Crazy seven days on Manhattan is over. I am sitting in New Jersey airport and my flight has been cancelled few hours ago. And, I have to admit this was the longest week in my entire life. Probably the lack of sleeping, too much activities or an energy rush I got as a Christmas gift.
– You have to live every minute here in New York. Don’t sleep. – Barista from the hotel told me.
The third time in NYC and probably is the best experience here. How do I feel about the trip I often asked by friends? I do feel myself on Manhattan like a child in a candy store. Or I do feel accepted everywhere I enter. Well, I have never felt myself here as a tourist, what makes this place really much different from the others. But this time I felt like I was soaked in with the high interest from different people of different ages and races. I was filled with their emotions, catching eyes here and there. I knew what they are about and seems I finally taught how to manage with that strange feeling getting recharged but not exhausted as I did before.
We were not that lucky to come to New York when it was totally frozen. Our trip has started with buying a pair of UGG boots for my hubby from the nearest store. I found we were not alone here who hasn’t got proper boots. Then we ran to the Little Thong Noodle shop I picked from the Instagram I am following. The place was nice but freaking cold. I found many places on Manhattan are not for the weather like that. “Feels like -25C” – my phone said. I didn’t feel my feet remembering my Russian childhood. When was the last time I felt something like that?
5 a.m. nicely jetlagged: I wanted to get out of my bed but its still dark and cold. Hot shower made me feel better. I curled up in my bed again waking up my husband. We stayed a bit more waiting for the first breakfast places to open. Afterwards, we went to the place nearby and I felt crazy hungry and freezing cold. We had several hours waiting for our friends to arrive. After that, all days merged in one endless party.
Snow and ice in Central Park, freaking cold: We had to drink everywhere just to keep warm and fill up with coffee to stay in until late. But that didn’t help me to get rid of jet lag and I awoke about 5-6 a.m. every day not depending on how late I went to sleep.
I was looking for strange or interesting places to go, as this was the third time I was in NYC and had seen a lot before. We went in the bar saying we came to another place to the guard. He talked to someone on the radio and followed us to the secret door. Cold stair and we got in very dark but cozy old style room. Originally the location was used as a corrupt bank firm in the 1920’s. To remind guests of the building’s exciting history, a functional bank vault door is used as the entrance into the wonderful Gatsby-style speakeasy. The atmosphere was nice but it was pretty boring for the company of us, so we moved to well known “Dead Rabbit”. As I found later it is still the best bar on Manhattan and I believe that’s true.
Among all the activities, warming drinks and coffee we visited Sleep NO MORE show. The idea is an experience that tells Shakespeare’s tragedy (Macbeth). I read before we go but I didn’t catch the performance. It took place in the McKittrick Hotel that has been turned into a multi-level set for the production. You walk through 4 floors of intricately decorated rooms or halls and past scenes. All spectators were worn in masks what made it very intriguing way.
By the way I found too much beautiful decoration and spaces but too little action was going on there. All I wanted after one hour running over the hotel was to dress up with a piece of clothing hanged here and there and perform my own action. But I was a good girl not doing anything like that and not ending evening in jail=) After that “action” we moved to Small Live Jazz wearing masks in the taxi (most fun part of the day) ended up very late night in the hotel.
The next morning I had the worst hangover ever but we had booked early breakfast at Rockefeller center with ice skating and all this pop tourist stuff. Despite noone wanted to awake we all did well and at 8 a.m. we were sitting in the café in front of each other discussing our marriages in connection of “a first date” couple sitting the table next door. We did great at least because I was several times asked if we are on the honeymoon. Nope, wait, I have to think, seems we have been a couple for more than 18 years from our mid teen ages… we are just so good. The Rockefeller Ice Rink is the worst ice I have ever tried. Really. I just needed to check it but it didn’t worth to get up so early or ever come. Just another experience and we kept going through 5th Ave to the hotel to see off my friends and fall asleep in a while.
You know, I am feeling a little bit bored with restaurants in general. I more likely would try to eat some wild or weird than to go to another pouch place. I am so in about food: made some culinary classes, having best ingredients from different countries at home, lived in France for a while and we had great experiences in so many places, that I wanted something special.
So another speakeasy place we supposed to go is the Bohemian restaurant. It is one of the highest-ranked Japanese restaurants on Manhattan Yelp, but no phone number is listed, and a visit to the restaurant’s cryptic Web site, playearth.jp, notes, “that the location and contact info is not open to the public.” Located at the end of a long, narrow hallway, Bohemian looks less a restaurant than a friend’s apartment (what made me feel interested) — there’s a buzzer for entry then a men behind the curtain opens the door. According to the restaurant’s Web site, Andy Warhol once owned the space, which was also the home and studio of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. And of course I wanted to be in. Even through I didn’t have a referral who gave me the number or recommendation either I was so short on time making reservation two days before we go, what, if believe in gasps was quite impossible.
The whole place was packed when we came in. We had to wait for a while, checked the restroom, which remembered me the restroom at NASA station on the top of Mauna Kea. Then we were invited to the table. We couldn’t take the degustation menu because of my gluten free diet, so we just checked different food from menu. I ordered very strange matcha-tea cocktail, which was really bitter as I was warned about. I don’t want to review the food too much. Some was interesting, some just more usual to me. If you are interested in speakeasy places, love Japanese food as I do, you could try this place. As for me, I more opened to rougher experiences at the moment.
My first time in NYC we visited the Blue Note Jazz and really liked it. We have to check something new – I said, and we went to Smalls Jazz Live, what wasn’t even close by spirit to Blue Note. So we made another attempt to Blue note after 5 years and it still was cool.
The only thing that mattered was that all guests sit very close to each other within very small tables (I would say table for 2, but you are 4). We sat near older woman with her grown-up daughter. They spoke French. A girl was loudly sipping her cola what made me feel disgusted. She couldn’t be French. “Are you from France?” – I asked. They were from French speaking part of Canada. The show had begun and all noises went down. I was totally seized with sounds.
The last couple of days were getting warmer and warmer and we were walking a lot. Firstly crossing the Brooklyn Bridge with sunset continuing on Manhattan Bridge, which was even more interesting than the first one and leaded to China quarter. I really enjoyed those walks when you just need to do nothing than being in the moment. I bought a dragon fruit from Chinese people on the street. Days and nights were so merged to me, so I just rolled out from night China quarter to another jet lagged morning in the bed faced to Manhattan skyscrapers eating the fruit and desiring to get some coffee.
Night China town and dawn dragon fruit
There are 3 ways of coffee in USA: huge brewed unlimited drink, which isn’t coffee at all, ‘Starbucks’ style coffee which isn’t that bad, but still sucks and small coffee shops which make really cool coffee. I have two favorite on Manhattan: Blue Bottle and Joe’s. If you need just strong coffee the first one is better, to get some snack check the second one. They added to assortment few gluten free snacks, what made me feel not just a tough girl who drinks no sugar strong black coffee while the others enjoying cakes and all those sweet stuff.
The last day I finally woke up a bit later but we spent some time just staying in bed until again I was crazy hungry to do anything but looking for the food. Last couple of days we had the same breakfast in Cadillac shop, which occasionally had Joy’s coffee shop inside.
It was so unbelievably warm in the city: people wore shorts, snow has been disappearing every second. We went to China again going through it to Williamsburg Bridge in hope to get to the place I found on the picture of NYC photographer. We had to be there but the bridge leaded us far away by side. I wasn’t that keen to walk through Williamsburg all way, so we took a ferry going to Brooklyn Heights. The place was on Washington Street and it had that view I stacked in. I wondered how did we miss it before.
Winter sunset with Manhattan view, crashed ice in the river, lost ferry and very long night again – that was the point.
We bought some really freaking street food from Chinese old lady just to try something new. While passing Williamsburg Bridge, I found there is no better place to have lunch. I sat on the ground uncovering banana leaves and put my face into that strange food. People passing by were staring. I like teasing people by different strange ways, that’s my nature from the early childhood and I know it. So if you want to have some fun, join me, but I don’t promise your safety and comfort. Btw the food was terribly strange. Unfortunately I forgot my cognac in the hotel, so we had to manage with that.
The last day was critical. It has been raining cats and dogs all the time. We checked out to Museum of Natural History to finish watching the exhibition I started 5 years ago in 2012. It had some new stuff – huge dinosaurs found in 2012 in Peru. It was as huge that they even don’t have a space for him so the head was looking out to another hall.
I was a bit nervous about to get to the airport on time that I fell asleep in a taxi. We drove that long in rainy traffic but the flight was delayed and finally cancelled right in front of the gates. I rushly ran to the counter for rebooking and was the first one. About 250 people were behind me. I was rebooked after an hour to Zurich instead of Vienna. We were late to Zurich and lost another plane to Prague, so we made it to Frankfurt instead. We came back with 8 hours delay but for any reason I was so happy that it didn’t bother me at all.
I need to tell a special word about the hotel. I wasn’t that happy on the first sight finding it more likes a kind of pouch hostel but I was so wrong. Well, we were changed with the room first (clocks in the old room were broken, you see=) and got another with a king size bed facing right in the window.
The building had so many windows around and that made me feel too much excited. The room was small but enough for two who just sleep in there. It had a shower and wc in a glass cube just inside the room. If you are shy enough you probably will be uncomfy with that fact, but me neither.
I tried three different living experiences on Manhattan: living in the apartment with locals somewhere in 90th West (they were opera singers and it was crazy), renting the entire apartment with friends at 90th East (it has nice rooftop and the fact excused any other disadvantage) and the hotel in Soho with an interesting view. All are so different and it made the puzzle done!
Stay tuned, stay curious!
I am often asked which camera do we use for the pictures? Therefore I don’t think that camera is the main aspect of making cool photos, but it makes sense when you have to make a choice of the brand. We chose Nikon camera years ago. And we have a lot of stuff for it including different lenses and from that time we are loyal customers of Nikon brand.
And since the new camera was released, we want to sell the one which made all of those and many other wonderful pictures. So D800 is for sale now.
My new chocolatier blog www.redbean.cz
As far as you don’t know yet I am addicted to Thai food. I love to cook Thai curries all ways and noodles and everything about that. I adapt it to myself as far i don’t eat so hot dishes as they usually are. One day I decided to have Thai herbs garden. Well, it’s cold outside and I was thinking about starting indoors. I bought seeds of thai basils and the Kaffir lime at thaiseeds.com and started to propagate the Kaffir.
The first experience was bad. They died under mildew. I gave it a try for a second time with extra re-hydrating them in wet cotton for 24 hours before I put them into Jiffy’s tablets. The tablets are made from substrate for propagating seeds and easy transplanting them in a pot or a garden.
After almost 2 weeks I saw the seed raised a bit and the next day it was like on the picture one. After 4 more days it looked like at the picture two. It’s growing fast. i transplanted it in a pot and covered with a jar until it gets bigger.
Kaffir lime leaves are most often used as an essential ingredient for flavoring many Asian dishes. I found fresh in local Mars and Spenser store for USD2.5 for just 4 leaves.
The dark green leaves come in double form – a more pointed top leaf joined to a more rounded bottom leaf. They impart not only a sweet, lemony scent but a wondrous flavor of their own to soups, salads, curries and stir-fried dishes. For watery simmered dishes, the leaves are bruised and added whole; for dry dishes, they are cut into very fine hair-like slivers. To sliver, stack a few leaves at a time and cut at a slanted angle with a sharp knife; or use scissors.
let’s return to our muttons, I meant mussels. We stuck to some Belgian restaurants for a couple of months and, of course, all that is about mussels. We tried different but the most favorite is Thai style in coconut milk.
Remembering mussel’s evenings in France we decided to repeat it here. We bought 4 kg of fresh mussels (it should be for 5 persons). My husband always wash and clean them. I tried once and all my hands was scratched and in pain, mussels still were not good enough and since then I have never tried it again. This is the most unpleasant part about cooking mussels.
The recipe contains two parts: mussels boiled in white wine with celery and onion and Thai sauce.
I prepared spices and herbs for the Thai sauce.
- lime juice
- lemongrass 2-3 sticks
- ginger (I love to eat it cooked if to cut in thin pieces)
- galangal (optional but worth to find) It’s a type of ginger but it has more specific aroma. It’s not edible by the way. Too hard.
- chili fresh or dried
- 2-4 kaffir lime leaves
- coconut milk 1-2 cans depends on how thick sauce would you prefer
- a pinch of brown sugar
- 2 tbsp of fish sauce
- 1 tbsp of green curry paste (as for me it would be good enough and without it)
- 1 tsp of coconut oil or any oil
Preheat oil and curry paste, add one tablespoon of coconut milk and stir the paste.
Add all milk and all ingredients all together (except lime juice) and cook for 5-10 minutes after boiling. Add lime juice at the end and leave by side.
For mussels you need:
- about 1 kg of them per person if it’s a main dish
- 1 celery
- 1 onion
- 1 bottle of dry white wine
Cut celery and onion into small pieces. Put mussels and vegetables in a pot and add wine. Cook them about 3-5 minutes after boiling. Than pour off the wine to another pot. You will probably want to mix it in Thai sauce later. Put mussels in a big pan by portions. Pour Thai sauce and wine sauce on top.
Precooked mussels and prepared herbs and spices.
Can be eaten with jasmine or basmati rice.
Ready to eat
This funny film where I am snorkeling and cracking whole coconut speaking Russian.
And the day 23 – trail to Captain Cook monument.
You have to be scared before the trail. Not all trails in Hawaii are like that but we chose challenging ones. It the trail is not as missed workout, it doesn’t worth doing. This one is short but good. Even to go downhill is challenging enough. My husband fall on the rocks and miraculously didn’t get crashed himself and the camera. After that he put in in the backpack and we don’t see any pictures from this trail until the very end.
The only I have from my camera. 1/3 of the way is in high grass, which you can spot on the video above. Its disgusting enough, so you’d better wear long sleeve AND long shorts, which I didn’t have.