One of the delights about vacationing in another city is exploring the different foods available. For example, when I went to New York for the first time, I knew that there was a place that was supposed to be really fun and cool. There was another like it in London, and the one in NYC was the second one in existence. It was called the Hard Rock Cafe, and Kris wasn't terribly excited to go there. But we both fell in love with it. It wasn't just the food, which was tasty enough, it was the atmosphere. (In fact, the atmosphere began before we walked in. We were taking photos of the front of the restaurant when a true New Yorker said, "Hey, I'm a New Yorker! If you wanna get a picture of New York, you got it right here!" He is still immortalized in my photo album.) It was something totally new to us, sort of a restaurant and Rock memorabilia museum all in one. And we brought more than a few t-shirts and other assorted fun things to bring home with us. I think part of the appeal of the place was the fact that even though we were far from home, the music felt like home. It was nostalgia, and it was served up with fun drinks and food.
If we weren't haunting the Hard Rock, we could easily be found noshing at the Carnegie Deli. I've mentioned it before, and here I go again! When I walked into the Carnegie Deli the first time, it was like being transported back to my childhood in Chicago. To one side of the door there was a case full of cheesecakes as big as manhole covers. Seriously! Hanging from the ceiling above them were numerous salamis and other cured deli meats, just like the ones in the small neighborhood stores and butcher shops when I lived in the melting pot of Chicago. You could actually smell the spices and cures used on the meats. It was heavenly! The Carnegie Deli was the first place I'd ever eaten that had a "charge for sharing" listed on the menu. And when we ordered what we thought were ridiculously expensive sandwiches, we realized why. These sandwiches were at least four or five inches tall, stuffed with the best corned beef, pastrami, cheeses, you name it. It was deliciousness on a plate, and a huge serving at that.
Their cheesecakes were huge, and were made in the deli's own bakery. I must tell you that just thinking about their delicious cheesecakes cradled in a shortbread cookie crust makes my mouth water, and I'm not even hungry! We could have lived on those cheesecakes! One day, after having a nosh on yet another delicious monster of a sandwich, I wondered whether or not my friend Kris, a wee slip of a girl, would be able to handle dessert. So I broached the subject by asking if she wanted to share a piece of cheesecake. Simple and reasonable request, right? Not when it's Carnegie Deli cheesecake, apparently. Kris snapped, "No! I want my own piece!" I guess I learned a lesson that day. Try to take a little blonde girl's cheesecake, and you pull back a stump!
The most special dining experience we had in NYC, though, was at Tavern on the Green, which closed in 2009. Tavern on the Green was located in Central Park at the former location of the sheepfold which sheltered the animals that grazed in Sheep Meadow. When we arrived, we were swept up in the magical atmosphere. It is surrounded by beautiful old trees wrapped with twinkling lights, and looks like something out of a story. We were seated in the Crystal Room, three walls of which are full-length glass. There were several crystal chandeliers, and each one was different. As I recall, there were crystal and ruby, another was crystal and emerald, and there were other combinations including jet-black and sapphire blue. True to my adventurous nature, I tried something completely new to me, Long-Island duck breast. The thing I remember most about the evening is being surrounded by beauty indoors and out, and having wonderful food at the same time!
Katrina and Kris, ready for dinner, and a stock photo of the Crystal Room.
The Tavern on the Green has been featured on television and in various films. If you are a fan of Ghostbusters, you will remember a scene that takes place outside a restaurant. Louis is being chased by a creature and is pounding on a glass wall while people are dining inside. They stop for a second and look at him, and then go back to their conversations and their dinners. That scene is in Tavern on the Green, and we actually sat in the area shown in the movie. Just not when they were filming it, of course!
You may or may not end up in New York City on your travels. Wherever you do go, however, I encourage you to enjoy yourself with all of your senses. Try the hot dogs or the pizza, chicken paprikash, crepes, barbecue, whatever strikes your fancy. After all, you have to eat. You might as well enjoy it and make it a part of your treasured memories!