U.S. TravelWining/Dining

2014 BEGINS WITH NEW YORK CITY CELEBRATION

I can’t think of a better way to start off this year’s postings than with the story of my 60thbirthday celebration … the self-annointed “national holiday” of January 8thwas duly commemorated this year with a quick trip to New York City followed by the most fun birthday party …


The linchpin for this particular trip (other than my big day) was an exhibit at the Met.  Since the hubby and I had already enjoyed a week in Mexico as a joint celebration (see my previous post), having a second birthday trip seemed a bit indulgent. BUT, since this exhibit is only running until March, and early-January travel works in spite of the record cold, the trip was on!
 

I found a reasonable “hacker” fare via Kayak, which sounds bad but is actually the bundling of fares from two different carriers (outbound on Delta and return on Jet Blue).  I didn’t want to burn AA miles — the travel Gods will tell you to save the miles for the REALLY big trips — but rather opted to spend a few extra $$ on more legroom plus priority boarding and free baggage privileges.   In spite of a rather inauspicious start — a major delay out of LAX having nothing to do with weather — all turned out well once we finally got to our destination.

You know how some people waste time by channel surfing or playing electronic solitaire (guilty!) or other mindless activities?  Well, some might consider my endless looking for a better hotel than the one(s) I’ve booked as a waste of time.  Especially in a place like NYC where so little time is spent in the room, why needlessly fret over the accommodations? I want clean (goes without saying) and a great bed, roominess, service, location and a “reasonable” rate … too much to ask?  The winner this trip: The Park Lane on Central Park South.  We had a terrific park view, big clean room, plus a delish continental breakfast for only $1 more!!  And being around the corner from Bergdorf’s was certainly a plus in my mind. 

View from the room

 

 
Earrings by JAR

The exhibit I mentioned at the Met featured the remarkable work of the NY-born/Paris-based jeweler Joel A. Rosenthal — aka JAR.  His sought-after and coveted pieces have rarely been shown to the public.  Read all about him and the exhibit here.  Suffice to say, it was well worth the journey to see his works of art … although some of the pieces are so large that I can only imagine wearing them might weigh one down.  I should only have the chance.

 







As for the dining choices while in this culinary mecca, a great deal of time was also spent on that … the hubby went a bit nuts after I co-opted his Open Table account as well as mine for booking/changing/cancelling a number of choices depending upon my mood at the time. Feeling emboldened to pull out all the stops, I consulted both Michelin-starred restaurants plus Forbes Magazine’s 2013 List of All-Star eateries. If nothing else, I will be able to look back on this time feeling certain no stone was left unturned (an understatement to say the least).  The surprise in this endeavor was how many top restaurants were booked a month in advance, in freezing early January, mid-week.  Apparently business is good in NYC.




At least a healthy lunch ..

First stop (the day before the BIG day) was the aforementioned Bergdorf’s which is a shopping experience like none other. The amount of shoes in every size (and on sale) was amazing. The hubby finds a hubby chair and sits, pretending to read, but really giving unsolicited advice to women on their potential purchases.  And sometimes they even listen.  Next was lunch at Fred’s located in Barneys New York on Madison Avenue.  People watching is truly an art form here and the food is actually very good.  The Met exhibit was next, followed by browsing a bit more, but it was SO cold (approximately 8 degrees) that walking around was very challenging.  


White Bean soup
(amuse bouche)

For dinner we enjoyed Ai Fiori on 5th at 37th Street (in the Langham Hotel complex).  It was quiet, elegant and delicious.   The evening was capped off by meeting a friend for after-dinner drinks …


Roasted halibut on apple puree 
Agnolotti with veal parcels; butternut squash sauce

 

Starting the day before




















Laurent Perrier “Cuvee Rose”

And now on to the BIG day.  I’ll backtrack a bit to say I have forever been a devoted reader of the New York Social Diary.  I have loved reading about parties and fashion and society since W Magazine debuted (early ’70’s) and tracked Jackie O’s every move.  This site keeps me informed and entertained, and I know from reading that Michael’s is the place certain NY’ers go for lunch every Wednesday, so the choice was simple for me. Brilliant restaurateur Michael McCarty greets every table — whether you’re a regular or not.  That was a very welcoming part of the experience. Plus meeting NYSD founder David Columbia, together with his dining companion, well-known Vanity Fair contributor Jesse Kornbluth, was just wonderful.  I even enjoyed a few minutes of internet fame the next day .. 

Mache, beets, marcona almonds

 

Wonderful roasted chicken






After browsing every shop on Madison Avenue, it was on to the dinner at Daniel.  I have previously written about my love of Chef Daniel Boulud, and have enjoyed dining in NY and Beijing at his establishments. What made this particularly memorable (besides the food) were two things:  a wonderful friend and client surprised me with a gift delivered to the table of Daniel’s book — inscribed to me! — plus encountering the chef himself on our way out. Timing is everything.  A blessedly uneventful flight home the next morning was a wonderful end to this trip.

Tuna with salsify and sweet potato

 

One of the fabulous desserts … 

 

 



Part 2 (if you can imagine there’s more) will follow — I must share about the aforementioned funnest party!