For Thanksgiving, our family traveled to New York to visit my husband’s Long Island relatives, and to enjoy a pretty spectacular vacation (if I do say so myself). It’s hard to believe we’ve already been back for ten days, since I feel like just yesterday I was trying to get a good shot of the Statue of Liberty through the rain from the Staten Island Ferry…
…and since my Arizona tuckus is still thawing out from high temps in the 40s. Our week in the Big Apple was jam-packed with cultural experiences like taking in masterpieces at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
awesome artifacts at the American Museum of Natural History,
and an off-Broadway production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
We also were able to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in person,
and spend the first Sunday of Advent at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Cardinal Timothy Dolan celebrated mass!
Last but not least, of course, we enjoyed many of the foods New York is famous for. I thought I’d give a quick run-down of some of the best places we ate throughout the week, for any friends who might have a New York trip in their future, and for myself to savor it all over again!
Our first night in the city, as we traipsed around looking for food, our bellies were still on Arizona time (and rumbling from missing lunch while on the plane). Luckily, we ended up at Nocciola Pizzeria e Trattoria in east Harlem, where we ordered a half-pepperoni, half-sausage thin crust pie. My husband claimed that this uptown spot served what is known as “wet pizza.” While thinking of pizza as “wet” doesn’t exactly appeal to me (like “someone left a pizza out in the rain”?), I could see what he meant. Since the sauce and the crust were both thin, the pizza could almost slide right off the pan…and into my kids’ eagerly waiting mouths.
Street pretzels were high up on the trip bucket list. We bought these bread bombs from one of the dozens of carts lining 5th Avenue as we walked along looking at the Christmas window displays. Incidentally, these carts were also selling chestnuts, which until this trip had been just a figment of my imagination. I’m going to continue the fantasy by believing they were roasted on an open fire.
Bagels are about as classic a New York food as it gets. We stopped at Bagels & Co. for a dozen that lasted us almost the entire week of breakfasts. Topped with strawberry cream cheese, these were a chewy, crusty treat. Did I mention they were ENORMOUS??
There’s a reason I don’t have a picture of the incredible carrot cake cheesecake and double-fudge cheesecake slices we ordered from Junior’s in Times Square. And that reason is that we DEVOURED them before you could say “wait while I get my iPhone out of my purse.” Holy WOW, Junior’s lived up to the hype. My son told me he wants their cheesecake for his birthday cake next year, and I heartily agree.
To complete the melting pot dining experience, we had Chinese at Wu Liang Ye near Times Square and Italian food at V & T near Columbia University–an establishment that has been at that location since 1945. I kept picturing characters from Goodfellas and The Godfather at the tables around us.
And finally, throughout the week, to offset the damage of pizza and cheesecake, I made sure we got some fresh greens. Europa Cafe, with several locations throughout the city, was a great place to find some healthy options, like this Southwestern salad.
In addition to enjoying the infinite variety of foods New York City has to offer, I have to say there was an unexpected take-home message when it came to dining in the Big City. Because of the extremely high cost of restaurant eating, dining out meal after meal made the food we were eating a much more precious commodity than under normal circumstances. We split meals, ate every last bite on our plates, and I hoarded the cheap snacks I discovered at a K-Mart in Penn Station. (An aside: sometime I’ll tell you the awkward story of shopping for laxatives at an underground K-Mart in Penn Station at 9:00 PM on Thanksgiving night. What can I say? I suffer from travelers’ digestive complaints.) But that’s not the take-home message I’m talking about. I’m talking about the valuable experience of realizing how much I take affordable food for granted. After a week of penny-pinching at each meal, I came home with new-found gratitude for not seeing dollar signs with every forkful of food that enters my family’s mouths. It’s somewhat ironic, actually, that on a trip that felt so indulgent in many ways, I would end up feeling so thankful for my everyday circumstances.
So thanks, New York, for a week of incredible sights and signature foods. They may call you the City That Never Sleeps, but in my mind, you are the City That Always Eats.