Having recently relocated away from my long-time neighborhood in Brooklyn (Carroll Gardens – represent), this trip was a bit of a homecoming for me. And maybe it was the extreme lack of sleep and general overindulgence of it all, but it feels a little like this whole New York trip was just a dream. In fact, if it weren’t for a recorder full of interview tape and a camera loaded with photos, I might just assume I imagined the whole thing.
I guess that’s the result in the city that never sleeps, especially when you add to standard-option insomnia the sheer mania of producing an indie magazine in less than 72 hours with 3 of your best friends, 2 double beds––and 1 single bathroom.
Talk about a scrappy crew.
Day 2 – Thursday
My alarm goes off and despite not having a call time until 9 in the West Village, I heave myself out of bed. My strategy is to get ready before anyone else wakes up. Then, once I’m mostly put together, I can lay back down and close my eyes until the real wake up time, at which point it’s a quick brush of hair and teeth and out the door. Bathroom sharing crisis averted.
I’m still working off a dinner high from a solo trip to the LES Meatball Shop on Wednesday night — I couldn’t very well be in the city without my standard chicken-and-classic sauce sliders and side market salad. Hits the spot every time (insert high five Emoji here).
Afterwards, Gia and I met with a friend of hers at Nitecap to toast a successful first full day with a couple of extremely solid cocktails (mine a Manhattan variation, hers more like an Old Fashioned). Then I proceeded to sleep like a ton of bricks.
So basically what I’m saying is — meatballs & bourbon is the new cookies & milk.
Antonio ventured out a bit before us this morning to meet with a close friend of L&T, Veronica Rogov, for what we’ll call “first coffee,” since I’m also meeting him for coffee at Chalait at 9. Amy Buchanan of Spring Street Social Society has promised to show us some of her favorite spots in the area. In the emails exchanged prior to meeting, her NYC autumnal enthusiasm made me instantly trust her, so I’m super excited to see what she’s got lined up for us.
Gia and Josh are off to the Whitney Museum to meet with Miro Uskokovic, pastry chef at Untitled and Gramercy Tavern. We wrap up the readying bathroom rotation and hop in our respective Ubers.
I’m the first on the scene at Chalait, which gives me ample opportunity to peruse their selection of yogurts (pumpkin pie!) and debate over the many matcha and espresso options on the board (I stick with a classic macchiato, my usual selection). Amy arrives, fresh off a brisk bike ride from her home in Fort Greene. She banters with the barista before we sit down with some avocado toast to talk Brooklyn, Broadway, and get real dewy eyed over the city this time of year. Antonio and Veronica arrive shortly and we’re off.
The next few hours are a blissful fall blur. We get lost in the off-the-grid WV blocks, somehow finding our way to each of Amy’s recommended spots—Bubby’s for an ice cream breakfast, Bookmarc to browse the latest literary picks.
By the time we hit The Meadow––a specialty salt & chocolate shop––I’m hungry again. Cereal Bowl bar from Compartes chocolate seems close enough to breakfast, so I buy the bar and share with the gang that we’ve picked up along the way like some sort of rousing Broadway opening number. We’re now going six strong––including L&T contributors and friends Jessica Gilgurd, Judy Kim, Veronica, Amy, Antonio and myself.
Next stop is Tertulia, where chef Seamus Mullen makes us a Spanish-inspired spread that includes everything from anchovy toast to carrot soup. All beautiful, all delicious. Then it’s off to The Spotted Pig––the final stop on the list of Amy’s favorite fall things.
I desperately need another coffee. I excuse myself a few minutes early to try catch up on a couple of quick emails that are nagging at me and ingest some caffeine. But first thing’s first––another NYC favorite to check off the list.
I tuck into the WV Big Gay Ice Cream realquick and take a breather. I can’t decide between the Salty Pimp and a straight up vanilla-with-rainbow-sprinkles cone. The beauty of being an adult is that I don’t have to. I order both.
I arrive at Babbo, coffee in hand and residual rainbow sprinkle evidence recently discovered and dispensed with. Antonio texts. He’s around the corner at The Spotted Pig and en route.
When he arrives, we spend the next hour or so being fed ridiculously fresh fish and pasta by Mario Batali & company. I sit and listen to Mario tell me stories of his holiday traditions while Antonio shoots longtime Babbo chef, Frank Langello, in the kitchen.
We wrap up at Babbo, I’m now very full and looking forward to the precious few free hours that we’ve left unscheduled. Antonio takes the opportunity to post up at Stumptown, but it’s a perfectly gorgeous fall day, and I’m after a little fresh air.
And by fresh air, I mean doughnuts.
I head in the direction of Dough in Flatiron, where Gia and Josh have just wrapped with NYC’s sweet treat phenom, Fany Gerson, for an upcoming story. I arrive at the corner of 19th & 5th at just about the exact moment that they walk out with more than half a dozen fresh doughnuts. With doughnuts, timing is everything.
They’re on their way to grab a late lunch, but before they make off with the bag, I make a point to take a bite of each of the perfect pillowy pastries inside. They’re all so good, but Passion Fruit, I’ll miss you most of all.
After walking up to Ace Hotel for another brief email session in the lobby, I walk back to Babbo by way of Eataly, the Lego store, Madison Square Park, and back through the Dominique Ansel Kitchen (for seconds on the yuzu sake pate de fruit).
I’m beat, but mostly I’m just beyond excited to be sharing this dinner with the L&T crew. It’s long been one of my favorite spots in the city, and I’m looking forward to a “family meal” here for our last night in town.
When everyone arrives, we can barely contain ourselves from swapping stories from the day––who we met, where we went, what we ate, what we’re most excited about publishing.
For the next few hours, we go to town on Babbo’s best––pumpkin lune dusted with a grated amaretti cookie, fresh cauliflower fusilli, flutes of prosecco and a dessert selection that leaves us (nearly) speechless. When we’re done, we’re stuffed, satisfied and feeling like ourselves again.
Gia and I take leisurely stroll back up to Ace Hotel for another late-night email pitstop, breaking repeatedly to snap Instagrammables of the idyllic night. Antonio and Josh had to make a run back to the hotel, and our rendezvous point will be NoMad bar around 11-ish for a nightcap. Those guys seriously know their way around a cocktail shaker, and it’s the best way to prepare for a group photo booth session.
We know we should be in bed, but the city feels way too enchanting to call it a night. So cameras in hand, we decide we’re just going to walk until we decide we don’t feel like it anymore. That finally happens somewhere around Times Square, at which point we jump in a cab and head back to LES.
Back at the hotel, someone remembers the bag of doughnuts, and halfway through a serious sugarfest, Josh decides it’s never too late for pizza. Smart man, that Josh. Personally, I’m more than satisfied with the array of sweets, so I opt out while Gia, Josh and Antonio venture in search of a late-night slice.
Full of doughnuts and pizza––like any self-respecting NYC tourist––we all collapse.
Despite how much we’ve crammed in, it’s hard to believe it’s our last day. I get up early, wanting to head to Gramercy Tavern on foot. I’m desperate to soak in as much city time as possible; it’s another crisp and flawless fall morning, ideal weather for the 20 or so blocks I’ll need to walk.
Our call time at Gramercy. We spend the next three hours chatting with, shadowing and shooting chefs Mike Anthony and Howard Kalachnikoff and their team. It’s mesmerizing to watch the clockwork crew at such an institutional New York restaurant. It’s a well-oiled, well-spoken, and well-meaning machine that embodies the spirit of the city.
Antonio and I sit down to break bread together one final time in the big apple. The food is a gorgeous smorgasbord––brightly colored veggies and kale salad with along with a house-made concord grape soda make up for all the doughnut and pizza eating the night before. But that’s not to say we’ll go without a few final desserts; Josh and Gia made sure to tell us that Chef Miro’s creations are not to be missed. Sold.
We wrap up and I begin my winding walk back to our LES hotel, while Antonio heads off to JFK. It’s there, in the comfort of Terminal 4 that at my insistence he finally has his first Shack Burger. He sends me an iPhone shot and I could practically shed a proud tear.
This trip may not have allowed much in the way of sleep, but it was definitely an adventure that we’ll all dream about.