Saturday, February 16, 2008

Whirlwind NYC trip!

Last Friday I took the bus up to NYC to visit with my friend Day, who is from Staten Island, but who has lived in Seattle for the past 6 or 7 years. He was in town to see his family for Chinese New Year.
I've never hung out with Day in NY so this was really different for us. I got on the bus around 7am, took a nice long nap, and arrived in downtown Manhattan a little before 11am. I had some time before Dayvd could meet me, so I wandered towards a Starbucks on 42nd st, right next to a Yoshinoya beefbowl restaurant. I was pretty surprised to see Yoshinoya, because outside Japan I'd only seen them in Hawaii! So I walked into Starbucks with Japan on my mind, and sat in the window with my $4 latte and overpriced banana bread. To my right was an asian girl who looked about my age, reading a New York City travel Japanese! I figured she might have just arrived and said Ohaiyoo Gozaimasu! (Good Morning!) and asked where she was from. She was more than a little surprised, but excited, to find someone speaking to her in Japanese, and said she is a grad student in Tokyo, here to interview some people from the UN for her Political Science thesis (how cool!). We talked for a good while, about NY and Tokyo and her trip, and I mentioned we were interested in visiting the MOMA that day. "Oh!" she said, "You should go after 4pm, it's free! I was thinking of going, myself!" This was pretty cool, because I'm sure we would have gone at like, 3:30, and would have still had to pay $20 to get in, if Chizu hadn't said something! She is going to be in DC next for a week, and I said she should give me a call if she's lonely :)

Day showed up, and we decided to head to Chinatown for lunch. I LOVE eating in Chinatown(s) with Dayvd because he knows what most of the food is, and can talk in Chinese with the waitstaff. We always end up with food I never would have ordered by myself :) We found a little place with a huge fake tree in the middle of the restaurant, decorated with everything from Halloween pumpkins, Valentine hearts, to New Year's paper lanterns. We had pan-friend pork dumplings, steamed seafood dumplings, and noodles and veggies in sauce. The noodles were too bland for my taste but the dumplings were wonderful. After lunch we took our time wandering up Broadway towards Union Square park to meet his friend from Art School, Tae-rin. On our way we popped into Dean and Deluca. I could spend an entire afternoon, and my entire paycheck in that store! Wonderful gourmet meats and cheeses (one whole case of different bleu cheeses!), beautiful fresh fruits and veggies, stunning flowers, artisanal chocolates, and an amazing array of jams, vinegars, sauces, spices and kitchen accouterments. We tasted some local jams and chutneys being displayed by the creator herself, and she said that all the fruit (except the exotic, like mango) is sourced locally. I tried her hot plum chutney, and despite the $10 pricetag, had to have some :) But hey, I'm supporting small business and farms, and damn this stuff is good! I also bought a long wooden pestle so I can make Mojitos this summer. I have been looking EVERYWHERE for one of these!

We also wandered around Pottery Barn, as I'd never been in one of their stores, and marveled at the gorgeous patterned plates and Snail napkin rings which I think I need to own!
We commented to each other about how Manhattan really is it's own little ecosystem...with completely different culture from the rest of the country, or even the rest of the state. We noticed that in general, Manhattanites are slimmer and more fashionable compared to the average American, and on a daily basis are faced with more options in terms of food, shopping and activities than most people are exposed to in a year.

We waited in the park for Tae-rin and people watched for a bit, and took silly pictures:

Then it was off to the MoMa! I'd never been before, and it was fun to be there with someone who loves art as much as I do :) It was way to busy and crowded though (since it was free), and I was already exhausted from walking around the city, so we didn't go through it as thoroughly as we could have. I still enjoyed seeing some works that I had only seen in books before though.
Running low on fuel, we took the subway to Brooklyn for pizza, and parted ways. I headed up to Queens to meet my friend Dylan, and Tae-rin and Day headed back to their respective houses.
Dylan and I had a low-key evening of junk food, beer and cartoons, and then I fell into exhausted sleep.

Saturday I had the opportunity to spend some time with Brian, whom I haven't seen since senior year of college, and only briefly. While we talk on the phone a lot, it was really good to get some "face time" :) We ate lunch at my favorite diner, the Tick Tock at 34th and 8th, and had eggs over sausage, smothered in cheese, with two potato pancakes on the side, AND sweet potato fries. Talk about a power lunch!
Here's Bri looking swarthy at the diner:
After lunch I dragged him yarn shop browsing with me, on the condition that I make him a new scarf and hat. We went to School Products in the garment district, which is NYC's oldest yarn shop, and owned by my coworker's family! I name dropped and the owner was very happy to show us around the store and give me a little discount on the incredibly inexpensive cone of cashmere that I bought (post about my purchases soon to come). We then hopped a train to the West Village, where I have never really spent any time before. It's really interesting area of the city! Almost more like Philadelphia in feeling and ambiance. We popped into one mini yarn shop we stumbled upon on our way, and marveled about how little tiny second-floor shops with not much stock can stay in business. We then proceeded to The Point, which is a knitting cafe I'd read a lot about on the internet. It too was much smaller than I expected, and it was crazy busy since they were having their Saturday sit and knit. We got some coffee and cooled our heels for a bit, sharing a table with some VERY snotty obnoxious beginner knitters. Overall, aside from at School Products we did not find the staff or the patrons at these shops to be particularly friendly, which is typical for NYC, but not typical for most yarn shops.

It was getting to be late afternoon, so we headed back up to midtown, as Brian had to catch a 7pm train home to CT, and got a few pints and some wings at Tir Na Nog, and debated about whether the bartender's Irish accent was real or not. Overall it was a very fun, fairly inexpensive trip, and I think i'll be heading up to NYC more often, now that I know the bus is frequent, convenient and cheap ($38 roundtrip). Let me know if you want to come with me next time!


alice said...

i've had some extremely hit or miss experiences with yarn shop owners in NYC myself! when i went into purl (on sullivan street) there were two people working... in a store that was roughly 6 x 10, hehe. and the two of them were complete opposites! the guy could not have been more lovely and helpful, not only did he wind what i bought, but he happened to spy some laceweight in my bag that i had bought earlier in the day, and upon finding out that i didn't have a winder at home, insisted on winding that up for me too! the girl, however, sat behind the counter working on a huge garter stitch scarf on giant needles (with yarn that goes for $65 for about 105 yards!!!) and sneered at everyone. oh well.

the bus... was that the chinatown express that you took?

Nittany Knits said...

$38 roundtrip? Here I was thinking the train was the way to go!

The trip sounded awesome. I'm in next time!