Guest Post: Reluctant Travel: New York Adventure Day One

By Rebecca Borman

bec-closeup-twoI love my state of Arizona and the wide open spaces of the west in general.  But, sometimes I long for two East Coast cities, New York and Washington, D.C.  When I learned that I was invited to the wedding of a friend’s son in one of the DC suburbs, it seemed the perfect opportunity to spend a week or so visiting some old haunts.  So I booked airline and train tickets, reserved hotel rooms and, in early July, set off for what I thought of as my East Coast Swing.

I arrived in New York on a Saturday evening, so the taxi ride into the city was fairly quick.  I checked into what looked to be a fabulous hotel, unpacked a couple of things, and set off from the Renaissance Midtown Hotel on 35th St. to Times Square.  Traditionally, my first evening in the Big Apple includes a martini in the awesome 8th floor bar in the Renaissance Marquis, which overlooks the madness of Times Square.  I love sipping a martini, munching on an app, and watching the crowds of people down below.  I took my time on the way back to my hotel, even stopping to do a little shopping for something I’d forgotten.  For some reason, it feels decadent to be able to shop at 10:00 at night!  After all, it’s the city that never sleeps.

View from Bec NYC windowThe next morning, I took time to enjoy the view from my 29th floor room…truly amazing.  I didn’t linger long, however, because I had plans for the day.  I ran (well, walked) a quick errand, then set off to walk to a church I love, St. Francis Xavier, near Union Square.  The church itself is beautiful, like something you’d see in Europe.  And, the Mass there, as always, was uplifting.  After Mass, I stopped in a bakery I’d discovered a couple of years ago.  I didn’t want to carry around their specialty, a chocolate/Nutella babka all day, so I settled for a tasty rugelach to eat on my way to lunch.  (Yes, dessert before lunch.  Don’t judge!)

And where to have lunch was a no-brainer.  I was less than a mile from NY’s NYC fruit stand becEataly, one of my favorite places in Manhattan.  Just walking in the door makes me smile, as you are immediately hit with the sight of beautiful produce and the smell of every kind of good food.  I chose to have a charcuterie and cheese plate and, of course, a glass of wine.  After checking out the display cases of fresh pasta, meats, and seafood, I stopped for a shot of espresso on my way out the door.

Lunch Eatily NYC

I walked a few blocks to catch a subway down to the Brooklyn Bridge, which was my next destination.  One of the few things I try to do every time I’m in NYC is a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.  It’s such a beautiful and awesome structure!  The walkway was crowded and I took my time, simply enjoying the activity and the views.  Once on the other side, I walked just a few blocks north to the Manhattan Bridge.  Now, the Manhattan Bridge is not particularly beautiful, and it’s very noisy because of the vehicle and train traffic, which is on the same level as the walkway.  But, it has a great view of the Brooklyn Bridge.  And, as you get to the Manhattan side, you are looking across and down into some interesting neighborhoods, and, eventually, into China Town.  Once off the bridge, I walked through China Town to get to another favorite place in NY, Little Italy.

Little Italy is…well little.  But, the Italian spirit is definitely there.  I walked in and out of a few shops, bought some souvenirs for my grandkids, and checked out some menus.  I found a restaurant that looked good and stepped up to ask for a table outside.  The host, an elderly gentleman, spoke to me in Italian until my blank face no doubt made it clear that I didn’t understand a thing he was saying!  He gave me a primo table right by the street, and I could tell he was instructing the server to take care of me.  I lingered over a glass of wine and a salad before ordering a bowl of pasta that was, of course, fabulous.  I bought a small gelato for dessert and enjoyed it as I walked out of Little Italy and toward the subway station, just a few blocks away.

By the time I got back to my room, I was bushed!  So, I relaxed on the sofa by my window, read, and enjoyed watching the lights come on in the buildings around me.  Day One in the Big Apple was a success.

O Sole Mio

While I am away in Chicago visiting Bill’s mother for a couple of days, here is a previously-written blog post about an earlier trip to Chicago. This post was first published in September 2014.

Eatily tomatoesEveryone has heard some version of the song referred to in the title of this blog post. Literally translated, it means “my sunshine.”I wanted to sing this song at the top of my lungs the other day as Bill and I wandered through one of the most amazing and fabulous places I have ever visited – Eataly. It felt like my sunshine.

Before I tell you about my amazing day in a place as close to Italy as possible without getting on an airplane and flying for seven or eight hours in a seat that only reclines a tenth of an inch, I have to tell you a bit about my love affair with Lidia Bastianich.

She is known in our family simply as Lidia, similar to Madonna or Cher or Bono. If I mention Lidia, I don’t have to explain who I mean. She has had a variety of cooking shows on PBS for many years, and has about a million cookbooks, all of which I own. I like her obvious love of food and simple cooking and preparing a meal for your family. My ideals about cooking imitate hers.

While she has restaurants around the United States, she lives in New York City and her first restaurants were there. And a couple of years ago, along with another famous chef – Mario Batali – and her son Joe Bastianich, she founded a food market – and I use that term loosely in this case – called Eataly.

Jen and Bec visited New York City’s Eataly recently during their trip, and I was very envious. I looked on line to get a little more information, and was delighted – simply thrilled in fact – to learn that there is an Eataly in downtown Chicago with an even bigger footprint than the one in NYC.

“Please please please?” I begged Bill. “Can we take one day out of our visit to your mom’s to go to Eataly?”

He agreed without a second thought.

I told you yesterday about our fun day in general terms. But we literally spent the entire afternoon in this amazing, well, I don’t even know quite what to call it. It is an Italian food  market, but there are places to eat and an amazing wine store featuring wines from all the regions of Italy.

In fact, one of the most amazing things about this market is that it featured foodstuffs from all over Italy. For example, the olive oils were divided into all of the various Italian regions – Umbia, Tuscany, Sicily, and so forth. There were literally shelves of olive oils…..

olive oils eatily

 

The cheese selection nearly took my breath away…

cheese and hameataly cheese selection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is Eataly’s selection of JUST BLEU CHEESES….

eataly bleu cheese

Bill and I have been lucky enough in our lives to spend considerable amount of time in Italy, and while I love all things American, I miss a few things that I think are difficult to find in the United States. Or at least in Denver. One of these is a really true espresso macchiato. Most coffee places offer a macchiato that really is nothing more than a latte. An Italian macchiato is simple and divine. Guess what? They offered it at Eataly….

macciato Eatily

All of the breads are baked in a wood-burning oven….

eataly bakery

We wandered around and looked at the selections of produce and cheeses and meats and seafood and canned goods and were swept back to our days in Italy. With such a selection of foods, it took us considerable time to decide what to eat. We elected instead of going to the sit-down café where they bring food to you, we would go to one of the various stations where you could buy meat or cheese or pizza and make your own lunch. So we ordered a selection of salumi e formaggi, which they served on a wooden peel with bread and olive oil. Ah YUM!

eataly lunchboard

eatily lunch