21 November 2013

Yikes! A 9-mile hike through Manhattan

Our October trip to New York City started with a delicious meal in a French bistro and listening to some great jazz. So my wife and I awoke the next morning with the intent of seeing as much as we could during the day. Fortunately, while the temp was a little brisk, it was bright and sunny.

We are inveterate walkers. When we’re on vacation, we like to pick central city hotels and use them as a base to explore a city on foot. Linda had spent some time investigating sights to see and neighborhoods to visit. She had mapped out a route for us to take.

From our Midtown hotel, we started out down 5th Ave. As we started out one of the things I noticed in particular was the number of men wearing formal business attire. Mostly suits, but if not suits, then certainly jacket and tie. It struck me as quite a contrast to downtown Minneapolis. I came to two alternative, and complementary, conclusions. First, maybe the pendulum is swinging back toward a more buttoned down look for business professionals and away from casual, business casual, and just plain sloppy. The second is that I observed a lot of men’s clothing stores featuring business attire. Sure there were the ubiquitous Jos. Banks and Men's Wearhouse. But there also were menswear boutiques and custom made shops. Lots of choices for looking sharp and professional. (Too bad I’m now retired.)DSC00545

Our intermediate destination for the morning was the Flatiron Building, then ultimately SoHo. That was 3 miles by way of Washington Square. We shopped around a bit and then made our way through Greenwich Village and the West Village toward Chelsea Market (1.5 miles). Part of Linda’s goal was to find some fun shopping. She really wanted to find stores with unique and unusual clothing or jewelry. Just before lunch, she found a section in the West Village along Bleeker Street that appealed to her.

At Chelsea Market we met a nephew who was working in the Meatpacking District. He took us to a hip grill for lunch. (I should clarify – he took us to the restaurant, but we paid for lunch.) Then after lunch we backtracked to Bleeker Street so we could shop.

After shopping, we made our way to the southern start of the High Line, which is near Chelsea Market. (Add another mile for the jaunt to West Village and then back to the High Line.) The High Line is an elevated railroad line that’s been transformed into green space and a walkway. We walked the length of it – 1 mile.

Then we walked from the north end of the High Line to Times Square; add another mile. This was one of the few things that Linda and I really differed on. She found Times Square to be exciting and vibrant. I found it to be noisy, dirty, and unappealing. Those two things are not necessarily contradictory, I know. But I would have been just as happy to have come and gone without ever walking through Times Square.

We finally staggered the final 3/4 of a mile back to the hotel. Took a rest and then got ready for our evening. Dinner, as I mention in the next post, was at a restaurant right across the street from our hotel. But we weren’t quite done walking yet. After dinner we walked down 5th Ave. again to the Langham Place Hotel where we had a cocktail and listened to a jazz combo performing in the lounge. Log that as another 1.5 miles.

All told, it was at least 9 miles of walking that day. Good thing I have good shoes – Ecco. They’re comfortable and they look good too.

NYC Dinner #2: Fig & Olive Midtown

After a long day of walking, sightseeing, and exploring, I was glad that we didn’t have to go far for dinner. We had made a reservation at the Midtown location of the Fig & Olive. We picked the restaurant because we liked the creative menu. At the time, we didn’t realize that there were multiple locations in the city. This location was right across the street from our hotel.

One of the things that appealed to my wife and me was the prix fixe option on the menu. We tend to like that approach as long as the options look appealing. It’s sort of like a pseudo-tasting menu, only with more flexibility for individual preferences. DSC00548

For our dinner at Fig & Olive, my wife started with the house salad. Sorry if that doesn’t sound too exciting. But the list of ingredients in the salad were very appealing – fig, apple, manchego cheese, gorgonzola, tomato, walnut, olives, romaine and other greens, scallion, and fig balsamic vinegar. It was an excellent salad.

My meal started with a mushroom croquette. It was made with cremini mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, a béchamel sauce, and was dressed with a truffle olive oil aioli. The crust was very buttery and flakey. The mushrooms were excellent, and the whole dish was quite rich.

For an entrée, Linda choose tuna Provençale. The menu said the tuna would be seared. Linda expressed a preference for it to be cooked to medium. They did a nice job of accommodating her preference. The plate included some potatoes and roasted cherry tomatoes. On the side was a small serving of a roasted eggplant caviar.

My entrée was an individual serving of paella del mar. I thought it was delicious. There was a nice variety of fish and seafood on the plate, including shrimp, mussels, scallops plus vegetables – peas, red bell peppers and artichokes.

For dessert Linda ordered chocolate pot de crème. I ordered a dessert crostini with cherry, mascarpone, pistachios, on shortbread.

While we enjoyed each of the restaurants we ate at in New York, Fig & Olive was definitely the most creative. I would recommend it.