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A Quick Trip to New Jersey and New York City

May 12, 2017

By Kath Dedon

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Sunday, May 7, was our 34th wedding anniversary and we spent most of the day flying from Seattle to Newark, New Jersey. Bob goes twice a year for business and this time I tagged along.

That night we stayed with Foy and Ken. They manage the self-storage facility that Bob developed, and over the years they have become good friends. We got to their house at about 5:30, just in time to enjoy martinis and the smoked salmon that we had brought from Pure Food Fish in the Pike Place Market (the BEST!) Foy and Ken treated us to a great Italian dinner at Gregorio’s in Chatham. Bob and I split a Caesar salad and I had their gluten-free pasta with sausage, sundried tomatoes, and a tomato-cream sauce. Delizioso!

The next morning, after a quick breakfast at Angie’s Family Restaurant in Chatham, we went to a meeting at the management company. This year it was particularly enjoyable because everything is going so well.

After the meeting we headed out to the storage facility in New Brunswick. We grabbed a quick hot pastrami sandwich (good!) nearby and then met with the people working at the store. They’re so enthusiastic and are doing a great job keeping the place rented up.

With the business done, we turned in the rental car at the Newark airport and took the NJ Transit train to Penn Station in New York City!

Foy and Ken generously let us stay in their beautiful one bedroom apartment that they own near the United Nations. It is so perfect! It’s in a relatively quiet area of New York and walking distance to many good restaurants. It’s centrally located so it’s a quick taxi ride to other areas of the city.

We were pretty exhausted after staying up way too late the night before talking with Foy. Bob took a nap. We then walked around the corner to get some wine and snacks to enjoy in the apartment before dinner.

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Salami, chips, and wine before dinner

Wine and snacks in NYC apt

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There are so many wonderful restaurants in New York, but instead of trying something new, we had to go back to a favorite from a past trip. Matisse is a cute little French bistro that has a great atmosphere and wonderful food. As a bonus, the prices are very reasonable for New York. Bob had a martini and I enjoyed a Manhattan. We shared the Vegetarian Salad (chopped mixed vegetables with lemon vinaigrette). Then Bob had the Coq au Vin, which he said he’d never had before, and I had fabulous Calf’s Liver. The mashed potatoes served with both entrees were perfection. We enjoyed the dinner so much; I’m sure we will choose to go back again if we’re in New York. (And note to self: Find a good recipe for Coq au Vin!)

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Martini and Manhattan at Matisse

Calves liver and Coq au Vin at Matisse

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We started Tuesday with breakfast at Sarge’s Deli. It’s an institution that has been there for 53 years. They are never closed. And they have a huge menu that includes “The Monster”, “New York’s largest sandwich”. It is served on thick sliced rye bread, with corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, fresh turkey, salami, sliced tomato, lettuce, coleslaw and Russian dressing. It will set you back $41.95 but will probably feed you all week!

We ordered from their breakfast specials menu. I had The Leo (eggs scrambled with Nova Scotia smoked salmon and onions, served with home fries) and rye toast. Bob had a toasted sesame bagel with the smoked salmon and cream cheese. It was all very tasty, but a lot of food. We definitely left some behind.

Sarge's - the Leo breakfast

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Sarge's bagel, smoked salmon and cream cheese

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After breakfast we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Carrie had suggested we go to the Whitney Museum of American Art, but Bob vetoed that idea. We had been to the Met before, but it is ginormous and always has something new. And it has things that Bob likes, like the Arms and Armor Gallery. It is truly the “something for everyone” museum.

We started with the Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties, an exhibit that will be there through July 16. It’s an amazing collection of pieces gathered from 32 museums and archaeological institutions in China. Most of the pieces have never been seen before in the West. The Qin Dynasty was short, from 221 – 206 B.C. The Han Dynasty lasted from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D. I’ll share some of my favorite pieces.

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A half-life-size bronze chariot from the Qin Dynasty

 Half-size sculpture of covered carriage Qin Dynasty

 

There were several life-size terracotta warriors. They were from a life-size army of 7,000 terracotta warriors were discovered in 1974 in the mausoleum of the first Qin emperor, Qin Shi Huang. He died in 210 B.C.

 Terracotta warrior

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This earthenware Strongman is from the Qin Dynasty.

 Strongman, Qin Earthenware

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There were many objects made to be buried with the nobility. I especially liked the Elephant and Groom and the bronze Goose.

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Gilt and Silvered bronze Elephant and Groom, Western Han. Found in 2010 in the tomb of Liu Fei, prince of Jiangdu who died in 129 B.C.

Elephant and Groom

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Life-size bronze goose

Goose

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After the Chinese exhibit, we made a quick pass through the Rei Kawakubo exhibit. It was beautifully exhibited and I probably would have chosen to spend more time looking at everything, but Bob wanted to move on.

Kawakubo, from the Blood and Roses collection, 2015

Kawakubo - from Blood and Roses collection 2015

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We both enjoyed Seurat’s Circus Sideshow. It gathers works from Seurat and other nineteenth century artist that illustrate scenes from the popular fairs and circuses of the time.

We barely made a dent in all that there is to see at the Met, but we had had our fill so went off to find lunch.

I have heard high praise for Shake Shack for so long that I was dying to try it. The Upper East Side location was walking distance from the Met. They have indoor seating and also outdoor seating that is open to the public. You don’t need to purchase Shake Shack food to eat there, but it seemed most people had.

I had the ShackBurger, a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce. Bob tried the SmokeShack, a cheeseburger with bacon, chopped cherry pepper, and ShackSauce. We shared an order of fries. The burgers were very fresh, made with top quality ingredients. All burgers are cooked medium unless requested otherwise. My cheeseburger was very tasty, indeed, and I’m glad we tried it. I must say, though, that our neighborhood Zippy’s burgers are better. They are SO good!

Shake Shack

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After lunch we walked back along E. 86th Street to Central Park. We walked along a path in the park that paralleled 5th Avenue and we saw parts of the park that we hadn’t seen before.

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There’s an area where there are several baseball fields. All were busy with teams practicing after school.

Baseball practice in Central Park

 

We stumbled upon Cleopatra’s Needle. It was commissioned by Pharaoh Thutmose III in about 1425 B.C.

Cleopatra's Needle in Central Park

 History of Cleopatra's Needle

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We kept walking and came upon the Sailboat Pond. You can rent remote control sailboats to sail on the small pond. We had seen that before, but this time we stopped at Le Pain Quotidien Conservatory Water for iced tea. We enjoyed sitting on a bench and watching people go by.

Sailboat Pond Central Park

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After the break, we continued walking until we ended up at the end of the park at E 59th Street. That’s the location of The Plaza hotel where we had lunch with Laura and Carrie in 1998.

The Plaza NYC

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We did a bit of window shopping along 5th Avenue before getting a cab back to the apartment.

Dinner Tuesday night was at Spice Symphony and we both loved it! They serve Indian and “Indian Chinese” food. The service was warm and friendly. We started with Tandoori Achari Mushrooms –  mushrooms marinated in yogurt and pickle spice mix, and roasted in the tandoor. Delicious! I asked about the Lamb Vindaloo and our server said it was very spicy. So I chose the Lamb Rogan Josh and Bob had the Lamb Vindaloo. Both were served with rice and we also had the Kachumber Salad – diced cucumber, onions and tomato topped with a lime cilantro dressing. It was excellent with the spicy entrees.

Lamb Rogan Josh

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Wednesday Bob got some baklava from the Tudor Gourmet Deli downstairs. It is fantastic and made a satisfying breakfast in the apartment.

Baklava from Tudor Gourmet Deli

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We then walked down the stairs from about E. 43rd Street to the UN building and walked along the East River for a while. We cut over and walked south along 1st Avenue. It was interesting to see another part of the city.

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East River with Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bridge in the background

East River, NYC, Brooklyn in the background

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By the time we got to about E. 24th Street we were hungry for lunch. I used yelp to find Grill 21 in the Gramercy area of Manhattan. It had great reviews and was just a short walk away.

Grill 21 serves Filipino food, a cuisine with which we are not too familiar. I ordered the Chicken Curry. Bob tried, at my suggestion, the Pork Binagoogan. (Pork Binagoogan is pork chunks sautéed in shrimp paste with eggplant.) It took a little while for them to make the food, but I just figured it was being made with fresh ingredients. I enjoyed my curry, but Bob was not so fond of the pork. He thought it tasted “off”. I tasted it and it seemed good to me. Maybe he just doesn’t like Pork Binagoogan.

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Chicken Curry with garlic rice and Pork Binagoogan with steamed rice

Chicken Curry and Pork Binagoogan

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After lunch we kept walking a bit further through the East River neighborhood. There were so many little shops and restaurants! It seemed like an interesting and diverse neighborhood. When we got to St. Mark’s Place we headed west to 3rd Ave where we got a cab back to the apartment. We had walked about 2 miles.

It was time to head to the airport. We packed up and caught a cab at about 1:15 to take us to Penn Station. Traffic was horrible. It took a while, but we had allowed plenty of time. Then the train was slightly delayed. It left about 20 minutes late. All in all, it took us about two hours to get from the apartment to the gate for Alaska Airlines, but we were there in plenty of time for our 5:15 flight.

We had a fabulous mini-vacation in the Big Apple and would love to visit again. Now that we have two favorite dinner restaurants, we might have to stay for more than two nights so we can try other places!

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The view of the United Nations Headquarters from outside the apartment building we stayed in.

View of the UN from Tudor City - Copy

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