My Favorite NYC Moments #9: La Vie at JFK

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Seriously, why is Salad Nicoise so delicious at La Vie?  And the bistro is inside an airport!

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Even the fries are first class!

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Maya’s omelet.  “Quite delicious” is how she described the egg dish!

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Here’s the full list of my top 10 moments:

  1. Dinner at Villard Michel Richard
  2. Lunch at Babbo
  3. Picnic at Central Park
  4. Serendipity 3
  5. Lunch at Balthazar
  6. Grand Central Oyster Bar
  7. Gahm Mi Oak
  8. Dominique Ansel Bakery
  9. La Vie at JFK
  10. Bryant Park at night
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Day 4: I Heart Brooklyn

Maya and I welcomed Day 4 of our NYC adventures with mixed emotions. While we were excited that we had another good afternoon ahead of us, we were so sad that this was going be our last day in NYC.

We spent our final afternoon sightseeing in Brooklyn. Our first stop was DUMBO (shortened for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), where we got to be at the foot of Manhattan Bridge. I actually think Brooklyn Bridge is 10 times prettier than the neighboring Manhattan Bridge.

We stumbled upon a wonderful restaurant called Al Mar (thanks to Maya and her handy Android), where we enjoyed a fabulous lunch. The place was cozy and very Brooklyn.  I can totally see myself spending hours here with a good book.

Maya had Eggs in the Cloud (baked egg yolk floating on whipped egg whites, Fontina cheese, smoked ham, toasted Brioche, served with saute spinach) and I had smoked salmon sandwich (with avocado, cucumbers, beets, and creme fraiche, on pumpernickel breads). We split the tart. Everything here was absolutely amazing!

After lunch, we strolled over to the Brooklyn Height neighborhood and took in the picturesque Downtown skylines. I am absolutely in love with Brooklyn and this is perhaps my favorite spot in this borough. I get a rush of energy whenever I stand here.

It still feels a little strange that the World Trade Centers are no longer standing proudly among these buildings in Lower Manhattan. I’ve been to NYC many times in the last several years, but I still haven’t made the visit to Ground Zero. I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to go there.

What I love so much about this magnificent city is that each neighborhood has its own, unique charms. Brooklyn doesn’t feel, at all, like Manhattan. You feel like you were transported to another state when you get off the subway. Brooklyn feels slower paced, greener, and a lot more relaxed, than Manhattan.

After the visit to Brooklyn, we hurried back to our hotel in Times Square to collect our luggage (we stopped by at Pie Face for some cute savory pies for the road). We took a cab to JFK, to get ready to board our flights home. We ate an early dinner at Le Vie in the jetBlue terminal – our last supper together on the trip. Maya and I toasted our Chardonnay and Espresso Martini to short but a wonderful four days together, and enjoyed delicious meals of escargot (for her), Salad Nicoise and Pomme Frites (for me).

Now, it’s time to find a destination for our next adventures! (Oh, and to unpack and resume the real world.)

How Time Has Changed: Brasserie Le Vive at JFK

An airport is not necessarily the first place people associate gourmet dining experience with, unless, of course, you’re at the Jet Blue terminal in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

If you’ve flown to NYC with this modern airline in recent years, you know what I’m talking about. Terminal 5 looks more like a spacious shopping mall with great restaurants and stores rather than an airport terminal.  There’s even a touch-screen monitor in the middle of the terminal where you can order food and drinks and a server will bring the food straight to your gate. I hope Los Angeles and / or Burbank airports would offer such service!  Oh, how time has changed.

I was able to resist the shopping temptation (well, sort of, if you don’t count the shopping bag full of stationary I picked up at Muji), but I could not stay away from walking in to one of the alluring restaurants that sit in the middle and around the circular terminal. Dining selections here include a casual cafeteria (with the usual selections of sandwiches, salads, pizzas and boxed sushi, etc.), a steak house, a sushi bar, and a seafood place, among many others.

Everything looked wonderful, but one place that caught my eyes in particular was a small French brasserie that sat on the very end of the restaurant row. I sat at a bar counter at Brasserie La Vie and treated myself to a glass of Chardonnay to celebrate the end of the work week in NYC.

The place is totally cute, offering seemingly authentic dishes like Escargot with Garlic Butter, Duck and Pistachio Terrine, and Moules Frites aux Pernod (mussels and French Fries) on the menu — something you’d expect to find at a brasserie / bristro in Paris, certainly not in a middle of the busy airport terminal in the states. There are more mainstream items on the menu as well, like French Onion Soup and Croque Monsieur / Madame. Particularly craving something light, I ordered Salad Nicoise (no surprise here as I am obsessed with this salad) with a side of Pommes Frites (the ultimate guilty pleasure).

The salad was pretty darn delicious, with vinegary anchovy fillets and seared tuna atop a bed of arugula, tomatoes, haricot verts, olives, boiled eggs, and roasted peppers tossed in vinaigrette. Each bite went incredibly well with the glass of chilled white wine, with a side of crispy French fries with a touch of ketchup and Tabasco.

I’m not sure if it was the atmosphere of the brasserie or the fact that I was finally coming home, but I was feeling very happy sitting at the counter at the restaurant. I had a few hours to kill before my flight, and while I usually get bored and antsy waiting, that was not the case this day. I caught up on my leisure magazine reading and just enjoyed the time passing by, while soaking up the energy of New York City.