New York, New York

March 18, 2014

We recently visited V’s sister again, and this time, managed to squeeze in a couple of days in New York on the end of it. Very exciting, given how much fun we had last time – about three years ago, and what feels an absolute age ago. It also happened to be my birthday, and how cool does it sound to say ‘I’m spending my birthday in New York’.

We decided to stay in the Lower East Side again, as there were so many things we didn’t get to do from the last time we were there. Only this time we managed to snag accommodation that was in the Lower East Side proper, and round the corner from the subway (Delancey and Essex St, love how cool that sounds!), instead of 8 blocks away.

What did we get up to? A run-down of what we got up to:


Arrived late afternoon-ish, after a stopover in Newhaven on the train for lunch. Stopped at Louis’ Lunch, birthplace of the hamburger (although I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that there are other places that claim that), although how the burger was served (between two pieces of sliced bread, and no condiments – ketchup absolutely not allowed) recalled something I saw on TV once. It was ok – I confess I am a ketchup addict, and really missed it. Had it with the potato salad (V wasn’t a fan) and birch beer, which was basically what I remember as sarsaparilla from when I was younger.

We were pretty tired and ended up napping the rest of the afternoon away, before waking up to go to a yoga class but then finding out via email that it had been cancelled. Got up anyway and headed out for an early dinner to Clinton St Baking Co., where I finally got to try their buttermilk fried chicken on waffles. How was it? The chicken was super super moist and tender. The waffles, fluffy, light, and sweet (they were vanilla buttermilk waffles) – and surprisingly went well with the chicken. Oh – and it was huge – I didn’t stand a chance of finishing it.

We came home after dinner and fiddled around with the TV for a bit before settling on a film on Netflix – Blue is the Warmest Colour, which I had wanted to see, and by the way, is a really good film. It reminded me of Nine Songs, but I think Blue… is the better film, with more relatable characters, and really good performances by the two leads. Oh, and New York gets mentioned in the film – very aptly described (you’ll have to see the film to see what’s said).


Woke up, and went to yoga, which was exactly what my body needed. It’s funny how even after a couple of weeks of no exercise or stretching of any sort, tension just builds up into kinks that you’re not aware of, until you try to stretch them out.

On the way back from yoga stopped for breakfast at a place that looked more promising than it ended up proving to be (I hate that – when they lure you in with a menu that sounds like they know what they’re doing, but then don’t deliver). Never mind – it wasn’t too bad, and V got a memorable experience out of it. He wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry inside when the Mexican lady who seemed to be doing all the work even though there were two of them there, frothed the milk in time to the music, and for about three minutes longer than she should have. And then went back and frothed it again for maybe another two minutes. I think we were both relieved we’d ordered juices and not any hot drinks, and very apprehensive for the Australian group that appeared later and ordered flat whites (hah!).

We got back home and got ready, and headed out to go to the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA – who knew such a thing existed – we didn’t either until we read about a photo exhibition there in TimeOut). On the walk there I got distracted by offers of cheap dim sum ($1.95 a plate!) and we paused to have a pre-lunch snack, before having a very interesting (and free! thanks to Target sponsored free Thursdays) visit to MOCA; thoroughly enjoyed the photo exhibition – Annie Ling was the photographer, as well as their very informative permanent exhibits.

After that we headed uptown to go to Totto Ramen, recommended by a friend who had been to New York about six months ago, and perfect for the sub-zero temps (although not for our already still full from our ‘snack’ of Chinese dim sum – American portions are huge!). The ramen broth was thick and silky smooth, but I’m afraid I was probably in no state to appreciate it.

After ramen, we headed to Central Park to find the ice-skating rink. We knew we probably wouldn’t really have enough time to, and it ended up taking us longer than we anticipated to find the rink, as well as having an unplanned detour through a shopping centre, so we definitely didn’t have time to, but it was a nice walk anyhow.

And then it was time to meet V’s sister’s brother-in-law who lives in Manhattan. We went to the only Indonesian restaurant in Manhattan, and had a very tasty, vegetarian Indonesian feast. If I may say so myself, I did good with my ordering, and all involved reported tastebuds were satisfied. And we didn’t leave too much uneaten, thankfully, even though I was still full – and a little bit bloated from something I’d had earlier.

After dinner it was onto Sleep No More, a dark immersive Punchdrunk production which has had a two year run in New York. Crazy – goes to show the British must have something over the Americans when it comes to innovation and the arts! Was an interesting experience although not too different from the last Punchdrunk production we saw – attended might be a better word actually – in London, made more interesting by the differences between American culture (and audiences) and British. Like talking, or touching the actors, or pushing your fellow audience members out of the way and then obstructing their view, etc etc. Or being duped into purchasing drinks prior to the show, then being hit up for a tip. Anyway, it answered one of our questions from the last Punchdrunk performance we went to see, and that being familiar with the story (we saw a production of Macbeth only last year) doesn’t actually help you work out what’s going on in the scenes that much more.


We were completely shattered, and canned plans to go for yoga in the morning, staying in bed until mid-day instead. By the time we got ready and headed out, it was maybe 2pm in the afternoon. We grabbed a juice at a juice bar conveniently near us, on our way to Katz (another thing we didn’t get to do last time we were in New York despite walking past it multiple times – we were just never near it at a suitable mealtime). The place was more casual than I expected (self-service – yeay!), but full of character and completely buzzing although we had just missed lunchtime (and thankfully, the queues), and the pastrami was as good as they say it is.

We then headed uptown to visit the MoMA, and got there in time to join the massive queue for their free Fridays (thanks Uniqlo – saved us $25 each!). This moved really quickly so we were in no more than 15 mins, and did a tour of a couple of the temporary exhibitions (a Frank Lloyd Wright one, and an Isa Genzken? retrospective). About two hours later, we’d had enough of the museum, and the crowds, and it was about time to head back to LES for dinner – Chinese with friends, before the final, and most important thing to tick off our list from the last time we were there – poetry slam at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

I didn’t know exactly what to expect from the poetry slam, but it was more than just the poetry slam. The MC was hilarious (who says women aren’t funny?!), and got the audience participating in the bits in between the poetry. The poets were both funnier than I expected  – well two of them were, while the other two were more the anguished, soul-baring types – and extremely talented, and passionate. The night we went happened to be a semi-final night, so this probably helped the quality of the poets, which helped make it a memorable evening.


We got up reasonably early as we had to pack before heading out, and knew we had to be back by about lunchtime to leave by early afternoon for the airport.

We had a small issue of me not being able to find my purse in the morning, but decided we should just head out to meet our friends as there was little we could do anyway – other than phoning the bank to cancel my debit card.

We headed to Williamsburg for Smorgasburg – the subway and walk taking us a mere 30 mins (love love love the location of our borrowed little flat), where I think we did a pretty good job of sampling what was on offer. Among the more interesting offerings: pastrami wontons, the famous (infamous?) ramen burger, vegan hotdogs with Asian inspired toppings. More conventional and lip-smacking good: a seafood bisque, and the best toastie ever – achieved by literally painting the slices of bread with melted butter before assembling the sandwich and toasting it.

We then headed back to the flat via the Chinese restaurant from the night before, where, against all our expectations they had my purse! And then had plenty of time to leisurely get ready to go to the airport, and grab another juice, and a raw oat porridge, from the juice bar. Oh – and by the way, over the course of a couple of days the weather had improved so that the Saturday was practically T-shirt weather.

And that was New York the second time round – just as satisfyingly good as the first.


Dabbous vs Relæ

November 20, 2013

I had the good fortune to eat at both Dabbous and Relæ this year. And for some reason, I feel compelled to report on the two as a comparison – possibly because both have made into a few top dining experiences lists I read at the start of the year, and are known for very clean, minimalist cuisine, maybe it’s the ‘next hot thing’ & slightly ‘rock’n’roll’ rep the young chef-owners of both have, or the fact that both are meant to be be somewhat more accessible to the average diner than the Michelin star heavyweights like Noma or Fat Duck. So here we go – be warned this is not going to be, by any stretch of the imagination, a blow-by-blow account of dinner at either place:

1. Circumstances:
Relæ was our big exciting restaurant booking for our short trip to Copenhagen, and Copenhagen was our foodie blowout trip this year (when we were trying to decide where to go for our week off in June, Copenhagen won over Lyon because it just seemed to be ‘of the moment’ food-wise with all things New Nordic cuisine being so big at the moment – there’s even a Coursera course on it! – blowout because Copenhagen really was as expensive as you think it will be), so it had a lot to live up to. Dabbous was a new restaurant that opened in London last year that I was desperate to check out – along with the rest of London it turns out – after reading the ‘game-changer’ review in the Evening Standard. So it too, had a lot to live up to. It was also completely unbookable, but V had put us on the waiting list for late cancellations every Tuesday night in March, and in a fortuitous aligning of the stars, we got called the night before my birthday. And no matter how much anticipation adds to the enjoyment of something, you can’t beat a bit of unplanned, drop-everything-and-let’s-just-get-there excitement, so Dabbous wins this one.

2. Decor and ambience: Inside Dabbous it’s all black and dark (‘all gloom and glower’ as one reviewer perfectly captured it), Relæ is all light and simple, and a bit Scandily… bare.  The atmosphere in Dabbous was all buzzy with the excitement of people who couldn’t believe they were finally eating there, even on a Tuesday night it felt like a party night, Relæ was much quieter, and really a bit – dull?

3. Food – simple flavours: Both chefs are described as having amazing palates, and a talent for matching simple flavours, using fresh ingredients. In Dabbous this was probably best demonstrated by a very clean-tasting broth with a stalk of a really fragrant Asian herb (don’t know/can’t remember what exactly) in it. In Relæ’s case this was their optional aperitif snack on the night we were there, a spear of the freshest asparagus I’ve probably had, rolled in eggs and coated with finely chopped pistachios.  Relæ’s had more wow factor in the freshness and flavour of the asparagus.

4. Food – what they did with egg: So eggs are maybe my ultimate, favourite food – they just invoke any number of feelings on the spectrum of happiness and contentment. I go gaga over the bright orange-yellow of the yolks when you get really good eggs, and when they’re cooked just right, and I think Happy Eggs are onto some genius marketing, with their bright yellow egg cartons that are the shade of egg yolks. I find them one of the most amazing cooking ingredients (you only realise when you try and subsitute them with inferior stand-ins), and my egg yolk ravioli starter at our Christmas Dinner 2010 was the course that caused me the most anxiety, and when they turned out, the most pride and joy.

Dabbous is famous for their unctuously rich coddled egg course – a smoked, rich smooth silky yummy goodness that is beyond description and just has to be experienced (yes, experienced, not just tasted!) Relæ did some weird dehydration process with their egg and served it as a salad, completely missing, I think, the whole point of eggs. So the clear winner here is Dabbous.

4. Quirky / out-there factor: Relæ had little drawers in their tables, where they tucked their cutlery and menus away in. Dabbous gave you no cutlery for one of the courses, instead giving you a stick. This had me in giggles, delirious with the hilarity of eating like a caveman – I think Dabbous wins this one.

5. Dessert: Dessert is often a funny thing – some places it’s the bit where, after you’ve had a rockingly good meal, you are let down with a rude bump, at others, it’s the perfect finish to a perfect dinner, and at others still, it’s the one memorable part of an otherwise unmemorable meal. At Dabbous, the lavendar studded pudding – I can’t quite remember what it was exactly, but it was utterly gorgeous to look at. However in the eating of it, I felt the lavendar overpowered the rest just a bit too much to really enjoy it. At Relæ, I was blown away by the flavour sensation that was buttermilk, vanilla, potato (yes, POTATO), and rhubarb. I have never liked rhubarb, but in this, it was the perfect way to have it. Somehow the tartness of the buttermilk, which was not the same as the tartness of the rhubarb, and the roundedness of vanilla which wasn’t the same as the roundedness of the potato (for some reason those flavours if I had to visualise them would be round!), and neither of which had the same creaminess of the buttermilk, each of those flavours perfectly complemented each other, and were a match (orgy? as there are four of them?) made in heaven. I am licking my lips at the thought of it now…. So Relæ wins this hands down.

6. Service: At Relæ the maitre d’ (or front of house dude, I have no idea what the correct term is!) was perfectly charming, and seemed to be pretty chuffed to be there on a Tuesday night (there’s something, he said, about Tuesday being their first night of trade in the week), and were further entertained by the sommelier, who looked about twelve, and also couldn’t seem to believe his luck at scoring this gig – he was telling us how he was starting to run out of space in his bedroom to shove the bottles of wine he’s given by wine houses hoping for an order. The staff at Relæ, you can imagine, were a bit more reserved – we are talking Scandinavians here – and between them got confused about which of the two of us had 5 courses, and which had 7. I don’t know why they always assume the girl will be eating less, but V was not a happy chappy when his courses came out really small, and then halfway through the dinner we realised they’d been serving me the bigger ones, thinking I was having the 5 course menu. Woops – they realised about the same time we did, and promptly brought out another bread basket, as well as correctly serving the remainder of the courses! Dabbous wins this one!

7. Catering for vegetarians: Dabbous from memory had enough dishes, or veggie versions of them, to provide the same number of courses for V as I was having. Relæ, as mentioned above, had a good selection of veggie dishes for the 5 course menu, but were unable to help with the 7 – which I think is still a good performance for a restaurant in the catering for veggies stakes, however, as mentioned above, stuffed it up a little in the execution! So I’m afraid Dabbous win this one.

8. Bread basket: I don’t really remember either, but am sure the Relæ one wasn’t particularly memorable, while I do remember the Dabbous one came in a funky paper bag, and I think we smashed it! Also, I believe the Dabbous one came with butter (and a special one too although don’t recall what was special about it), and Relæ came with olive oil, and I don’t care how good the olive oil is, butter is always going to top it for me!

9. Hot factor of their chefs: Yes this does come into it, when you’re talking young chefs, with a bit of a rock’n’roll factor to their reputations! Ollie Dabbous, I quite honestly have to say, I find (from photos only of course!) extremely fanciable, where Christian Puglisi (again from photos) does seem a bit (maybe a Scandinavian thing? – even though he’s of Italian descent) asexual.

So Dabbous wins! I think Dabbous has easily beat Relæ to be my dining experience of this year, and if you had a choice of either Dabbous or Relæ to go to, and could only do the one, I would say, go for Dabbous!

When was the last time you saw a Chinese restaurant with a French name?

August 14, 2011

You know your boyfriend loves you when he buys you a ….

June 27, 2011

… dishrack.

The hospital digs at my new gig were not the cleanest when I arrived. It was the usual three rooms off a corridor, with a small living room, bath/shower and separate toilet, and I was more than a little impressed by my room (it had the requisite sink in your room but was otherwise also quite well-furnished), but oh my word, was the kitchen filthy. The bin was overflowing and kept company by another two bags of rubbish, the sink was grotty, and dishes, saucepans, and cutlery were spread over the draining area of the sink and across the neighbouring bit of benchtop, and stains and spills decorated the benchtops and the floor. ‘So I guess I won’t be cooking while I’m here then’ I thought as I took the sight in.

So V and I ate out over the weekend while he was with me, I stocked up on frozen fish fingers and bags of frozen veg at Sainsbury’s, and we had our leftovers at Pizza Hut packed up so I could eat it over the week (it was easily the first time in literally years that I’ve eaten at Pizza Hut, and yes – it IS that kind of town).

I then spent the first of my evenings after V left trying to do a bit of a clean in the kitchen. I put away the dishes, cleaned the sink and the benchtops, and re-washed the cutlery. As minimal as this was, it made me feel a whole lot better about the place, just enough to venture to eat a meal at home – ok, it was the frozen fish and frozen veg reheated in the microwave, but still. And apparently it made the cleaners feel better about it, because they actually (quite a bit later in the week mind) cleaned the floor.

To my dismay however, I started noticing the draining area of the sink wasn’t really draining. It wasn’t angled correctly, and was even ever so slightly concave, meaning everything was just sitting in its own dishwater. Yuck.

Of course, this being a short term job, and me being a broke, I was reluctant to ‘invest’ in anything homewares-ish, so I decided on the weekend I would be scouring the town’s weekly Sunday car boot sale at the local football club for a dishrack (a secondhand one would be ok – the smaller investment also redeeming itself by virtue of being saved from the tip and reused – this is my year of everything secondhand, after all).

But it wasn’t too be. V ended up coming up again on the weekend, and at a local fair (we never found the car boot sale) we managed to score a water filter jug for practically nothing (I hated the taste of the water here, but again, reluctant to invest in one), and a shredder for a bargain price as well. But no secondhand dishrack.

On a trip to Sainsbury’s the same weekend, we found their only option was a plastic one that I didn’t think would drain very well (and cost £4.25). Poundland and Poundworld (again – yes, it IS that kind of town!) who between the both of them manage to stock quite a bit also failed to come up with the goods.

So Monday I head to work still without a dishrack at home, leaving V to run some errands, and when I come home, V presents me with a dishrack. Not secondhand – but still only £3 from Argos – AND it was a nice wire one. And with that small small purchase, my kitchen is now that little bit more user-friendly, and dare I say… homelier. Just don’t ask if I’ve cooked anything in it yet.

June 11, 2011

Jet-lag has had me being a  night owl the last few days, and it doesn’t suit me. I’m grumpy, because I’m waking up late, and missing the best part of the day, and I don’t know what to do with myself at night…

Living the American dream

June 7, 2011

So we’re in a motel in Vermont, because our first choice of B&B didn’t have a room for us. Never mind, we get to live another American cliché, like the double cheeseburger and fries I had for lunch. Last night we did indeed stay in a B&B which pleasantly surprised us, in Cambridge, MA, (yes, we went to Harvard – more incidental than anything because I was after a burger, which I didn’t get, but anyway). AirBnb, or rather, a certain Maddy in Boston, failed us so we found ourselves looking for accommodation at 9pm when we ought to have had a room at midday.

We’ve done our visit to V’s sister, who is living the American dream (or nightmare depending on your perspective) – living in Connecticut with her doctor husband and two kids in a 4-bedroom double garage house in a street that she dubs, quite appropriately, Wisteria Lane. If you try and imagine the most clichéd upper middle class suburban street with perfectly mowed lawns and American style letter boxes at the end of the driveways, and then just polish up the picture in your mind’s eye, and make it even more perfect – you really could not imagine it better than this place was, it really COULD have been used as a location for Desperate Housewives. And they do get stressed out about the grass – really. The guy works in the ER and apparently would often mow the lawn either side of a gruelling 12 hour shift so that their neighbours wouldn’t look askance at their lawn.

It was so clichéd that the area of Connecticut they live in is even referenced in the book V is reading, Man & Wife, by Tony Parsons. Anyway, guess what we did while we were there? We painted their deck, the last in a rather long list of DIY projects they’d undertaken to better their home (painting various rooms, fixing light fixtures, doing up their basement). We also went to ‘tag’ sales (i.e. garage sales), and went to the mall. And we went to a 4 year old’s birthday party, complete with other suburban moms and their husbands (a large majority of whom live on the same street). I loved every minute of it – really! The weather was amazing – great weather for doing something outside like painting the deck, her kids really really are gorgeous (although the 2 year old was a little spoilt – the baby couldn’t be more an angel), and even Taco Bell (her husband’s favourite) was so bad it was good. Well maybe not good but it was an experience.

But I do have to say I’m missing ‘normal’ food. My body is really starting to feel the effects of having an American diet (and American portions), and little exercise (the days were full-on at V’s sister’s so we managed a run only on the first morning). Even one of the meals we made was ruined by the tinned tomatoes we used – loaded with salt and various other additives, and by the no-fat ricotta cheese they had in their fridge (I didn’t think such a thing existed – I thought ricotta was low fat anyway!) Anyway it’s all soon coming to an end – I’ll be back in London in two days.


New York in a day

June 1, 2011

So today was our last day in New York. We finally made it to the Clinton St Baking Co. for brekkie – although not without queueing for 50 mins (not sure if the door bitch really was being a bitch about this because so many parties got seated before us – as V’s friend said, there is so much BS in NY!); got a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty from the southern tip of Manhattan; went past Wall Street (still not sure why V felt I needed to do this); saw Central Park briefly on the way to the Met where we saw the Alexander McQueen exhibition; had a hotdog – nasty but it had to be done – outside the Met; walked a couple of blocks down to look at the Guggenheim (no time to go inside this visit) and had frozen yoghurt outside the Guggenheim (frozen yoghurt seems to be everywhere in NY with more Zagat entries – or so it seemed to me – than any other categories and yet in the 5 days we were here for various reasons we hadn’t yet had it); had rooftop drinks; and had Cuban at the Cuban place a block and a half away from where we’re staying. And no, it didn’t blow our minds – it was exactly the way we remembered Cuban food to be, dull and not something to really get excited about.

So no quick nip to Times Square, no Broadway/off Broadway/off off Broadway show, no Nuyorican Poets Cafe (last ditch attempt would have had us going to their Operation Opera Tuesdays, which seems to be a way for them to introduce the artform of Opera to their Poetry Slam loving audience), no pastrami (despite the fact that we are only a few blocks from the famous Katz Deli.

New York

June 1, 2011

With a little less (heart) and excitement. So we still haven’t had buttermilk fried chicken, haven’t had Cuban, and haven’t been to the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. The buttermilk chicken place consistently had looong queues whenever we walked past, and I found out buttermilk fried chicken on waffles is a special Wednesday night dinner thing. Cuban we didn’t go to because the night we were going to (Sunday night) the Nuyorican Poets Cafe did not as it turns out have the Afro-Cuban Big Band (boo :( ) and we were tired that day and ended up in bed at like 6pm. We tried to go to Cuban last night but it was shut – so fingers crossed we’ll make it there tonight, our last night. And maybe see if we can do something at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (although the thing to do would have definitely been the Friday night Poetry Slam).

What we have done is, check out Williamsburg and go to the flea market there. We’ve (well I’ve) done some thrift store/second-hand/vintage clothing shopping. We went to Top of the Rock, so although we haven’t made it to Central Park (or anywhere midtown and above beyond meatpacking district), I have seen it. We’ve been to the Meatpacking district for a bit of nightlife – albeit not without some issues. We haven’t done any Fleet Week activities but I’ve seen sailors, although they certainly haven’t lived up to my expectations. And we’ve experienced a taste of crazy New York living courtesy of V’s LA friend.

So V’s LA friend is actually someone he went to school with in Newcastle of all places, who has made good, and is now living the high life (think open pass to the Playboy Mansion). Anyway, via Facebook, he realised V was in NY at the same time he was, so plans were made to have dinner together. Dinner turned out to be at an ‘exclusive’ restaurant/bar/club (the food really was good) with his NY socialite friend – a girl from Merrickvale in Sydney who was now working as a personal concierge in New York (specialising in dining, lucky us). Anyway, this was the night we saw how pretentious people (?and life) in NY can get. Although I imagine somehow V and I will not be having the same problems these people do – being so pissed off at not getting into a club without having to queue “I can’t believe this is happening – why is this happening (insert name here)?! This wouldn’t happen to me in LA!”; needing constant assurance that people are impressed and grateful because with your connections you’ve managed to get them a table somewhere you wouldn’t normally be able to get into unless you were ‘someone’; having a girlfriend/boyfriend who needs their food cut up for them – and thank goodness for that. Nevertheless, it made for an entertaining experience, and we got to go to a club (without queueing, hooray for that), and have a bit of a boogie.

Alphabet City

May 28, 2011

So apparently we aren’t staying on the East side – according to V’s sister’s brother-in-law (“I only do Manhattan”) we’re in Alphabet City, not Eastside, East Village or Lower Eastside, and we may as well not have been in Manhattan, because he doesn’t do Alphabet City either. He was happy to come to Lower Eastside a few blocks down, but not Alphabet City!

I (heart) New York

May 27, 2011

I was very very excited about our trip to New York, and so far, it’s lived up to it. We checked into our flat on the Eastside, on East 3rd near Avenue C (thank you Airbnb for coming through on this one!), and walking there I felt like we were walking around inside a film – the way everything was so cliche and familiar. The roads are so wide, sidewalks even more so proportionally compared to London, there are yellow cabs and yellow schoolbuses, and little playgrounds every few blocks. We’ve heard more Spanish than English on the streets, for every supermarket there’s an ethnic grocer’s (Chinese, Hispanic, Ukrainian), and the little outfit V wouldn’t let me bring – teenie tiny white denim short shorts and tight olive green halter with striped trim – would not have been out of place here.

Last night this little (?Jewish) woman with a strong (?Queens) accent stopped us in the supermarket to tell us the blueberries would be 2 punnets for $4 today (we were carrying a punnet and they were 2 for $5 yesterday), and that cherries would be a dollar cheaper too. So we put our blueberries back, and we’ll be back today to buy them!

For dinner last night, we had a couple of slices of New York pizza (average – but we really needed to eat at that point) on our way to hunting out sushi (this was average too but SOOO cheap – and at least we had a healthy start to our 2 week American diet).

This morning the plan is to find Russ & Daughter, and have bagels and babka for brunch. We’ve been for a run, and found some more local places I’m hankering to try out – there was  place that serves buttermilk fried chicken (?! – and a quick glance seemed to suggest they serve this with waffles ??!!), and almost across from this was a paladar-looking place that seemed to serve home-cooked pan-hispanic cuisine (I don’t really know how to describe it – I’ll have to go back and take photos), AND a Cuban place. Now I know we weren’t fan of Cuban food back in Cuba, but V read somewhere that the best Cuban food is actually outside of Cuba, where they have the raw ingredients to actually cook with flavour. What better place, other than maybe Florida, to try it than New York, I say!

And at the end of our run, we went past the Nuyorican Poet Cafe – how could I not stop to look at their signs and posters?! I was devastated to find out we missed their Latino Jazz night last night, but chuffed when I just googled it to find out they have an Afro-Cuban Big Band Sunday night – so this is now pencilled in.

What else what else? Thinking I might turf the Guggenheim (this was the one place I knew I wanted to go since I was quite young) for the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Met, but also wondering if I want to go to MoMA, and trying to decide if we should partake in any of the Fleet Week events (sailors! :P) at Intrepid (they’re screening Top Gun at their open air cinema on the deck (!) tonight but unfortunately we’re catching up with V’s sister’s brother-in-law).

And also planning on visiting Williamsburg for a spot of second-hand clothing shopping. Not that I wasted anytime in getting started – we walked down 7th on our way back from sushi last night, and past a couple of little second hand clothes ’boutiques’ – two of which were in my price range, and I managed to get a couple of dresses for a little more than $30 in one, and a Banana Republic blazer for $15 and a chiffony yellow Guess top for $7 at the other – why is second hand stuff so expensive in London?!!

Anyway, thinking to myself that it really is true that the ‘high streets’ of New York are far more varied and interesting than London (read somewhere that it’s cheaper and therefore easier to set up shop in NY, resulting in more individual little shops and more variety on the streets in NY than in London, where it’s getting to the point that only big chains can afford to open up shops on high streets).

Well, I think if V decides once he gets his passport that he wants to live here, I will be 100% behind that decision!