Posts Tagged ‘barbuto’

A couple of weekends ago we visited the High Line, and walked the extension that had only just opened so it was even more packed than normal. The High Line is an abandoned elevated railway that runs up the West Side, and is in the process of being converted into a park. It’s now one of my favorite green spaces in the city, and its proximity to fantastic restaurants and the Chelsea Food Market makes it a great way to spend a few hours. Walking, eating and great coffee – my favorite things.

The park now runs from Gansevoort Street (in the Meatpacking District), through Chelsea and up to 30th Street. It’s a gorgeous urban space that channels the abandoned railway line vibe with all the wild flowers and plants; and integrating the tracks into the architecture. There is plenty of seating so you can hang out or sunbathe, and vendors from Chelsea Market have little stands selling coffee (in the fall and winter), and ice-cream/ice-pops and cool drinks in the summer. The extension means that the High Line now boasts an achingly contemporary bird feeder/houses, a lawn and tree top walk.

We’ve taken friends and family here at all times of the year, and in the fall/winter when I was shuttling between doctors appointments I’d walk down from Columbus Circle and break my journey at Chelsea Market to pick up a coffee and then find a seat on the High Line. What can I say I really like to walk.

So on our last visit we had brunch at Barbuto, which is one of our favorite eateries in the city and even though there was much on the menu that I couldn’t eat (it was all  cured meats and runny eggs) I was perfectly happy noshing on Jonathan Waxman’s famous roast chicken and a couple of veggie sides whilst Alex had the carbonara.  Then we tackled the crowds and strollers, and hit the High Line. We walked the full length, and then double backed on ourselves breaking our constitutional at Chelsea Market where we enjoyed the AC, had crepes from Bar Suzette  and cooling drinks. It was the perfect afternoon!

Alex took some photos and a video of the talking water fountain.

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Last night Alex and I braved the tourist trap that is Midtown this time of year (fraking Radio City Music Rockettes and Rockerfella Center skating rink and tree) to eat at Le Bernardin. This was meant to be our only meal out this month — something special to celebrate our birthdays and round off the year. Of course what actually happened was that we got a table at Momofoko Ko two weeks ago, and then because I had family coming into town for Christmas we booked a table at Barbuto (as I didn’t feel up to cooking for six) for the 27th. Then my aunt’s flight get canceled to we end up having Christmas dinner at a French bistro with my snow orphaned cousin.  We’ve eaten out way more in the last two weeks then we normally do; so much so that our dining out budget has been blown for the next few months, and the thought of eating at Le Bernardin was feeling less special by the minute. Especially since I still have the divine taste of gnocchi with walnut pesto and a shaved brussel sprout salad (that should not have been as awesome as it was) haunting my dreams in a good way.

Anyway, that was how I was feeling until we started to get ready. Since it is French fine dining then it was a suit for Alex and a dress for me. Getting dressed up can’t but help make you feel excited about the night ahead – even if you are feeling a little gastro-fatigued, having to hunt through your closet for a warm frock because it is chilly outside, and the thought of having to navigate snowbanks in something other than wellie boots makes you sad. I should probably explain why we picked Le Bernardin as we don’t normally go in for French fine dining. We had heard lots of good things about it (it’s an outstanding fish restaurant with awards up the wazzoo), there is a whole chapter devoted to it in Anthony Bourdain’s latest book, and Eric Ripert, chef, is a frequent judge on Top Chef (and we are so obsessed with Top Chef it’s scary).

So we gastro ninjas headed out in a best clothes to dine on the best fish in Manhattan, and oh-my-word we were not disappointed. Fine dining can be a little overwhelming. There are just so many staff buzzing around, and funny little touches that throw you off. For instance, there was a tiny leather stool in between our chairs for me to rest my handbag on! The staff at Le Bernardin were wonderful, and make even the most fishiest fish-out-of-water feel at home. The dining room is gorgeous and feels like it is channeling Frank Lloyd Wright in all his art deco loveliness.  I think Alex was a little disappointed that I wasn’t in the mood for the tasting menu but the dinner menu was four courses, and gave us a good variety of dishes. I started with the tuna tartar, then a grilled salted cod, for mains a poached halibut with daikon, baby radishes and turnips, and for pud a pistachio mousse with caramelized white chocolate, lemon and bing cherries. I wish I could have taken photos of every course because the plates were like works of art but it didn’t quite feel like an Instagram environment so the only photo I took was in the bathroom.

It was an amazing experience, and the tuna tartar knocked my socks off. It also, didn’t hurt that we spied Eric Ripert, the silver fox himself, making a couple of tours of the dinning room. It was a good way to round-off what has been the most challenging of years.

The last week and a bit have been a complete social whirl. So much so that for my birthday I have requested that we stay in and Alex’s cooks. Alex cooking for me is a HUGE treat and almost worthy of being my actual birthday present. The thought of coming home on Wednesday to Nigella’s Rudolph pie bubbling away in the oven is too much. Let’s hope he tweets as he chops so I can follow along!

Things kicked off a week Saturday when we went out to Barbuto with a group of friends for Alex’s birthday. We had reserved the chef’s table in the kitchen and it was amazing. You got to eat family style and pretty much tasted everything from their fresh and seasonal menu (the gnocchi and pumpkin was out of this world). Jonathan Waxman was lurking in the kitchen, and it was so much better than anything on Food Network. The kitchen ran seamlessy and I kept thinking there must be a second kitchen hidden in the basement because without so much as a raised voice food was pouring out of the kitchen to the hungry dinners. Sunday was Alex’s last commute to Atlanta in ’09 and I of course decided to celebrate that by taking myself off to see the Globe theatre’s touring production of Love’s Labour’s Lost.  It’s one of Shakespeare’s comedies that I am less familiar with, and it was bawdy production.  According to the play bill Lizzy I ordered a comedy for Christmas and this was what she got (Elizabethan style pay-per-view telly).  Even though it’s subject matter wasn’t festive it got me in the mood for Christmas hols.

Last week was a blur of yoga classes, work holiday parties and a free lunch. Yes – a free lunch from my friends at Cosi. Apparently, when you drop your business card into their ‘Win lunch for your office’ there is totally the possibility that you might actually win lunch for your office because that’s what happened to me! It was so cool to be able to treat my peeps in the office to kick-ass sandwiches and salads (and chips and cookies). And now we get to Saturday where for a pre-birthday treat I once again took myself off to the theatre. This time to see A Streetcar Named Desire at BAM. The cast did an excellent job, and Cate Blanchett, Joel Edgerton and Robin McLeavy worked hard to throw off the shadows of Leigh, Brando and Hunter.  Then after that I met up with Alex to go see Avatar (review to come).

Phew! I have 2 1/2 days left in the office and the Christmas break cannot come fast enough.