardin Tasting menu. Friends who’d ventured here before (and even after) me, had given me somewhat mixed reviews—from just pretty good to amazing. I suppose this makes sense given the constantly changing menu and variability of tastes. Admittedly, I found the service style to be a wee bit on the stuffy side, but the food was fantastic. 

Each dish was a beautiful seafood creation.  Rather than a rock concert of bold flavors, each course was more like a ballet or a symphony; subtle and ethereal.  Thinly sliced scallops floated through my mouth on a wave of lime-shiso broth.  The lobster lasagna was decadently creamy, but melted on my tongue. And the Roasted Monkfish showed just the right amount of sass with a smoky, cumin-wine sauce.


What more can I say? The staycation was a needed bright spot that helped me pull through what seemed like an endless winter. (Thanks, Honey!) Now I'm just trying to enjoy Spring while it lasts.

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