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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

Tag Archives: new york

IMG_3837Back from a recent trip to New York, I received a box of macarons as a gift.

IMG_3838How cute is this flavor card? Macaron Cafe has 3 locations: MacarOn Café’s flagship store is located on 750 Third Avenue (between 46th & 47th St.), a second location at 59th Street between Madison and Park Avenues, and third location at 36th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue.

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Macarons are $2.50 each, a box of 6 for $14, a box of 12 for $27 and a box of 24 for $53.

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(L-R, clockwise) The white chocolate, pistachio, vanilla, peanut butter, nutella, and wedding almond. The almond tasted a little fake to me, like if you were using imitation almond extract. The nutella was very rich, the vanilla was tasty, the white chocolate seemed sinful and the pistachio lacked a flavor I had hoped for. Overall tasty macarons with some good flavors. They were very fresh and had that nice crunch in the shell when you took your first bite. I would certainly go back and try other flavors next time I’m in the city.

What is your favorite macaron flavor?

Macaron Cafe

750 Third Ave, New York, NY

http://macaroncafe.com/

Macaron Café on Urbanspoon

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IMG_9757Located a quick step away from our hotel, we grab a quick breakfast at La Parisienne.

IMG_9758It’s quite the old school diner, the place is a bit dated and could certainly be described as “no frills”. The booths are small and they are named after people.

IMG_9759Our service is quick and the food is ok (nothing to write home about but certainly edible). Note that on the menu the pictures say that they are just examples of what the food looks like, not the actual thing. (odd?) The breakfast sandwich was decent, they only had plain bagels.

IMG_9760The price is right here, an affordable breakfast in Midtown for sure. The food could have used a bit more flavoring – the eggs and the potatoes didn’t taste much like anything. Would I seek this place out for breakfast, probably not, but it would certainly do in a pinch.

La Parisienne

910 7th Ave
(between 57th St & 58th St)
New York, NY 10019

La Parisienne Coffee House on Urbanspoon

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IMG_9860We were exhausted after running around the whole day, so we decided to eat relatively close to the hotel. We happened upon Remi for dinner.

IMG_9857They have a very colorful decor with high ceilings – really quite stunning.

IMG_9858I liked that the bread basket had so many options.

IMG_9859A little goat cheese spread for the bread.

IMG_9861I started with the la classica caprese salad ($17). For this price I would have liked to have seen some fresher tomatoes, my were under ripe.

IMG_9862We ordered the Costolette di Agnello alla Griglia con Patate al Rosmarino ($39.50) Grilled lamb chop drizzled with tuscan olive oil served with rosemary flavored roasted potatoes. Really lovely presentation and the lamb was delicious.

IMG_9863The Tagliatelle alla Bolognese ($24.50) Tagliatelle pasta with Bolognese sauce had ribbon thin pasta with just the right amount of sauce. I wish that the sauce had a little more depth to it, but overall a good dish.

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The Pappardelle al Telefono in Salsa Rosa ($24.50) Wide ribbon pasta pappardelle in a pink tomato sauce with melted mozzarella cheese and basil. The pasta was delicious, perfectly al dente.

IMG_9865The Tagliolini al Limone con Granseola ed Asparagi Arrosto ($27.50) Thin tagliolini pasta in a lemon sauce with roasted asparagus tips and lump crab meat. Really nice flavors in this dish and the crab meat really stole the show. The service here was good, our waiter was attentive and knowledgeable. Our food was served promptly and someone was always close by if we needed anything. There was a mix of people dining tonight, some couples, a few tourists – we had the unfortunate luck of sitting right next to another table of 4 who was quite rowdy – a couple was taking the man’s parents out for dinner. Not only were they loud but I could hear the guy chewing and smacking his food all the way over where I was sitting. Good thing that we were almost done by the time they sat down, otherwise, it could have been a very long meal. While the food and service were good, I’m not sure that it would be worth a second trip here, there just wasn’t that “wow” factor.

Remi

145 West 53rd Street (between 6th and 7th)

New York, NY

(212) 581-4242

http://www.remi-ny.com

Remi on Urbanspoon

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IMG_9884Located in Noho, we stopped into Lafayette for breakfast Monday morning. The morning was hot and muggy, and although the patio looked lovely, we chose to grab a seat inside.

IMG_9885I love the retro feel of this place, the decor is top notch. I had really high hopes for this place.

IMG_9891Service was good, our waitress and supporting waitstaff were very attentive. However, it took 3 tries to get a hot cup of coffee.

IMG_9889See their breakfast menu here. I had the lemon pancakes with berries ($16). The pancakes were delicious, light and fluffy. The top pancake was a little raw in the center, but the other two were delicious – who can eat three large pancakes anyway? Breakfast will run you about $12-$16, and there are so many good choices here. They have a lovely bakery case, so you can certainly stop in and pick something up to go, a croissant or perhaps a macaron…

Lafayette

380 Lafayette Street
corner of Great Jones Street
New York, NY 10003

(212) 533 3000

http://lafayetteny.com/

Lafayette on Urbanspoon

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IMG_9726We were on a mad dash from our hotel on 58th to get to 53rd to get a CoolHaus sandwich before they closed up shop.

IMG_9727Follow them on Twitter and give them the “word of the day” to get $1 of 2 sandwiches.

IMG_9728I get the chocolate chip cookie with the lime ice cream.

IMG_9729We also get the snickerdoodle cookies with the dirty mint cream. Such a great snack on a hot day in the city.

The ice cream was good (and there was a good amount of it for $6) but the cookies fell a little short for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still ate every bite – I was just looking for a little more oomph from the cookie.

Find out where they are going to be: http://eatcoolhaus.com/locations and follow them on Twitter

Coolhaus on Urbanspoon

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IMG_9690We decided to take a trip to NYC to visit my grandfather a little early for his 102nd birthday. Look who thought he was coming with us!

IMG_9692So up at 3:30am and at the Back Bay train station by 5am to be in NYC at 9 in time to work in our NY office for part of the day.

IMG_9693I knew it was going to be a long day, but at least I was going to look cute with my fresh pedi by Tam at MiniLuxe in Newton Centre – go check her out, I’ve been seeing her for years, wouldn’t dream of having anyone else do my pedi’s.

IMG_9701The train car was empty until one stop before NYC. You would think that it’s so early that people wouldn’t be very chatty – and with the whole car empty, you wouldn’t think that someone would want to sit one row behind you….

IMG_9839We check into the Hudson Hotel. We had stayed here last year when we came in for business. See previous post here. I tweeted at the hotel saying that I hoped that the room would be a quiet one this time. They tweeted back and suggested I email them and let them know my preferences, which I did.

IMG_9856The hotel underwent a huge renovation, and they now market themselves as “cheap chic”. The lobby is definitely a statement, the ceiling is amazing and the large window behind the front desk looks out onto the patio. The location is great if you want to be in midtown – it is less than a block from Columbus Circle, where you can pick up the B,D,1,2,3,A, and C trains. There’s a shopping mall, a Whole Foods, a Starbucks and a CVS all within a block.

IMG_9855I usually ask for a mid level floor, far from the elevator. They have 24 floors with a sky terrace located on the 15th floor.

IMG_9879So when you ask for a quiet room, you have to ask yourself, who thinks quiet means a room one floor below the terrace that blasts bass until 11pm? Granted that’s not super late, but if you have to wake up early, that’s tough. You would think that the AC would drown out some of the noise, but the AC in our room was so loud and sounded a bit like the buzzer on your alarm clock. You have to put the AC on though, otherwise you will roast in your room.

IMG_9725Rooms come equipped with an electronic lock that you just tap your room key up to.

IMG_9721The room is a little bigger than the one we stayed in on the 16th floor, with a little more space around the bed, but not much. The beds are comfortable, but if you want a top sheet, make sure to ask for one, because you only get a duvet.

IMG_9723I never got the whole see through shower thing…

So we go out for dinner, and get back to the room at around 9:15pm. There is a piece of USED dental floss outside my room. Yes, I could have picked it up myself, but the thought of it really grossed me out. So I call down to the front desk and let them know the situation. Oh no problem, they say, and that someone will be right up.

IMG_9755Apparently 12+ hours means “right up” because when we wake up the next morning, it’s still there. I call again and they say that someone will be right up. Thank goodness that by the time we got back to the hotel after dinner that night it was gone.

IMG_9827In our room the door did not sit in the door frame, so the light from the hallway was shining through…

IMG_9830So between the light, the noisy ac, and the bass from the terrace – it was hard to fall asleep. And then the real treat. 3am the fire alarm goes off. Some stupid drunk chick  “intoxicated guest” couldn’t find her room key, so she pulled the fire alarm. Smart. So here are all these people, half awake, some barefoot, walking down 14 flights of stairs to the basement – where there is no AC. They tell us immediately that there is no fire, it was a false alarm, but they can’t turn the elevators on until they turn off the alarm. Meanwhile at this point, I am melting…and exhausted. They finally turn off the alarm and “isolate the alarm to the floor it was set off from”. Great. We all pack like (sweaty) sardines into the elevator and go back to our rooms.

IMG_9838Lucky us, the alarm was pulled on our floor. So it is now 40 minutes of bliss. Even though we can go back to our rooms, who wants to hear a blaring alarm? I will say that they did give us 50% off that one night we were disturbed, but frankly, we were there for 3 nights, and thinking about it now, we should have pushed for more. While it wasn’t the hotel’s fault, it was certainly inconvenient. If they want guests to return (and we are not sure we will), they should bend over backwards to make sure that their stay is a pleasant one.

IMG_9753And just for fun, here are some pictures from the trip! The Union rat sculpture on 53rd street.

IMG_9750Columbus Circle.

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An amusing bill on the street.IMG_9807A coffee cup from one of my favorite stores, Fishs Eddy on Broadway and 19th.

IMG_9809Fabric at the Marimekko store.

IMG_9810And a beautiful store display.

IMG_9872A crowd favorite was the Louis Vuitton windows with gold dinosaur skeletons at the 5th Ave location.

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IMG_9881And I will leave you with just a few images from the “Library” at the Hudson hotel. Who can resist the amusing photos of cows with hats all over the walls?

IMG_9880The pool table is the focal point in the room, with ample seating all around and a bar in the back corner.

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Our office decided to move April 1, so I went down to NYC to coordinate the whole thing. I stayed at the Standard High Line, located in the Meatpacking District, 848 Washington Street at 13th, just steps away from Chelsea Market.

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I met Adam, our corporate sales manager, and got a tour of the hotel. I saw all the different room sizes as well as the bar on the top floor – reserved for members only, and looks like something straight out of a James Bond movie. Everything is gold, and old Hollywood glam, complete with beautiful, tall, model-like cocktail waitresses.  The plaza in front of the hotel just finished up being an ice skating rink. Now that the summer months are coming, there will be ice cream carts and pizza at the open air bar.

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I stayed in a standard queen room, which was quite spacious.

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The shower has a glass wall that you can see through while you’re sitting in the bed, which normally I would think was weird, if I hadn’t seen it before at the Hudson.

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The toilet was in this small claustrophobic little room, but that’s better than it being in the same room like the shower 🙂

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I laughed a bit when I read this note that says that when the curtains are open, people on the high line can see into your room.

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The view from my window.

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The hotel is pretty cool, very modern. The 5th floor was quiet for the most part, except for the people across the hall that were having a party in their room until 3am one night. Note that if you stay on the upper floors, you may get some noise from the nightclub.

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I was impressed by how well stocked the mini bar was.

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More mini bar.

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Champagne anyone?

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Just thought that this was cute. Cleaning service came in the morning, right at 9 as I was leaving.

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The elevators are almost pitch dark with scenes of heaven and hell playing on tv screens on either side.

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I met up with a friend from high school at Crema, 111 17th street, 212-691-4477. A cute little place, that wasn’t crowded when we arrived, but within a half of an hour, the place was packed. Tables were pretty close to one another. We had the Quesos Flameados as an appetizer, Chihuahua cheese baked casserole, served with fresh warm corn tortillas, and either guacamole or salsa. We had ours “A la Francesa” –  with Gruyere & mushrooms ($14).  Wonderfully delicious and flavorful, how could warm cheese be bad? I had the scallop entree ($24), Callo de Hacha con Chile Morita y Mango. Dry scallops pan seared in chile morita, sweet corn cake, avocado mousse, mango pico de gallo, chipotle aioli. The scallops were spicy and went well with the sweetness of the corn cakes. Lovely presentation. The noise level was at a good buzz, and yet we didn’t feel rushed to leave – even though the place was packed. Highly recommend this place for a night out, the food is delicious and the service was pretty attentive.

Crema Restaurante on Urbanspoon

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We moved out of our office space at WeWork in the Meatpacking district and moved down to Hudson Square.

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While walking around, I spotted this. Makes you think twice about getting street meat doesn’t it?

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Friday, the big day. I had breakfast at the Standard Grill downstairs in the hotel. The front room looks like a French Brasserie, the sun was shining brightly through the windows. There is white subway tile, and dark red leather half moon banquettes. Service was a little ditzy for 8am, but the food was pretty good. $7 for a glass of orange juice and $14 for a gruyere and mushroom omelet.

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Thought that the salt and pepper shakers were pretty adorable.

The Standard Grill on Urbanspoon

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Hudson Square, our new office. Here it is. Empty when I arrive first thing on Monday morning. The space feels so open, with high ceilings and lots of windows.

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While the single offices are a little bit on the small side, we kept the space from feeling small by putting in glass doors and walls.

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We had our furniture delivered the day before, now all that we needed was the guys to come and put it together. When moving into a new office in NY, make sure that you have certificates of insurance for all vendors delivering or assembling in your space well in advance. Our property manager didn’t tell us until the day before, so it was a scramble to get everything together.

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We had a contractor build the space out, they put in a great little kitchenette, I picked out the appliances from AJ Madison – they have great deals on appliances.

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The floors are pretty cool. Concrete. Because there is not carpet and there are high ceilings, we have to think about what to do about the noise level in the office. It’s still a work in progress.

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By mid day the boxes are piling up. I have about 10 cardboard box paper cuts and of course I forgot any kind of tools, so I have been opening boxes with my keys. Long day.

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The view from our office.

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Another view.

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Now that’s my kind of mid afternoon meeting – we should make friends with these guys across the street.

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After a long day of unpacking, my coworker and I head out to dinner. I haven’t eaten lunch so I am famished, and probably dehydrated. While we ordered lots of delicious food, it takes me a minute or two to get my bearings and rehydrate. We are at L’Apicio, located at 11 East 1st Steet, 212..533.7400. They say that they have no tables for us to eat at, so we sit in the front bar area on a couch with a little cocktail table in front of us. The place is bustling with people, and there is a great patio outside, too bad it’s too cold to eat out there.  We start with the l’apicio spritz ($13) something light and bubbly that goes down a little too easily. We also have the arancini, with sausage ($8) that are so rich that I almost don’t think I can handle it.

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We order the bruschetta ($9) that has pork belly and a fried egg on top – oh how amazing is that!! The flavors are SO rich, and the eggs just adds that creamy, salty deliciousness….that makes this an over the top appetizer. We also order the papardelle ($18) that comes with lamb shank ragu. The pasta is perfectly al dente and the sauce is light and yet bursting with flavor. We spent the night chatting away, the time just flew and before you know it, it’s late…and we have work to do in the morning! So we head home and agree to meet tomorrow at 11.

L'Apicio on Urbanspoon

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I head to Sarabeth’s for breakfast, the Tribeca location, 339 Greenwich Street, 212 966 0421. A cute exterior, that looks like an old train station. I would equate this to Stephanie’s in Boston, the same ambiance, but also the same level of tourist traffic as well.

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We are seated in front by the windows, and have a hard time deciding what we want for breakfast….everything looks so good. It is a carb lovers dream here.

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It’s a mixed crowd here, and pretty busy for 9:30. Out waiter couldn’t have been nicer or more attentive. He even let us pull over the two top next to us so we could have more room for all of our food.

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The space is open and bright, clean lines with a country kitchen feeling about it.

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Breakfast isn’t cheap, oj is $7 and the lemon ricotta pancakes $16.50. Add on a side of bacon for $7 and your breakfast is $30! The pancakes are too much to eat in one sitting. While they are light and fluffy with just a hint of lemon, there are just too many of them 🙂 Those 5 blackberries on my plate made me not feel so bad about the heart attack that was on my plate. After breakfast, I meet my coworker at the office and we head out to buy some last minute items around town.

Sarabeth's on Urbanspoon

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After hours of running around the city and hauling bags of goods around town, we head over to the  Blue Ribbon Bakery on 35 Downing Street, 212.337.0404. The might have the cutest brunch menu I have ever seen. I order the challah french toast deluxe ($18.50) while my coworker orders the  shrimp and bacon hash ($16.70)

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We also order some mimosas, we deserve them after the long day! Blue ribbon makes their own breads downstairs. The place is pretty packed around 2, but so worth the wait. The challah french toast it out of this world. Far too much food for me to eat, but each bite was decadent. They also serve Vermont Creamery Butter, which is my FAVORITE. Service was good, even though the place was busy-highly recommend this place if you’re in the neighborhood.

Blue Ribbon Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Dinner Saturday night with my aunt and my cousin at Cilantro, one of their favorite neighborhood eateries. They are located at 485 columbus ave, 212-712-9090. They have lots of margarita options, I have a raspberry one on the rocks ($10). The place is casual and Americanized. We order the guacamole ($10) that is made to order. They order the chopped salad with chicken ($13) while I order the mushroom quesadilla $9. Not bad, but not great either. We are sat next to a table of freshman college girls who are talking at the top of their lungs and screeching about who should follow who on twitter. The tables in back were supposedly all reserved….

Cilantro on Urbanspoon

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On the walk back to their apartment, I am delighted that we stumble upon Momfuku Milk Bar on 561 Columbus Ave. Having been a New Yorker her whole life, and at this apartment for the last 8 years, my cousin had never been. I love the corn cookies here and picked up some to bring home, but we had both never had the crack pie, so I immediately bought a piece for each of us. We brought it back to the apartment and dug in – DELICIOUS. You can certainly see why they call it crack pie, it’s addictive. I’m sure that it’s pure sugar, and I have to thank god that they don’t put the calorie count on the box….but it was so good it made my teeth hurt. We called it an early night since I had been racing around the city for the past two days and was exhausted.

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Easter Sunday I went to Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast. They have locations all around the city. There is a communal table running down the middle of the restaurant and smaller tables around the perimeter of the space. We grab a small two top in the back, it isn’t very crowded, probably due to the holiday. The service was good, our waitress was friendly. I had a cheese and almond pastry and a large fruit bowl. The fruit was pretty good, although there weren’t a lot of berries in it – bummer.

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We got back to the hotel and outside they had a petting zoo set up. Super cute baby animals for Easter. Chicks of all sizes.

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How cute are they?

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An enormous turtle!

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I swear this guy was smiling for the camera.

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What does a kangaroo have to do with Easter? Yeah I don’t know either. But he was a cutie, 10 months old and they said that he would grow to be over 7 ft!

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After walking around for a few hours, just window browsing and relaxing, I headed over to Chinatown to meet a former co worker who saw an Instagram photo of mine and texted saying she was in the city too! I met her and her friend at Four Five Six, located at  69 Mott Street, 212 964 0003. When the cab dropped me off I could barely open my cab door, and when I got out, I was immediately approached by 4 different people asking me for directions, and pointing to a map, in an asian language I didn’t understand. The one man proceeded to touch my hair, so I was officially creeped out at this point. While I am asian, and love Chinese food, I have no idea what to order when it comes to authentic Chinese food. So I leave it to my former co-worker and she orders some pretty delicious things! We have all kinds of dumplings, pan friend noodles with chicken and beef, and some veggies in a delicious sauce…I can’t for the life of me remember what the dish was called. We had a bunch of laughs and swapped stories of where we had been to eat this past weekend, she was hanging out in Brooklyn, went to the roof deck at Eataly, and had delicious sweet and savory dumplings from a food truck they were tracking. How fun! Love to hear where other people like to dine, makes my wheels turn for my next trip.

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After lunch I head over to my favorite place, the Doughnut Plant. Their original location is at 379 Grand Street, between Essex and Norfolk,  and they have another location in the Chelsea Hotel uptown, 220 West 23rd between 7th and 8th. This place used to be a dive. Now they have renovated and it’s a trendy yuppie coffee bar.Who cares, doughnuts are still delicious.

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The carrot cake doughnut had raisins inside with nice spicy cake. The frosting was just the right amount of sweetness to make this doughnut so delicious. ($3)

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The toasted almond was delicious, loved the crunch and the flavor. ($2.75)

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Tres leches cake doughnut was so moist, even by day 2. One bite and it just melted in your mouth. ($3)

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Pistachio cake was probably my favorite, light cake with a great flavor and the outside packed a little crunch! ($2.75)

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The strawberry filled yeast doughnut was amazing, light and fluffy, and the sweet jam was like heaven. They even make their own jam!! ($3.25)

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And the meyer lemon yeast doughnut was delicious with just a hint of lemon flavor, and a sweetness from the glaze. ($3)

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This place has come a long way, and the line was still out the door! After having one of these, you can never go back to Dunks!

Doughnut Plant on Urbanspoon

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I met a friend on the Upper East Side for dinner. I haven’t seen her in ages, we went to college together. She has a 2 year old son that came with us – he is adorable. Sfoglia is on 1402 Lexington, 212.831.1402. They don’t like to make substitutions here, so basically what they have on the menu is what you get. The service was pretty good, although towards the end, our waiter was in the weeds with other tables. We were sat in the back room and a quiet little table. I had the pappardelle bolognese ($30). The pasta was home made, and impossibly thin. The sauce was thin, just the way I like it, and yet packed with meat. Add a mountain of parm cheese on top and I was in heaven.

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They ask that you order the bread pudding in advance, and it was certainly worth it.  ($16) The bread pudding was decadent, raisins and powdered sugar added a hint of sweetness that you just couldn’t stop eating. We had the lugana wine $14 and the pigato wine $16, both white and both excellent. Overall a great dinner, good to catch up with an old friend!

Sfoglia on Urbanspoon

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I had stopped at Empire Cake over the weekend to pick up some sweets for home. The place was crowded with people sitting and enjoying their cupcakes and treats, it took a while to order.

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I walked out with two cupcakes, carrot cake and hazelnut. The carrot cake was a bit dry but the cake had great flavor, warm and spicy. The hazelnut was excellent, the cake was light and airy and the hazelnut crunch reminded me of that nut ice cream topping.

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I also had one raspberry thumbprint cookie, which was delicious- it tasted a but like an oatmeal cookie with just the right amount of jam.

Empire Cake on Urbanspoon

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I finished up the move on Monday afternoon and headed back to Boston, great trip to New York and I have a ton of places I want to try on my next trip. Where are your favorite New York spots?

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I am a bit embarrassed that I am just getting to part 3 of this post and it is 6 months later…but better late than never right? So brunch at Dos Caminos. They have multiple locations, but we headed to the Meatpacking district (675 Hudson at 14th). The upstairs is quiet and there aren’t many other tables being sat…never the less, the service is scatterbrained and the waiters seem more interested in finding out what the other waiters did the night before than attend to our table.

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We start out with the guacamole, made fresh to order, ($14) that comes with a trio of salsas and corn chips. Brunch comes with your choice of one complimentary drink: mimosa, bloody Mary, traditional margarita, frozen prickly pear or frozen traditional margarita, screwdriver or champagne.

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We order the chilaquiles ($13) which is a baked tortilla casserole, chihuahua cheese, tomatillo salsa and a sunny side up egg. I would describe it as a Mexican breakfast lasagna. Really flavorful and delicious.

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We also order the breakfast quesadilla, which is pretty straight forward ($14) – eggs, bacon, chihuahua cheese in a home made tortilla. Really tasty. The food was really tasty, there were a lot of other items on the menu that we were dying to try so we will stop by the next time that we are in NY.

Dos Caminos on Urbanspoon

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Later we stop over at 16 Handles, a frozen yogurt shop, for a snack/dessert. As you may have guessed, they have 16 flavors of froyo on tap at any given time, and you choose your flavors, you can put as many different kinds you want in your cup.

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Head over to the toppings bar and add on your favorites, I was partial to cheesecake bites and strawberries, yum! Don’t get too carried away though, you pay by the ounce 🙂

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And for our last dinner in New York we went to Tao. It’s a destination more than a restaurant, a place to see and be seen. Many out of towners there were hoping they would see a celebrity. Make your reservations early as this place books up quickly – we made ours a month in advance to secure the time we wanted. The restaurant is dimly lit and even at dinner, it feels like a nightclub. Make sure to dress to impress – you never know who you will see. We start with the chicken gyoza with napa cabbage and soy dipping sauce ($12).

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We pick out a few different kinds of sashimi: Crispy spicy tuna with avocado and soy paper ($17), the crunchy spicy yellowtail with crushed onion ($16)

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I had the crispy orange chicken ($27) that seemed a little on the small side for that price. The food was good, it was fresh and tasty and light, but at what point is Chinese food just too expensive? The service was top notch, as it should be for a restaurant of this price range. Our waiter was attentive and knowledgeable.

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We ended the evening with a six pack of Tao chocolate buddhas ($14) two each of milk, white and dark buddhas. A nice night over all.

Tao on Urbanspoon

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On our way out of town the following morning, we stopped off at Momofuku  for some snacks to bring home. We pick up a compost and a corn cookie ($1.85 each) that are our favorite.

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And of course some cereal milk ($5). Do you love drinking the milk from the bottom of the cereal bowl after you’ve just slurped down your frosted flakes? I certainly do! You steep this toasted cornflake mix with milk and add some brown sugar and bam, cereal milk – it’s hard to describe, you just have to try it for yourself. Every time I go to grab Milk Bar eats, I wish I had a chance to try the crack pie, but I am pretty sure that’s just incentive to go back to NYC.

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And as we catch the train back to Boston, we stop at Le Pain Quotidien. They always have such a wonderful selection in their pastry case, you really can’t go wrong with anything that you choose. We also picked up this great spread that I am still dying to try-speculoos.  In its original form, it is a shortcrust biscuit spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and this was made into a paste…add on toast or waffles, use it to make cookies and brownies, the possibilities are endless!

All in all, a really great trip to NYC, can’t wait to get back there again soon!

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Back in June, I went to NY for a business pitch. We went on a Thursday, with the pitch on Friday morning. Since we were both already there, my husband and I decided to stay for the weekend. We stayed at the Hudson Hotel for business so we just decided to stay there for the weekend. (Hudson Hotel -356 West 58th Street, NY. 212- 554-6000) My boss calls the Hudson a nightclub with rooms-I didn’t get what she meant until we got there. We pulled up to the front door of the hotel and we took a long escalator up to the lobby which was dim-there is lots of open space and a floor to ceiling glass window behind the front desk. Because we didn’t want to change rooms once  we were there, I tried to combine the two reservations, which took about 20 minutes for them to figure out. Finally, I went upstairs to my room, 1611. Everywhere in the hotel is dark, you feel like it’s nighttime even at 9am in the morning. I sort of equate it to being in a casino, you have no concept of time.

The room was midway down the hall, not too close to the elevator.

Cool bed, back lit with these two mirror of the lights that were faces.

TV was mounted to the wall, but there were no batteries in the remote and we couldn’t figure out how to turn the TV on without it.

The bathroom was quite small and once in the shower the next morning, I noticed a big pink stain on the inside of the curtain…ick.

I had to do work, and I kid you not, these are THE most uncomfortable chairs to sit in if you have to spend hours at a desk sitting at your laptop.

Everything seems normal….and then oh wait…there is a WINDOW between the bathroom and the bedroom. I was in the room by myself and I didn’t feel comfortable with the window. And when my husband finally got there later in the evening, I told him that I don’t ever want to be that close that I need to see what he’s doing in the bathroom. HA! When I called the hotel, the woman in reservations told me that they were doing construction in the restaurant but that we would not hear anything because it would all be happening in the afternoon. Good thing. I was up and out of the hotel by 6am on Friday, so I wouldn’t have heard the noise anyhow!

I used this great new website, Savored.com, to book our dinner reservation at Gnocco. ( 337 East 10th Street, between Avenue A and B, 212.677.1913)  The website works similarly to Opentable, you make your reservation online, but here’s what’s cool, you get a discount on you bill,  and can be up to 40%!

Cute little place, that was pretty quiet when we arrived at 7pm. We sat right at the edge of where the restaurant meets the sidewalk. Good people watching and a nice cool breeze. The tables were a little small to fit two people and all the plates that we had, but hey, we made it work.

We started with the burrata special ($16.95). The toast was really crispy and the cheese was smooth and spreadable. There was a little too much pepper for my taste and it needed a little bit of salt.

I had the tagliatelle ragu piselli ($15.95) served with beef ragu and peas. The pasta was cooked well and sauce had a nice flavoring.

We also had the caserecca al basilico ($14.95) which was like a pasta with pesto. Service was just ok, it had a more mom and pop feel to it, pretty casual with the service. We got 30% off our bill, which with discount ended up being $38.76. Just remember to tip on the full amount, pre discount (hey, I used to be a server, it is a MUST).

Gnocco on Urbanspoon

We head over to Big Gay Ice Cream after dinner, someone in our New York office had recommended it. (125 East 7th Street (1st Avenue & Avenue A) New York NY 10009 Open Daily 1pm-12am). The store started off as an ice cream truck and then expanded to a storefront. The line was around the block, so I guess that business was booming!

Got to love the bedazzled unicorn on the wall!

They have some pretty cool sundae flavors here: http://biggayicecream.com/treats/

After careful consideration, I go with the “Mermaid”….vanilla soft serve with key lime curd, crushed up graham cracker bits and whipped cream. One word, AMAZING. Thank goodness that there isn’t one in Boston, or I would be there every day!

Big Gay Ice Cream Shop on Urbanspoon

And of course we make a stop at Butter Lane, for cupcakes, my FAVORITE cupcakes. (123 East Seventh Street, New York, New York 10009 (p) 212.677.2880) I stuck with my all time favorite, key lime. The cupcakes here are just so fresh, and the frosting is to die for, not too sweet, and just the right ratio of frosting to cupcake.

The guy behind the counter also convinced me to try the cookie dough cupcake, he said it was awesome…he was right!  I don’t usually go for chocolate cupcakes, but I make an exception here (and only here). After that, we called it a night, it had been a long day, and we had a big day ahead of us tomorrow, we were searching and taste testing coffee joints, and by we I mean my husband, because I don’t drink coffee! 🙂

Butter Lane Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

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The iconic tree at Rockefeller Center. This year my present was a surprise trip to New York City…to see the Rockettes. I had never been to Radio City-nor had I ever seen the Rockettes. If I did see the Rockettes, there would be no road show for me, I wanted to see them at Radio City. So it was a quick trip to New York, but jam packed with fun. We stayed at the Double Tree in Midtown on Lexington between 51st and 52nd. (569 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York, United States 10022. Phone: 1-212-752-7000) We rarely do things in midtown when we come to NYC but the Double Tree was a perfect location this time, being just blocks from Radio City. We arrive to find the hotel pretty full-people were mulling around the lobby-checking in and out. Somehow we were booked for a smoking room-do they really even still have those?? But luckily we switched to a non smoking room.

The lobby decor was modern and simple-it was decorated for Christmas tastefully. There is a bar in the lobby as well as an area for you to sit and plug in your laptop.

When you check in you receive a complimentary chocolate chip cookie-warm. A little crispy for my taste but not bad.

Room 313-third floor next to the service stairwell and close to the elevator. Queen sized bed and one of the bigger rooms we have stayed in.

Tiny bathroom. They feature Neutrogena shower products. They also provide you with a hair dryer with a little more kick than the ones that you find mounted to the wall at some hotels. The water pressure here was excellent (I know it’s a weird thing to be important). Don’t accidentally drop anything down the toilet because the force at which the water leaves the bowl is enough to shoot you to the moon (ok not really…but it seemed like it). You could definitely hear toilets from other rooms flushing when you were in your room.

The room was pretty clean, although the bathroom had paint peeling from the ceiling and the room had peeling wall paper. They had an alarm clock in the room that you could connect your mp3 player to via headphone jack. What I find so amusing about hotels in New York is that no matter how small the room etc. there is almost always a phone in the bathroom.

And here was the view outside our window. You know you are in trouble when they leave earplugs on the bedside table for you. Although, surprisingly the fans weren’t the thing that woke us up in the middle of the night. The door to the room is pretty thin and you could hear people outside in the hallway and at 8 in the morning you would hear the cleaning people using the service door.

How convenient is it that Neuhaus was located right next to the hotel (and a Cafe Metro that serves sandwiches and snacks cafe style)? Neuhaus was founded in 1857 and is the inventor of the praline and the luxury packaging, the ‘ballotin’.

The prestige-a caramel. The inside was liquid.

Tiramisu-butter cream with tiramisu taste, covered with ‘amaretti’ biscuits. Excellent crunch on the outside.

The pagode-coffee ganache and gianduja (a blend of hazelnuts, sugar and chocolate). The coffee is subtle because you also get the gianduja flavor mixed in.

Mephisto-almond and hazelnut praline with caramelized hazelnuts (shown as milk, also available in dark and know as ‘satan’) Smooth ganache center, excellent.

Plaisir-Hand-made nougatine, filled with a rich, creamy ganache made from subtly roasted Turkish hazelnuts and covered in milk chocolate. This one was a little weird for me. The nougatine was super sweet, not unlike a praline, and the consistency was weird for me. Not my favorite.

Napoleonette-praline with coffee. Super smooth.

Astrid-Gianduja (hazelnuts sugar and chocolate) with cocoa butter coated with a sugar glaze. This is my favorite piece of their whole collection-love the sugar glaze on the outside.

Manon Lait-Praline butter cream with caramelized hazelnuts. Really light and mousse-like on the inside.

Cornet: “Let yourself be carried away by the original, luxurious form of this praline filled with gianduja swirled into a cornet to give the dreamiest, melt-in-the-mouth texture.”

Crumbs bakery is right around the corner (501 Madison Ave at 52nd). They have these huge cupcakes (the signature is 4.25″) decorated with all sorts of candy and cookies. You walk in and see a floor to eye level case filled with cupcakes. When you go in closer to see the flavors you will notice that they put the calorie count right next to the description. It’s like: Raspberry swirl…450 calories. No thanks. That is like finding out that Santa isn’t real-it ruins the magic of Christmas. I’m better off not knowing how many calories I am going to consume while eating one of your cupcakes (even though that small voice in the back of my head says a lot), because I just have to feel guilty about it later.

Vanilla cake filled with raspberry preserve and frosted with a swirl our classic vanilla cream cheese and raspberry preserve. ($4.50) The raspberry preserve tastes like a jelly doughnut. The cake was moist although the frosting wasn’t very cream cheese-y….

Carrot cake topped with our signature cream cheese frosting, edged in crushed walnuts and decorated with an iced carrot. ($4.50) Not bad-the cake wasn’t spicy enough for me, and it had raisins. It just didn’t feel like a real cupcake for me.

Vanilla cake with our rich vanilla cream cheese frosting. ($4.50) The frosting is good-not too sweet and the cake is quite moist, even after 2 days. As I said before, the frosting doesn’t taste like cream cheese.

Cupcake of the month: Chocolate cake filled with vanilla butter cream topped with peppermint cream cheese frosting mixed with crushed peppermint candies and edged with crushed peppermint candies. ($4.50) The cake was moist and the frosting was a subtle peppermint taste. On the way home the peppermint candies had a little bit of a meltdown, so I missed the crunchiness of the candy when I ate it, but it was still good. Over all the cupcakes were good. I don’t crave them like I do other cupcakes, but in a pinch, they’re not bad. They may look fancier than some other cupcakes but are average as far as taste goes (I would consider them novelty cupcakes).

My new favorite cupcake place is Butter Lane on 123 East Seventh Street. We had been there before (see previous review). This time we went earlier in the evening, so we had a better selection to choose from. We had the vanilla with vanilla frosting (above) that was good-the cake was a vanilla cake (not a yellow cake like most places) and you could see the vanilla bean flecks in the frosting.

They frosted this one while we were there-vanilla cake with chocolate hazelnut frosting. While I love chocolate, I don’t usually like chocolate cake or chocolate frosting. That being said, Butter Lane could convert me-the frosting was excellent:good consistency, light, just sweet enough, subtle taste…yum!

Butter Lane Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Highlight of the trip was breakfast at Norma’s in Le Parker Meredien Hotel (119 West 56th Street). I had seen The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Brunch the day before. Alex Guarnaschelli, the executive chef at Butter (another favorite restaurant in NYC of mine) was on talking about how wonderful the chocolate decadence french toast was at Norma’s. Sold.

The restaurant is right off the lobby-you walk up the stairs to a raised area that is the restaurant. The decor is modern cafe-it looks busy but the hostess tells us this is slow for them, it being Christmas Eve.

We are at a small two top towards the back of the room-the place has a nice low hum to it. It’s bustling but you can still have a conversation with the person across the table in a normal voice.

I already know I am getting the French toast, but there are so many good things on the menu here (you just want to try them all). The good news is that the table comes with a complimentary smoothie shooter-the bad news….a glass of orange juice is $10.

Norma’s is a special occasion place-not just because of the prices but I could never eat food that rich every day. So the infamous Chocolate decadence French Toast ($23). They make the French Toast with home made yogurt cake-it is rich but not overwhelming. It comes as cake topped with a layer of strawberries, then cake, then strawberries and then cake. The strawberries are cooked in a little bit of butter and brown sugar and some Grand Marnier. The dish is finished off with some pistachios and a dark chocolate sauce (dark chocolate, doesn’t that make this a healthy choice?). They add some home made whipped cream (that is TO DIE FOR) and an orange chip. I only manage to eat about half…sad I know.

My dining companion gets the light and lemony griddle cakes with Devonshire cream ($21). The description is right on-they are indeed both light and lemony. If you could put lemon yogurt into a pancake, this is what it would taste like. The lemon taste is subtle and delicious. It’s an excellent choice. If you are feeling saucy-try the “zillion dollar lobster frittata” for $100 served with 1oz of Sevruga caviar or for $1000 with 10oz of caviar. (Norma’s writes “Norma’s dares you to expense this”). While the food was excellent the service was just ok-for an 80 something dollars for breakfast, I believe it should come with top notch service. Our waiter had a ‘couldn’t be bothered’ attitude and was hard to find when we did need something. There were gingerbread houses on display in the lobby-made by different local restaurants/bakeries and Norma’s charged you $1 per person for raffle tickets to vote on which you thought was the best (unless you opt out-but we didn’t know about it until we got the check. It’s the holidays, what the heck right?)

Norma's at Le Parker Meridien on Urbanspoon

Based on the movie “Big”.

King Kong made by Norma’s.

Stuart Little.

We walked around the city to walk off some of the food we had consumed. The best part of being out in any city during the holidays are the shops all decorated with lights and Christmas decorations. Above is Cartier.

Fendi.

Stopping by to visit my friend Harry. Winston that is. (I wish).

The Swarovski star in Rockefeller Center.

The tree and all the people skating.

You can head over to Central Park and skate at the Trump rink too.

After taking a nice long walk-we head over to Eataly located at 200 Fifth Avenue. I heard mixed reviews, some people loved it and some people told me it was over-rated. It was crowded, and I’m sure it’s a tourist trap on most days-but it is quite the sight.

Being the pasta lover that I am, I’m pretty sure that I would be there every day! Rows of pasta.

A case full of fresh pasta (too bad we couldn’t bring any home).

Preserves, jams, sauces, olive oil, coffee, chocolate oh my!

They have a few different choices for eating in Eataly. MANZO is Eataly’s more formal dining experience that celebrates meat from the United States. “Manzo offers both modern Italian preparations as well as traditional Piemontese beef dishes.Chef Michael Toscano, formerly of Babbo Ristorante, works like a true Italian butcher to use every part of the animal, tongue and cheek. Like all of Mario, Joe & Lidia’s fine dining restaurants, Manzo also provides a complete dining experience that’s not all about meat: antipasti, pasta and main courses give a variety of delicious choices and desserts will satisfy every taste bud. Meet friends at LA PIAZZA, our standing table enoteca in the heart of Eataly. Its marble cornered facades will transport you to the grandeur of Rome. Indulge in the highest quality Salumi & Formaggi. Order from our crudo menu and choose from Dave Pasternack’s freshest fish. Dave Pasternack is an unadulterated fish guru. He is famous for it and now you can enjoy his seafood at not just Esca, but at IL PESCE too. Visit our Seating Point to get a counter or table spot to dine on Dave’s raw bar offerings, as well as his creative and traditional takes on Italian seafood. In view of our abundant local produce, LE VERDURE honors ingredients with preparations that focus on flavor, not fussiness. Try our version of bagna cauda and entrée dishes. Specials on the chalkboard describe today’s harvest. Eataly has teamed up with experts Rossopomodoro to bring you classic Neapolitan pizza at LA PIZZA & PASTA. Creamy mozzarella, charred and elastic crust and sweet San Marzano tomatoes make for a pie so delicious you will be singing along with our vibrant Neapolitan pizzaioli. Watch dough fly and order a plate of pasta for a meal that will make you want to come right back.”

We grab a bite at the Pizza and Pasta area. There is seating on the main shopping floor and seating upstairs. We are lucky and don’t have to wait for a table. We sit upstairs in this awful location, right at the top of the stairs where they have put two- two top tables…You can’t even more your chair out to get in it, you have to slide in sideways.

The only redeeming quality of this table is that you get a nice view of the market below.

After  having such a big breakfast, we opt to share a small lunch. We order the mozzarella as a starter-made fresh in house daily ($11).

We also order the bucatini all’ Amatriciana ($16) which is served very al dente with tomato, Guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig’s jowl or cheeks) and red onion. The pasta is excellent and the guanciale is rich in flavor.

La Pizza & Pasta @ Eataly on Urbanspoon

After lunch we do a little shopping and pick up a few things to bring home:

Egg pasta “maltagliati” ($5.80)….

Egg pasta Tagliolini ($5.80)….

Tortiglioni carta paglia ($5.80)….

Albesi egg pasta ($9.20)….

And caserecce pasta ($5.80). Ok, I swear that’s it for pasta.

We make a pit stop over at Dylan’s Candy Bar at 1011 Third Ave just to see what it’s all about. Owned by Dylan Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s daughter, the store is 3 stories, includes a cafe and is the biggest candy store in the world (it’s 15,000 square feet). The candy bar has over 5,000 types of candy. People flock to this store, it’s like any of the stores in Times Square-you can barely move inside it’s so packed.

We head over to Radio City for the show.

The inside is decorated beautifully for Christmas-note the Martha Stewart tree on the balcony.

I didn’t know what to expect when we got there for the show. They have a 3-D santa ride segment in the show which was great for kids. There was a little bit of a story line…I thought it was going to just be all precision dancing…

We had great seats in the 1st mezzanine-I was surprised that everyone was taking pictures while the show was going on. The signature line with the leg kicks was great and the toy soldier marching segment was pretty amazing to watch. A fun show and a perfect thing to do Christmas Eve.

We have dinner across the street from the hotel at Mr. K’s (570 Lexington).

I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures but it was dim in the restaurant. They are going for an old school upscale Chinese food vibe. They have high walled booths for privacy, with the seats covered in pink velvety material.

Everything is gold in color-the soup is served in these gold orbs. We got the seafood wonton soup shown above ($7.50) which was shrimp and crab meat filled wontons in a seafood broth.

The chicken and corn chowder ($7.50) chicken and creamy golden corn in a velvety soup base. I wouldn’t call this a chowder in a traditional sense-it’s not thick and cream based, it’s more of a hot and sour sour consistency.

This is an awful picture. We ordered a lot of appetizers instead of two meals. We ordered the Shanghai spring roll (2/$7.95) which was freshly made with chicken, shrimp, vegetables and fried to crispy golden brown. They were ok-the filling consistency was a little weird for me. We also had the vegetable dumplings (4/$11.95) that were steamed dumplings filled with dried bean curd, bamboo shoots, Chinese vegetables and winter mushrooms. They looked like Peking dumplings, except the wonton wrapper was green-and a little tougher than I like. We also had the crispy beef ($14.95) which was the crispy shredded beef with a soy scallion glaze and a touch of vinegar. This dish was excellent

A little complimentary lemon sorbet to cleanse the palate.

Pork fried rice ($16.95) served on our lit lazy susan.

Our strawberry shortcake dessert. Wonderful in that first twinkie after not having one for 10 years kind of way-not freshly made or gourmet in any way, but good.

Mr. K's on Urbanspoon

And that was our trip. Now, to leave you with some fun images that are completely random. Above is the Salvation Army Crew in Rockefeller Center-belting out Feliz Navidad American Idol karaoke style.

A decked  out food cart.

And finally…a sign that was posted in Central Park.

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