Monday, January 14, 2008

I Love New York (For Three Days)

Four would probably put me over the edge. But three is just right. And since we had three days -- Thursday afternoon through Sunday morning -- I did just fine.

Kate and I moved our daughter Katryn into her new abode at 34th St. and 8th Ave., across the street from Madison Square Garden and three blocks down from the Empire State Building. She'll be spending the second half of her junior year of college taking classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology. So we spent a fair amount of time unpacking, organizing, and shopping for little details like toilet paper and laundry detergent. You can buy jewelry pretty much on every street corner of Manhattan. Toilet paper is a little harder to come by.

New York presents its own logistical nightmares. How does one buy food, for instance, that isn't pre-cooked and served in a restaurant? And having bought the food, how does one transport the bagged groceries twelve insanely busy city blocks back home? So we worked on that with Katryn, and did some "How To Read a Subway Map" lessons. And after three impossibly inadequate days of preparation, we took our shuttle bus back to the airport and left her on her own. You think it's hard to leave your kid on the first day of school? Try dumping her in the middle of Manhattan.

But it's good. And our time was good. We visited the Museum of Modern Art, and ogled the Van Gogh's and Monet's and Picasso's. We visited something called the Museum of Radio and TV, and watched TV. I don't know what I was expecting -- perhaps something more interactive like the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. But we watched TV for a while, realized that we could be doing the same thing back in our hotel room, and left after an hour. We ate some great New-York-style pizza in the Theater District. We ventured way downtown to Katz's Deli, where we had Reuben sandwiches that were a foot high. We ditched the kid on Friday night and met up with musician Ryan Lott (Son Lux) and his wife Jennifer, and had a wonderful dinnertime conversation. I bought some hard-to-find CDs at Other Music, the coolest non-mainstream (they don't call it Other Music for nothing) music store on the planet. We watched the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. We walked and walked and walked, because that's still the best way to experience New York.

And then we came home. New York is still an incredible city, beautiful and brutal. I love visiting the place, and I can't imagine living there. And now my kid is living there. If you're the praying type, pray that Katryn makes the transition as seamlessly as possible. And pray for mom and dad, who just took Dropping Your Kid Off at School to a whole new level.


St. Izzy said...


I'm sure she'll find her own haunts, but I can't resist pointing out two.

The first is Manetta's in Queens. (Actually, Manetta's Fine Food in Long Island City, but the distinction is lost when you're a visitor staring at a subway map.) It's right at the Vernon Jackson stop on the purple line, down at the bottom end of Queens. The building itself is at the foot of the overpass over the "creek" to Brooklyn.

This is the best pizza on the east coast, and possibly the best in the US. Manetta built the brick oven by hand, and produces pies closer to actual Italian pies than anything else you will find in the states. He knows what a Pizza Marguerite is supposed to be. But he also does traditional Italian fare and has a great wine cellar if you happen to have a substantial chunk of change to blow.

The bad news is that he stopped being a local secret a few years ago and is now in almost all the guides. Rats. Still, very worth the trip.

The second is my favorite cafe/coffee house in the Village. Winning this category *used* to be Cafe Borgia, which closed some years back and became a horrid little Santa Fe style eatery. The new winner is Cafe Regio at 119 Macdougal St (just a few steps down the street from the Blue Note). They cultivate a bookish / artsy / bohemian air, but don't let that fool you -- the fare is very good.

In fact, it was so good that on the day SMWBO and I set out to do something in 4 out of 5 burroughs ("The Bronx? No thonks!" as Nash wrote), we had breakfast and lunch here. True, that *was* five and a half years ago (4 July 2002), but the pictures and reviews available online look like what we remember. I had an egg & spinach croissant with juice & coffee for breakfast, and a sandwich followed by a respectable pastry for lunch. There were people sitting around reading & scribbling at during both meals.

If she's into art, tell her not to miss the Frick. It is often overlooked but has a lovely collection that includes a wonderful Vermeer and my favorite grouping of paintings ever, which I have not the time to type about now.

Anonymous said...

Lombardi's (I think that's the name) is a pizza place near Little Italy (near the East Village)in Manhattan that features a coal fired pizza oven. Stage Deli on Seventh Avenue just North of Times Square has humongous pastrami and corned beef sandwiches and cheescake. Both are pretty famous and in the guide books.

We're very excited for Katryn.

St. Izzy said...

1) Apparently, there are no less than three Vermeers at the Frick (astounding, given that only 35 paintings are now securely attributed to him). This is the one I was remembering.

2) Rather than clutter up your combox with more of my ramblings, I've gone ahead and blogged about that grouping of paintings.