Tuesday, May 16, 2006

New York: Day Two

On our way back to the subway after the amazing Blossom Dearie show we walked along Broadway towards Times Square where we picked up some gifts for people at home... I "Heart" NYC t-shirts.... 5 shirts for $10. Total deal and everyone at home seemed to really dig them.

The next morning--Monday, our second full day in NYC--we got some coffee at Starbucks (yawn) and an awesome breakfast cupcake at Billy's Bakery in Chelsea. Billy's was so cute... All the fifties style desserts done up right. Coconut cake and refrigerator pies and pastel cupcakes that June Cleaver might have served to the Beave and Eddie Haskell back in the day. The cupcake was awesome, totally buttery and homemade tasting, with just the right amount of frosting.

We next walked across town to Essa Bagel on the West Side. On the wazy we stopped for coffee, bagels and pastry at a really nice Middle Eastern cafe called Medina's. It was really good, but Jeff said the hole and width still wasn't quite what he was looking for.

We didn't buy any bagels at Essa because we weren't really hungry after coffee and cupcakes (Plus Jeff STILL didn't think they were the right shape. And I didn't say anything but i thought the flavored cream cheeses and dried fish looked weird.)

Then we went to Union Square for the Union Square Green Market, a market of fresh organic local (as in upstate New York) produce. We bought some bread, goat cheese, tomatoes and fresh greens for sandwiches later. (Special Bonus Note: Later that afternoon Jeff saw the dude who sold us the cheese washing his hair in the sink in the bathroom of the Union Square Barnes and Noble. Only in New York.)

We walked back to the hotel via 17th street where we saw tons of cool-looking thrift shops. It was still too early for them to open so we decided to come back later.

After dropping the sandwich stuff off at the hotel we took the train down to SoHo/Chinatown and Little Italy. We sniffed around SoHo a bit...

We stopped at Jacques Torres chocolate shop, a warehousey type high-end SoHo boutique with the Willy Wonka style chocolate factry visible behind glass behind the shop. We got a hot chocolate which was delicious.

Jeff kept insisting we try one of the chocolate bars. I thought that at $4.50 they were way too pricey. But he was holding one up, waving it around saying what a good deal it was, considering that the little one ounce truffles cost $1 each. (I submit this little scene as evidence of the total warping effect that prices in New York can have on someone. Holding up a $4.50 chocolate bar and saying what a good deal it is. I knew that such happens, but it's still a total shock to see it occur in someone so close to me.)

The SoHo Dean and DeLuca store was pretty dumb. Waaay overpriced and too much jarred and packaged "gourmet" stuff.

We stopped at DiPalo's cheese shop, but it was way crowded and claustrophobic so I wouldn't go in. They're supposed to have really great Italian cheeses.

Chinatown was awesome. Definitely my favorite part of New York. there was so much cool stuff for sale and everything was totally reasonably priced or else a total steal. From giant glitter belt buckles to DVDs of just released movies like Mission Impossible 3 to crazy, colorful children's toys to Buddha statues. And of course the food. Candy stores with hundreds of types of candy I'd never even seen before, tea stores and grocery stores, selling in bulk the ingredients that are almost impossible to find in Atlanta. And we have to buy them packed in plastic bags. Amazing veggies at prices that were HALF what they were elsewhere in New York. If I lived in NYC, I'd love to get to know that part of town better, get to discover and get to know all the best stores. You could learn to make some awesome meals.

Speaking of awesome meals, Jeff and I were starting to get just the slightest bit hungry. And it was starting to drizzle rain. So we decided to duck into a restaurant, the address of which I'd found on the Internet before we'd left.

It was called Vegetarian Dim Sum House. I almost didn't want to go after our less than enthralling (and expensive) experience at the (unjustly) more well-known Vegetarian Paradise in Greenwich village.

The rain and my tired feet helped convince me, and we went ahead and went in for a meal in the tucked away shop on the quiet little Pell Street in Chinatown.

Boy, am I glad we did. The little meal we had there was the best one we had in New York. Possibly one of the best meals of my whole life. I loved everything about it. When I return to New York, a trip to Vegetarian Dim Sum House will be at the top of my list.

The place is a Buddhist restaurant and there was a feeling of calm and serenity to the sparsely decorated place from the moment we walked in off the rainy street. A little altar with incense was the first sight we saw when we ducked inside.

The restuarant was almost toatl empty.. (It was a strange time... around 3:30-4 pm, after lunch, but before dinner). The perfect time for Dim Sum in my opinion.

After Vegetarian Palace in Greenwich Village charged us extra for tea I was totally delighted when the waiter placed a huge pot of piping hot, brewing tea on the table. It was really nice, too, the kind that brews from loose leaves. It hit the spot after we'd had to duck through the rain to get there.

The menu was really cool, too, sort of like a sushi menu where you use a pencil to check off the items you want. For a vegetarian, going to a restaurant, even a good one, and ordering from a menu can often be simply a process of winnowing down choices. "Oh, they have pesto. Gee, I guess I'll order that. Again."

So when you get to a restuarant where EVERYTHING is something you can order. And EVERYTHING is something you've never tried before. And EVERYTHING is something that sounds totally exotic and delicious it can be really exciting.

We ordered steamed mock shrimp dumplings, steamed mock pork buns, taro root balls, and treasure vegetables.

Everything was delicious. AndiIt was so much food, too. The waiter kept bringing little dishes, about three or four items per plate, in little lidded pots or in baskets. And I was all "That must be everything." and then he'd bring another weird little dish.

Servings for dim sum are small--usually 3-4 rolls, dumplings, buns, etc per order--but surprisingly filling.

The meal was totally cheap, too. Each item was about $2.75. I'd printed out a coupon from the restaurant's site on the Internet. So the bill for the whole totally awesome meal worked out to be about $11!!!

The restaurant also has a standard menu so you could also order more traditional entrees. Everything is vegetarian, and everything we had was terrific.

Dim Sum literally translates to mean "touch the heart," tiny bites of delicious food meant to touch the heart, stimulating appetite and conversation, during tea. The food was so delicious. My heart was touched and tickled so much that it practically peed its pants.

Vegetarian Dim Sum is super highly recommended. If you are in New York do not miss the opportunity to try this totally awesome vegetarian experience.

After Dim Sum, it was time to zip home for a quick nap, cocktails in the room, a shower and shave before heading to the Met.

We were surprsied when we got to Lincoln Center to find attention-whore David Blaine in an aqua-bubble, trying to break some world record for holding his breath.

We had to weave our way through the crowds to get to Lincoln Center for our show, Tosca, which of course was totally magical.

Jeff and I snuck in (shh) a bottle full of pre-mixed cocktails which we drank on the porch during intermission, listening to David Blaine apologize for failing to accomplsih his pointless stunt. Jeff pointed out he should also have apologized for not dying, which is probably what most of the crowd in the courtyard of Lincoln Center had arrived to see.

On the subway platform on the way home, Jeff was cornered by two sisters who talked his ear off about how they'd both come to see David Blaine and met each other by chance.


Anonymous mark said...

As a New Yorker it's fun to read such an appreciation of this city by a visitor. And, irony of ironies, after having sent you restaurant recommendations it's going to turn out that I take advice from you that way. I've walked past the Vegetarian Dim Sum House many a time (and I've sat through many regular dim sum meals where there is nothing I can eat) and have always meant to go. Now I will make sure I do so. I'm so glad you had a great time here. Come back soon!

4:54 PM  
Blogger FilmStocker said...

I definitely LOVED your city. And Do, do, do check out that Vegetarian Dim Sum House. I rank it as one of the best meals of my LIFE! Sooo good. And don't forget to visit their website to print out a coupon for 5% discount.

4:27 PM  

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