Monday, January 30, 2006

Meet me in Manhattan...

Now that I'm back from New York I've gotten myself a cold. I stayed home all day today. I'm also off tomorrow because I'm working on Superbowl Sunday. I can't remember when I've had two days off in a row. I just hope that I'm feeling better tomorrow so that I can run a few errands. I don't have much to report otherwise other than the fact that that possible opportunity I had is not to be. I'm a little pissed. Other than that here is a more detailed report of my trip to New York...

I landed in at LaGuardia on Tuesday afternoon and the weather was awesome. It was snowing and damn cold when I left Detroit. I landed in Queens and it was sunny and 41 degrees. Not bad. I had booked a shuttle through Orbitz and it turned out to be a great deal ($17.00 before tip). I arrived at the Doubletree in Mid-Town Manhattan (51st and Lexington) and received a warm chocolate chip cookie. A nice start to a nice trip. I settled in a little bit and unpacked. Here's a few shots from my room...

These pics are from my 12th floor room. I called Brittney (my AusWAT fried from San Diego) on her cell and she said that she had landed and was in the cab from JFK. We got a hold of each other later at the hotel and agreed to meet in the lobby. I was waiting to ask the concierge a question when I saw Brittney. It was great to see her again. We agreed on the phone to have dinner and sort of settled on Public as that was where we were going to eat on Wednesday until they re-invited us to the black-tie dinner. We got in a cab and our driver barely spoke any English and had no idea where the restaurant was. Luckily he at least had a map. He drove us in the approximate direction and we just decided to get out and hoof it the rest of the way. We knew that were close. I don't know if we got out in China Town or just a very Chinese neighborhood. There were ducks, geese, and feet hanging everywhere as well as numerous herbologists. The menus on the various restaurants seemed very authentic with numerous items you would never find in an "American" Chinese restaurant (ie. duck's blood jelly with squid). We stopped in a small wine store for a look and asked if we were in the right area. He said that we were just about a block or so away. We arrived at Public with a reservation, but they were able to accomodate us as long as we hurried out. It was a very cool space. I ordered a bottle of the 1998 Glaetzer "The Bishop" Barossa Valley Shiraz. Our server decanted it for us and it was pretty damn nice. I ordered the-
Confit rabbit, foie gras, and Tahitian vanilla terrine with quince glazed grapes and breakfast radish for a starter.

Roast lamb sirloin on crispy goats cheese polenta with saffron braised baby vegetables and minted yogurt for the entree.

Fenugreek panna cotta with a Meyer lemon poppyseed jelly and coriander biscuits for dessert along with a glass of Lillypilly Noble Blend.

The meal was fantastic! The panna cotta was exceptional! After dinner we decided to walk around a bit and see if we could stumble across an inviting bar. We walked a bit through NoLita, SoHo, the Village, and Union Square (where they were filming a movie). We kept walking and walking and decided to just be lame and have a drink at the hotel bar. We took a cab back to the hotel and had a drink before calling it a night. We agreed to meet for lunch at Les Halles at 1:00PM on Wednesday. I walked around a bit on Tuesday morning just taking in some of the nearby attractions and then took a cab to Brasserie Les Halles on Park Ave. I arrived early so I walked around the neighborhood a bit. The smells of street vendors were permeating the air. As inviting as the smells were I knew that I had to pass on them as I was about to have a nice lunch. I arrive at the restaurant and meet up with Brittney. She had been walking around all morning. I ordered a glass of rose, frisee aux lardons (salad of frisee, bacon, and roquefort crouton), the Onglet a l'Echalote (hanger steak with shallot sauce and pommes frites), and the Tarte aux Pommes-Glace Vanille (fresh apple tart with vanilla ice cream (with an espresso). I've been wanting to eat at Les Halles for a long time as it is the restaurant of one of my culinary and literary heroes, Anthony Bourdain. I figured that he wouldn't be there and he probably wasn't (closed kitchen), but it was a fantastically simple meal. The fries, as he does indeed go on about, were ethereal. The salad was perfect, the hanger steak was exceptional, and the apple tart was heavenly. Everything was prepared very simply, but the execution was dead-on. It was a fantastic lunch!

We walked around a bit after lunch (in the direction of our hotel) and stopped by Grand Central Station. There was a beautiful market and a wine shop with some impressive labels (Screaming Eagle, Turley, Behrens & Hitchcock, etc.). We walked a bit more and made it back to our hotel. She decided that she was going to shop a bit and I decided to go to my room for a bit to relax. We agreed to meet in the lobby to catch a cab to our black-tie dinner. It took me a while to get my tux on correctly as I had some issues with the suspenders (which had gotten all tangled and such). Eventually I was all dressed-to-the-nines. I haven't worn a tux since prom (other than my days as a waiter). We met in the lobby (she looked lovely) and took a cab to the Metropolitan Club for our dinner on the Upper East Side. There was a lovely reception for us with many wines and an open bar. My boss was there with her fiance and Trudy from our AusWAT group arrived as well. There was a very pleasant surprise when we saw Jordan from our AusWAT trip. Jordan is a very talented young freelance wine/beverage writer and he was in town for the event. We had no idea that he was coming. He's a lot of fun and it was great to see him again. Our friend Sara had not shown up yet. After a couple of beautiful songs performed by some talented singers we were invited into the main room for dinner. The event was a 10th Anniversary celebration of Wine Australia. Wine Australia was formerly called the Australian Wine Bureau, but the new name and logo were being announced that night. We were all sitting at separate tables. I was sitting at the Click (importer) table with another retailer, a writer, importers, and a couple of lovely ladies from Wine Australia. We had some great wines and a good meal. Here are a few pics from the event...

The Australian Ambassador

Sara showed up late with a friend at it was a joy to see her again. Brittney, Jordan, Sara, and myself walked around a bit and then decided to take a cab to the hotel and find a bar in the area. Brittney decided to call it a night so Sara, Jordan, and myself went to and uber-hotspot called Whiskey Blue at the W Hotel. It was just a few doors down from our hotel. It's an expensive, ultra-trendy hangout, but the servers and clientele were beautiful. For once I didn't feel underdressed in a scenario like this as I was wearing a tux. We drank and talked for a couple of hours and just enjoyed each other's company. It was a lot of fun. We reminisced about our trip and shared in our present and future. It was really nice to see them again.

Thursday morning Brittney and I agreed to meet in the lobby again and take the subway to Tribeca. After a little confusion we made the proper transfers and arrived in Tribeca. We had to be at Skylight on Hudson Street at 1:30PM. We had extra time and were both hungry and in need of coffee. We stumbled across from a simple diner/coffee shop type place called Amelia's. The service was fast, efficient, and friendly. The food was good and the coffee was hot. I had the corned beef and cabbage special with boiled potatoes ($6.95) and a cup of soup. The perfect simple meal.

Tasting set-up at Skylight

We were situated very close to the entrance to the Holland tunnel. After lunch we wandered over to Skylight to work the Wine Australia Festival. From 3:00 to 6:00 was a trade-tasting and the consumer-tasting commenced at 6:00 until 9:00PM. It was our job to pour wines at each and promote AusWAT. I was pouring "Next Generation Whites" for the trade-tasting and "Sauvignon Blanc" for the consumer-tasting. I have to say that New Yorkers are very friendly. The retailers, distributors, restaurateurs, and press were much more friendly than at a typical Detroit area trade tasting. The consumers were even more of a pleasant surprise. First of all, there are a lot of beautiful people in Manhattan. A large portion of them were at this tasting. Many of them are Australian ex-pats. Another trend that I noticed in Manhattan is that there are apparently no bras for sale anywhere in the area. Boobs were flying everywhere! Luckily most of the lovely ladies were able to pull it off. A few lovely ladies even thought that I was cute and they loved my beard...flattery will get you everywhere. They were doubly impressed when I told them that I flew out from Detroit for the event. Unfortunately they disappeared. The event was a success. They drew somewhere between 700-900 people for the consumer tasting. There were some great restaurants represented there too. It was a lot of fun. Sara, Brittney, Sara's friend, and myself took a cab back to the hotel and grabbed a bite at the cafe next door. I said my goodbyes. It was really wonderful to see them again. Brittney and Sara are truly wonderful people.

In the morning I walked around a bit again. I got myself a cup of coffee and a hot dog with mustard and onion from a stree vendor. New York rules! It was too bad that I had to leave soon. I bought some chocolates at the chocolatier next to the hotel and returned to my room. I checked out, got another cookie, and got in a car to LaGuardia (getting a Lincoln is cheaper than taking a cab, not unlike MetroCar). I got two more (Nathan's Famous) hot dogs at the airport. The flight was fine and uneventful. I landed in Detroit and worked at the restaurant that night.

New York is really an amazing town. I love it. I regret not having any pizza, but there's always next time. I didn't get my hot dogs til the very end. I'm very thankful for seeing my AusWAT friends again. They're awesome people! As much as I love New York I'm still proud to be a Detroiter. This should be an interesting week with the upcoming Superbowl. I could never afford to live in Manhattan. I shudder to think how much a place the size of my flat would run. Thanks New York...until next time.



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