Thursday, November 13, 2008

The New York City News!

Our trip began VERY early in the morning last Thursday, November 6.  Kevin scheduled us an early-as-possible flight, so we'd get the New York with plenty of the day left.  We got up about 3:45 a.m.  No stopping me though, as soon as we got there, we were off.  We ate some lunch at a yummy little Italian place called Ralph's.  It was already about 1:00, and since we had dinner reservations for 5:30, I just had a mozzarella and tomato salad on arugula.  But that with the yummy bread, was so good.  Perfect.  We then made our way on foot uptown.  We were staying at a Hampton Inn on 8th and 51st.  We NEEDED (ha) to get to 74th--what for? Bakeries and Cookies!  We stopped in at Jacques Torres first.


The Cookie!  This cookie is SO chocolaty!  I bought two and saved them for later.  You can get a warm, gooey, crisp, chewy cookie.  I really like this cookie.  Chocolate ribbons are in every centimeter of the cookie.  The bittersweet chocolate is good, but just a tad too bitter for me.  Still, give me a JT cookie any day and I will not turn it down.  ;)



I bought two of these and ended up bringing one home and sticking it in the freezer.  But not before taking this great photo showing the layers of chocolate.


Let's see, where did we go next?   Hmmm.  Oh yeah! (kidding)

Levain Bakery!  It was nice just walking around the city.  Kevin probably wasn't as thrilled.  There were LOTS of people and he just doesn't like crowded places and big cities.  (Thanks SO much for taking me to NYC, Hon!)  Levain Bakery was all I remembered it to be--tiny, downstairs and yum-a-licious! ;)  (By the way, I hate being in pictures, but Kevin insisted.)  Just note that the whole time we were in New York, it was cloudy, humid and kind of a misty rain.  My hair does NOT like that!  You'll see in a minute.  Some of the pictures are also kind of dark, because of the dark weather and the nasty hotel lighting!)  Levain, Levain.  Oh how I love this cookie.  I have now tasted many a New York cookie and maintain that, in my opinion, these are the best chocolate chip cookies in New York City.  It's so great that we all have our own opinion, huh!  Go taste for yourself.  ; )



Love them fresh, gooey, underdone, crisp on the outside and chock full of chocolate and walnuts!  I should have bought more than two!  Kevin and I ate one (the big guy above here) during the next two days.   I brought the other one home and after taking a small bite of it and leaving it on the counter, I noticed Kevin took a big chunk of it, so I wrapped it up and put it in the freezer.  Must savor it!  (Not that I wouldn't share, mind you.)


Yes, right outside this little bakery is a nice bench to sit on (that was wet) and some lovely garbage.  Doesn't matter, you gotta get these cookies!

Quick stops at a few other bakeries brought more cookies!  Here's Bouchon Bakeries chocolate chip cookie and their GIANT Nutter Butter.  The Nutter Butter is better than their chocolate chip.  It is thick with a buttery/peanut buttery filling and soft (not crunchy like Nabisco's Nutter Butters).  Both are huge.  The chocolate chip cookie was a little dry, more crisp than chewy, but not horrible.



I would freak out if I ever saw someone sit down and eat this guy in one sitting!  One little bite at a time and lots of time in between, I say.


We meandered back to the hotel room to basically redo my nasty, frizzy hair and get ready to head out by subway to our dinner reservations around 18th street.  Hampton Inn, where we stayed on 8th and 51st, serves cookies at 3 p.m. every day.  Couldn't pass that up.  This trip was about cookies (well, and Spamalot and being with Kevin.)  Here's the little Hampton cookie surrounded by all the bakery goods.  Poor thing, didn't stand a chance! ; )


This is my hair on humidity.  It's hard to see in the picture all the frizz around my head. 


This is my hair on flatiron!  This is how I HAD it and how I want it to stay.  You lucky people with naturally straight hair.  Mine has a natural nasty curly wave to it.  I know, everyone wants what they don't have.  So, I'll shut up now.  I only complain briefly, then move on.


It only stayed this way for about five minutes after we went back out in the mist.  We headed toward Times Square (crazy busy there!), but that was the nearest subway station.  The New York subway is an interesting place.  Still, can't beat how fast it gets you places.  The only thing I don't like is, well, being underground, you can't see where you're going and can't see the "scenery". 

We had reservations for dinner at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill.  And can you say, YUM-O!  Goodness that was good food.  We didn't take any pictures there, but here's a link to the website, Mesa Grill.  They informed us that the wait for our meals would take some time because they cook everything fresh.  Fine by us--we never get to eat this way!  I was just excited for warm food!  While we waited (and by the way, we were seated in what we were told were the best seats in the house--we were upstairs and were able to see the whole restaurant and into the kitchen.  It was pretty cool.  A delicious basket of bread came to the table.  I want the recipe for Bobby's blue corn muffins.  They were so good, moist yet a little crumbly, buttery, with a little fresh corn and just a touch of spice, the perfect amount.  Never tasted cornbread like this!

I ordered: 

with Bourbon-Ancho Chile Sauce + Sweet Potato
Tamale with Crushed Pecan Butter and

Brussel Sprouts, Toasted Pecans
+ Pomegranate Seeds

Three perfectly grilled pork medallions that were so tender and perfectly spiced.  The sweet potato tamale was a great, mild palate cleanser when every now and then I thought the pork was just a tad too spicy for me.  But it didn't stop me from savoring it.  (Mom, you could suck the juice out of it and taste it all night--just your thing!)  I even had mine cooked well done, as I always do and it was still just perfectly tender and moist.  How do they do that?  I shared some of mine with Kevin and he raved that, "wow, if you could cook a tenderloin like this!"  (I'm not a very good meat cook as I like my meat well done and tend to always make it dry!  I know a lot of that is buying cheaper store brand meat.)  The brussel sprouts on the side were okay, but laden with some type of alcohol that I didn't really like.  More so because it would change the taste of the pork when I'd switch back and forth between bites. 

Kevin ordered:   Hmm, I'm not sure, I didn't even care.  jk  But the pork tenderloin was voted (by Kevin and I) as the best!)  He really liked all of his food, but I didn't taste any of it.  I was too in love with the little piggies on my plate! ;)

with Red + Green Chile Sauce and

Anaheim Chile Relleno
filled with White Cheddar Cheese,
Black Beans + Rice

I was stuffed, which since changing my eating habits, I rarely eat until I'm full anymore, but this made me pleasantly satisfied to almost too full.  GREAT!  Gotta do that now and then.

After dinner we walked around the "flatiron district", as it was called, and found that Blue Man Group (Kevin had actually looked this up ahead of time and we knew the show was somewhere in the area we were already in) was doing a show.  We didn't have any plans for the rest of the night and since Kevin has always liked them, we talked ourselves into seeing their gig.  All I knew about Blue Man Group was their sometimes annoying commercials they'd be on.  And while I did think it was all a bit strange, some of the things they do, were really COOL!  Fun to see.  They had lots of audience interaction and were pretty amazing on the drums. 

We made our way back to the subway and back to the hotel and plopped in to bed.  Great day!


Day two, Friday, November 7 we started pretty early with a good continental breakfast at the hotel.  From all the walking the day before and Kevin not wearing the most proper shoes, one of his feet was killing him.  I also had a blister forming on my foot, although the shoes I brought for all the walking were comfy.  But because of this, we decided to take a break from the walking and bought a bus pass on the double decker tour bus, Gray Line.  Again, kind of a misty, dreary day, but not cold, we sat up top the bus, but it was covered with plexiglass.  This was a great way to see the city, but not have to walk so much.  The bus made plenty of stops, but we decided to just sit and let the bus show us the city.  Some of the traffic we went through was amazing!  One place, in particular, near Madison Square Gardens was cars double parked (some of these weren't even cars, they were delivery trucks and such) on both sides of the street and the bus b a r e l y squeezing in between it all to get through. 

We stayed on the bus until we got to Battery Park (where you can get on a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty).  We had a GREAT tour guide and didn't want to get off!  (It really makes a difference on those buses if you get an annoying tour guide.  If you do, get off and wait for the next bus!--thanks for the tip, Bon!)  But decided to get on the next bus down at the park that would take us on a tour around Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn Bridge



This was the closest we got to The Statue of Liberty.


New York City from the Brooklyn side.


It was so nice to just sit and see the city.  We made our way out of Brooklyn and by this time it was lunchtime.  So we wandered around Battery Park area and found a place to eat.  We chose a Mexican food place called Red.  Pretty good food!  I just had some chicken tacos with salad, but at least their chicken was flavored and perfectly spicy.  I don't like when you're eating chicken tacos, enchiladas, etc. at a Mexican restaurant and it's just chicken, no flavor.  Their salsa was also good, which is another must for me at a Mexican restaurant.  The place was all windows, so it was nice to people watch and warm up a bit (I didn't wear a jacket on Friday because the day before I kept getting too warm and was tired of holding my jacket, so of course, this day, sitting on the bus with the breeze blowing, I was a little cool.)  So lunch was good.

We made our way back to the tour bus and headed back uptown a bit.  We got off and walked to another must-try bakery, City Bakery.  I wanted to love their cookie, but it was just okay.  A bit too oily for me and not enough chocolate chunks.  All the cookies were also strangely shaped.  But shape does not make a cookie, taste does.  Not horrible, but not my favorite.  Let's all say in unison where my favorite cookie is found. "Levain Bakery!"  jk


After visiting City Bakery, we made our way to Chelsea Market where we had heard some other GREAT chocolate chip cookies were.  Again, okay cookies, but nothing to blog about, I mean write home about, okay, whatever--nothing to buy again, but fun to see all these bakeries.

Eleni's Bakery, Chelsea Market (hotel bathroom lighting, was a little better than just in the room)  The cookies were crisp and slightly chewy, a little overbaked for my liking.  They were really dry/stale the next day.



Ruthy's Bakery, Chelsea Market  I liked that these cookies were packaged--great for travel.  The chocolate chip cookie was very soft, almost cakey, but not too much.  The cookies reminded me of Chip-a-hoy Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies.  And as I write this, four days after returning home, I just realized that chocolate cookie is still sitting on the counter unopened and not tasted!  Oops!  It's probably won't be very fresh now.  But I thought it looked good--Brownie Cookie Swirl


And then don't forget this baby, another Hampton Inn goodie as we made our way back to the hotel, very sore feet and all.  I couldn't pass him up, even though I had armfuls of cookies I'd just bought.


Kevin napped while I sat taking pictures (in horrible lighting!) of cookies and catching up on emails and such.  Kev's foot was really hurting and I felt bad.  I'd have to say the Hampton cookie was actually better than the Eleni's, City, and Ruthy's cookies.

We got ready and headed out again on foot to the Shubert Theatre (44th St., our hotel was on 51st).  It's really not a bad walk, besides it being right through BUSY Times Square, but with our sore feet, it was plenty.

IMG_0217  IMG_0218 

We were there pretty early, but my excitement for seeing this hilarious show was building.  I love Clay Aiken, he is an amazing singer and person.  And I have to tell you, he is so stinkin' funny in Spamalot and the roles he plays in it.  Who knew a southern boy from North Carolina with a funny accent could learn to speak with a darn good English accent?  We were right up front in the line to enter the theatre and they were literally about to start taking tickets when I glanced down at the printed tickets Kevin had purchased online months ago.  The tickets said in big, bold print, November 6!  I started shaking and said to Kevin, "What day is today!?"  He said, "November 7."  Need I say more?  Our tickets were for the night before!  WHAT?!!!  Having already seen the show back in April, NO, I would not have died if we missed the show, except for the tiny little fact that this was the BIG reason we went to New York City and were only there for a day and a half!  I was sick inside!

Kevin felt horrible.  We had both completely forgotten that when he'd bought the tickets at least two months ago that we talked about seating while he was checking what was available and decided that the Friday night showing didn't have nearly as good of seats and the Thursday night show.  So we reasoned that we'd get to NY early enough in the day on Thursday that there would be no reason we couldn't go then.  We never thought about it again, but both of us always thought we were going to the show Friday night.  Never even really looked at the tickets he printed out until right then in line.  We were standing right next to the ticket booth, so I explained to the ticket man our little problem and he kindly, but rather annoyed-ishly explained that he can't just give us seats.  He looked up what seats WERE available and did have two seats that were pretty good, not too far back from the stage down on the main floor, but that we'd have to pay full price again for them.  The man told us to hold on and that he was getting the theatre manager.  Kevin told me he was willing to buy new tickets.  (I really am SO spoiled, I know!)  The manager talked to us and explained that he would be willing to give us seats, but that they would not be the two good seats he had up front.  He couldn't do that because he knew those tickets would sell before the show.  He was willing to give us mezzanine seats.  I still questioned what to do, because well, like I said, I'm a spoiled brat.  The manager left for a moment and when he returned, he told us that he thinks he got us some pretty good seats.  So we went with the "free" deal.  And he really did get us good seats, just a few rows back in the mezzanine.  Thank you, Sir!  (When we got home, I sent him a little thank you note!)  Whew!  Crisis diverted! 

The show was just as funny as the first time I saw it and it was fun to see different parts that were changed up a little and where the actors ad-libbed some lines as they went along.  Clay, just as funny as ever, stole the show.  I didn't realize this, but January 18 is the last show for Spamalot.  It is no longer playing in London, Las Vegas, soon-to-be no longer on Broadway, but possibly still touring.  The show is too darn funny to miss.  After the show, I wanted to wait outside the stage door for Clay to leave, like many others, so Kevin obliged me and we stood there in the crowd.  I don't know why I think it's fun to do that, but lots of other ladies were there waiting to see Clay leave.  Others from the show made their way out and went through the rigors of giving out autographs, etc.  Clay never came.  We waited and waited.  Some in the crowd said that as they've been there before, a stage person usually comes out and tells them he's not coming out that way or something.  So we waited some more.  My husband, I tell you, is TOO nice to me and was just game for whatever silliness I put him through.  (Thank you, Honey, I love you!)

The show got over not long after 10 p.m.  Finally about 11:15 they came out to tell us Clay wasn't leaving from that door and that he was already gone.  Now I know that celebrities probably get sick of that type of life and such, but really, couldn't they have just told us an hour before that that he wasn't doing that today?  That's all I wanted was to know for sure.  Oh well.  I don't even know why I care about seeing him or any others for that matter.  I just think it's fun.  I don't even care if I'm one of the ones who gets an autograph (I already have his and a picture with him!).  So anyway, the show was great and fun and once again, Thank You, Kevin!

We made our way back to the hotel, but never ate dinner that night and were starving.  We found a little deli and ran in and bought a couple sandwiches.  I don't think we got to bed that night until around 1 a.m., then got up about 6 a.m. and went to the Manhattan, New York temple of our church.  The beautiful thing (besides how they all look) about temples is that you can be in a place like New York City, loud, kind of dirty, busy, etc. and you can go in the temple right there in the middle of it all and hear no outside noise.  It just feels so peaceful and is a great break "from the rest of the world".

 Manhattan New York Temple

What I love about the New York temple is that it's right there amongst all the other buildings in New York.  It is on about 76th and Columbus.  It is even attached to the other buildings on the block, but once you enter, is so different from anything else you'll experience in New York City.  It was great to go in that morning and put the cares of the world aside for a short time!

It was, again, a drizzly, misty morning, but was had an enjoyable walk there and back.  We then ate a nice breakfast at the hotel and took our time getting ready for our shuttle to take us back to the airport.  The shuttle picks you up four hours earlier than your flight, which I guess I can understand, in case there are problems, but we got there, checked in, and through security in probably less than ten minutes.  Ahh, I love sitting for over two hours and waiting!  (That was MAJOR sarcasm.)  Oh well, the time actually seemed to go by quickly.  At the airport I bought a couple other cookies from a chain bakery I'd kept seeing all over New York City, called Au Bon Pain.  I had to try them.  The cookie was big, somewhat flat, brown sugary, buttery and chewy.  It was pretty good, just different from the kind I prefer.


And as if this trip wasn't enough about cookies and I hadn't had enough, we flew Midwest Airlines, and I don't know if you've heard, but the seating on their planes is more roomy and comfortable AND--get this, they bake fresh chocolate chip cookies in flight and serve warm cookies to you while you fly!  Hello!  How cool is that?!  While the cookies are similar to a really good Toll House cookie and are certainly not Levain's or anything, they are/were delicious!  We flew from NY to Milwaukee for a short layover, but that meant two flights, double the cookies! hehe.  I didn't get the camera out and take pictures, felt a little silly doing that, but trust me, Yum-o!  There's just nothing like having a warm cookie instead of a stale, miniscule bag of peanuts while you're flying!  You get two cookies each time.  I gave Kevin one of mine.  If you're flying in the continental US, you gotta fly Midwest Airlines.  (Hey, was that a plug?  Do I get some compensation for that?  Hello?)  Okay, I don't really care.  Just go fly and get yourself some cookies!  (Go check out the link to Midwest and see the pretty cookie!)

So, that was our trip.  Loved it!  I've really felt all cookied out, but feel a hankerin' to do some bakin' comin' on!  Thank you, thank you, Kevin.  Great rememberies!

Oh are you still here reading this?  Sorry it's been such a lllllooooonnnnnnggggg post.  I'm done now though.  Thank you for visiting!


Sara said...

Your trip looks like so much fun! I haven't been to New York in ages, I'm jealous that you got to try all those great bakeries. I've been to Mesa Grill in Vegas, we liked it a lot.

Max and Deborah said...

Wow what a story. I was worried there for a min that you weren't going to get to see Spamalot. Whew!!! I am glad they treated you right.
Now this is a cookie trip. It is research for your big cookie business.
What a great hubby you have to take you on such a Katrina trip.
When we go to NYC... someday, we will have to visit the Emeril Show. That would be for my hubby. How awesome you got to see Bobby Flays restraunt. It sounded soooo goood!!! I am glad you had such a good time and that you are back safely.

Jersey Girl Cooks said...

I love hearing about NYC and cookies:) Nice of the theater to do that. Glad you had fun!

Michelle said...

such a great post. it had three of my favorite things - pics of a good friend, chocolate chip cookies and NYC!! glad you got into spamalot!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Yay cookiessssssssssssssssss! Loved seeing all the cookie pictures and I'm really counting the days now to go and taste them! I can't believe you got seats after the date mistaque! That was pretty cool! Hop Kevin's foot is doing better! Great sweet report! And I really want to fly in that airline!!!

Anne Marie said...

The trip pics were awesome. The food looked absolutely divine. And, Katrina, you look fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Great report! It was worth the wait.

1) Sorry you didn't love City Bakery, but I understand

2) The Hampton Inn serves cookies at 3:00? I had no idea! Didn't know about Midwest Airlines, either.

3) You really know how to work that flat iron. Great hair transformation.

4) I can't wait to try Mesa Grill! We'll probably have to go the the one on Paradise Island or in Vegas. I have a feeling I'll be at either or both of those places before NYC.

Darius T. Williams said...

That trip looks like fun...but I'm sooo stuck on those cookies. I had some cookies earlier and totally thought about you! They were the soft bake cookies by Pepperidge Farm - the chocolate chip ones...I'm sure yours are MUCH better - but these were good!


Jaime said...

wow, what a fun trip! i love that picture of the layered chocolate in the cookie! looks like you had a wonderful time.

(and thank you for leaving such kind words on my blog about the kugelhopf! just wish it tasted better)

Megan said...

I used to live in Manhattan and never visited any of the great places (i.e. bakeries). Sadly, that's what happens when you have 2 small children to haul around.

We are going back in January so I am making a list of places to go, now that the kids are older and don't need a stroller.

It sure looks like you had a great time. Spamalot played here in Vegas for a while but I never got to see it. Bummer!!

Anonymous said...

sounds like a fun trip! i can't wait to go to NYC, I've never been. those first two pictures i totally thought were jenna fischer from the office - you look just like her!

Unknown said...

I went to NYC with my parents in July and it was SO much fun! I definitely want to go back soon. We had GREAT food experiences, though no bakeries but Au Bon Pain. Levain looks like cookies I'd like. We saw Wicked and Mary Poppins while there...I was in musical heaven!

Lisa Ernst said...

Thanks for the tour! I'll be in NYC soon, and I will put Levain and Jacques Torres on my list for the best cookies. Then Mesa Grill for sure.

alexandra's kitchen said...

Oh I miss New York. Looks like you went on a cooie tour! :) They all look so unbelievably good!

The Cogswells said...

Wow Treeni!!! You look amazing! Your trip to The Big Apple looks amazing, as does the creations you found there. By the way, your cookies look absolutely delicious. I tried making some gooey chocolate chip cookies recently and I burned them. First thing I did to explain myself was say "I made them on purpose for Grandpa".

It looks like you are doing well. I hope to see you soon. We have our wedding reception tomorrow...YAY. That should be interesting.

Love of love!!

Anonymous said...

The trip sounds wonderful. Thanks for all the cookie reports. I really want to try some of those cookies, but I really have to wonder about those Levain cookies. That degree of underdoneness (is that a word!? haha!) isn't visually appealing to me, but maybe on the tongue I would feel differently about it. Your City Bakery cookies didn't really look like I remember Anna's looking when she was there. Maybe they were having a bad a day?

Anonymous said...

What a great trip! "-)