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.)

Day 2: Anything Goes!

Day 2 of Maya and Hirono’s NYC adventures began with lunch at Eataly, in the lovely Gramercy neighborhood.

When you walk into this place — a food court meets grocery shop (on steroid) — you instantly feel like you have stepped into Italy. There are eateries stationed in each corner of the warehouse-like building, each serving up different dishes, from seafood, to steak, to pasta, to wine / cheese, to desserts.

Maya and I ended up at the Pasta section and had one the best. pasta. dishes. ever.  Our server was a handsome Italian guy with a full-on Italian accent … so we decided to call him Mossimo.  The place felt completely authentic (unless, of course, Mossimo was really from Nebraska).lol

This was spaghetti with simple tomato sauce. The menu had this dish served with penne but I changed it up to my favorite pasta. It was seriously amazing – simple but an absolute perfect meal.

Maya’s ravioli dish was pretty darn amazing too.

After lunch, we walked across 23rd Street to Chelsea Market. We walked by Shake Shack on the way, which has always been one of the places that I wanted go, but now that I don’t eat meat, the burger didn’t appealed to me all that much … but I took a picture of it anyway.

When we arrived to Chelsea Market, the home of Food Network, we made a beeline to Jacques Torres for a cup of hot chocolate. It was nice to relax a bit over a nice cup of Wicked (spicy hot chocolate, aka liquid crack). Maya and I shared a delicious piece of Earl Gray chocolate.

We weren’t particular hungry but we saw a bunch of people eating whole lobsters so we HAD to try it too (we are a total culinary ambulance chasers and we get so curious as to what others are eating) ! We got to choose our lobster from the fish monger who cooked it and cracked the shells for us.  We were glad that the lobsters were already dead … otherwise, we would have felt super guilty, knowing that we were directly responsible for the poor crustacean’s destiny.cry

We named the lobster Oscar … and he was delicious.

Chelsea Market was jam packed with a Saturday tourist crowd, with barely a room to walk, so we didn’t get to explore all that much, but we made sure to stop by Fat Witch for some yummy brownies.

We spent a few good hours shopping at SoHo, after we left Chelsea Market. We went to Purl SoHo (aka mecca) and picked up some new fabrics, and bought the entire Uniqlo store. After we dropped off our stuff and relaxed for a few minutes at the hotel, we were off to see the Broadway musical, Anything Goes, which turned to be one of the most entertaining shows I’ve seen, on Broadway AND elsewhere!  We seriously spent two hours laughing.  I was a bit disappointed at first that Sutton Foster was no longer on the show, but It was still amazing nonetheless.

Then, it was time for late dinner at Gam Mi Oak in Koreatown for some ox tail soup and kimchi. Maya ordered cow’s knees (yep, I guess they’re edible). I didn’t eat the knees but I had some vegetables in the dish and they were awesome.

Ready to go to sleep — it’s almost 3:00 a.m. and we have another busy day tomorrow!

Day 1: NYC Adventures

Hello from New York City! I’m here with Maya. This is our sequel to the Paris adventures in 2010, but this time, we decided to meet up in the Big Apple instead of crossing the ocean. I’m so glad that I get to spend the next four days with my BFF, in one of my favorite cities in the world!

We’re staying right smack in the middle of Times Square. We can see a part of the famous illuminations from our 41st floor hotel room. We’re on a FULL ON tourist mode, with maps and cameras and

After our red-eye flights landed in JFK (where we met up), we headed over to the hotel to check our luggage and walked over to the Rockefeller Center to watch the Today Show.

It was chilly outside so we went into Bouchon Bakery (formerly Dean and Deluca) to warm up, and to enjoy an amazing breakfast. We even got to watch Today Show from inside the bakery through the glass windows.

I had the Brioche bagel with Gruyere cheese spread, picked onion, and tomato slices, a cup of chocolate soy milk, and two macarons (chocolate and raspberry lemon). Definitely not a bad way to start out the vacation.

After we walked and shopped around the Rockefeller Center, we returned to the hotel and had our first drinks at the hotel bar, while we waited for the room to be available. The hotel staff informed us that the room would be ready in 15 minutes, but we ended up spending almost 2 hours at the bar talking and laughing!

We were getting a bit hungry after a few hours of walking, so we headed to the Grand Central Station for some oysters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar.

We had eight pieces of Kumamoto oysters each, and shared the order of fried oysters and broiled scallops. Everything was amazingly fresh. We opened a bottle of Chardonnay.

Grand Central Market made me wish that I had a kitchen nearby!

We had tickets to go on the NBC Studios Tour so we hurried back to the Rock, but not before taking in the beauty of Bryant Park. This is one of my favorite spots in NYC.

The NBC Studios Tour was a-okay, but we got to see the studios where Dr. Oz, Jimmy Fallon, and Saturday Night Live are taped so that was pretty neat.  I’m happy that I got to take a photo with my TV crush, Matt Lauer, even if he were a cardboard.

I was getting a bit fatigued and didn’t feel like going up the Rock so we headed to a nearby Italian restaurant for much needed rest. The restaurant was called Pasta Lovers but neither Maya nor I ordered a pasta dish.  Instead, we had Salad Nicoise (me) and Sea Bass with Risotto (Maya).

Okay, time to go to bed now. I’m looking forward to another exciting day with ma-ma-Maya!