This Time, Brooklyn
John and I snuck in another quick weekend trip to NYC, always a happy time. As I’ve written before, my husband is from Manhattan, and my in-laws still live there, and they graciously allow us to crash in on them several times per year. Weather-wise, it was a horrible time to descend on the city – as cold as Minnesota, damn it all, with slicing wind chills and dreary skies. And yet…we had a blast, because despite the cold, it wasn’t Minnesota, and given the mid-winter doldrums, that’s all that mattered.
We arrived on Thursday to attend an event at the New York Public Library. I’d never been in the grand ole dame before and was not disappointed. We didn’t make it much past the soaring lobby and the stunning room set up for the dinner, but that’s OK. The food – despite being, you know, a big banquet – was truly excellent. We opened with a parsnip flan, topped with a frisee salad, creamy, crunchy, and rich. I chose black-sesame-seed encrusted black sea bass for my entree, against my better judgment – fish at a banquet? Usually, a big yuck. But I had a feeling, given how delicious the hors d’oeuvres and salad were…and my feeling was right. Silky fish, a little sweet with miso, a little spicy with Chinese five-spice, so much better than most any piece of fish I can find in Minnesota. Hate to say it, but it’s true. And I therefore enjoyed it thoroughly.
After dinner we hopped in a cab and whisked off to Bar Pleiades at the Surrey Hotel for sexy, pretty cocktails in a sexy, pretty room. I had on 4-inch red heels, in New York, and I was not going to waste them.
Friday, I sort of died a little. John and I bundled up against the bitter wind and walked up 5th Avenue to the Guggenheim Museum. We briefly watched a couple making-out as an impressively choreographed performance art piece (part of the Tino Sehgal exhibit) in the atrium. We wandered on into the permanent collection of Impressionists, springy and beautiful and blessedly colorful on a bleak January day. And then…I hit a wall. All my recent sleep deprivation caught up with me and I felt not museum fatigue (you know exactly that feeling) but something more like…painful jet lag. We unfortunately (thankfully) abandoned lunch plans to return me home. I dropped into bed for a nap and…slept for two hours! Not how I wanted to spend precious hours in NYC, but there it was. And wasn’t.
I rallied for a festively delicious – and wonderfully energizing – dinner at Shun Lee West with our friends Bartley, Natalie, and Jaime as well as my brother-in-law’s family. We talked and laughed and made fun of each other, all while devouring family-style spring rolls, to-die-for crispy prawns with broccoli, silky three-nut chicken, decadent orange beef, and crunchy stir-fried vegetables. A typical Levy feast, we got home and simply crashed.
I emerged Saturday feeling myself again, a good thing because we had an ambitious and special day planned. My sister Etta and my dear friend Michelle both live in Brooklyn, so John and I planned to spend the day driving and visiting and eating around non-Manhattan, a new experience for us both (yes, even for John). We borrowed my father-in-law’s car, picked up our friend Maud, and headed first to Chelsea to check out a couple of galleries and grab some lunch. We strolled through two amazing exhibits (David Zwirner and Richard Misrach) before bidding farewell to Maud. Then John and I moved on to a chic, hopping little spot called Cookshop for what happily turned out to be brunch (not lunch). John dropped me off and went to park the car – I walked into the cafe, saw gorgeous Bloody Mary’s everywhere I turned, smiled widely, and was half-way into one of the spicy, ruby beauties before John was even in the door. I have secret extra-love for Bloodies garnished with fat olives (it’s a Kollege Klub thing), and these had not only those, but also slices of lemon and long stalks of celery. Crunchy! Zingy! Happy! We ordered eggs and fries and a panini and shared it all and had the most delicious, sunny meal. Big treat, great start to our day.
We rushed past a couple of cool buildings (so bitterly cold, such cool modern architecture), then climbed back into the car and made our way over the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn to pick up my sister Etta. With her riding shotgun as John’s co-navigator, we headed over to the Forte Greene neighborhood to pick up Michelle. Then all four of us set out for a 2.5-hour drive around several Brooklyn neighborhoods, marveling at the sheer hugeness of it all, as well as the endless rows of beautiful historic brown houses, neighborhood after neighborhood of shops and restaurants, parks, and stunning views of Manhattan. We ended our day back at Etta’s lovely apartment, joined by friends for cocktails (and seriously amazing cheeses), capping it all off with an outstanding dinner at Dressler (in Williamsburg). I savored a creamy, warm artichoke heart salad, followed by a perfectly roasted chicken breast, crispy and tender, resting on a bed of pillowy gnocchi, wild mushrooms, and a rich demi-glace. Uff, such fullness. I really couldn’t make much of a dent in the chicken breast, despite giving it my all. Ah well, I’ll just need to go back – fantastic place.
After dinner we said our good-byes (boo), made our way back over the Manhattan Bridge (two out of three – next time, Brooklyn Bridge), and again collapsed into bed. This morning John ran out for pastrami, cole slaw, and rye – yes, that was our breakfast, what can I say? We happily piled creamy, crunchy slaw on warm, tender slabs of pastrami, packed our bags, and made our way home.
And now, here I am, a little blue like I always am when we return from that great city, but glad to be home too. I put together a broccoli quiche and John and I ate it quietly, enjoying the last bit of the magic that is…New York, baby, New York.