We planned a trip to New York because of dinner, a special dinner obviously! We went to a James Beard dinner by Lon Symensma, world famous Asian fusion chef who currently owns/runs Cholon in Denver. Of course we are not going to let a trip to New York go on without adding in a extras-this trip was two Broadway plays, two world-class museums and food food food!
We land in Newark and E- starts the food fest with a slice of Famous Famiglia's blanca. Pizza purists will snear at Fame Fam's...but it was the college pizza we grew up with and my first non-tomato pizza so even a late night slice at the airport is nostalgic.
Bronies! Best. Night. Ever.
Gotta have bagels at least once in NYC! Then a day at the Met including our favorite classics Temple of Dendur, the Jain hall, Chinese garden, snacks in the American wing and exhibits we haven't seen in a long time. We spent some time in the Monet rooms (okay, they are not JUST Monet, but he is my personal fav), at Washington crossing the Delaware (forgot it was so big...how do the painting logistics work???), the Stein exhibit (which I saw at the SFMOMA, but new to everyone else-SF was better laid out, but this still got the point across and I still like Picasso's chicken sketches), and finally, finally! the Islamic rooms are reopen. I didn't appreciate the Islamic room until just before leaving NYC, and then they have been closed for practically ever! I am drawn to the designs which are completely regular but intricate. But they now have much better displays of the weaving/hanging/rugs. As always I love how they have a complete room that you can look into and my only disappointment is that there is just one peep window into the sitting room...
What to do for food? We got a fun tip from a local friend to go to Eataly a combo marketplace/restaurant/snackbar. You can sit down and eat, then grocery shop. At the center are stand up tables where we get a bottle of wine and the cheese and meat plate. It is lovely, just lovely, I bet everything is good. Just note that it is currently popular and you will either have to wait an hour for a table at a restaurant, or hang out in the middle and pounce when a table opens.
Tonight we have a pair of tickets to see the oh so popular Book of Mormon...but we are 4. What to do what to do. Michael decides it is worth it to try for some of the last minute options-you can wait in the line for folks who return their tickets or are no-shows. You might be disappointed if you try it, but he was third in line and for 2 hours of waiting got fantastic seats-woo hoo!! I certainly enjoyed it, but it really couldn't live up to all the hype, so I don't understand the folks who want to go see it over and over. The songs are spot on, but I spent much of the show thinking-meh, yes Mormons are funny, but is there more? There was more, but I had to wait until the end. The performances and staging are very well done, but I don't believe it will become a classic.
The rest of the fun bunch arrives Sunday morning and we go for a classic diner brunch at the Skylight diner. We ear ourselves silly because they have ridiculous options like my chocolate chip banana pancakes drizzled with peanut butter! On to the Highline! Beautiful spring day, so it is filled with folks-good people watching. Sadly my two favorite art installations are gone-the portal-like snippets from the water fountains and the Bells of New York. but the day is lovely and the flowers are blooming and you can see everything from up here.
A quick peak into Times Square because we have a NYC virgin on this trip and who doesn't want to see Times Square? Next up is Memphis. My friend James is in Memphis and of course is the most wonderful part of the show. He just somehow steals his scenes. Afterwards he lets us on stage-neat-o!! And then we all have dinner with my Dawn-Dawn! Lovely Daniela Restaurant lets us sit upstairs so that we essentially have our own room and can chat for hours. On the walk back to the hotel, Dawn 'makes' us stop for cupcakes the size of a quarter at Baked by Melissa. We bought a dozen, but by the time I got out the camera exactly two were left. Seriously, these are amazing. One last drink at our hotel bar before we turn in for the night-weird giant tv outside...
We took the subway to get to the Natural History Museum and accidentally got on an express, so we took the 'scenic' route of going up to 125th, crossing sides, and back down to 79th. But when you get off, the entrance to the museum is right there-you don't even go above ground. How cool is that! The museum is of course HUGE but we managed to do most of the exhibits. We saw the planetarium show, the special space exhibit, dioramas, butterfly house, dinosaurs, snack bar and gift shop-phew! My favorite part in the dinosaur exhibit was the video showing how they reconstructed the T-Rex when Science changed its mind about how we believe the dinos stood and walked. The exhibit had been up for decades, but with scaffolding and planning they were able to make the changes in place. Nice job curators!
My next favorite exhibit is the 'order of magnitude' exhibit (my name, not theirs...). It is on the walkway outside the planetarium and takes you though something like 70 orders of magnitude by referencing a few physical objects in front of you. The size of space of mind boggling. We are a little starving and have time for a quick pizza snack at Pizza Pete's just up the street (recommended by the security guard, turns out to be busy with after-school kids) before heading back to the hotel to change.
Dinner is at the James Beard Foundation which is in a brownstone that used to be James Beards, so we go early to look around. We poke around the library, only one overlap between his library and mine, not really a surprise. We say 'Hi' to a lovely random couple who are here for her birthday and the important people that Tonia knows, including Angelo from Top Chef! How fun is that-he was totally like you would imagine from the show, full of teasing and flirting.
Dinner is of course amazing, we take notes on the food and the food/wine pairing-aren't we fancy. At the end Lon answers questions and we learn some amazing stuff, like the shrimp chip? Actually a pounded, soaked, freeze dried, deep fried beef tendon...um, seriously!?! And the bubbles in the bubble tea? Not tapioca. Fruit juice held into bubble form by alginate (or some such...notes are a little fuzzy). Finally before leaving we grab photos with the James Beard portrait behind us-Thanks James Beard and your foundation for being here and thanks Lon for the amazing meal!
E- and I get up stupid early to catch our flight and take a cab to Newark because it is a once in a lifetime chance to do so without traffic :)