As I write this post, I am watching Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc on New York in the background. So many of the images I see on tv are of the same sights I visited 2 weeks ago. It feels very surreal…

The amount of holidays I take  is a common joke amongst my friends. But even I couldn’t believe that after coming back from my East Coast roadie, not 2 weeks later I was on a plane again to the East Coast. This trip was different though, and a very last moment treat.

My mom recently celebrated her 70th birthday and as a special present, my sister Rochelle and I decided to do a “girls trip”. We bantered about a few choices, but settled on New York because well, it’s New York, and my mom’s never been to New York!

With not a lot of time to plan, I was happy to have the experience of my past 3 trips to be able to lead us to some great spots without much extra research. I knew we’d have some repeats, but was happy to be able to share them with my mom&sis.

Red eye flight landing in JFK before the sunrise.

Friday AM: After a very out-of-the-way cab ride into Manhattan to avoid morning gridlock (thank goodness for the flat rate), we dropped our bags and went for a simple breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien.

Mom didn’t really understand drinking from a bowl, but we couldn’t deny that our coffees were delicious.
Simple soft-boiled egg with delicious bread for dipping into the yolk.

Charged and ready to go, we head out to give mom her first glimpse of New York.

Autumn in New York meant chestnuts were roasting on the street. I love chestnuts but I was busy taking a photo of the neatly stacked pile when my mom beat me to buying a bag. I guess the chestnut really doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Rochelle was able to snag some tickets to an open rehearsal of the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall. Words can’t describe how magical the experience was. All I can say is if you ever get the chance to do something like this, say yes because you won’t regret it.

No photos allowed, but I couldn’t help myself.

Friday PM: Planning our dinner itinerary was more challenging than usual because I wanted to pick places that I thought my mom would enjoy, and where she could get the ultimate New York experience.

I chose Morimoto for our first dinner because I thought the idea of a Japanese dinner would be comforting to my mom. Thinking back now, it was a ridiculous rationale as I knew Morimoto’s restaurant would be nothing like the normal Japanese food my mom was used to.

"morimoto nyc tuna tartare"
Signature dish tuna tartare was beautiful to look at albeit a bit difficult to eat.
"morimoto nyc sashimi salad"
Morimoto sashimi salad was a beautiful display of creatively prepared fish.
"morimoto nyc rock shrimp tempura"
Crispy rock shrimp tempura, 2 kinds spicy, with an “interesting” dill dip. I like Nobu’s version better, but that didn’t stop me from eating more than my share of these.
Foie gras oysters with uni topped with teriyaki sauce. This would be a great beginner’s introduction to foie gras, raw oysters or uni as the teriyaki sauce drowned a bit of the individual flavours out.
So much opportunity to be disappointed with ordering the common dynamite roll and spicy tuna roll. But these were elevated to a higher place with delicious ingredients and the perfect rice to filling ratio.
Complimentary Happy Birthday treat to end the meal.

Saturday AM: By staying at the Hudson Hotel, just down the block from my usual hotel, I was able to introduce my mom & Rochelle to my NY rituals, like stocking up on breakfasts at the Whole Foods across the street. With some sustenance in our tummies we headed out to cross off another couple of things from my mom’s must do list.

Saturday PM: I have a few tapas places on my NYC list that I’ve yet to try out and knowing that Rochelle likes tapas and that there’d be food that my mom would enjoy, we made our way to Chelsea to the dark and loud Socarrat Paella Bar. I say dark, because it was really too dark to get any decent photos.

"socarrat paella bar nyc sangria"
Of course we had to start with sangria. This was really good, although I think mine is better, it didn’t stop us from downing the pitcher quite easily.

The paella takes over 30 minutes to make, so we ordered some tapas to start. We enjoyed the pan tomaca, garlic shrimp, mushrooms and padron peppers. The fried artichokes (canned) were a bit disappointing, but that feeling lasted but a moment until the paella arrived at the table.

"socarrat paella nyc
Seafood paella for 2, this lived up to its namesake by having the perfect caramelized crust of rice at the bottom of the pan.
"socarrat paella bar churros
Churros con chocolate!

A NYC must is Times Square at night and while maybe not as impressive to my mom as the lights in big cities of Japan, she was excited to see where “the ball drops” on the show she watches each New Year’s Eve.

In my opinion, a trip to NYC is not complete without a visit to Dizzy’s Cola Club to have a drink during the late-night set. After we dropped my mom off at the hotel, Rochelle and I snuck out for a nightcap in one of NYC’s most magical places to listen to jazz.

"dizzy's cola club"

Sunday AM: After a morning in SoHo shopping, we needed lunch before our Broadway show. Seeing that Otto was (what I thought) a short walk away, I thought it would be a good place to sit down for a meal before we made our way back to Midtown.

"otto batali chopped salad"
Otto’s chopped salad with chickpeas, olives and salami. I am a sucker for chopped salads and this is a great example of why.
"otto margherita pizza"
“Simple” margherita pizza, although simple has never tasted so good.
"otto batali pizza"
Funghi & Taleggio – getting my fill of mushrooms eating without Ben.

Even though going to a Broadway show is on most people’s list of “to-do’s in NYC”, my mom said she didn’t need to go because she didn’t know if she’d understand the dialogue. But knowing there’s really not much to a musical other than singing and dancing, I’m was happy that Rochelle and I bought tickets to “Nice Work If You Can Get It”, a musical featuring songs by Gershwin & starring Matthew Broderick.

Hands down, the best Broadway show I’ve seen. My mom would probably agree too.

Sunday PM:  I started to realize that I should slow down the pace on things for my mom after a few days of walking NYC. So instead of having us get back on the subway for dinner, we walked across the street into the Time Warner building for dinner at A Voce.

There are many reasons why I should stay current with my postings, but I believe the most important is that sometimes when I come back to photos, I have no idea what I ate. And when I go to the website for the menu, I realize that’s of no help because they change their menu daily/frequently. That is the case with the following.

"a voce ricotta"
Gotta love a restaurant that serves homemade ricotta with warm focaccia on the house.
Some sort of crudo…
Tortellini filled with ?
I believe this is steak with onions and beets. But who knows for sure?

Monday AM: On our last day in NYC, we started with a walk through Central Park. Again I was energized by my mom’s excitement of getting to experience,  in person, things she’s only seen on tv.

For our very last meal in NYC, we visited Jean Georges for lunch. It was nice to share my “special New York treat” with my mom and Rochelle. I hoped they enjoyed the 3* experience as much as I did.

"jean georges amuse bouche"
Beautifully presented amuse bouche.

We mulled over our choices for the meal and although I felt a bit guilty for ordering 2 dishes that I’ve had before, I knew I’d get a taste of new things from the girls’ dishes.

"jean goerges foie gras"
My 1st course – Foie gras brule with dried sour cherries, candied pistachios and a white port gelee.
"jean georges yellowfin tuna ribbons"
Mom’s 1st course – Yellowfin tuna ribbons with avocado and ginger marmalade.
Rochelle’s first course – Sesame crab toast with miso mustard.
"jean georges chicken"
My 2nd course – Parmesan crusted chicken with artichokes in a luxurious butter sauce.
"jean georges black bass"
Mom’s 2nd course – Black sea bass in sweet and sour jus.
"jean georges cod"
Rochelle’s 2nd course – Steamed cod on black bean vinaigrette.
"jean georges caramel"
Caramel dessert, 4 ways.
Selection of handmade chocolates which we were too full to eat. I hope Rochelle enjoyed them at home!
Of course the marshmallow…
And the wonderful macarons (cassis)…
And to finish, a complimentary piece of Happy Birthday cake for my mom!

New York Afterthoughts:

  • For year’s I’ve known that I need to make the effort to go away with my mom. I’m glad Rochelle and I did and hope we can do it again soon.
  • Throughout the weekend, I kept thinking, “I think my dad would enjoy this too”. I really hope he gets to go to NYC one day too. I know mom would really like to go back (Hint Hint).
  • As mentioned above, I need to write my posts sooner so I don’t forget what I’ve eaten. I’ve also determined that I need to write shorter posts, not only for your reading enjoyment, but so it’s not so daunting for me either.
  • I can’t believe that in the background of the photo of my mom and Rochelle in Central Park, it’s of the building where the crane was blown down from Hurricane Sandy.  As I said to start, very surreal.
Happy Birthday Mom! Yes, we’ll definitely take you back to NYC on your 75th birthday if you want! But maybe Paris next time?

Le Pain Quotidien: 922 Seventh Avenue NYC (multiple locations)

Morimoto: 88 10th Ave, NYC

Socarrat Paella Bar: 259 West 19th St, NYC

Otto Pizzeria: 1 Fifth Ave, NYC

A Voce Columbus: 10 Columbus Circle, 3rd floor, NYC

Jean Goerges: 1 Central Park West, NYC

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