I'm sure you've heard me gripe about being "stuck" in Western Mass. Obviously, moving back to my home area wasn't in the plan for post-grad, but here I am. Thankfully I have a job I enjoy, a theater group that I love, wonderful friends, and a new and amazing guy... and that makes the sting of not accomplishing my geographical goals just yet a little easier to handle.
However, I am lucky that my little area of Western Mass is within driving distance to one of my favorite places: New York City. It's become somewhat of a personal tradition to visit the city when the holidays hit, because despite the enormous crowds there really is nowhere else that exhibits the beauty and spirit of the holidays as well as NYC.
This past weekend I made the trek to the city and had a wonderful time. And, as per usual, I took pictures of every thing I consumed along the way. Except for the Sabarro in the train station in New Haven... yuck.
We arrived Friday evening, wandered around a bit, and then made our way to our weekend apartment in Astoria. Saturday we got up "bright and early"--10ish--and took the train back to Manhattan for brunch. We happened upon this Parisian cafe, Brasserie Athenee, a few blocks from Times Square and decided the prices were decent enough to check out.
I was stuck between wanting true breakfast food (the French Toast on French Bread looked fantastic) and somewhat lunch-ier food. I decided to compromise and get a Croque Madame. For those of you who are unaware of this fantastic sandwich, it is a French classic with ham, grueyre cheese, and a fried egg on top. This one came with perfectly cooked fries, a zesty side salad, and a spicy aioli for dipping the fries--and a few bites of croque!--into. The egg was deliciously drippy and made for a really excellent brunch. We all were more than pleased with our meal, especially my roommate who let us have bites of her decadent Mac and Cheese with Truffle Oil. Yummm!
Brunch is a useful tool in NYC, not only because it is hella trendy, but also because a late breakfast means you don't have to shell out for another meal until dinner! For us ladies on a budget, it is always a wise idea.
Next up, we waited in the TKTS line for less than an hour and haggled our way into $50 seats for Chicago. I had never seen a legit Broadway play before, and as a pseudo-thespian myself it was more than time to remedy this. The show was fantastic despite their headliner (Billy Ray Cyrus) being a bit lackluster. He just seemed kind of bored and unenthusiastic as Billy Flynn, but it was fun to see a celebrity up close regardless. The lead women were amazing and I actually enjoyed the show a lot more than the movie. During intermission I treated myself to an overpriced wine from concessions. A large wine--when have you EVER seen wine in sizes? Ridic!--was $20, but came with a souvenir travel mug, so I dealt with it. The wine was more mediocre than Billy Ray, but that's what I get for buying wine at a theater I suppose!
After the show we headed to Bryant Park for the Christmas shops. It was adorable, and when we saw the Crepe stand we knew what our post-show snack had to be!
The line was huge but totally worth it. I wish we'd had more time to try out the little food booths in the shopping area--there were so many delicious looking things!--but we only had the time and money for the crepes. While not on par with the ones I had in Paris, they were still extremely tasty and satisfying. Plus, the stand had a huuuge menu of different options, both sweet and savory. My roommate got a nutella and strawberry one, I got nutella strawberry and banana, and our friend got a s'mores. I think we waited in line longer than it actually took to inhale these things.
After looking longingly at the way-too-crowded ice rink, we decided to roam the streets and found ourselves in the adorable downtown area of Chelsea. Our goal for the evening was to find a "fancy but not TOO pricey" restaurant for dinner, and we tried to dress as fancy-casual as possible. We found it at Moran's.
A cozy Italian restaurant nestled in Chelsea, Moran's was adorably decorated for the holidays and the pricing was pretty great for NYC. I got the Lobster and Crab ravioli, my roommate got the Spinach Gnocchi, and our friend got a lovely little salad. We were all pretty pleased with our dishes, even though I could tell me ravioli was definitely more crab than lobster--oh well.
Finally, we ended the night with way. WAY. too many cocktails at Bamboo 52 back downtown. A good friend of mine from high school is the manager there, and when I said I always used spicy tuna as a barometer for how good a sushi place is, he promptly brought me a plate on the house. As you can see, I rather enjoyed it!
Then he let me take a taste of his meal for the night. I think it was similar to a philly roll, but crunchy. Also very good. The downfall was that they were offering $5 mixed drinks, and I may have overdone it a little bit. But it was definitely great to see my old friend again, and to chat with the bartender about his acting endeavors.
The cocktails were my downfall and I ended up sleeping through my friends' brunch the next morning in Eataly. This makes twice I've been to NYC without hitting up that place, so next time it'll have to be first on my list. All in all though, it was a great trip with great friends and I had a wonderful time :)
To end, let me show you how I torture the animals in my house:
Happy Holiday Season, All!
And don't forget to check out my new blog, 20-Something Gripes! Where I complain about stuff with two of my good friends from college :)