The Big Apple: final part

It is clear that New York has more to offer than only food (even to me). It has everything, from the ugliest to the prettiest, from the smallest to the largest. Trying to see it all is just wishfull thinking as NYC is one very large city! (I think not even in a whole lifetime you get to see it all). Like I already mentioned in my first post about the big apple, the best way to explore NYC on the first day you are there is by actually using the ‘hop on hop off ‘tour busses, this way you get a general overview of the city and know what you would want to see again (or better what you don’t want to see back).  So basically sit back and enjoy the ride and all the sights New York has to offer. After that I would suggest just taking the subway or walk, (like tried to do as much as possible) but again this city is so spread out that you would already need one day to just finish one avenue.

Time square, for example, is one of those places you just have to see when you are in New York. Even if you wouldn’t want to see it, you’ll see it anyways as the subway station is the central point of all the subway lines so from Time Square you get everywhere in town. For me Time Square is nice, but I just too crowded.

One my preferred places in NYC is the New York Highline. The New York highline is an old freight/train rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side that has been changed into a urban garden. It is owned by the City of New York, but maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line (you can still become a member/Friend and donate, the donations start from 75 USD I think). The Highline runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street.  It has been subdivided in different areas. One of those would come in handy on hot days (like the day we were there)at  the Diller-Von Furstenberg sundeck & Water feature you can cool down in the ‘water feature’ this would be a small layer of cold clean water streaming on top of the path you are walking on (don’t worry there is also a non-watery  part). Besides that there are lots of nice areas in this urban garden where you can escape the busy streets of New York. The NYC Highline is a good alternative for Central Park if you are at the other side of town…

Something you just have to do while in NYC is see a Broadway show! I know that lots of people are now already saying they don’t really like musicals, but don’t forget that the shows you see on Broadway are of a whole other level than your local theatre shows. Personally I just love seeing musicals and shows on Broadway and London (no so much here in Belgium). One tip, don’t buy your tickets upfront, just buy the day itself in a TKTS booth as they sell the tickets with a discount up to 70% (FYI, this is an official Broadway ticket booth, so don’t worry it are real tickets). You can find one TKTS on Time Square and one TKTS at South Street Seaport (at Fulton). The one near Fulton is always less crowded. We went to see Mamma Mia, it wasn’t without a struggle as my fiancée is one of those people who are not really into musicals. Funny enough it is a fact that after the show even she had to admit that it was a good show!(even if she didn’t like it, I know I did 🙂 ) You could just sing along with all the Abba songs…. I also liked our seats as I could see the band play 🙂

During our trip I found it strange that my fiancée tried the whole time to get me to the Brooklyn Bridge, but when we finally got there I found out why 🙂

The reason for this is that as surprise my fiancée had a bought a lock that we hang on the Brooklyn Bridge. This seems to be a tradition, as a sign for eternal love. What was so special about this lock is that it was with our names and the date we met engraved in it 🙂 Isn’t she a romantic woman?  So now NYC will always have a special place in our hearts!

For all readers with young kids, you should definitely shoud visit the Build a bear workshop. You basically get to make, dress and stuff your own bear and even make it speak. I’m sure not only your kids will like it 🙂 (We made one for my little nephew)

You first start with choosing a Furry Friend. After that you get him stuffed, but before closing him up you have to give the bear a heart. (you also make a wish)

You than dress the furry friend. FYI, there is toooo much choice in clothes to give him

If you want you can also give him a sound (we took the non-speaking one, my nephew already has too much noise making toys and I think my sister in law would kill me if I bring more noise in the house ;-))

You also get to create a birth certificate for the bear 🙂 + the shop also has something called ‘Find the bear’ program. This is to help your furry friend to find its way home to you if it is ever lost. Every Build-A-Bear Workshop® furry friend you make is stuffed with a barcode. When you make a birth certificate at the Name Me station you can enter your new friend in our Find-A-Bear ID program by entering your contact information. If your furry friend is ever lost then returned to one of the stores they can hopefully use this information to send it home to you. Isn’t this great? I know we liked it and seeing the smile on my nephew’s face made it all worth it!

I could really keep going on and on about what you guys should see in NYC, but I have to stop somewhere…. but I think I gave you some tips of things you can do or eat during your stay in this is the city that never sleeps. Enjoy and hope you guys have lots of fun!! Cheers

The big apple – part 3

It is said that breakfast is the most important meal a day… for me every meal is important! I already shared where I had lunch, so it would be cruel to know let you know where I had dinner!  Just like for lunch it wasn’t easy to decide where we would eat, even with all the address I got from friends. We just tried a few places spread over the city, 1 night we even ate in Brooklyn. In general I have the impression that New Yorkers don’t take time to enjoy life. Everything has to happen as quickly as possible, even having dinner has to happen fast. Personally I found this quite disturbing that always have the feeling that have to eat everything in 10 minutes and free your table as quickly as possible…So if you are hoping to enjoy a long dinner you can keep hoping, but you won’t find too many of these places in NYC (not even Michelin star restaurants).

Luckily we did find a place where you could eat without feeling the pressure to free up you table again, this restaurant was called ‘Alias’. Alias located on the corner of Clinton and Rivington street which is pretty south in NYC close to the Williamsburg Bridge. I liked this restaurant as this was a spot where local people come to eat new American food. I wasn’t too sure what to expect or what New American food was before we arrived there, but I was positively surprised + the people working here were all very friendly. On the menu there were lots of things I wanted to eat, but one has to choose  (otherwise I would just be greedy), my choice went to the Creek stone farms hanger steak with red bliss smashed potatoes, kale and a red wine reduction . My fiancée took the taco plate, which were three soft corn tacos with black bean & radish salad on the side: existing out of One fish taco with cabbage, pico de gallo, jalapeño mayo (very spicy, just FYI), a veggie taco with zucchini, huitlacoche, tomatillo-avocado salsa, arugula and last but not least a Grilled chicken taco with avocado, sour cream and jalapeño. Both accompanied by a full and rich 2008 red Argentinian Malbec. Overall a very nice dinner and I’m sure if I’m in NYC again, I’ll be coming here again.

One evening we decided we wanted to eat outside of Manhattan, so we had to cross a Bridge in NYC to have dinner, this brought us to Brooklyn.

To restaurant ‘Grimaldi’s’ to be more precise. It is said that Grimaldi’s is serving the best pizza in New York City, so I just had to try it and judge for myself (I’m a realy pizza lover, who isn’t?). Grimaldi’s was also the first restaurant in NYC where we had to wait in line to get a table, so this got me even more exited to try it. One thing can be said for a fact,it are some big pizza’s they serve there and they were good, but to call them the best I ever had I’m not sure… Something I do have to share is that they the pizza’s had the strangest looking mozzarella on them, it looked like white paint… but I wasn’t sick of it, so noooo worries. From Grimaldi’s you are just a stone throw away from the Brooklyn Bridge, so if you eat here in the evening,  you have one of the most beautiful views of the NYC skyline by night…  I would say try Grimaldi’s pizza and you be the judge

You cannot go to NYC or the US and not try a hamburger. Our first night in NYC we tried the Burgerjoint. The burgerjoint can be found and believe it or not, in one of the fanciest hotels in NYC, the ‘Le Parker Meridien’. So you would expect to find a very clean and upscale place, but this was definitely not the case. It was without any doubt one of the funkiest places we been to in NYC (I might even say the funkiest in the whole US that I visited). For the interior just picture on all walls you find names and signatures of famous people who ate here, and old school restaurant furniture and not too much light 🙂

On the menu they only have 3 things you can order a hamburger and 2 types of cheeseburgers… but then again, who would need more choice? Better to keep it simple and good than trying to invent stuff that is not good is my opinion … Anyway it is indeed an experience. . My apologies for the bad pictures, but it was very dark in the restaurant and I didn’t want to draw too much attention on myself by using a flash…

I did try a few other restaurants during our visit (I never skip meals, unless I’m sick and even then). We even tried famous NYC restaurants that everybody told us to try, but I think the hype around some restaurants is bigger  and more promising than what they actually give you and worst of it is that it costs you a looooooot of money… so  I just don’t feel like sharing them.

But as this was not be my last trip to NYC, I already made a ‘to do’ list for next time I’m in NYC!  The Fat Radish, Max, The little owl, Annisa and without any doubt Le Bernardin, all restaurants I really want to try, so I just have to go back (it is my duty as Foodblogger and Human 🙂 )

OK, in the next and last part of my New York trip I’ll share with you the spots you just have to see (Yes, you can indeed do something else than eating)

To be continued….

The big apple – part 2

In the big apple part 1 you could read that I had found a great hotel and the best ways to explore the city. I could start this part talking about what you should be seeing in NYC, but people who know me (and I think people reading my blog as well by now), know that when I travel the most important (or one of the most important) is eating good… so this wasn’t any different for this NYC trip and I’ll keep the things to see for one of the next parts 🙂 because to have enough strength to explore the city one needs to eat well (and most importantely not skip a meal).

Knowing that NYC has hundreds or maybe even thousands restaurants doesn’t make it easy to make a choice of which ones you want to visit in 7 days (I think somebody living in NYC doesn’t even get to try every restaurant). So I decided to bring in some help from friends who go often to NYC, friends living in NYC and NYC friend foodbloggers…. but let me just say that it didn’t make the actual picking of the restaurants easier (as I thought it would)… the Total NY list I had initially might have decreased, but I still had a list of at least 60 restaurants… so I just wrote them all in my little Moleskine cityguide booklet (I liked this as this booklet in pocketsize contained a map of NYC streets and the NYC subway) subdivided per district or are of NYC and checked on the spot which restaurants were close by where I was at that moment. Or that’s what I did most of the time, because there were indeed a few eateries I just had to do in NYC 🙂

In general I found NYC quite expensive to eat, LA or Miami are much cheaper… not that this stopped me from eating of course (a man has got to eat).  What I have to admit is that in general I ate well, but not extraordinary or mind blowing for a normal price (but maybe I’m just too spoiled)… OK, enough jibber jabber and more sharing of eateries, let’s start with where you can have lunch

One of the places I just HAD to try when in NYC was Eataly, I already went there on day 1 for lunch (a man has got to do what a man has got to do). I think I was about to cry out of happiness or maybe have a heart attack of the overwhelming choice of what to eat (really). I have never seen so much great Italian food in 1 place (no, not even in Italy).  You can ask my fiancée, I was like a kid in a candy store (or like a Spinelli in a food store ;-)).  So again we had to choose (it just didn’t stop during this holiday), did we want pizza, pasta, meat, fish, veggie, just some antipasti, which kind of wine did we want…., but we did I we chose to just sit in the ‘middle square’ of Eataly and try different things. Starting with some salumi (ham, salami …) followed by the day special a sandwich with Sicilian sausage) in between (a bit too salty if you ask me) and my fiancée took a salad. Overall a nice meal accompanied with some good wines, but for me a bit too expensive
for what you get… but definitely a great concept and a must see as food lover in NYC

Another eatery everybody told me to go to was the Chelsea Market. At first when my friends talked to me about the Chelsea Market I was expecting to see a kind of open air market in New York were you would be able to eat the things the stalls are selling… But it is actually one very big food court, but with no fast food chains in a very vintage like setting. There are around 35 different small restaurants (American small, not European small) that are all specialized in a type of food, for example a bakery, a lobster restaurant,  a cupcake shop, sandwich shop… BUT the best part of all you can see how everything gets made freshly, because the kitchens are setup with glass walls that allow checking it all out…

Our choice in the Chelsea Market went to Friedman’s lunch where I had a burger (the real deal) served with French fries and Ketchup that was not from Heinz (I was as surprised as you are now) and my fiancée for a Turkey sandwich. A nice lunch for a correct price… but still lots of places to try at the Chelsea market and definitely a place to visit for a nice lunch

The third restaurant I want to share with you guys is Tartinery, a nice little French eatery where you can eat some nice slices of bread, salads or sandwiches AND that has a great wine list 🙂 (Is actually also known for it). Tartinery is located in Mulberry street which is a street in New York’s very own little Italy. I know it has no editorial value, but I just need to share the following. On our way to Tartinery I saw the cooles magnet with the following on it: ‘Not only am I perfect, I’m Italian too’, I wanted to buy it for on my fridge but forgot it. OK, back to Tartinery. For our lunch here I had the Jambon Puree (Ham with mashed potatoes) and my fiancée the Mozza … both nice slices accompanied with a garden salad and for me followed by a ‘Tarte Tatin’. We had a nice lunch with portions big enough for lunch for a still ok price considering it is NYC.

The another lunch eatery I want to share is ‘INO , this was for me the one of the nicest lunch places we had lunch, good, low price, in a quiet neighborhood and very njummy  (Italian influenced)… nothing more to add, just try it yourself. I can say for a fact it wasn’t easy to choose the sandwich or other lunch dish you wanted to eat as they all seemed good…

The last lunch place I want to share is actually for the healthy people amongst you (I want there because I promised my fiancée I would try at least one healthy lunch). This lunch was at Hale and Healthy  and I have to admit that I liked it the whooooole healthy way 🙂 an idea would be to buy your food here and eat it in Central park or NY high line. I went for a healthy sandwich (FYI, the red on the picture is NOT bacon, before you start judging me) and my fiancée this was an even better experience as she could choose everything she wanted in the salad from an almost endless choice of vegetables, nuts, … Definitely the place for you if you like to keep it healthy

Wow, I have told you guys so much… Sorry for that, but I like to make sure you get the whole picture and believe it or not, but to be continued with some dinner spots, tips and things to see in NYC…..

The big apple – part 1

‘The city that never sleeps’, this is soooo true. New York is one busy city, no matter at what time you go outside there is always something to see or to do. Last month my fiancée and I decided to set sail to New York City to discover as much as possible during our 7 days in the Big Apple.

The hardest part of this trip to NYC was actually finding a hotel in a list of over 800 hotels that had a good price/ quality value. During this quest I was really surprised how expensive the hotels are in NYC (maybe another reason why this city never sleeps 🙂 ). For me it is important that the hotel (when doing a city trip) is in a good location so I can walk everywhere or at least have some good public transport connection. The room must be clean and last but not least I must be able to have breakfast. I know NYC has lots of great breakfast places, but when I wake up I need an instant breakfast fill up 🙂 otherwise I just can’t function correctly (I am one hungry man).  After a long search I did find a hotel that even topped my criteria, it was the one and only Yotel.

  • 10-15 minute walk from Time Square (where you have all subway trains at your disposal, all sightseeing busses, etc…)
  • They serve complementary muffins (10 different types) accompanied by coffee, tea, … at breakfast time

  • Has a rooftop cocktail bar (mmm, I loved their Margarita’s)

  • You can sleep up to the 27th floor (we were on the 24th floor),

  •  Very modern

  • Normal NYC price
  • Friendly staff
  • Walking distance from Broadway (I love musicals, don’t care what you think 🙂 🙂 )

Something that might initially scare you is the size of the room, but you shouldn’t be scared. I can say for a fact that the architect who has designed the rooms made sure every millimeter of the room got used in a good way and that you have all the comfort you need. If I go back to NYC, I wouldn’t doubt of staying there again.

A little tip if you go to NYC (or North America in general), no matter which kind of hotel you stay in (5 star or a B&B), you must always check the room (before putting your bags down) for Bed Bugs.  This seems to be a big problem in North America. (FYI, the Yotel didn’t have any).

Hotel -> Check

For me the best way to start your visit in NYC (or any other city of this size) is by using the sightseeing bus lines on the first day! Yes, I know it seems very touristy and usually I’m also not too keen on it. But for a city of this size taking these busses is just common sense. It helps me to get a good overview of the city, plus, during this ride I can write down the things I definitely want to see. (And as there is a tour guide on the bus you also learn some stuff). We took the Grayline on our first day and are proud of it :-).

After the first day the best en fasted way to get around is the subway or at least, that’s what we did. The NYC subway is very easy to use and it is best if you buy a pass for your whole stay (this might be most convenient)

To be continued with some great eateries and must see’s in NYC….