Aug 262005

New York Trip Part 2 (Part 1)
(Photos for this entry can be found here)

(Five months later, I have finally gotten around to writing about the rest of my NYC trip)

March 27, 2005 – After seeing ASSSSCAT 3000 we headed over to Tia Pol for some tapas and sangria. The place is bit stylishly sterile, but intimate due to the small quarters. The staff were great and had no problems recommending some food. We listened – Roasted peppers with salt, olives & cheese, lamb kebabs, serrano ham croquettes (amazing), and bread with tapenade and lentil spread. All really good, and at a decent price.

March 28 & 29, 2005
I spent almost two days wandering around Chinatown in New York. It is big, busy, and a lot of fun. I spent hours wandering through stores, or sitting back and people watching. Where else are you going to buy dried seahorses or your durian? Chinatown has so many things that are unusual for most, but at the same time, intriguing. How does that duck in the window taste? Why don’t we all have vendors selling hot green tea on the street during cold rains?

Not far from the Manhattan bridge is the classic New York Noodle Town. We had dinner here and shared a table with two other parties. I love doing that. Frequently you end up sharing a table with a regular customer of the restaurant. They know what’s good and are happy to make recommendations. In our case we sat with some second generation folks that were happy to fill us in. When in Rome.. I had to try the crisp-skinned baby pig. Not quite my thing. The meat is good, but the whole package is a bit too fatty for me. The skin? Well, it was crispy. The veggie and soup dishes we ordered were fantastic.

March 30, 2005 – I spent most of the day wandering around Prospect Park in Brooklyn. On my way to the botanical garden, I had to pass through the Brooklyn Museum’s parking lot, as they were doing construction on part of the park. It turned out to be a nice detour as I passed by a fenced-in graveyard of old New York architecture. The small compound behind the Brooklyn Museum is filled with stone and concrete building relief’s, sculptures, and figureheads. I’m a sucker for that kind of grand architecture, so I was really happy to stumble on it. I wandered around it for a good 45 minutes, checking out the different pieces.

After making the parking lot security nervous for a while, I headed to the botanical garden’s entrance. I was told it was free that day. Bonus. While the lake is a bit slimy, the rest of the area and buildings are well done. I was there in the early spring, so I’m sure it wasn’t even close to its full impact yet. It would be a good visit in the summer. There are also several buildings that house different plants & climates. They are well done, and I could see them being a huge draw in the middle of winter.

After that, it was time to head back to Manhattan to meet Anna at The Frick. It was a good collection and the building is interesting. Definitely worth the price of admission. It all has a very Hearst-like feel to it, which is hardly surprising (get rich, buy art, build a house for it, leave it behind). Then Anna and I trucked up to Town Hall to see the Blind Boys of Alabama.

March 31, 2005
I headed back to Brooklyn to visit the museum. The Brooklyn Museum building is great, and they have filled it with some fantastic exhibits. The museum is sized just about right for my attention span, it doesn’t overwhelm. I loved the Assyrian Reliefs, and the new Visible Storage area was very cool.

After that it was over to Greenwich area to hang out. Crazy guys in velvet suits never get old. A good spot to go coffee or tea shopping is Porto Rico Importing Co on Bleecker. Bags and bags of different coffee, and large tea tins on the walls. I picked up a half pound of black lychee tea that I had enjoyed at Mooncake Foods.

The village also has some good, cheap eats. Dinner at Indian bread Co was great. I had stuffed parathas and a mango lassi. Mmm. Ambience was nice, though I almost choked when the quiet Indian music in the background changed to loud Jay Z. Another great spot for a quick bite is Mamoun’s Falafel. The shwarma I had was different (more crispy than I’m used to), but delicious. Plan to eat on the run, the place is tiny.

As great as NYC is, there are a couple spots the city can improve on. 1) NYC needs public bathrooms. Pay or free, I don’t care. Many times one has to walk a long way before finding a decent cafe to pop in, buy a tea, and use their facilities. In a pinch I can usually I can find a starbucks to use, but more frequently they are out of order or downhill. Mc’ds or others are usually a last resort. 2) Whenever I eat at a cheaper place in NYC, I kill a lot of trees. Most places package everything to go, even if you stay because they don’t want to deal with clean up or a slow down in service. My morning bagel is wrapped in wax paper, wrapped in tin foil, put in a paper sack, which is stuffed full of napkins. It is a bit depressing when the packaging is bigger than the item.

That is just nitpicking though. New York really is the city, and I love it more with every visit.

Apr 042005

New York Trip Part 1 (Part 2)

Photos for this trip can be found here.

March 26th

We took a red eye from San Diego Friday night and didn’t get much sleep for our arrival at 6am to New York. The middle seat really sucks for trying to sleep, you always end up with a sore neck. We grabbed the skytrain from JFK and headed into NYC on the subway. If you are in NY for more than 4 days, I highly recommend getting the 7day metro pass for $24. I used mine for 6 days and would have spent around 50 bucks if I used a cash card.

We stayed at the Hilton in Midtown (53rd St & 6th Ave). It was not our choice (it was the conference hotel for Anna), but the Hilton was once again confirmed as a crap hotel. As we dropped our bags off I was once again puzzled. How do they actually get people to pay for this place? Horrible service, ridiculous prices. A sample from the room service menu: Half a grapefruit, $5. Eggs and bacon, $18.96.

We were hungry so we went around to corner to Maison Brasserie instead. I had a smoked ham & gruyere crepe, not too shabby. Then they brought over fresh, hot, custardy beignets. Mmmm.

We were looking to do some touring, so we walked over to the Roosevelt Island Tramway. Two dollars gets you a nice tram ride over to Roosevelt island. The tram ride is fun and you get to see a good bit of the NY sky-line. Once there you can take a 25c bus ride for a mini tour of the island.

The last time our hair was cut was in Lima, Peru. I was looking a bit shaggy and Anna wanted a change. We took the subway down to Greenwich Village to get haircuts at Astor Place Hair. I wish I got some photos of this place, I loved it. It was a madhouse mix of old barbers and NY color. I had my hair cut by an older gent named Giovanni. Talked more italian than cut my hair – while looking the other way. Somehow he managed and I got a great cut for 13 bucks.

We wandered around the village some more, checked out the wine store, the bag store, and window shopped. We found a street fair/flea market, so we had to check that out. I bought myself a small sweet potato pie and dug in.

From there it was off to the west side docks on 14th and the Nomadic Museum. Interesting art, cooler building. The building is made of shipping containers and is designed to be able to pack itself up and move somewhere else. The art was photographs and video from Gregory Colbert. His work is mostly shots with animals at peace or cooperating with humans. Interesting style of prints – sepia tone, but almost a water color reproduction of the photographs.

I had wanted to try out The Spice Market for its take on asian street food (durian ice cream? I gotta try that), but it seems too be too popular – it was completely booked the entire time we were there. So we continued the asian theme and walked to Mooncake Foods. I highly recommend it. Very casual and unpretentious. We tried out the vietnamese summer rolls, miso salmon, lychee tea, and wonton soup. All of it was great.

After that we ran out of juice and headed back to the hotel. Not a bad day for running on 2 hours of sleep.

March 27th
We woke up, grabbed some bagels, and headed over to the Easter Parade on 5th. It is not the kind of parade you expect. There is no bands, floats, or structure. It is just a bunch of people that made easter hats (or dressed in their best) parading around. It had it all. Super hats, possible nut-jobs, and fancy pants. It reminded me of Burning Man ; it had an unscripted exposition/expression/whatever vibe.

After a dirty water dog we walked over to the new MoMA. Last time we were here I saw the small Queens exhibit, so I was excited to check out the new building and the full collection. It is expensive ($20), but the new building is beautiful and I really enjoyed most of the art. That night we headed over to the UCB Theatre to see ASSSSCAT 3000, an improv show. Horatio Sanz and Owen Burke hosted and put on a good show.

Mar 252004

Anna gave me a pair of socks with the NYC skyline (though they still have the WTC towers in the image) as the clue to where I am headed tonight (return Tuesday). Wow, NYC. This will be my first time, and I am quite excited. What a great birthday present, thanks babe!