Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Eating New York

Last week, I finally got around starting the account of our spring trip to New York. We hadn't been back to NYC since 2011, so we were all very excited to explore and see as much as possible. 

And did I mention being excited to eat as much good food as possible?

On our first trip to the city back in 2006, we pretty much only ate at chain restaurants that we also have in Wisconsin. Back then, we thought the Times Square Olive Garden was the epitome of cool. 

We have changed a little bit since then. The 2018 versions of us laughed so hard at the 2006 versions of us. For this trip, we spent time researching and chose a variety of restaurants that we definitely don't have in good old Wisconsin.

Our first stop after arriving on Friday afternoon, checking into the hotel, and shopping at Zara (priorities) was Lombardi's Pizza. They opened in 1905 and claim to be the first pizzeria in the U.S. They also claim to make authentic Naples pizza. I ate a lot of pizza in Naples just shy of a year ago, so I felt fairly qualified to make a ruling on whether or not it was authentic.


Mom and Jenna opted to share a classic margarita pizza, and I went for their white sauce pizza with mozzarella and ricotta.

They were both DELICIOUS, but just a hair short of being Italy-level delicious. I'm a pizza snob now, what can I say.

To cleanse the palette, we stopped by Doughnut Plant on the way back to the hotel. It's right next to the famous Gotham City Comedy Club. The doughnuts have rave reviews both online and from people we know.

They were good because they were doughnuts, but I didn't find them to be anything special. My rose doughnut was very pretty though. I was expecting it to be rose-flavored because lots of desserts in France are flower-flavored. Nope. It just tasted like sugar.

The next day, after a long morning of sightseeing, we were all more than ready to put our feet up and have some lunch. It was not to be. 

A long line stretched down the block to get a table at Ellen's Stardust Diner, but we decided to tough it out. We ended up standing outside for about an hour before getting in.

My mom suggested this place after seeing a viral video of a waiter singing all the parts in a Beauty and the Beast song. This place is in the Theater District, and all of the waiters and waitresses are aspiring Broadway singers. They perform in between taking your order and bringing you your food.

I thought it would be cheesy but it was actually amazing. It was such a fun atmosphere. The little stage/runway where they sing was right next to our table. I tried to take a few videos in between bites of my challah French toast. Our waitress sang the Little Mermaid song. I'm pretty sure the guy who sang Stacy's Mom was the same guy from the viral video.


This place was a hit! It was one of our favorite things we did in New York. We were a little sad that we were only able to catch one Broadway show, but this helped make up for it.

I haven't had the chance to go yet, but Mom and Jenna have raved about going to Eataly in Chicago. It includes multiple restaurants as well as an Italian food market. You know it's legit because the chain started in the motherland: Italy. There are 2 branches in NYC, and for dinner on Saturday we went to the one next to the Flatiron Building

Flatiron Building and a dancer doing her thing.
Across from Eataly.

The day before, we made a reservation at the rooftop restaurant Serra. We chose that particular restaurant because they had PESTO GNOCCHI. Those are my two favorite foods (besides chocolate, to be clear). I've never had the chance to experience them in one dish before.

Eataly was an absolute zoo. We had to fight our way through a wall of people to get to the elevator and the rooftop. Serra was loud and crowded as well, mostly because of people hanging out in the bar area. 

It was cute and decorated like a Tuscan garden. We loved the view!

Who likes the right upper quadrant of my face that snuck into my mom's picture?
Alas, the magical pesto gnocchi was not to be. Some things are just too good to be true. They didn't have gnocchi, but offered us pesto fusilli instead. We consoled ourselves with delicious homemade bread and fancy cheese skewers as appetizers.

The pasta was amazing and authentically Italian (I don't say that lightly), but it was still a bit of a let-down after expecting gnocchi. 

Later that night while getting ready for to see Anastasia, we ordered edible cookie dough to be delivered right to our hotel. It's probably good that I don't live in New York, because I would have a hard time not casually taking advantage of that delicious convenience all the time.

We were surprised to see a branch of Carlo's Bakery in Times Square. We picked up some treats to have for breakfast the next morning after the show.

We didn't get these, but they're adorable.
After some more sightseeing on Sunday, we had to stop outside Tom's Restaurant for a photo op. Our family loves Seinfeld. I give credit to that show for developing my wonderfully sarcastic sense of humor. This is the restaurant they show on pretty much every episode. The food didn't have great reviews so we didn't eat there, but it made us happy!

For lunch, we headed over to Katz's Deli on the Lower East Side. This place has been around since 1888. I wanted to experience a Jewish deli, and that we did. There was even a cute synagogue across the street. There's a lot of Jewish history in this part of the city.

Like everything in New York it seems, it was packed. We waited for about 20 minutes outside and another 10 inside. It was an interesting experience getting a table haha. First of all, both of the huge bouncer men were into me. One told me I looked elegant while the other looked me up and down. I was popular at Katz's. 

Then someone else handed us numbered tickets, along with a warning that there was a $50 fine for losing said small paper ticket. We were pretty confused, but eventually figured out they were necessary if you braved the chaotic lines yourself and collected food from the different stations. 

We decided to wait for a table with a waiter instead of fending for ourselves in the lines.

We each tried one thing on the menu we'd never had before. Mom got an egg cream, Jenna got matzo ball soup, and I got potato knish. We all tried each others' choices and I throughly enjoyed all 3 things. Me, the picky eater, tried 3 new things. I'm looking for some praise here.

I learned that egg creams, apparently, contain neither eggs nor cream. They do contain milk, carbonated water, and chocolate syrup. My knish (Yiddish words are the best) was the perfect side dish for my less adventurous grilled cheese main course. 

Mom and Jenna got the traditional deli sandwiches, and we shared the big plate of pickles that came with our meals. It was fun to eat here, and the food surpassed my expectations.

The gelato we came across next door was sadly our last New York food after a great few days. Our food research paid off- a little extra planning beforehand made for a delicious weekend. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Grocery Store Chic

I'm happy to be living in America. But there will always be things I miss about France.

One of the little, inconsequential things I miss is the fashion. I miss the extra effort (most) French people make to look chic and presentable in public.

Here, it wouldn't be too out of the ordinary to see someone grocery shop in pajamas. The majority of Americans are 100% comfortable wearing sweatpants or workout clothes in public. 

That doesn't fly in France. In Strasbourg, I once got yelled at by an old man for wearing workout clothes while walking home from my gym. He was utterly disgusted by my attire. It's a very different culture, what can I say.

During the last year and a half we spent in France, I was constantly amused by how nice people look while grocery shopping. When I had time to kill thanks to David being slow or a long line, I tried to snap a few pictures to document how different it is.

Yes, I'm kind of a stalker. Boredom combined with being in a foreign country makes me do weird things.


Leather pants + fur coat = winning 

As you can see, skirts and heels are normal in everyday life. These are my people.

Oh yeah, they're my people for another reason too. Dogs are allowed in most stores and public places. Seeing a sight like this always made my day! That could be a whole separate post. I have quite the collection of dog stalker pics.

I have previously written about Muslim/Jewish fashion in Jerusalem, French fashion in Strasbourg, and fashion disasters in Branson, Missouri. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Journey to the Past: NYC

Less than 2 months after making the big move back to the U.S., I made a little jaunt over to NYC with my mom and sister. The reason for the trip? Anastasia.

When one of our favorite childhood movies made it to Broadway, we really had no choice.

It was a short trip- arriving Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday evening, but we managed to pack in a lot of fun and sightseeing.

We spent our first day shopping at Zara and eating good food. Those were both priorities.

Our Saturday started out with a walk through Times Square. We stayed near this area in order to be walking distance to the play. 

The people in costumes have gotten more aggressive since my last visit to the city. Imagine having a bunch of these creepers converge on you and try to force you to take pictures with them for money. *Shudder*

Rockefeller Center was our next stop. We enjoyed walking there and seeing the city views on the way.

Since we've already done the Empire State Building years ago, we decided to ride to the Top of the Rock for a new experience. It was a good decision!

We had to splurge on the expensive and cheesy professional picture they took of us. They told us to pretend we were falling off. And a masterpiece was created.

After lunch we went to check out the High Line- an elevated railway converted into a park. They got that great idea because Paris did it first.

It was pretty crowded since it was a warm spring Saturday. It was nice to do something that real New York people do and not just tourist New York people.

We did a little more shopping on 5th Avenue before heading to our early dinner reservation. No, I did not shop here. But I do LOVE me some Say Yes to the Dress. My dad and husband were both so hopeful that my obsession with this show would end when I got married. It did not.

The reason for the trip- Anastasia- was on Saturday night. We all loved it! There were a few new songs, but most were familiar from the movie. 

In the process of cleaning out our basement, I found this original movie ticket from 1997. Our Anastasia love goes way back.

This doesn't quite sum up all of our New York adventures... more coming soon!