Saturday, June 6, 2015

New York, New York - Days 1 and 2 - Arrival, Central Park, the Roosevelt Island Tram and Juniors Cheesecake

A couple of weeks ago, Tim and I landed in New York City for just under two weeks' holiday in the city that never sleeps.  It was my second time in New York after a break of 16 years, so I was pretty excited to be back.

Our hotel was across the road from Radio City Music Hall, so every night we got to go back to the beautiful sight of its neon lights.

We arrived late on a Saturday afternoon.  Being rather keen to get some sleep, we didn't want to venture far afield for dinner, so we stumbled upon the nearby Summer Garden & Bar at The Rock Cafe:

The Summer Garden and Bar is a large open air bar and cafe.  There are large white umbrellas sheilding most of the tables, which proved to be a blessing on the night we went, as the heavens opened and it poured for most of our visit.

We decided to go with a selection of shareable plates so that we could try a bit of everything.

First up was the fresh ricotta with smashed English garden peas, truffle honey and peasant bread ($20):

This was our favourite dish.  The sweet, honeyed ricotta and peas spread on the lightly toasted bread was a treat, and perfect fare for a warm evening.

Next up came the crispy corn-flour crusted  calamari with lemon wedges and spicy remoulade  ($18):

The calamari was quite good - calamari is a perennial favourite for us.

Our third selection was the mediterranean garden dips, comprising small dishes of hummus, baba ganoush and tzatziki with pita bread ($15).  As our meal was low in vegetables, we added in the vegetables for dipping ($5):

These were quite good, my favourite being the hummus.

This amount of food was more than ample for the two of us, especially as we had just come off a long distance flight where we had been plied with food.

A good night's sleep makes all the difference, and next morning we headed out to the Rockefeller Centre branch of Bouchon Bakery for breakfast:

Bouchon had lots of delicious looking baguettes:

and even more delicious looking cakes, which we ignored for the purposes of breakfast:

We bought a Parisian ham and Emmenthaler cheese baguette (~$9.50) to share:

We also each bought a coffee and a granola yoghurt parfait (~$6.50):

The food at Bouchon is certainly not cheap, but it was good.

There is not much  seating at Bouchon, so we had hoped to sit outside on the benches with pretty gardens in and aorund the Rockefeller Centre - alas, they were largely wet from the night before.  We ended up sitting on a metal bench in a sunken area of the forecourt that another couple had already dried off, and engaged in people-watching while eating our breakfast.

Next up, I lived my dream of sitting on the Mad Men bench outside the Time & Life Building:

I had read about the opening of the bench on Tom and Lorenzo, and it was significant that I sat there on this particular day as it was the Sunday on which the last ever episode of Mad Men aired.  I don't know the guy having a kip at the end of the seat!

We then set off for Central Park via a flea market, where we were greeted by the iconic horse and carriage ride:

Unbeknown to us, it was the day of the AIDS walk, so we were steered away from 72nd Street where the walk was underway.  There was a never ending conga-line of people doing the walk - it was pretty amazing:

Our first stop was at the famous carousel.  At first, I was just going to look on, but then my inner child broke out and I took a ride myself:

It was so much fun!

We meandered on into the depths of the park, until we came across the Bethesda Fountain:

The fountain was a popular spot as it was a searingly hot day, and plenty of people sat on the edge of the fountain in the hope of being splashed by its coooling waters.

We strolled over to Bethesda Terrace:

where beneath the cool, shaded arches, there was some gospel singing going on:

Feeling the heat, we ventured out for an icy treat and a drink:

before venturing on to Strawberry Fields.  I had deperately hoped to find Strawberry Fields 16 years ago and failed (possibly because I did not have a map of the park then), so it was awesome to finally come across it:

Moving on, we went to Belvedere Castle:

and climbed its stone staircase for a birds eye view of the Turtle Pond and the Great Lawn:

Behind Belvedere Castle, we found these gorgeous sculptures inspired by Shakespeare's plays:

before wandering through the Ramble to find Alice in Wonderland:

A little further on, we watched people sailing radio controlled boats on the Conservatory Water (just like Buddy and George watched them in Breakfast at Tiffanys):

Having conquered Central Park, we mosied on via Columbus Circle:

and made a pit stop at Whole Foods in the Time Warner Centre:

This was the busiest Whole Foods I have ever been to - not for the faint of heart.  There are literally lanes with traffic lights at the checkout, and when it's your turn, you just go and hope no-one else grabs your lane.

We each bought choose-your-own hot food, which is cleverly sold by the pound:

and enjoyed it at the tables inside Whole Foods, before retreating for a rest break sitting on the concrete walls surrounding Columbus Circle, desperately hoping that the skateboarders would not collide with us.
After we felt able to go on, we took a trip on the Roosevelt Island tram:

Come with me as we swing on down:


We were rewarded on the other side by some unique views of the Manhattan skyline:

On our return to Manhattan, we walked to Grand Central Terminal via a fab view of the Chrysler Building:

to scope out our trip and buy our train tickets for our visit to FDR's house the next day:

Dinner was a lacklustre affair at Feng Shui in Grand Central Terminal:

It was late and our options were few, so this black bean chicken (~$11.50) was what it was.

Before leaving the terminal, I spied a branch of Juniors:

and we bought a slice of their original cheesecake ($6.50) to share - after all, it has been voted one of the best cheesecakes in New York:

And it was good - so good that I am glad we only had one slice, otherwise my self control may have left me.

The evening ended with a viewing of the very last episode of Mad Men ever:

The perfect end to the perfect day.

Summer Garden and Bar
20W 50th Street
New York, NY
Ph: +1 212-332-7621
Whole Foods Market
10 Columbus Circle
Lower Concourse Level of the Time Warner Centre
New York, NY 10019
Grand Central Terminal
89 E 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017


Catherine said...

So glad you enjoyed your visit to NYC. It certainly is an exciting place.

Hotly Spiced said...

Great post. I so love NYC. I was there a year ago and just loved it. You certainly made the most of Day 1. I love all the images of Central Park. I went there and saw all the same sites but I didn't have a ride on the carousel - should have, just for a Mary Poppins moment. Enjoy the rest of your holiday xx

Kayte said...

I've been waiting and waiting for all the pictures and posts of the travel to NYC, etc. I am not disappointed, these are so much fun and was really wonderful to see what you did and ate, etc. Even though we chatted on the phone about some of it, seeing the photos is just really great. Such fun. I can't wait for the next installation! You look so cute in all the photos, like you are having the BEST Time Ever! Thanks for sharing.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Wow that Whole Foods sounds insane! My sister bought me some things from Bouchon. I could swear they had something so addictive in them because I couldn't stop eating them! :D

Kari said...

Oh, fantastic! I love NYC although have only visited twice, and the first time was only for 4 days. There's so much I haven't seen but your pictures are reminding me of what a great place it is to visit :-) I'm glad you had a good time.

Johanna GGG said...

wow you really look like you seized the day - I wish I had seen so much of Central Park on my couple of short visits to New York - so many interesting areas to see. I am not sure I would have survived wholefoods but I certainly could have eaten a slice of juniors cheesecake.

Kathy said...

As often as I’ve been to NYC, and Central Park…I have never seen Strawberry Fields, the Carousel or Belvedere Castle. I have been to the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle though…an absolutely insane store…but loved it! You really did get to see so much of NY in your time here! I love the Bouchon Bakery and the Summer Garden Bar. A great place to people watch! So glad we got to meet while you were here. Loved meeting you, Gaye!