Mom in the City

Alright, I may not be in New York anymore, but I’m not quite finished with my NY blogs. Also, I’m having a little trouble with writing Nashville posts at the moment… all I can manage to discuss is how difficult it is to unpack without furniture, how best to organize a closet and how often I’ve wanted to cry because I get almost zero cell service here. For now, I think it’s best that I write about the rest of my Mom’s visit in NYC.

Mom was only able to visit for a couple of days, but I managed to squeeze in a wide variety of NY events during her short visit. You know all about our time at Central Park and Bergdorfs, but we did so much more! Mom has never been to the Empire State Building or any other tall building with a fantastic view, which is a must when visiting the city. I tried to convince her to sneak on the roof of Le Parker Meridian with me, but she was against breaking the law. So, I took her to Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center that is) instead.

topoftherock mom

And no trip to NYC is complete without a walk through Time Square. We went to the bar on the 8th floor of the Marriott which has a great view of the whole square.

timesquare

Another park I somehow failed to mention in the “parks blog” is Brooklyn Bridge Park. The day we walked through this park was so beautiful that every single Brooklyn-ite decided to spend the whole day lying on blankets and picnicking right by the water. As Carrie Bradshaw once said, “New Yorkers treat every nice day like it could be their last”.

bbpark

If we weren’t park hopping, shopping or sight seeing, we were eating. The amount of food we consumed is a bit ridiculous, but we like to believe that we walked it all off. It’s the perfect excuse to eat what you want in New York, you can just walk home afterwards. I had already taken my Mom to my favorite pizza place (Lombardi’s) on a previous trip, so I took her to the second and third best this time.

We accidentally walked into Madison Square Eats (an annual food festival) one night and happened to find a Roberta’s booth. Roberta’s makes this incredible brick oven pizza called the “bee sting”. It has spices, honey and fresh mozzarella. It typically comes with some sort of meat, but I order it vegetarian style.

madisonsquareeats

Then, there was Grimaldi’s. Grimaldi’s is a famous and always crowded coal-fired brick-oven pizzeria right under the Brooklyn Bridge, and a few other newer locations. It’s VERY good, but I still think Lombardi’s has a leg up in the competition.

margheritapizza

One of Mom’s goals this trip was to try some authentic Italian food. I decided to take her to Eataly. Eataly is a large Italian market with lots of delicious Italian restaurants within the market. We shopped around for chocolates, wandered through the handmade pastas and made ourselves very hungry. We decided to have dinner at Le Verdue because a) the food looked so fresh and beautiful and b) there was no wait. Lucky for me it’s a vegetarian restaurant. Our meal, our wine and our service were all exceptional. We sat forever and caught up on life. We talk on a daily basis, but our chats are often short and rushed. It was so nice to sit and actually enjoy each other’s company.

After dinner we bought some dark chocolate and gelato.

eataly

While roaming around Chelsea Market one day we found a brand new food stand called Hybird. We weren’t even a little hungry, but when I saw a watermelon jalapeño slush on the menu, I had to give it a try!

So bizarre, but so delicious.
So bizarre, but so delicious.

One hot spot I couldn’t wait to take Mom was the rooftop bar of The Standard hotel over the High Line. Last time I went it was beautiful and relaxing. There were large cozy chairs and cushions to lounge on, drinks to order and fresh crepes to eat. I didn’t realize that this time happened to be Memorial Day. It also happened to be the opening day for the new season. It was so crowded that we could barely find a spot to sit on the astroturf ground! The rooftop was full of NY’s trendiest crowd and was bumpin’ with the latest hits. By the time we were halfway through the crepe, my Mom said we had to leave because “this place” made her feel WAY too old. 

thestandard

 

I’m pretty sure my Mom left New York feeling more cultured, trendier, happier, more relaxed and very well fed. You’re welcome Mom.

Cheers!

 

A Two Year Quest

Not long after moving to New York Husband and I discovered that NY is packed with numerous ramen restaurants. I really like ramen soup, but Husband LOVES it. We tried several restaurants over the last two years, but not enough.  See, if you google “best ramen NYC” about a million links come up with lists and lists of the best ramen ever. If you know anything about us, you know that we attempted to try all of the “best” ramen locations.

The problem is that every single ramen place in the city is teeny, does not take reservations and always has a long line of people out the door waiting for a table. The wait for these restaurants is always somewhere between 1 and 4 hours. Who has that kind of time?! Not us.

When Husband came to visit me last week we decided that for once we had the time. We decided to try Totto Ramen because it has excellent reviews and won some sort of ramen awards or something. We met our friend Dan, and camped outside the restaurant for a good two hours before our name was called…and by called I mean whispered.

thecook

The protocol for getting a table at Totto is to arrive early, write your name on a list hanging on the door and then wait on the sidewalk with about 60 other hungry New Yorkers. Every ten minutes or so one of the workers will open the door, grab the list and very quietly call someone’s name. If no one responds, the name is crossed off the list and he moves on to the next person. He is so quiet and serious that every time the door opens the entire crowd goes silent and simultaneously leans one ear in as far as possible hoping to hear their name.

When our moment came we quickly found our way in, and were seated at the bar right by the door, which remained propped open. This wouldn’t have been a problem except that it was raining and 40 degrees outside (in May, yes). We shivered as we ordered our soup and appetizers, praying that the food would be worth the wait and the numb extremities.

cooking

The boys ordered pork and beef sticky buns, which they repeatedly told me were “sooo good”. We all shared the tuna tartare, which was probably the best I’ve ever had.

stickybuns tuna

Then, came the soup. The boys both ordered miso ramen with some sort of spicy sauce on the side. I ordered the spicy vegetable ramen. Every ramen place we’ve tried has exactly one option for vegetarians: the vegetable ramen. It is always bland and boring. This spicy vegetable ramen, was nothing like the previous places I’ve tried. It was the best ramen I have ever had.

boys veggie ramen

Turns out that Totto is worth a two-hour wait in terrible weather. It’s even worth eating by an open door. I’d eat it in a house, I’d eat it with a mouse…I’d eat it here or there, I’ll eat Totto Ramen anywhere!

tottoramen

It was Husband’s last night before heading back to Nashville and I’m happy to say he left satisfied.

Cheers!

Rooftop Dates

Husband and I were supposed to spend a month apart while he worked on our new house in Tennessee and I finished my job here in New York. I decided that a month is far too long and decided to fly him here this last week to spend a few days with me as an “anniversary present”. A couple of days before he arrived I started feeling guilty about his “present”. Obviously it is a gift for him to get to spend time with me, but he didn’t actually ask for this gift… so I planned to make it extra special by planning a special date each night he was here.

After much thought, I decided to do a rooftop-themed week of dates. Husbands most favorite thing to do is climb or sneak onto something very tall and scary. He especially loves the roofs of skyscrapers that provide views of the whole city. I researched the best roofs in the city and had a perfect date for every night.

The first night was at Gallow Green. This restaurant is on the roof of Sleep No Moreonly our most favorite show ever!

gallowgreen

This restaurant is romantic and so very green. There are plants everywhere, Most of the seats and tables are made from unfinished wood and you can even eat in an old gutted train car. The atmosphere was perfect. It was warm outside and we watched the sun set as we ate. The food wasn’t great, and the service sucked, but we were so happy to be together on the romantic roof that we decided not to care. We also decided to pick up chips and salsa on the way home.

greens

For Husband’s second night, I took him to the Pod Hotel. They offer a free rooftop with lounge chairs and a bar.

podhotel

The bar was actually closed, but once again we didn’t let this little fact get us down. We still enjoyed the view, the sunset and relaxing in comfy seats before heading out for a romantic dinner.

datenight rooftop

The next two nights, stormed and stormed. Every city rooftop was closed, which meant all my plans were ruined. Once again, we decided to make the most of our rainy situation. Our first idea was to go on the roof of Grandma’s apartment, but don’t worry Grandma, that was impossible. We ordered in and watched TV instead.

For the rest of Husband’s stay it rained every single moment, but we still had a great time together. I borrowed Grandma’s red rain coat because all of my rain-gear is in Tennessee, and we found nice city views from many different (enclosed) places.

redcoat tiffanys

I was sad to see Husband go, but now my Mom is here spending the holiday weekend with me! My posts may be a bit sporadic the next few days, but if you want to keep up with me and the latest New York adventures just follow me on Facebook!

Happy Memorial Day!

Cheers!

Before I Say Good-bye to New York

This is from our engagement picture in Central Park not long after moving here.
This is from our engagement picture in Central Park not long after moving here.

My time left living in New York is going by at lightning speed. With all the packing and organizing our life for this new chapter, I almost forgot my plan. “My plan” is to enjoy this city as much as possible during these last 7 weeks. I know we will come back and visit from time to time, but I still want to soak in my favorite parts before I’m no longer a “New Yorker” (if I ever was one to begin with).

Like all good plans, I began by making a list. My goal is to do all of my favorite things as much as possible before moving day. Devising a list of “the best New York has to offer (me)”, was a big task, but I have managed to make a Top 10 just for you!

1)   Eat at Tacombi. I don’t know if I will ever get sick of their tacos, fresh guacamole, rice and beans, vegetarian tamales or watermelon and lime juice. Wonder how much it will cost to get them to deliver to Tennessee….

2)   Central Park. I want to be here everyday. I’m fairly certain that I’ll miss my walks through Central Park the most. I want to take Belle for off-leash hours, eat my fav vegetarian hotdog, people watch by Bethesda fountain and get lost in the Ramble a few more times.

3)   Try on shoes at Bergdorf Goodman’s.

4)   Spend a day window shopping, and a little actual shopping, down Madison and 5th Avenue.

5)   See more Broadway shows.

6)   Have diner breakfast.

7)   People-watch from the red steps in Time Square.

8)   Go on a romantic date with Husband that includes a delicious dinner, a walk, and possibly a view of the skyline.

9)   Have ethnic/vegetarian food delivered for dinner at any hour I please.

10) Visit the MET and take my sweet time roaming from exhibit to exhibit.

There it is, my “must-do at least one more time before I move” list.

Friends and family, if you want to visit and have the Hilarie and Husband REAL New York experience you better act now, time and space are both limited!

Cheers!

City that Never Disappoints

The best part about waking up in a city that never sleeps is that I am guaranteed to always have something to do, somewhere to go, or someone to see. There is no excuse for a New Yorker to ever feel bored, ever. Recently, we went to see “Nice Work if You Can Get It” because I have been begging to see it ever since I heard Matthew Broderick is the star. I’ve always wanted to meet Mr. Bueller.

nice work

The show was great, not my favorite, but had its great moments. The show also starred Kelli O’Hara and Blythe Danner, who turned out to be better than Matthew. It also had some of my favorite broadway tunes: “Let’s call the whole thing off,” “S Wonderful,” and “I’ve go a crush on you”. Husband thought it was a little too old fashioned for him. I thought it would have been better had we not seen it on my no good terrible very bad day.

More recently, Grandma took us to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at the Joyce Theatre. Trockadero is an all male ballet troop who performs en pointe. Their shows are not only performed expertly and beautifully, but are also hysterical. It is an entertaining ballet for sure. They started here in NY, but are famous worldwide and always traveling.

trockadero 2 trockadero 1 trockadero

Our most recent date night was at Cafe Blossom. My very generous sister (thanks sis!) sent us a gift card for Christmas because she knows how much we love to try new places. Cafe Blossom is an all vegan restaurant, and was right up my alley.

nachos? Um...no
nachos? Um…no
Husband's healthy juice, and my butterfinger milkshake, which was phenomenal BTW.
Husband’s healthy juice, and my butterfinger milkshake, which was phenomenal BTW.
Seitan marsala
Seitan marsala
A fried chicken and bacon sandwich
A fried chicken and bacon sandwich

The food was so good that I literally made myself sick. You know that point when if you take one more bite you will just explode…I was about 5 bites past that point. So worth it though.

I wonder what adventures next week will bring? I love this city.

Cheers!

Why am I scared of Restaurants?

restaruant anxiety

I have lived with panic attacks long enough that I can usually tell what situations will warrant high anxiety. I know that doctors, hospitals, sick people, TV shows set in hospitals, and any conversation centered around death or disease always trigger my anxious side, and often lead to an attack. This makes sense because I am terrified of dying and feel out of control in a situation where I have no control.

However, there are a few locations that very frequently give me the same feeling…locations that are not fixated on illness: restaurants and movie theatres.

These places have only been giving me trouble for a few years now, and it has mostly been a mystery for me. I love eating, spending time with friends, and relaxing in front of a big screen, so why do I tend to freak out while doing these things??? It’s just not right.

A friend of mine has the same problem, but she knows why her anxiety strikes at these times. She feels claustrophobic and forced to stay in her seat for fear of disturbing others. These feelings drive her crazy and make her entire experience one big ball of anxiety.

I understand this, but I cannot relate. I do not get claustrophobic. I do not care if I disturb others to get up to go to the bathroom….so why, WHY do I panic? Where is this coming from? I am sure it stems from a terrible experience I once had or relate to restaurants and theatres, but I cannot put my finger on it.

It doesn’t happen every time either, it seems mostly random. It is worse when it’s a big group as opposed to just Husband, and me but that’s the only detail separating the calm from the panic that I have pinpointed.

For anyone who is lucky enough to eat at restaurants without panicking here’s an idea of what it is like for me during an especially anxious dinner….

I arrive, happy to see people and happy to order lots of food. We wait for food, have great conversations, and I start to get slightly uneasy. The food arrives and everyone is excited to finally dig in, minus me. All of sudden, the food I once desired seems impossible to stomach. I’m sweating, my heart is pounding, I feel nauseous, and am 98% positive I am going to pass out. I force myself to eat a couple bites because I start fearing that people will notice something is wrong. I go to the bathroom because I feel so ill. I take deep breaths, splash water in my face, and feel the cold water run over my burning hot hands…anything to make me feel calm. I manage to stay upright through the rest of dinner, and start checking my phone only to distract myself from my own negative thoughts. What seems like 8 years later, the check comes and I can finally leave.

What sucks, is that once I get home, I feel awesome and ravenous. All I want to do is eat, which drives everyone else nuts.  Didn’t we just spend $50 on your dinner that you barely touched???

After lots and lots of soul searching and deep thoughts the best reason I can muster is that I am scared of dying in a crowded place. My biggest fears in these public places is that I will have a heart attack and either no one will notice or no one will be able to help. Also, I fear having an attack in a public place. If I am going to freak out I want to at least be in the comforts of my own home.

I have no remedy…yet. I have no answers…as of now. All I know is that the more I go, the more honest I am with the people around me, the better I feel. I’ve got to be with a friend who gets the crazy and lets me hold the popcorn. I need someone to know I might not make it through the movie, to make it through the movie.

Anyone else ever experience this? If so, please share! I love not feeling alone, and I’d really love any advice you may have.

We will be watching a Walking Dead  marathon from the comfort of our own couch tonight. Wohoo!

Cheers!

The Positively Panicked Hostel

Two of our good friends from Tennessee stayed with us a couple of weeks ago. As many visitors as we have had over the last year our super might think we are running a hostel. My co-workers are starting to think I am making it up. Every weekend that someone plans a employees night out I seem to turn it down with a “Sorry, we have visitors this weekend!”. We don’t run a hostel, and I have yet to make up a visitor… we just love having friends over, and our friends apparently love sleeping on our couch.

In an effort to take our guests somewhere new (We are trying to add more restaurants to our guided tours.) we went to The Burger Joint, also known as New York City’s worst kept secret. The teeny tiny dirty burger dive is hidden inside of one of Manhattan’s finest hotels, the Parker Meridian.

As you enter the lobby of the Prime Meridian you will find a long line wrapping around a few dark walls and leading down a dark hallway to a supposedly “hidden” restaurant….if only it weren’t so popular. We waited for about twenty minutes before we were standing inside the graffiti covered, greasy smelling, and very crowded Burger Joint.

I love to find a delicious hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant, and the fact that this hole is in a 4-star hotel just makes it that much better. I could only eat the fries, just as good a McDonald’s – and I mean that as a compliment. Everyone else told me the burgers were great, so you’ll have to take their word for it.  They certainly smelled great.

After eating, we took the elevator up to the penthouse because Husband’s number one goal in NY is to make it to the roof of every tall building. Luckily the top floor did indeed have a large deck, perfect for viewing the city.

So, if any of you are interested in finding the best rooftops in the city, you know who to contact! We should really consider opening up that hostel…

Cheers!