New York, December 2012
"Then we said goodnight to Broadway giving it our best regardsTipped our hats to Mister Cohen Dear old Times Square's favorite bard.." Thousands are Sailing, The Pogues
Farewell to Boston, welcome to New York.
To be precise, Rye in upstate New York where my brother, wife, Nephew of 5 years and Niece of nearly 3 years reside. Rye is only 50 mins on the train from Grand Central Station so was handy enough to commute into Manhattan to explore the city. My wife and I was lucky enough to have last visited New York in 2007 so the pressure was off in terms of the check list of the major sites. This left us free to explore the city and eat our way around manhattan at our leisure.
I found this blog post difficult to write. How do I bring a city so iconic and so familiar to people in a fresh and interesting way? How do I avoid falling into the same cliches as every other tourist visting the city? However, with that in mind I am going to start this post with a photo as cliched as you can get for New York - the Main Concourse of Grand Central Station. Type Grand Central Station into Google image search and you will see millions of version of this photo. Why am I posting it here then? It was on my photo bucket list.
The photo was tricky enough. Low light and no tripod. I wanted a slow enough shutter speed to blur the commuters busily making their way while keeping the tourists and other people standing around sharp. I ended up balancing the camera on the balcony rail and shooting six frames in portait orientation which I later combined into a panorama. I needed a ISO of 1600 at f/9.0 for a shutter speed of 1/5s. I converted the pano to black and white with a slight bluish tone in Lightroom.
The two aspects of New York that I will never get bored of in New York is the architecture and the food. Both are constantly changing and both are constants of the city.
Eating in NYC on this trip was a mixture of the old guard and the new guard. On the traditional side of the plate is Katz's Delicatessen established in 1888 on the Lower East Side; famous for its roles in Harry Met Sally and Donnie Brasco but more importantly for its pastrami on rye. You don't get pastrami like this in Ireland. Thick juicy cuts of tender cured beef stuffed between two slices of rye bread with a smothering of mustard and a side of pickle. Need I say more.
On the modern side of the plate, is Momofuku of which David Chang is the chef and founder of the restaurant group. Momofuku Ssäm is located in the East Village in a modern but unpretentious restaurant which we considered good value for lunch. We ordered to share the steamed pork buns followed by the rotisserie duck over rice set which consisted rotisseries duck stuff with sausage, rice with confit duck leg served with duck scallion, ssam sauce, crispy shallot, lettuce and chive pancake which we ordered with a side of spicy fingerling potatoes. The only way to eat this, as per the name of the restuarant, is form a ssäm using the lettuce leaves or the chive pancake. So good we ended up visiting momofuku ssäm twice for lunch over out trip. On our second visit, we also ordered the pulled duck bun and finished with the simple, but delicious mandarin orange creamsicle sherbet scoop.
Just over the road from is momofuku ssäm is David Chang's Milk. Milk is a bakery serving your traditional snacks and drinks but with the David Chang playful twist. As with ssäm we visited Milk twice to make sure we got everything we wanted to try. First up a Cereal milk and nana nilla twisted soft serve ice cream and an expresso milk shake to be enjoyed in situ with a piece of the crack pie to go. The second visit we were more restrained and only had a chocolate chip cookie.
Our last main eating experience in NYC was at BLT Prime steak house. Our lasting memory of our last trip to NYC was the loaded baked potatoes. Soft fluffy potatoes stuffed with bacon, cheese, sour cream and chives. With this in mind we were always going to visit a steak house. We originally booked for BLT Steak, a sister restaurant of BLT prime, but mistakenly booked a week early with a wrong date. When we went to make a new reservation we discovered that BLT did not have loaded baked potatoes on the menu and we could not get a reservation at BLT prime which did do loaded potatoes. We ended up booking at the steak house from our trip in 2007 but were slightly disappointed due to the great reviews we had heard about BLT.
We were sitting supping on some sublime cocktails in Guilt, when through the power of my wife's twitter account, BLT Prime responded to a tweet from my wife with an offer of a table. Delighted, we jumped on the subway and arrive a little early for a drink at the bar. The place was jammed to the rafters but we managed to get a table at the bar. In the end, we were very late in getting our table, but we could not complain given they squeezed us in on a desperate plee from ourselves and the staff looked after us very well. In addition to our steaks (NY Strip for me and a rib eye for my wife with loaded baked potatoes, creamed spinach and onion rings on the side) we were served their famous popovers (giant yorkshire puddings complete with the recipe!) and a delicious charcuterie board with pate. No exaggeration that the steaks were the best we had tasted and worth the extra money. A delicious charred crust with perfectly pink juicy meat inside. I soon forgot about the loaded baked potato, which as it happened was ok but had room for improvement. Stuffed, the staff still insisted us on bringing us a desert and petit fours to share. My wife had left overs steak for breakfast the next day!
All that food required a lot of walking around NYC and this is where my love of the city's architecture kept me entertained and my camera busy. From the mixture of modern and iconic art deco skyscrapers of Midtown to the red brick buildings of Greenwich. There is something to look at around every corner.
It would not be Christmas in NYC if it was not for the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and ice rink. Similar to Grand Central, I wanted to capture the movement of the skaters but was also lucky there was a skated with a nice red jacket going slow enough to remain sharp. Just over 5th Avenue is St Patrick's Cathedral which is currently encapsulated with scaffolding for major refurbishment works. Following on the Christmas theme, the cathedral was decorated with the nativity crib of which the angel was part of.
The final few photos are just a few shots from around the city.