New York State of Mind…
Leave beautiful ocean breezes of Laguna for a week back East including heat, humidity and the scent of trash on the streets the end of July? Let’s not even mention jam-packed planes and getting stuck in a seat that doesn’t recline for 6 hours. Wanderlust…it’s always calling.
If I don’t click my Louboutin’s across a tarmac once a month, I get antsy. Thank god for Billy Joel’s “Turnstile” album. Lightening struck Joel while taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River line and a red-eye can do wonders for a gal needing some East Coast roots. That and a necessary dose of New York’s finest “fuggedaboutit” attitude. If I want to get a corned beef sandwich, my haircut and a tatoo at 4am (well, maybe not the tat) that’s feasable. Welcome to the roller coaster of a ride called New York City. Like Capote said, it’s like living inside a lightbulb.
I was jonesin’ to spread my wings for a cultural, gastronomical adventure like no other and can’t pass up an opportunity to see the infamous Mr. Best. The minute my red heels hit New Jersey’s terra firma, (don’t fret, just Newark Airport ), I knew the week would be fast and furious. Only one answer, hit the city for the weekend when everyone goes to the Hampton’s and hit the Hampton’s during the week when everyone is in the city. Smashing.
Here are some things I’m loving about NYC – some old, some new, and others that I’m just…well, really into.
The Whitney Museum of American Art
Well done Whitney! Built like a zig-zagged glass structure with outdoor terraces that playfully interact with the NYC cityscape, The Whitney, in its stylish new Renzo Piano building, is fresh and full of surprises. You can watch outside scenery unfold in front of your eyes in the ever-changing sunset hues from across the river or the busy streets. The progression of American art from heavy European influence to more modern day/pop American Art fills each floor. Any place within the building is an opportunity to experience art and hey, who doesn’t like art?
I read a review on Yelp on Jay’s experience about no pointing at the art. Jay was accused of pointing at a painting and was told this practice was not acceptable by a big stocky woman sporting a badge who yelled at him. Really?? Overall loved the vibe here and glad I didn’t run into Miss Big Bad Ass Art Police. It’s a cool place to marvel and chill, but all those food trucks lined up at the front entrance are a bit overwhelming. I don’t want to go home smelling like smoked sausages as I stroll around boys…just say’in.
The low down on the High Line
Awesome use of a defunct rail line track. The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long New York City linear park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. With a view of the Hudson Bay, it’s like you are hovering above the city surrounded by nature. They have taken abandoned rail line and repurposed it into a public space. It’s always great to see a city take old industrial structures and revitalize them into something better. Best of all – It’s FREE. What else is FREE people?
Is this place happening or what? A foodie heaven. With the Meatpacking on one end and Chelsea on the other, you’ve got all kinds of options here. Housed in the former National Biscuit Company factory building (where the Oreo cookie was created), Chelsea Market has been functioning as a hybrid urban public square/high-end food court since 1997. Over 35 vendors sell everything from farmstand fruits and vegetables to cheeses, coffee with flawless latte art, wines, beer, bakeries and bars. The Lobster Place offers fresh seafood and you can find foods of every nationality. Its like the Oxbow Market in Napa but not quite as gourmet and like the Portobello Market in London but smaller. The building is situated immediately by the High Line so meet friends, spend an afternoon walking and cap it off with it dinner at Del Posto (Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s formal four-star Italian establishment.)
Securing a table without a reservation on a busy Saturday night at 7:00 pm made me feel like “Sully” landing that plane in the Hudson River. Calm, cool, collected and an absolute Food Stalker Queen. Even Aunt Myra found my get-it-done East-coast skills impressive. If anyone is up to the task, its the Food Stalker, herself. Why, she has the courage, focused intention, awareness, agility, ability, not to mention the balls, to do it. (did i just say that?)
At The Spice Market, Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s take on Southeast Asian street food served in an exotic setting could knock the sash off your Kimono. It holds that historical feeling of a seductive Asian den with sexy patterned lamps, dark leather banquets and a tropical essence. The starter mango salad was sweet/sour with a touch of heat at the end. Shrimp dumplings were stuffed with sweet shrimp and bathed in a spicy sauce. Pork belly steamed buns were enormous. The salmon dish had a crispy skin and flavor that are hard to describe other than savory/sweet with a perfect acidity. Beautifully plated, each dish revealed different layers of flavor in each bite. The Asian sandwich dough was moist and possessed the perfect amount of sticky chewiness. The interior featured sweet and crunchy peanuts, crispy herbs, large pieces of deep-fried sea bass, and a creamy aioli drizzle. Red Curry Duck with jasmine sticky rice was sumptuous and wished I could have taken some home but alas, left empty handed dreaming of Ovaltine Kulfi carmelized banana drizzled with spiced milk chocolate sauce. Let’s just say, the chef knows how to turn even a pesky stalker like me into a stalking fan, and every course, well, if I could have hauled it all back to Laguna Beach I would have.
Upon greeting me, the owner kissed the air above my knuckles. (Damn, recognized again. Impressive.) The owner is very flirtatious with all the women (Food Stalker included.) He doesn’t hesitate remind you of how beautiful you are which hey, isn’t a bad thing, but after strolling the Museum and Market in 98 degree heat and humidity with make-up rolling off my face, not really sure how true that was. Smirk, wink, wink!
This high-end Northern Italian restaurant in the heart of the Meatpacking district did not disappoint. Our edible debauchery at Vallbella began with Scampi Alle Mandorle and traditional Caesar salad. The crisp, fresh cool vegetables and sharp Parmigiano Reggiano contrasted nicely with my dinner that followed; linguine con frutti di mare, piled high with succulent and somewhat sweet shellfish including chunks of lobster, crab meat and shrimp. Of course I snagged tastings of friends dishes when they weren’t looking (sorry) including truffle cream sauce over pasta, veal chop and fresh sea-bass. Chocolate lava cake satisfied my sweet urge. Once dessert arrived I contemplated the tragedy of leaving half of it on the plate vs depositing it directly onto my hips. Where’s a pair of control-top panty hose when you need em’? What the hell, I’ve been committed to the gym these past few months so cut me some slack. I devoured it. So much for my flat stomach…End. Of. Story.
After dinner have a cocktail at Catch or Fig and Olive. There’s always a long line at Catch on the weekend. No room for a fashionable lady with white hair and a handsome man on her arm…Really? Amazing what a twenty spot will do Mr. Doorkeeper. Before you could say Vodka Martini we continued the gluttony on the rooftop under the stars.
Make a day out of it…The Chelsea Market, The Whitney and the High Line. The Meatpacking District is still going strong after all these years and delights the senses. With places being open until 4am and everyone here suffering from some level of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) where you become overcome with anxiety that in fact your life is lame and you missed out on a night of limitless possibilities, relaxation is not an easy thing to come by. Everyone sits in hours of traffic and heads to the Hampton’s for that.
Next time you visit you may be able to catch a glimpse of the original Food Stalker herself in action…
Tap me on the shoulder for a selfie.