Monday, September 24, 2012

A Bite of the Big Apple.


After an exhausting day of exploration in Brooklyn, I was happy to finally check into my room at the Wythe Hotel.  My accommodations were a welcome respite after all of the time spent outdoors in previous hours.  The cushy bed, gently swaying drapes, and the drone of the air-conditioning proved to be too much for my tired soul- I admit it, I walked into my room, plonked down my suitcase and took a 3 hour long nap.  It was badly needed after a full night of restless travel and an entire day of activity.  I had every intention of heading out to dinner in the evening, but by the time I woke up it was 9pm and Williamsburg was crawling with party people.  I didn't have it in me that night to wander any further, so I just took a nice hot shower and went back to sleep.  Fail!  I felt like such a goober the next morning for not taking advantage of my surroundings, but ah, so it goes...

I woke up the following day feeling revived and ready to take on the city.  The Wythe Hotel is located just a few blocks from the Canarsie-14th Street subway route, also known as the L line.  I was directed to it's location, easily reached on foot- again, another beautiful day.  As I walked down Wythe Avenue towards the station, I noticed the incredible amount of bicyclists passing me by.  Where were they headed?  Did *everyone* ride their bikes that much?  There was a shocking lack of automobiles on the road, even during commute time.  As I rounded the corner onto 7th Avenue, I was stopped dead in my tracks-- I've never seen so many bikes in my life.  Clearly this was the Bedford Avenue entrance to the Canarsie Line, but my goodness!  I desperately wish it had occurred to me to take a photo of the waves of bicycles chained together on everything from phone poles to trees to cars to eachother.  It was a fantastic sight to see, one that made me smile from ear to ear.

From Bedford Avenue's L line stop I hopped on the train in headed straight into New York City.  I decided to to jump off at Union Square, a quick 8 minutes away from Brooklyn.  As I emerged up the stairs and out into the blaring city sunlight, I was happy to see that the streets weren't too crazy yet, giving me plenty of room to move about the surrounding blocks without drowning in humans.  I was determined to make my way into SoHo, headed for the flagship Dean & Deluca store on Broadway, a place I've wanted to visit for ages.
We're lucky enough to have a Dean & Deluca right here in our own backyard in Napa Valley, but it's always fun to visit the original location of a favorite foodie haunt.  This one has been around since 1977, and is still going strong.  I enjoyed wandering the jam-packed market, along with hundreds of other ogling shoppers seeking out new and delicious discoveries.  Unfortunately I hit the store right at lunch-time, so the lines were long and the atmosphere was quite chaotic.  After sampling fine cheeses and chocolate, ordering an espresso and wishing I lived closer so I could take home some of their gorgeous flower bundles, I settled on sushi for lunch and pushed my way up to one of their window counters to gobble down my purchase.  It was certainly an entertaining way to experience the daily buzz of city life- I'm glad I stopped in for a visit. 

After wandering SoHo aimlessly, taking in the scenery, popping into shops and finally finding the perfect pair of city sandals to immediately put on my sore feetsies, I did a huge U-turn and started walking back up towards Union Square.  I was following the skyscrapers by sight, not really paying attention to the streets and generally enjoying the scenery (like I've said before, once I start walking I don't stop until I literally run into something).  Well, I ran into in the Flatiron Building.  I love this building so much I could sit in a chair and stare at it.  Actually, I did sit in a chair and stare at it for quite some time...  Such an iconic piece of architecture.

I also reveled in the quaint beauty that is Madison Square Park for an hour or so.  It was irresistible on this particular day- green, lush, and shaded in all the right spots.  People eating ice cream cones, sunbathing, chatting with friends over coffee, snoozing on their blankets and playing fetch with their dogs.  I found a man creating giant, glossy soap bubbles in one of the tiled corners, bubbles so big you could fit a human in them.  I sat, enchanted, and laughed at the expressions of tourists and children alike as his massive rainbow bubbles floated and bounced across the lawn.  The park was teeming with life and leisure, almost as if it was encapsulated in it's own terrarium amongst the busy city streets overflowing with taxi's and towering buildings.  I bought a soft pretzel, planted myself on the lawn and proceeded to people watch, ignoring the outside world.  And, oh hey, I found the Empire State Building as well.

After my lazy afternoon in the park, it was time to get serious.  Well, about as serious as one can be when walking into one of the single most passionate, jaw-dropping food "experiences" of their life.  Like a kid in a candy store- no, bigger than that-- like a maniac walking in circles overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude and significant over stimulation of the senses surrounding them on all sides, delirious with foodie joy, it was time to enter: Eataly.

Stay tuned... (It needs it's own post, I promise.)

*After a visit to heavenly Eataly, it's Cafe Mogador for dinner!




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