I can say with the utmost redundancy that this is a true fact: I felt the energy of New York City the second I got off the plane. La Guardia was crowded, dirty, and noisy. If it was any other way, I would have thought I was in Portland, Oregon. We had fewer than 24 hours with places to go and people to see.
Because I was with Bill McLain and Bill McLain doesn’t do cabs, we took a shuttle from the airport to our hotel. But, as usual, it was the way to go. Not only was it considerably cheaper, thereby allowing us to spend more money on important things like food and adult beverages, it also allowed us the opportunity to see different parts of the city. In fact, our driver took a very convoluted route through neighborhoods (about a thousand miles an hour) and side streets to get into Manhattan in a heartbeat.
He stopped in front of our hotel, the Renaissance Midtown, a block from Penn Station and spitting distance from the Empire State Building. We checked in after some confusion because the hotel inexplicably reserved my room under my married name from my first husband, and I’m trying hard not to think about how that happened. (Perhaps he will pay the bill as well.) Our room was way cool. Way cooler than either of us for sure. The ceiling was concrete and the shower was transparent on both sides so that the shower taker had absolutely no privacy. And as our 7 year old grandson Joseph said when he heard that: Ewwwwww.
But none of that mattered because we had reservations that night at Becco Restaurant, one of the dining establishments owned by Lidia Bastianich. I knew. I SIMPLY KNEW. This was going to be the night that she was going to come out of the kitchen, our eyes would meet, and she would invite me back into the kitchen to ask me what her cioppino needed to improve the flavor.
Well, once again, it didn’t happen; nevertheless, Bill and I had a delicious meal. I had the nightly pasta special that this night included spinach ravioli, spaghetti with roasted veggies, and penne alla vodka with shrimp…..
Bill had a perfectly cooked rib eye steak….
We decided against dessert, electing instead to take a cab over to Eataly, Lidia’s splendid Italian market. And yes, I said we took a cab. Bill’s resistance was lowered in large part because of the bottle of wine we had enjoyed with dinner. Following the wine we had before dinner.
We did a bit of shopping at her market that was surprisingly busy for 10:30 at night. A glass of sambucca seemed fitting to close out our night….
Though we only had one short night in the city that never sleeps, I think we made good use of it. And as we prepared for bed, Joseph will be glad to know that I indeed didn’t look. Then it was on to our next adventure as we made our way to Vermont.