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New York, New York

Last week I traveled to New York to attend a work conference on Thursday.  I decided to stay for the weekend as a friend of mine was attending the same conference and we thought it would be fun to hang out in the city, shop, eat some good food and catch a show.  We stayed at the Parker Le Meridian in midtown Manhattan as it was just around the corner from the conference location.  While we thought about moving hotels to something more trendy like The Mercer, we decided it was too much of a hassle to move and the location was good for the theater district anyway.  I can recommend the hotel as the location was very convenient to Rockefeller Center, Central Park, Times Square and the Theater District but overall the hotel was pretty mundane.  It’s a standard business style hotel with plain vanilla rooms and bathrooms but it got the job done and it was incredibly quiet with double paned windows so I slept soundly during my stay.

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Interior of Hakkasan, NYC

Thursday after the conference, I went with my friend and another attorney for dinner at Hakkasan in midtown, which was fantastic.  It had a cool, buzzy atmosphere with clubby music playing and dark, sexy lighting.  The food was what I would describe as Pan-Asian cuisine with many dim sum offerings.  We started with some fun cocktails and an order of vegetarian dim sum, which included several different dumplings and an order of crispy duck spring rolls.  I settled on the spicy prawns while my friend got an order of their crispy duck and we all shared some fried rice.  The food was excellent and it was a fun place for our first dinner with a New York chic vibe.

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Vegetarian Dim Sum Platter
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Floating Goddess Cocktail
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Crispy Duck
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Spicy Curried Prawns
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Tofu Stir fry

The next day I was up early to do some work from my hotel room and I was on my own as my friend had to go visit a client in New Jersey for the day.  After I finished up my work calls, I decided to head down for a walk through Central Park.  It was very cool and brisk that morning so I got a coffee to keep my hands warm and headed north through the park on my way to the museums.  The trees were just starting to change color for the fall so they weren’t quite brilliant yet but you could get a few glimpses of fall foliage here and there.

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Central Park

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I headed straight to the Neue Galerie on 5th Avenue as they were doing an exhibit on Gustav Klimt.  If you’ve seen the HBO movie, Woman in Gold, the painting that is the subject of the movie (Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer) is located in the Neue Galerie as part of their permanent collection.  The museum itself is housed in an old 5th Avenue mansion and also has a small permanent collection of German and Austrian art.  The Klimt exhibit was quite popular as there was a line out the door but it moved very quickly.

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Klimt Exhibit

Following my visit there, I did a quick google search and found a nearby Italian place called Caravaggio in the upper east side where I treated myself to a bowl of an amazing broccoli rabe soup and a heaping plate of spaghetti carbonara that was to die for and was so creamy and rich.

I then headed over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and walked around admiring the art and displays for a few hours.  The collection there is massive – you could spend days in there.

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View from the Met

Dinner that night was at Balthazar in Soho, which is a restaurant I have been wanting to try for years.  I loved the food here and the restaurant was crazy busy but we had reservations so we were seated right away.  I will say that this restaurant is loud and a bit frenetic and the tables are insanely close together but the atmosphere is fun and our server was always on top of everything.  I started with the escargot which were served in a rich garlic-shallot butter sauce that was screaming to be sopped up with crusty bread.  That was followed by an extremely decadent duck shepherd’s pie that was topped with mash potatoes and was full of confit duck.  It was delicious but a little over the top in terms of richness. My friend had their goat cheese and onion tart and then the steak frites.  I did steal a few of her fries and they were fantastic – nice and crispy and had clearly been double fried.  We skipped dessert as we were stuffed and the portion sizes were huge.

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Interior of Balthazar
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Escargot at Balthazar
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Goat Cheese Tart
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Steak frites – yes, there is a giant steak under all those fries
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Duck Shepherd’s Pie

The next day we decided to do The Top of the Rock for some great views of the city, Hudson River and Central Park.  The weather this day was gorgeous!  Upper 60’s and sunny so it was perfect patio weather.

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View from Rockefeller Center
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View from Rockefeller – the tall building on the right is the tallest residential structure in the Western hemisphere.  Its top floor penthouse sold for $100 million

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View of Empire State Building and Lady Liberty in the background

We grabbed a taxi and headed downtown to Little Italy where we had a long, leisurely lunch (with a bottle of wine) and sat on the street patio at my favorite Italian place in NYC, Pellegrino’s, where I had a huge plate of chicken marsala.

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Street view of Little Italy from our table
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Chicken Marsala

Afterwards, we grabbed a Cannoli from the Cannoli King next door and then walked over to Chinatown to do some souvenir shopping.

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Cannolis!

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While in Chinatown, we decided to be adventurous and we went down to one of those creepy looking foot massage places that are located in the basements of the buildings.  It actually wasn’t as bad as you would think – it was a little funky and dark with a big fish tank in it but the people were friendly and they actually did give us some very good foot massages at a cheap price ($20 for 30 minutes).

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Peking ducks in the window in Chinatown

That evening we had tickets to see The Book of Mormon on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neill Theater.  We had great seats in the middle of the lower mezzanine.  If you haven’t seen this show – go see it!  It is not for children as there is quite a bit of profanity in it and adult subject matter but it is insanely funny, albeit not politically correct!  I was dying laughing the entire time and loved it.  One of the funniest musicals I have seen to date.

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View of the stage from our seats for Book of Mormon musical 

The next morning I slept in, got a coffee and walked around Rockefeller plaza before we checked out and headed to the airport.  This was one of the best weekends I have spent in New York – reminded me how much I love the city!

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Ice Rink at Rockefeller Plaza

 

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