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DimSumCouver Eve

Oh, Canada Place
I started out my day paddlesurfing in Andrews Bay on Lake Washington. I am proud to report I did not fall in the water once. A miracle! Although the water seemed so perfect, so maybe I should’ve gone for it.


After my lesson with Naomi, Mr. T & I took off for The Great White North. We arrived before the rest of the crew coming tomorrow for DimSumCouver #7.

L'Abbatoir: Our Dinner

We secured reservations in advance for L’Abbatoir. It came highly recommended by LUPEC ladies who visited in March. Now that I’ve been, I understand why — the bar is right up LUPEC’s alley.

Blood Alley in Gastown
And uh, it’s right by this alley, too.

After dinner, we walked the Night Market.

Chinatown Night Market

Overall, a very relaxing and quiet evening in downtown — the quietest I’ve ever seen Vancouver on a Saturday night.

The View Over Alberni
Nighttime over Alberni

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Last Day in NYC: Minetta Tavern plus 3 hours on the Tarmac

Minetta Tavern
After several injustices at JFK over the last year, we have another airport to add to our AVOID list. Let’s get to that in a moment.

Our last stop in New York City for May 2011: Minetta Tavern. We scored reservations right when they opened and experienced some of the best service we’d had all week. Eggs Benedict ended up on in front of me again, this time in the more traditional manner but equally compelling. Can’t help what you love. I recommend Minetta Tavern. Lovely final stop.

Quiet Sunday

We left with plenty of time to JFK and sailed across several highways. All was looking well for our departure before the traditional late-afternoon JFK slowdown in the takeoff queue, when our plane basically got backed into a ditch. And apparently the asphalt was going soft, worsening conditions. It’s not even Summer, folks.

Several tow trucks later — including the largest they had on the airport premises — we were out of that ditch. But, we needed refueling which led to more paperwork which led to getting in a very long queue to leave.

a 3 hour tour of JFK's tarmac

3 hours later, we were aloft. They were out of everything except crackers, and I’m still a little bitter over paying $5 for that measly snack box.

We eventually made it home.

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Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg, Balthazar, DiFara, Mayahuel

Hello, Andy
Nice camera, Andy

If you ever find yourself wondering about a good time to visit NYC, may I suggest Memorial Day Weekend? The crowds thin remarkably. This is our second visit and the natives confirmed it’s often like this, as many head to the shore.

A Balthazar Moment
What’s up with the dude at 7 o’clock?

This morning, Mr. T & I finally made it to Balthazar. It’s been on my list for years, and very nearly got nixed this visit (I wanted to make sure we wouldn’t be too full for Di Fara), but I’m so glad we made it. I’ve been hunting for great Eggs Benedict since this Redfish Benedict in Baton Rouge. Most fall short; Balthazar’s Eggs Norwegian was To Die For. Our waitress recommended the bread basket and the fruit bowl — we took her up on the latter, and found it perfectly refreshing.

Balthazar on Urbanspoon

Photo by Mr. T

We puttered around the apartment for a bit, before heading back to Brooklyn, to finally get a piece of some good New York pizza at DiFara. We’ve been trying for years, and this was the first time we’ve actually thought it was worth writing home about. I ordered a slice of the pepperoni and green olives, which incidentally, have been my favorite toppings since I was at least 10 years old. (I remember my Dad ordering this for me for my 10th birthday back when those toppings were options, from Domino’s. That was a happy meal.)

Di Fara Pizza on Urbanspoon

Hello Smorgasburg

Then, we took the long way to Smorgasburg, the new food-focused market by the folks behind The Brooklyn Flea. It was very Portlandia, and we may have been a little too full too appreciate it.

A source for your fancy breakfast cereal treat needs.

In line for my Rhubard Ginger Popsicle at People's Pops

I ordered a Pear shave ice and Mr. T tried the Rhubarb Ginger.

wandering brooklynbreukelyn

We wandered Brooklyn a bit before lounging around the apartment some more, then tried to give Ippudo the ramen shop one more try.

Echo, at Madison Square Park — a special sculpture, for this Summer, picture taken on our walk to the East Village.

While our names languished on Ippudo’s wait list, we hopped over to Mayahuel, another Rocky bar rec. As I am a sucker for anything vaguely Mexican, once one tequila drink was down, we gave up on Ippudo and ordered ceviche (okay) and tamales (good). Stellar drinks — the female bartender was top notch and guided us through the rest of our orders. Turns out, she is from the Northwest! (Portland, to be precise.) We wrapped up our visit by having shots with her, of the special house tequila. It’s my favorite NYC bar from this trip.

If you go, we liked all we tried:
Herb Albert: Jalapeno infused blanco tequila, mezcal, oregano, lime
the Watermelon Seasonal: not on the menu and I wish I remembered the ingredients, other than the watermelon-salt rim!
Randy Cocktail: Reposado tequila, lime and ginger, with a rinse of mezcal
Bermuda Longtal: Jalapeno infused tequila, pineapple infused mezcal, lime, yellow chartreuse
Cantinflas: Reposado tequila, dry oloroso sherry, amaro, grand marnier, xocolatl mole bitters

Mayahuel on Urbanspoon

The Last Night
on the walk home

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Savage Beauty

in the American Wing
In the Met’s American Wing

I made it a point to see one exhibit while I was in NYC this time: Savage Beauty at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring the fashion of Alexander McQueen. The rumors of massive lines and wall-to-wall humanity are true. I tried to photograph the waiting hordes (the exhibit itself forbid cameras), but they’ve done a clever job of winding lines through the museum. I left this exemplary art exhibit finally understanding the love for Sarah Jessica Parker’s fashion choices.

The last time I’d visited the Met, I was in my final month of college. It felt good to afford the donation-admission this time.

The gloom from yesterday’s lackluster lunch was dispelled by today’s choices:

Breakfast at No. 7 Sub
I started my day with the General Tso’s soft-boiled egg breakfast sandwich: a messy delight.

No. 7 Sub on Urbanspoon

No. 7 Sub

Lilacs at the Union Square Greenmarket

Lunch at ABC Kitchen
When I arrived at ABCK, the host and hostess were borderline dismissive, like the guys in the Jeffrey SNL skit. I don’t experience this often amongst New Yorkers even at more elevated establishments, so I humored them (read: ignored) and caught up on Facebook til I was seated.

On the other hand, the wait staff were gracious and charming. I settled into a Basil Lime Daiquiri and promised myself I’d recreate the syrup at home. I ordered the burger. I know. But I wasn’t in the headspace for greenmarket preciousness. And I’d never had an Akaushi burger before. And it had jalapenos! And I was missing Burger of the Month! I had to make that up somehow.

ABC Kitchen

My eye’d caught the dessert menu when I arrived, so I cut myself off early to order dessert. That’s where I lost all sense of boundary and plowed through this massive ice cream sundae with the joy of a free spirit not facing a diabetic coma on the other side. It was: salted caramel ice cream, candied peanuts and popcorn, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. It could have fed three people. It was epic. It was awesome. I needed a nap.

ABC Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Dinner at Dram
Once my sugar stabilized, Mr. T and I went to Brooklyn. This was the first time I’ve intentionally gone there without planning to walk right back across the Brooklyn Bridge. It seemed inconvenient before but once we got there, we relaxed. We ate and drank at Dram, and wandered the leafy hood before heading home.

On the Q

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The Eating Tour Rolls On: Maialino, Red Rooster, Pommes Frites, Baoguette

Morning at Gramercy Park
I don’t even know what was going on here at Gramercy Park. Possibly a set-up.

Sometimes, during trips away from Seattle, I panic about trying to see or try or taste all I might want. Today’s reservations were a reflection of trying to cram in all the recs after my Tuesday freakout.

I started my morning at Gramercy Park’s Maialino, a new Italian place recommended by everybody and their brother. Akin to Locanda Verde, they serve a solid Italian breakfast (covered well by Serious Eats, which sold me the reservation, really). Service was excellent but I started my bubbling skillet of Amatriciana (eggs in spicy tomato sauce) too soon. Burn!

Amatriciana at Maialino

Maialino on Urbanspoon

Mostly, I eavesdropped on my table neighbors, observing neurotic New Yorkers in their element. The lady to my right was trapped in an early-era Sex and the City episode. My waiter brought extra focaccia for the delicious amatriciana sauce — a perfect way to linger to pick up stories told to my left, between two unemployed writers railing against a declining publishing industry.

Fried Yardbird, Red Rooster, Harlem

I had to get back to the morning grind, to earn my Harlem lunch break up at the Red Rooster. Maybe the lunch cooks are the C-Team, but I didn’t get why the place is popular enough to be booked a month in advance. My fried yardbird was fairly dessicated — I’ve had better chicken from the Safeway deli case in the hour before closing. The gravy, on the other, hand, was worth writing home about, as was the service. The hostess butchered my last name upon arrival, but that distinction meant she remembered it when wishing me a good day as I departed.

Red Rooster on Urbanspoon

Columbus Circle at Dusk

Young G was leaving Friday (tomorrow), and he still hadn’t seen Central Park. We made a special trip north after work to show it off. After only marching 100 yards into the park, he was so underwhelmed by the place that we turned back. Well hell, I wasn’t going to sell it when I had other things I could do, like gather treats from Bouchon Bakery and Momofuku’s Milk in Midtown. I did just that on the way to dinner. (We’ve already exhausted Monday’s crack pie stash.)

The 90-minute waitlist at downtown’s Ippudo (ramen) drove us deeper into the East Village for pre-dinner Pommes Frites. Once we came across quick sandwiches at Baoguette, it was all over for Ippudo. I had to try the Vietnamese take on a Sloppy Joe. I like my mom’s mid-western version better.

I hope that someday that Young G makes it to the Bethesda Fountain. We walked him past Madison Square Park one more time.

Smith Tower's Cousin

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The Tipsy Blue Ribboned Little Branch

Houston St Station
Houston St Station

Last Fall, I walked to the High Line several times and noticed The Tipsy Parson in our hood on the way, either coming or going. What I remembered most was that each time I walked by in the evenings, the foggy windows allowed just a glimpse into a cozy-looking hangout. This time, I googled ahead for the word on the street. Turns out, it’s a place that specializes in southern comfort food. Sold! I had a late lunch of fried pickles, mac and cheese, and a Rhubarb Smash (rhubarb bitters!). ‘Tis the season for rhubarb.
Tipsy Parson on Urbanspoon

Tipsy Parson

Tonight was a special occasion dinner, commemorated at Blue Ribbon Sushi, per recommendation by Mr. T’s boss’ boss (grand-boss, as we’ve begun calling it). I’d share pictures, but it was too dark inside. Great meal, but as we wrapped it up before sunset, I fired up the phone to find the nearest watering hole on my nyc-may2011 map.

We found ourselves in the subterranean Little Branch in the West Village. My husband discovered a new standard cocktail: The Penicillin, while I went for a ginger concoction. Young G reverted to beer. I think we all left happy.

Little Branch

Little Branch on Urbanspoon

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Mad. Sq. Eats, The High Line, and Lower Manhattan

Calexico - Chipotle Pork Quesadilla

Today I decided there was more to explore at Mad. Sq. Eats. I checked out Calexico’s tacos and their chipotle pork quesadilla. That sauce was worth writing home about.

I got a lot of work done at the apartment before joining Mr. T and his crew at Room Service. Room Service is a Thai restaurant conveniently located near Mr. T’s workplace (one of his teammates is in her last two weeks of pregnancy and it’s uncomfortable for her to walk much farther). I’ll say this: on the menu, I ordered the Pad Noh Mai, something I’d never had before — a dish they proclaimed as truly Thai spicy. The description said, “Very spicy. This plate won’t be adjusted to suit American tastes.” I felt like a bad-ass since I thought it tasted normally spiced. (Maybe the mango mojito was just that refreshing?) The food was very good. Seattle has this genre covered well already, so while I wouldn’t have normally selected this place, it was a happy dinner.

Room Service on Urbanspoon

Towards the High Line

The party broke up as we entered the magic hour and I suggested to Mr. T and the Young G that we check out The High Line.

Sunset at the High Line

We got even more ambitious — since Young G wanted to see it, we headed to Lower Manhattan for the WTC site and Wall Street.

Irish Famine Memorial, against Lower Manhattan

We came across the Irish Famine Memorial. On the top side of that complex, it is remarkably like rural Ireland — a patch of dirt and scraggy bushes with a winding path to a viewpoint, right in the shadow of office towers.

But these are probably my favorite images of Lower Manhattan that evening, taken by Mr. T:

Rebuilding at ground zero
Halfway to a ~hundred floors, the new WTC

The Jersey Shore is actually kind of pretty at night.
The Jersey Shore, from the Irish Famine Memorial

Head on
The Bull and the Taxi

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Mad. Sq. Eats, Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Times Square

Times Square, May 2011
Times Square on a Monday Night

In the Chelsea apartment this time, we had this great view of 7th Avenue. Sure, our situation was a little noisier than our last visit, but I realized the spacious room setup enabled me to feel apart of the bustling city while I worked away at the desk. I could look out briefly for people-watching opportunities.

Roberta's Bee Sting

At lunch, I checked out the nearby Madison Square Eats food truck congregation. I picked up some Ginger Syrup from the P&H Soda Co. to carry back to Seattle, some Hibiscus Tea from Spices and Tease, a feta and olive pretzel from Sigmund’s Pretzel Shop for mid-afternoon, and The Bee Sting from Roberta’s for lunch. Oh, and maybe some Crack Pie from Momofuku Milk Bar’s outpost found its way into my bag.

Sigmund's Pretzel Shop: Feta and Olive

Early afternoon, the housekeeper stopped by. She saw me starting the spicy soppressata and honey pizza and said she could come back later, when I was “done eating.” Obviously, she doesn’t know me well yet, because I couldn’t see that happening for the remainder of the week.

The Pig is King at Momofuku Ssäm Bar

When Mr. T & his coworker (G) arrived back at the building after their day, we went to Momofuku Ssäm Bar. I’ve been meaning to get to this place for YEARS. It lives up to the hype. We had pork belly buns, straight up pork on a plate with espresso flavored mustard, braised oxtail dumplings, and chili soft shell crab with sour plum, lemon confit, and green garlic. Everyone had their fill. We skipped dessert at the restaurant to check out Momofuku Milk Bar (LES) where I bought a compost cookie and Grasshopper Pie with a Candy Bar Pie to keep it company.

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Ssäm Bar
benton’s smoky mountain ham

Times Square, May 2011

We finished our day at the Breslin next to the Ace Hotel, after taking the Young G to see Times Square for the first time.

The Ace, Next to My Husband's Fave Place

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Here We Are Again in NYC: Spring 2011 Edition

The Spotted Pig
Mr. T & I arrived at JFK in NY mid-afternoon. After the longest wait at the cabbie stand, followed by a traffic-filled journey, we arrived to the familiar apartment building in Chelsea. Comforting to return after six months and recognize the same doormen, though the name has changed and the building is undergoing a serious upgrade.

We wasted no time in our dinner search and bee-lined to The Spotted Pig. They warned of an hour wait, so I consulted the Google map I created for the trip. Employees Only was merely blocks away! A perfect place for refreshment, where we could while away the hour. I had the Ginger Smash (Ginger Smash Muddled Ginger Root & Fresh Kumquats shaken with Pueblo Viejo Blanco Tequila, Rhum Clement Creole Shrubb & Fresh Lime Juice, served over ice) and he had the Ruby Tuesday (Wild Turkey Rye shaken with Benedictine, Fresh Lemon Juice & pureed Black Cherries). Perfect start to New York.

Back at the Spotted Pig, we ordered the pot of pickles (of course), the char-grilled burger (delicious, as friends advertised), and sheep’s milk ricotta gnudi with brown butter & sage. I’m a sucker for browned butter!

Should you need a studio for a pet portrait, I’ve got a lead in the West Village:
Get your pet portrait here!

Czech Republic Germany 2011 travel

Krivoklat Castle in the Countryside, U Modre Kachnicky in Prague

Krivoklat Castle
M’s family suggested we head out to the countryside today to visit Krivoklat Castle. We took the tour but ended up on a Czech one while we toured the inside. Hence, I have few details to relay. We learned a bit more later from Vladimir, M’s uncle, who worked here as a tour guide over 20 years ago. (He is now in tech, working in Eastern European operations of companies you may have heard about.)

Family Country Home in Krivoklat

Afterward, we retired to the country home’s gazebo for cake and tea. The cake was thoughtfully sent along with us to Krivoklat from Prague, by Vladimir’s sweet mother.

Country homes were a big deal during the communist era. People weren’t allowed to leave the confines of the borders, so every weekend they journeyed to the countryside. Those with more status had homes closer to Prague. (He added that treks began every Friday for all the workers at noon.)

Family Country Home in Krivoklat

Later in the evening, while M and her family held a gathering at their apartment for family members, J, Mr. T, and I went to check out a recommendation we received from my local contact for U Modre Kachnicky (The Blue Duckling). Dinner lived up to reputation, but the flaming dessert and the talented pianist will stick with my memory far longer.

Tableside Flambe
U Modré Kachničky

We walked home past that ever-evolving John Lennon Wall.

Lennon Wall, at Night

Czech Republic Germany 2011 international travel

The Strahov Monastery, St. Vitus Cathedral, and Aida

The Monastery Library
The Monastery Library

We began our sightseeing today at the Strahov Monastery and Library, after a satisfying lunch at Pivovar Strahov, the onsite brewery.

Beer Heer

From there, we walked back down into the main city through the Castle Grounds. En route we went past St. Vitus Cathedral.

Bridal Shoot at the Castle

St. Vitus Cathedral

We entered the cathedral at the perfect time of day. For all the churches I’ve seen in Europe, this is the first time, I’ve timed it so well to see all the colors reflected.

Stained Glass of St. Vitus

We walked downhill into old town.

The Museum of Communism is now upstairs from McDonald's
The Museum of Communism is now upstairs from McDonald’s.

Our plans for the night included Aida at the State Opera.

State Opera - Aida
State Opera - Aida

Opera-watching’s hard work. We rewarded ourselves at the EuroFood in Wenceslas Square, a la Bourdain.


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Mala Strana and Ruzena’s Book Launch Party

Just Hangin' in There

A business meeting on the west side of the Vltava motivated me across town on a sleepy, partly cloudy morning. After attending to that, and lunch at the Cafe Savoy, Mr. T and I wandered the Mala Strana.

Lennon Wall

We soon found the Lennon wall, a constant work in progress.

at the Lennon Wall

Nearby, we found another remnant of Euro youth pop culture: the love locks.

All You Need is Love
Mon chat, Ma princesse

A Prague visit would be incomplete without anything obviously surreal:
oh, just a bunch of surreal babies

Prague's March of the Penguins

Soon, we needed to wrap our wanderings up, for the evening book launch party being held in conjunction with the opening art exhibition. We took the opposite of a shortcut to the apartment to make sure we paid homage to the local Gehry installation.

Gehry's Fred and Ginger
Seattle was robbed with that EMP blob.

Invitation to the Book Party

We headed back to the Castle for the evening book launch party. The book’s publication was held in conjunction with the exhibition, and tonight featured speeches by descendants of the Futurists. Family stories were shared, and many family members from around the world met each other for the first time before and after the main presentations.

M and her Fam

When the after-party finally ended, our gang of 6 made our way to Malostranska Beseda, for another typico Czech dinner. Mr. T ordered yet another pork leg, and the beer drinkers had their toast!

The Civic Meal

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Day 2 in Prague: Wandering the City & Ruzena Zatkova at the Prague Castle

Old Town Square, Prague

While others slept, I found myself wide awake this morning at 5:30. The sun was just rising as I packed up my gear and started walking through the Old Town.

Old Town Square, Prague

It would be hours before anyone else in our gang was awake.

Old Town Square, Prague

But, once everyone was up, we headed across the Charles Bridge for lunch at riverside Kampa Park.

Hare Krishna, Praha Krishna
Um, not my gang, but the most interesting picture of the early afternoon.

Post-Kampa, we had several social engagements for the day.

The main motivation for our Prague trip was to join our close friends for an opening art exhibition, honoring my good friend’s great-grandmother. My friend’s g-grandmother was the artist Růžena Zátková, the only Czech in the Futurist school. Ruzena was truly living in the future, and her short life was a grand adventure. She was born in Southern Bohemia, married a Russian diplomat in Italy young, lived with him at the Spanish Steps in Rome in splendor, mingled with Stravinsky and Diagheliv, ran off to Mallorca to draw and paint with a Latin American artist colony, and designed costumes for the emerging Russian Ballet. She was bold and thoroughly modern. She died too young at 38, of consumption, while convalescing in the Swiss Alps.

Recently, the president of the country learned she was the sole Czech Futurist, and as a point of national pride, they are honoring her this year with an exhibition at the Prague Castle.
Before the crowds arrived for the evening opening gala, we joined our friends on their family tour.

Marinetti the Italian Futurist's Portait, by Ruzena
Ruzena’s portrait of the Czech Futurist, Marinetti

Ruzena at Prague Castle
Ruzena on Mallorca

We spent time wandering the exhibit, absorbing it all, while M documented everything. Eventually we had to speed back to our apartment to prepare for the Gala.

Prague Castle

The opening gala was held in the Prague Castle. Presentations were given in English and Czech, to a packed ballroom where the people-watching provided hours of entertainment. At the time, I appreciated how beautiful our ballroom was and how stately the castle, but I did not yet know that public access to the castle is only allowed one day a year. Later in the week when we learned this, I felt even more lucky and honored we’d made it there.

It’s funny where life takes you, when you make it a point time and again, to show up.

St. Vitus Cathedral, after Sunset

We walked leisurely home from the Castle, past St. Vitus Cathedral on the grounds, stopping at Villa Richter at St. Wenceslas Vineyard for a late dinner.

Praha, Night

Czech Republic Germany 2011 international travel

First Day in Prague

Old Town Square, Prague
Right after noon, we arrived in Prague to meet our friends M & J near the baggage claim. We sailed through customs to meet our driver, who took us to our apartment near Male Namesti Square (apartments at U Kapra highly recommended).

After a quick unpacking session, we wandered the city to find ATMs, meet M’s parents, buy groceries, and generally acquaint ourselves with the area.

Astronomical Clock
The Astronomical Clock, at the Old Town Hall is currently under repairs. I was okay with this – I find the hourly displays overrated, though they make for interesting people-watching (and photo snapping).


I realized we’d found ourselves in Prague at a great time — the start of Easter celebrations. These painted eggs were everywhere.

Easter Switches - Braided Whips - Pomlázka

Later, we’d learn about these Easter switches, called Pomlázka. They’re made of pussywillow branches, tied with ribbons, to use on women. Not kidding! According to Czech tradition, boys use these to “gently swat” girls on Easter Monday. Supposed to guarantee beauty and health for the upcoming year. Girls reward the boys for this “treat” by giving back brightly colored painted eggs.

When our first day errands were done, M, J, Mr. T, and I settled into our first pub dinner at U Provaznice, aka The Rope Maker’s Wife.

U Provaznice - The Rope Maker's Wife
We thought other illustrations inside the menu were remarkably Angelina Jolie-like. There’s also a legend the place is haunted.

If you’ve see the Bourdain episode where he goes to Prague, you’ll recognize the massive portions of meat. This place had the perfect comfort food for the end of a long travel day.
Mine and Janet's Old Prague Plate at U ProvazniceFrom translation: Roast Pig's Leg with Horseradish and Mustard"

And interesting menu options:
U Provaznice, Menu Starters, Prague
Despite our curiosity about the Smelly Fingers of Ugly Joe, we did not order them. We did notice in the French menu that the name was a French tongue-twister, with no mention of a Joe.

Full of dumplings and pork, we ended the day with our first walk of the Charles Bridge.
Charles Bridge, Night

France international

En Route to Praha

On AirFrance
This was taken shortly before midnight Seattle time, covering today’s theme for picture of the day: air travel. Taken during our layover at CDG, in Paris.


DimSumCouver 6

DimSumCouver Notes
The Muffin Top Trio reunited for their first excursion to Vancouver BC since August 2010.

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DimSumCouver Plotting

Soon, my pretties — soon, we are returning to Vancouver BC for a Greatest Hits Tour.

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L.E.S. Revisited, Washington Square Park, SoHo, The Village & a Good-Bye for Now

Washington Square Park Chess

Sorry for such long delays, dear readers. Turns out, this new thing I’m doing takes up a whole lotta daytime hours. I have high hopes to get all caught up…I still take pictures everyday.

So. Where were we? Oh, yes, NYC.

This morning, Kate, Mr. T & I arose with hot plans to revisit my favorite new NY establishment — Russ & Daughter’s. Mr. T became a convert.
My Beloved Russ & Daughters
My beloved pastrami smoked salmon with The Works.

Then, we 3 walked through the Lower East Side to the East Village to SoHo to the West Village & Greenwich over to the High Line before heading back to the apartment. I think we clocked somewhere around five miles in the sunshine and 70 degrees.

Washington Square Park

Oh, and we saw puppies in Greenwich Village. Always a bonus.

Puppy #2 of Greenwich Village

For a brief hour there as we were thwarted through bridge closures and rough traffic, it nearly appeared we’d become overnight refugees in the city. But, we made it to JFK just in time for sunset and our departure home to Seattle.

Sunset from the Tarmac

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LPQ, the L.E.S., Sushi Gari, and a Surprise Guest!

Patriotism in the L.E.S.
Amelia & Leit met me in Chelsea for breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien. Once upon a time, I traveled with Amelia to Uruguay after meeting up in Buenos Aires. It was good to catch up with all that’s happened since — back then, she’d only just met the person who later became her husband!
I can't believe we didn't buy these.
How many smurfs had to die so I could wear this blue hat at C21? Photo by Kate
Next, I tracked down Kate & Colleague at Century 21 in Lower Manhattan. They were spending time shopping ’til their flights mid-afternoon, so I joined them. I have to say, nothing restores your faith in America & capitalism quite like seeing what goes in there, across the street from the WTC site.
Russ & Daughters
We trekked over to Soho & the L.E.S., ending up at Russ & Daughters, masters of salmon, and a few shops down — Yonah Shimmel, purveyor of knish. Russ & Daughter’s pastrami smoked salmon on a flagel with the works was not unlike a religious experience for me. This shiksa was in love.
Yonah Shimmel's Knishery
Time had slipped away from us & my two companions now needed to get on the road. I was sad to say good-bye and joked that if something happened to their travel plans, we have a couch!
Doughnut Plant: LES
Now solo, I decided it was time to get some culcha at the Tenement Musuem, but I was gonna incorporate this with finishing an L.E.S. food tour I found on (I’d already covered Yonah and Russ & D). I went off official itinerary quickly, as the first thing I found was the Doughnut Plant — long ago recommended by Frank. I bought goodies for later, where I’d decide these are THE BEST ANYWHERE. A sample of flavors:
Doughnut Plant
Next stop: Kossar’s Bialys. I still prefer bagels, but I wanted to get these at the source to judge my opinion. As I was exiting, I turned to see: The Pickle Guys. Now those who really know my food preferences (hi, Mom!) know that at this point, I probably heard angels singing. I might have a bit of a problem but it started way back in preschool. I love them. I buy a lot of pickles, like most foodies buy kinds of mustard. But it usually feels like every week, the recycling bin gets fresh empty jars from me, so it’s not like I save the good ones for someday. Part of a healthy diet, at only 5 calories each! Let’s not talk about the sodium. Who cares about sodium when all those other grams and food stats are hard enough to keep track of??? Anyhow, I selected a representative sampling of their offerings, and they totally threw in more for free.
You Go Girl
Ok, back on track. I reached the Tenement Museum and realized they were going to require a few hours of my time for the official tour. I decided…next time, and started walking north with a vague idea of catching the subway or preferably, a cab, to the MOMA. Before that, I wanted to try a chocolate egg cream and went in this little recommended place. It was weird, but hey, I’d just had pickles.
Egg Cream!
And so I kept moving up 2nd, hoping for a cab but we’d entered that Friday afternoon hour in NYC where none of those cabbies would pull over and if they did, shook their heads when I said, “55th?” Exhausted, I continued to Union Square to catch a train to MOMA. I made it, but a glance into the museum confirmed today was not my museum day. I was tuckered out and knew I’d just hate humanity if I battled the crowds. Plus I had reservations at Sushi Gari in only 2 hours (recommended by Kate after her Wednesday dinner), so maybe heading home was my best bet.

When I consulted my phone to recalculate directions, I realized there was a missed call while I was in the subway! The Delta agents at JFK were complete asshats to Kate and wouldn’t let her get on a flight. At JFK, it turns out, you must check in your bags at 60 minutes and she was at 56, after battling traffic all across NYC. Time for a houseguest!!! I know she was frustrated to not get on that flight, but I was so excited we had her with us for one more day. The only issue was getting her a key — but Mr. T went to our building security, added her to our account, and got her clearance as she made her way back to Manhattan. We raced north to our reservations at Sushi of Gari 46.
Sushi of Gari 46: Best Sushi Ever
So: I shy away from declaring a place the best, because things change so quickly and can be so dependent on the chef, but Sushi of Gari 46 is the best sushi I have ever had in my life! We sat at the bar for omakase and I took notes. 21 rounds of notes. I knew 2 rounds in that this was the pinnacle, and brushed aside any notions of moderation. The cost of abandoning moderation was high, but you only live once. P.S. Mr. T told the chef “uncle” a couple of rounds before me. My DimSumCouver training was coming in handy!
The Ace
Afterward, we met with Kate and took her to one of our favorite finds from before her arrival: The Breslin at The Ace Hotel, mentioned last week. This would put us all in the right frame of mind to polish off the doughnuts found at the Plant earlier today.

I went to sleep very happy, after one of my best days in NYC — as evidenced by all the exclamations in this post.
Stumptown: West Coast Presence

Empire in Blue

Restaurants from today:
Russ & Daughters on Urbanspoon
Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery on Urbanspoon
Doughnut Plant on Urbanspoon
Kossar's Bialys on Urbanspoon
The Pickle Guys on Urbanspoon
Sushi of Gari 46 on Urbanspoon

about America NYC travel

Veteran’s Day, NYC Style

Central Park on a Fall Afternoon
Today was very New Yorkish. I:
-got caught up in Veteran’s parade-watching crowds
-had lunch with a good friend, a native New Yorker who’s returned since finishing her grad school at UW
Central Park Foliage
-walked through Central Park to take in the foliage
Spiderman in Central Park
-spied Spiderman
Central Park Bubble Man
-watched Bubble-man
-took the train up to the Bronx, where I got lost after taking the wrong exit to get to The Cloisters
-took an impromptu walking tour of Washington Heights
View from the Cloisters Terrace
-wandered the grounds of Fort Tryon Park, the Heather Garden & The Cloisters
Hey, I found that missing unicorn
-found the unicorn that was missing, maybe?
-had dinner of remarkable black garlic ramen at Hide Chen
-visited Kate in her fancy Scandinavian-themed place near the north-eastern edges of midtown
-walked all the way home via 5th Avenue to Flatiron/Chelsea