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Monday, April 14, 2008

taking a big bite of the apple

you wouldn't think 3 hours would make that much of a difference, but it sure threw us for a loop on that first day in the big city.

i'd talked to my cousin r while we were cabbing it to the hotel the previous night and decided to meet her for brunch. we didn't set a time but chose to wing it and just head out whenever we were all ready. and we all managed to sleep in till damn near 11:00 that morning. oops.

i sent the kid in to take a shower while i called r. she said it would take her half an hour to get to us from her brooklyn apartment, so we decided to meet at noon. and of course we ran a little late, not getting down to the lobby till about 12:15. as we got into the elevator, i thought about how it would kind of suck if she was coming up as we were going down.

and sure enough, when i called her to find out if she was on her way, she was knocking on the door of our room. damn. figures.

when we finally saw each other, i was struck by how very "new york" she looked - that sounds really stupid, but she really fit in, with her cool coat and scarf. and we...didn't. haha! the hub was in his tommy bahama sweater and hat, the kid was wearing a hoodie and skinny jeans, and i was in my typical jeans and deep v-necked top and north face jacket. sounds fairly normal, but we really just screamed "tourist."

r had bought us all tickets to a harbor cruise that was scheduled for 2:30 that afternoon. and it was already after noon, so she decided it would be best to head out towards chelsea piers, where the ship was docked. the subway was the easiest and cheapest route, so we bought one-day metro cards and hopped on the train.

we walked and chatted our way to chelsea market, a cool indoor marketplace that was located in a building that used to be a nabisco factory, and also housed offices for the food network and oxygen, plus a few other businesses. there were lots of great-looking bakeries, delis, and other restaurants and vendors. we chose to try sarabeth's bakery - r had heard good things about it but hadn't been, so we perused the menu and placed our orders. and i couldn't resist picking up a cute little jar of $10 chocolate chip cookies. heh.

i was immediately drawn to the cheese blintzes, but was saddened to hear that they'd already run out. damn. i'm such a sucker for those things. as i grabbed a menu in search of plan b, the hub chose a ham and cheddar sandwich, the kid opted for pb&j, and r went with the goat cheese omelet. i decided to give the "jennifer's dream omelet" a try: cheddar cheese and their special apple butter, served with a croissant.

yes, apple butter. i didn't really know what to expect, but i took my first bite and was simultaneously confused and pleased at the sweetness tucked in with the fluffy eggs. there were some freaky chunks of apple up in there that i pushed aside, but i plowed through and actually enjoyed it a lot. we were getting dangerously close to cruising time, so i packed up the croissant and we took off.

r pointed out this sign, which we both found amusing. because, of course, we share the same 8-year-old-boy sense of humor.

and this building was cool looking. reminded us of an iceberg or something.

the hub also thought i was a loon for taking a picture of this sign. but i was dying to know exactly how many guests the "mulligan-singh wedding" was going to have. i could only imagine that it would be absolutely ginormous!

i recognized chelsea piers from watching "the apprentice" a couple of seasons ago. we found the ticket booth for the cruise company, got our tickets, and found that we actually had about 25 minutes to kill before it was time to board. we got a good laugh over the ticket lady assuming that r and the hub were a couple - well, we laughed, and the kid just wrinkled her nose and said "ewwwwwwww!" heh.

so we walked around, checked out the skating rink, and walked the pier. we chatted about r's job, her plans to move to denver, family gossip, and other things that we wanted to see and do during our visit.

and when we headed back towards our ship, we came across this adorable puppy and her chain-smoking owner, who was more than happy to let us play with her and take a couple of pictures. the kid damn near melted into a puddle, the dog was so cute. only nine weeks old! awwww.

we were really hoping our ship would be this one:

but we were actually on this one:

and it turned out to be really nice - small, cozy and comfortable. there were a couple of mom and daughter groups - one from atlanta, and i don't know where the other one was from. they looked a little annoyed at our jokes, loud laughter, and silly antics. oh, well. eff 'em. we were having fun. r and the hub had their complimentary alcoholic beverage and the kid ran outside to take pictures of the sights. it was a 90-minute cruise that took us by the statue of liberty, ellis island, governor's island, through the buttermilk channel (named for when farmers used to wade their cows across the channel to graze on governor's island), and back.

when it was over, r steered us back to the subway and we headed to union square, which was close to where her office was. we strolled through a few shops in search of a warmer coat for the kid, who kept insisting she was fine, even though we could tell she was cold. oy. she sports hoodies in 95-degree heat, but busts out tank tops when it's 45. sheesh.

somewhere along the way, i spied these familiar sights:

our destination was totally baked, a cute little joint that specialized in baked potatoes. sadly for us, it was closed, but we knew we'd squeeze in a return trip - especially when we saw cupcake cafe just up the street. and right across the street was paper presentation - one of my favorite vendors for all things paper. i was stupidly thrilled to find myself within spitting distance of the place i so often order from. peeking inside, i was surprised to see that it was an adorable little store and not the warehouse-y type of place i was expecting. we added it to our list of places to revisit on wednesday, when the hub would be heading back home for his meeting.we ended up walking into city bakery for what r called "the richest, most sinful hot chocolate you ever had." and as i took my first sip, i was reminded of starbucks' short-lived "drinking chocolate", chantico. and then i had to wonder if i'd hallucinated that whole thing, because no one else seemed to remember its very existence! i just now googled it and i'm happy to report that i'm not a crackhead after all. chantico DID exist!

anyway, it was just as chocolaty and yummy as r promised, plus it was topped with a lovely homemade marshmallow that was seriously the best thing i ate all day. oh man, i'll for sure have dreams about that damn marshmallow. so delish. they also had a little cubicle-sized area called "the chocolate room" - but it was so small, there wasn't much in there. i did snicker at the chocolate buddhas, though. available in two sizes for your convenience. and i was happy to see that there's a second city bakery - right here in santa monica! now i know where to go if i ever want more of that lovely hot chocolate.

the hub had read about mario batali's restaurant, but couldn't remember the name of it for the life of him. so we walked over to barnes & noble to sneak a peek at a copy of the zagat guide, and it didn't take long for him to figure out that it was called babbo. but of course, the place is ridiculously popular and was booked solid for dinner for the rest of our time in new york. poop. after flipping through a few more pages of the guide, we were so overwhelmed that we decided to just go out and walk the streets in search of dinner.

one option was this place - a steakhouse located in a building that used to house a strip club. heh. the kid's not a big steak fan, so we passed, but i took a picture anyway.
and we ended up at stand - supposedly the best burgers in the city. not quite what we'd had in mind, but we were all dressed pretty casually, it was right there, and r said the food was pretty good. and that was good enough for us!

the hub and i weren't that hungry, so we decided to split a "bacon and egg cheeseburger" - burger, bacon, cheddar, and hard-boiled egg mayo, which the waitress described as an egg salad-y kind of mixture. i'm not an egg salad fan, but i gave it a shot and it was actually pretty damn good. we all shared an order of shoestring fries and giggled over the exotic-sounding beverages on the menu, like dandelion & burdock soda, rosemaryade, and a toasted sesame milkshake. yup.

we hopped back on the subway and headed to soho to walk the streets and check out the shops. the kid's favorite was a store called "yellow rat bastard" - which made me giggle because i used to call the ex (her dad) "rat bastard" whenever i talked about him. of course, she doesn't know that, but she thought the name of the store was pretty funny anyway. it was kind of a cross between hot topic and urban outfitters, and she had fun checking out the merchandise.

we stopped at dean & deluca for some coffee, and then decided to head to the top of the empire state building to check out the view. r decided to hang out at the bar on the ground level while we played tourist, and she took the stroller while i strapped the bean into the carrier. we giggled at her sitting alone at the bar with an empty stroller and headed up to buy our tickets.

it's pretty crazy how much money they charge folks to go up to the top of a building. tickets for the 3 of us came to $55! ridiculous. but we were at their mercy, because we promised the kid a great view of the city lights below, and so we got in line, presented our tickets, and rode the elevators up to the 86th floor observatory.

it was damn cold up there, as you can imagine. but the view was really cool, and the kid got a kick out of checking out times square from above, while the bean snuggled up to share her body warmth with me. we took a crapload of pictures, of course, and then we got in line (which, of course, wound around and through the gift shop. how convenient!) to ride the elevator back down to ground level.

we joined r in the bar, hung out long enough to relax a bit and have a drink, and then we headed back "home" to the hotel, passing the world's biggest macy's store on the way.

the bean and the kid played for a bit before we all went to bed, exhausted from all the walking and sightseeing. whew, vacation is hard work.


  1. That is one huge ass bite.

  2. It's so cute to see how much the kid adores the bean.

    I remember the chantico! It was so gross to me :X

  3. dude. you're making me miss ny. i did the cupcake cafe/paper presentation/print icon/city bakery circuit last time.

    city bakery here is actually in brentwood in the country mart.

    and that is why i have never been to the top of the empire state building. i am totally cheap.

  4. Wow, you packed a whole lot o' shit into one day! I love NYC - so awesome!

  5. I also remember chantico, which sucked. City Bakery is so much better (they catered a movie screening I went to with Perfecta a year ago).

    I love Yellow Rat Bastard. The Paul Frank NYC store is just around the corner on Mulberry Street, so I'd go to PF to see what was new and then hit up YRB to see if they also carried the shirts, usually for less.

    BUT the one thing PF has that YRB doesn't is the PF NYC shirt (as does each respective PF store for each city)!

    It's like my version of collecting Hard Rock Cafe t-shirts. ;)

  6. I was going to die of jealousy if you guys had walked into dinner at Babbo without a reservation! Empire State pics are always so fun!

  7. there is something magical about time in new york--it's like you can accomplish in a day what you could accomplish in a week at home. i <3 it, of course.
    and i remember chantico!

  8. 1) I definitely remember the drinking chocolate from Starbucks.

    2) Is it sad that I know the exact B&N you went into because last time I was there we ran in to get the address of the restaurant in Chinatown I wanted to go to?

  9. I remember chantico! You're not crazy.

    There is too much other stuff to comment on, but the marshmallow sticks out in my brain right now so I'll go with that. Sounds yummy!


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