Friday, July 1, 2011

New York In 5 Days - Day 2

Day 2, were up and out of our room by 7am and off to breakfast at Bouchon Bakery.(Yes the same Bouchon Bakery I am obsessed with in Napa.) This Bouchon was a lot larger than the Napa location and felt more like a Starbucks, missing the bakery feel. The Napa courtyard was replaced with a large windowed wall with bar stools facing the Today Show Plaza, where we could enjoy our breakfast and make fun of the people trying to get on TV.

The menu was very similar to the Napa & Vegas shops, the only thing that stood out to me as different was a delicious looking Mint Pie and a Peanut Butter and Jelly Macaron. I had a little bit of a sugar hangover from the night before so I had to pass on those and stick with my standard Chocolate Croissant, which was not nearly as good as Napa.
After breakfast we headed towards the American Museum of Natural History, by way of Central Park.
Central Park was beautiful, and I have to admit I was a little surprised. Being smack dab in the middle of this huge city was a peaceful oasis, clean and green, with only a hint of city peaking out above the trees. Depending on when you ask me I might say Central Park was one of my favorite places we went to in New York.

After following the trails through the park, we walked out right in front of the American Museum of Natural History. Unfortunately there was construction on the front of the museum so it lost some of its architectural beauty.
Inside the museum was amazing and we could have spent an entire day there if it wasn't for our tight schedule and the hundreds of bratty kids running amuck. For this trip we focused only on the dinosaurs, but next time I would spend the day (non-school field trip day), to really see everything, including the planetarium.

Once we finally found our way out of the museum, it was time for lunch at the Shake Shack, which was right around the corner from the museum. I was looking forward to their corn dog I had read about, but it turns out it is only seasonal, so my daughter and I both got cheeseburgers, a order of fries and shakes. The burgers reminded me of a burger I had at Smashburger, good, but nothing supper special. The shakes on the other hand were definitely the BEST EVER. I had ordered the caramel and my daughter ordered the peanut butter. The caramel was really good, with just the right hint of caramel, but the peanut butter was out of this world, rich and creamy and perfectly peanut buttery.

After the cheeseburgers and shakes, it was time for an afternoon dessert. A few blocks down from the Shake Shack is Levain's Bakery, home of the giant palm sized cookie. I saw them on Throwdown with Bobby Flay a while ago, and decided to give them a shot since even Yelp loves them. The bakery is so obscure I would have walked by it if my daughter didn't point it out. Inside is just as understated as the outside, a small room with a tiny counter displaying a few cookies, with the majority of the small space devoted to the kitchen. We ordered one chocolate chocolate cookie and one chocolate peanut butter cookie. I awarded these the title of, BEST COOKIES EVER.  Soft and chewy, with a rich chocolate flavor and slightly melted chocolate chips. YUM! They were so big we put them back in the bag and nibbled on them throughout the rest or the day.

The next stop on our itinerary was the New York Library, and to get to there, we took the subway for our first time. (It was actually my first time to ever use any form of public transportation, unless you count the bus on Rarotonga that only goes clockwise or anti-clockwise.) I was a little intimidated but it was so much easier and less scary than I had expected. We bought a $20 MetroCard and were off on the 7 Avenue Express towards New Lots Station. It is definitely the way to get around New York.

We left the subway, passed Bryant Park and up to the New York Library steps. It was the most beautiful library I had ever seen, and down on the ground floor, inside the children's section, the real Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals are displayed. Not ever being a big Winnie the Pooh fan, it was still interesting seeing the inspiration behind such a classic book.

From the library, we walked down to Grand Central Station. Not a lot to see there, it is basically what you see on TV and movies, but we had to go, just so we could be annoying and say "we've been there".

Next on the list was the Empire State Building. Before we even left for our trip to New York I purchased a Empire State Building Express Pass online for an extra $10, and it was well worth the money. The Express Pass let us walk past everyone else in line and get directly on the elevator, saving us a good 30 minute wait. The view from the 86th floor was amazing, you could see everything, Central Park, Brooklyn, the Statue of Liberty. The 102nd floor I felt was somewhat a waste of time, you are inside and only have windows to look out, and the view isn't much different. The only thing you really get from going to 102nd floor is bragging rights that you have been to the top of the Empire State Building.

With the major attractions out of the way, it was time to go shopping at Mood fabric, and then a snack at The Little Pie Company.  The Little Pie Company was definitely little and didn't have much of an atmosphere. Having excellent reviews, I ordered the cheesecake in a sad little plastic box. I must say, I am not a huge cheesecake person for two reasons: (1) I don't like food the color white, with a few exceptions, (2) I don't like cream cheese. Since we were in New York I felt I should have cheesecake at least once, and I was so glad I did. This little cheesecake was light and fluffy and didn't have an overpowering cream cheese taste, it was surprisingly good.

With our feet a little sore and everything on our itinerary checked off, we walked back to our hotel to re-energize before our first Broadway show.
I had never seen a Broadway show before, so I thought a classic like Chicago would be the perfect starting point. It was amazing to see it live, and only 5 rows from the stage. Christie Brinkley as Roxie Hart was terrific, although a little annoying that she can sing, dance and look amazing at 50. My daughter thought it was fun as well, but she felt, they were all too old. (She is 14, 30 year olds are old to her.)  

After the show we went to a late night dinner at Virgil's Barbecue, had some ribs, mashed potatoes, and delicious macaroni and cheese. Then we danced our way back to our hotel (Pop!Six!Squish!Uh Uh!Cicero!Lipschitz!), hoping to get a few hours of sleep before our alarm clock woke us bright and early the next morning.

* Tip - get a little extra money on your MetroCard, we went down to the wrong train two or three times :)
       - Buy the Empire State Building Express Pass, and skip the 102nd floor.

 * Cost - Shake Shack: 2 cheeseburgers, french fries, lemonade, 2 shakes = $25.10 (the shakes were more than the burgers)
              Levain Bakery: 2 cookies = 8.00
             The little Pie Company: mini cheesecake = 4.25 (I think)

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