A block down from our hotel is a restaurant called the Sunflower Cafe. The menu outside looked good, so in we went. It was a sunny morning, we sat on their enclosed porch with lots of windows and a view of the morning life of our neighborhood. Eric saw a guy suited up, carrying his surfboard. Yep, surfboard. My husband, who wants to be a surfer, has read all about the surf clubs out on Long Island. I saw a guy loading golf clubs into his car, and I could get my brain around that. Saturday!
We shared a bowl of fresh fruit
And the Eggs a la Sunflower (benedict with english muffin, lox, poached eggs and hollandaise):
Yes, that's 3 poached eggs. And did I mention hashbrowns? Who on earth could eat that by themselves? It was really delicious.
Fueled and ready for some action, we hopped on the subway and went alllllllll the way uptown to 77th and Lexington. Again, we found ourselves in a completely different world, this neighborhood of brownstones, Lenox Hill Hospital, terraces, luxury automobiles, and fancy dogs. It was quieter than any other place we'd been in the city. When we got to 5th Avenue, the police were blocking off the street for the http://www.germanparadenyc.org/ - the Steuben Parade, a German American thing. We didn't linger.
Central Park is immense. And that statement is an understatement! Thinking back, I am still amazed that such a place exists in a city like New York, or anywhere for that matter. Did you know the park is entirely man-made? Read the history of it here - it's truly fascinating that 843 acres of park came about in that way. http://www.centralpark.com/guide/history.html
Me, in front of the Alice in Wonderland sculpture.
Charming snippets of poem encircle the perimeter of the sculpture.
Being the active sorts of people we are, we needed to see Central Park on bicycle. We found this place on line: http://www.thecentralparkboathouse.com/sections/boats.htm - and were excited about the idea of renting a couple of cruisers for an hour or two.
We headed north, up the east side of Central Park, along with what seemed like thousands of bikers, walkers, runners, strollers, skaters, and every manner of people moving their bodies and enjoying the day. Loved that the streets through the park are closed to automobile traffic on Saturdays - I would not have wanted to encounter a NY taxi with my cruiser.
Ready to ride!
I could post dozens of photos of our ride through the park, but here's a sampling:
In front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
View of the Upper West side, across the huge lake.
In Columbus Circle, at the far southwest corner of the park. My Atlas.
After returning our bikes, we headed west on foot, out of the park, in search of Zabar's. Remember in "You've Got Mail," when Meg Ryan is shopping for Thanksgiving and she's trying to avoid Tom Hanks in the store, and she gets in the wrong "cash only" line, and he has to rescue her, charming the grumpy cashier named Rose? Yes, that place.
Zabar's is a place to be experienced, at least once in a person's life. It was busy enough on a Saturday at lunch time, but I'd love to be there on a Friday, when all the Jewish folks in the neighborhood shop for their Sabbath meal, or right before any of the major Jewish holidays.
It was like stepping into deli food heaven. Hundreds of cheeses, meats, produce, breads, treats, salads, and everything you can imagine, plus a thousand things you've never heard of but discover you simply must have.
The meat counter. Impossible to decide.
So here's what we chose, and arranged, and savored.
That, my friends, is:
Proscuitto di Parma
Pheasant and Rosemary Pate
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
Closeup of the chocolate rugulah (yummy pastry),
with a view of the castle across the pond next to the grassy knoll,
upon which we partook of our lovely picnic.
We took our time, enjoying the food and the sights and sounds of Saturday in the Park. There were families, birthday parties, young lovers, dogs, tourists, goofy kids, artists, and people like us, enjoying picnics and conversation.
After our picnic, and stretching our stiff cycling legs, we headed back east and picked up Fifth Avenue. We walked all the way down, ending up in front of the world famous Plaza Hotel. This is where all the carriages line up to take romantic (or tourist-y) rides through Central Park.
Again, I was amazed at the number of people walking down Fifth. It was a typical Saturday afternoon, no doubt, but it's more bustling than any city street I've ever walked on. We popped in and out of some shops, finally requiring some refreshment in the form of espresso. Rockefeller Center, in the winter, has an outdoor skating rink, but in warmer months, it's open as The Rink Bar. Two double espressos, please, served to us by a senior at NYU, majoring in opera voice.
Eric simply had to stop at the Orvis store, which was on 44th street. Then, two more blocks to the subway station and a quick ride to Grand Central again. We had a glass of wine at one of the restaurant bars there and watched the flotsam and jetsam, coming and going at the end of the day.
Not a great picture, but here we are, dressed for fun!
Subway to Grand Central, shuttle to Times Square, subway to Columbus Circle, walk a few blocks to Patsy's at 56th and Broadway.
You know how when you have high expectations, and then you walk into a place and think, "hmmm, this might not be the happening place after all?" I had that feeling. Like our last night in New York might be a good dinner, and an early cab ride home.
With no reservations, we ended up lucky, getting permission from Joe (the owner) to snag the tiny table in the front window. This afforded Eric a view of the street activity, me a view of the bar and restaurant, and both of us had the pleasure of watching the restaurant patrons come and go.
The walls are covered with autographed photos of all sorts of famous people. Rose (the other owner, wife to Joe), told us that each of them has a story of degree-of-separation-from-Frank. As in Frank brought Rosemary Clooney, she brought her nephew George Clooney, he brought his friend Julia Roberts, and so on.
Opened in 1944, Patsy's has been a family-owned restaurant all these years, standing the test of time during all the opening and closings of a thousand New York restaurants. I think the charming owners, delicious food, great wine list, and waiters in white captains' jackets might have a bit to do with it. Frank helped, no doubt. There's a bronze statue of him on the bar!
We ordered a glass of wine and a bowl of mussels to share. They were delightful, in a light white wine broth, with slivers of toasted garlic and plenty of freshly chopped parsley. Then we shared a plate of the ravioli trio - one spinach-ricotta with the house marinara, one mushroom with a light tomato mushroom sauce, and one lobster with a creamy tomato sauce. Eric and I agreed the mushroom was the best. When the chef, Sal (son of the owners, third generation chef there), came out of the kitchen to go home for the night, we had a chat and I extracted some information from him as to why that ravioli was so delicious - a blend of white and portabella mushrooms, with ricotta, mozzarella and garlic. It was meaty and smoky and perfect.
During our dinner, Rose (mentioned above) came to the table next to ours to "cook the books." Love that she used a tablet of notebook paper and guest checks, aided by a pencil and simple calculator! After enjoying conversation with her, her husband Joe, and finally their son Sal, we felt like family. They gave us a gift bag of pasta, a lovely trivet, lots of hugs and kisses and good wishes.
Sal was the guy to meet! We said "what should we do now, after this wonderful dinner?" Oh, well, of course we wanted to head down the street to the Carnegie Club. Ok, what's that? One of the only cigar-friendly clubs around, thankfully with a good ventilation system, and a Saturday night singer backed by an 18 piece orchestra doing nothing but Frank Sinatra music. Yes, please!
So Sal says, "I'm friends with the singer, tell him I sent you. Tell the girl at the door you had dinner at Patsy's, you'll be able to get in without a reservation." Yes, please!
Right before we left, we had the privilege of meeting Tony Bennett's daughter, who came to say thank you to Joe and Rose for the nice dinner she and her companions had. That was fun!
Carnegie Club! http://www.hospitalityholdings.com/
Really cool. It was just as Sal said, we gave his name at the door and the charming hostess led us right to a table. The orchestra was getting set up, people came in and ordered their food and drink and cigars, and we were transported to the Copa, circa 1950. We felt rather fabulous, really.
Here's the singer: http://www.stevenmaglio.com/
When we met him after the show, I told him he was Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin, and he enjoyed the compliment. I got a kiss and his CD, which we've enjoyed a few times through since we got home. There was a famous, retired boxer there (name escapes me just now) and a very old, yet still connected, music producer.
It was a blissful evening. I grew up on Sinatra, Bennett, Armstrong, Fitzgerald, and the like. It stands to reason that only in New York can you be in one place, doing one thing, and never expecting the next thing that might happen, and when it does, you feel like you're in a different place and time in history.
A perfect way to end our stay in the greatest city in the world!