Just back from Thanksgiving Weekend in New York City. As always, it was uber-energizing and a real treat! Et voilà, some of my favorite moments from last week.
1) 85th Annual Macy’s Parade: what a craze. 4:30 a.m. we hear hammering on metal from our bedroom – ah, of course the final touches before the 9:00 a.m. start! From 6 a.m. visitors lined up along Central Park West all the way down to Macy’s at 34th Street. Coffee cup in one hand, doughnut in the other, all are bundled up. We ask a local where we can get a quick bite to eat : Cosmic Diner (888 8th Avenue @ 52nd St) open 24hrs. This must be quite an institution as I see hoards of yellow cabs drop off all types of hungry souls. Minutes later, we were experiencing a true American moment with moist and fluffly pancakes, cheese omelet, hash browns, toasted bagel with cream cheese and steaming coffee pots… the works! Heading back up to Columbus Circle, I feel the adrenaline of a child rush through my jet-lagged body. I click away at the all-american icons. Tears of joy fill my eyes as Neil Diamond on his float parades by singing “America”…
N2S: for a refined breakfast experience, step in to the Time Warner Building (floor 3) and make a stop at Bouchon Bakery for a croissant, walnut bread, patisserie or other sweet delight.
2) Gliding on ice: nothing like a glide in Central Park on a crispy clear autumn day with blue skies. Christmas spirit fills the air as we watched all generations take to the Wollman skating rink (open from November thru March) with the city skyline in the background and to the sounds of horse-drawn carriages. If you’re more the hype type, the Standard Hotel’s rink with its Kaffeehaus serving waffles and crêpes is due to open next Monday.
3) Barney’s & Lady Gaga: where does a stroll through Central Park lead? To Madison Avenue boutiques, naturellement. Only in NYC does one dance to Lady Gaga mid-morning and take pictures of the windows! And one must admit Barney’s isn’t a bad place to get lost (the top floor home design selection and café are worth a visit). The Lady Gaga Workshop had just opened. Check it out. And this was Black Friday (the craziest shopping sale of the year). In fact, Ferrari made the news by selling 9 cars that day at the rate of 290K$ instead of 400K$ – what a bargain!
4) ABC Kitchen: when I lived in NYC, a regular visit to ABC Carpet & Home by Union Square for inspiration and for its unparalleled atmosphere (at rocket high prices!) was part of my routine. And this time around was no exception. We had lunch at the ABC Kitchen restaurant (opened March 2010) where Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten is committed to serving the freshest local and organic eats. The decor and the artistic food make for a perfect combo. I loved the lentil soup with celery root, parmesan and herbs followed by the braised hake, cabbage, chilies and seaweed. A place for lunch (no daylight) with good friends. Reservations recommended. 35 East 18st (B’way & Park). Tel: + 1 212 475 5829.
5) Shake Shack Burger: now this modern neighborhood roadside burger stand (part of Dany Meyer’s Hospitality Group, quand même) serving all-american classics was a fave! It felt like the Abercrombie & Fitch of fast foods – with the added touch of “local ingredients”. The queue curves around the block, as people mingle with strangers and browse the menu to pick their toppings and shake. No one minds the wait. It’s part of the fun. Finding a seat inside is a gamble. We sat on the outside bench in the sun overlooking the Museum of Natural History as I indulged in my extra-cheeseburger. Not too shabby. Good news is there are several locations in NYC and in the US, plus in the UAE (Kuweit and Dubaï). A quand Paris? www.shakeshack.com
6) Books & Coffee? I couldn’t help but sadly notice the absence of my favorite book stores, replaced by discount shopping outlets like Century 21, TJ Max, Loehmans or Daffy’s. Now don’t get me wrong, these are great addresses if you like to spend your time browsing random racks of designer brands at discount prices! I am the first to rush to Union Square to hit DSW to check out the latest bargains from Prada, Jimmy Choo, Betsey Johnson, Michael Kors or Sergio Rossi.
In fact, coming out of DSW, the organic market on Union Square is fun, as is a pit-stop for coffee or a hearty brunch @ the all-night pretty people eatery The Coffee Shop (the staff working double shifts – ah ah, hence the black shades with sparkles and red lipstick in the morning – made us laugh as they tried to get our order just right. Seemed right out of the twilight zone!). Bookworms, rest assured, Barns & Nobles on Union Square is still open.
7) Baby stuff: if you are expecting or looking for gifts, this was my first experience at browsing baby shops in NYC. A few addresses which I spotted and picked up from friends are buybuybaby (part of Bed, Bath & Beyond), Babies R US, Ralph Lauren, Pottery Barn Kids, Planet Kids, Giggle, Gracious Home. I like the organic trend!
8) Metropolitan Opera: a visit to NYC just doesn’t seem complete without a night at the Opera. Long-dresses walzed by ladies with their hair freshly styled and just the right handbag, black-tied gentlemen, translations at your fingertips right from your cozy velvet seat, champagne bars… this is my kind of opera night out. Puccini’s La Bohème was showing with stunning sets designed by Franco Zeffirelli. Over a mere 3 hours, one does not cease to be entertained. A quick stop at Epicerie Boulud (newly opened in May 2011) turned oyster bar with wine by the glass in the evening across the street seems like the place to be pre or post-performance!
Bonus: did you know that you can enjoy free weekly live streams directly from the Met stage? Check the schedule online, click and play! Tune in Monday December 5th for Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.
I Love NY!