Monday, December 03, 2007

It may be Fear and loathing in Las Vegas, but it's food and shopping in New York...


Onto the big silver bird at Heathrow and off to the Big Apple for our biennial trip to NY City. Still my favourite place in the States, possibly because it's so familiar from many visits and countless thrillers, gangster movies and comedies set in the metropolis.

There are two threads which run through our occasional visits, see if you can identify the themes...

Thursday - arrive and take a glass or several in the rooftop cocktail bar at our hotel, The Library on 41st and Madison, a lovely 'boutique' hotel, petite but adequate rooms, an eclectic mix of guests, and most excellent staff.
Friday Morning, shopping

Friday lunch, Cafe SFA at Saks Fifth Avenue (a shop, where women do shopping) excellent food and service surrounded by the assorted weirdness of the New York shopping elite, acres of fur surmounted by high pitched nasal old ladies, and strangely Stepford-ish wives with their identikit, badly behaved offspring.

Friday afternoon - more shopping

Friday evening, the River Cafe in Brooklyn, my favourite all round dining experience in the world, really good and inventive food, fine wine, professional but friendly staff, a great bar, we get there early to enjoy the banter with the wise-cracking bartenders and enjoy the piano and chatting to other patrons, usually American, often locals. The best thing of all is the view, incomparable views of Manhattan and the river, then driven home after a superb meal, (paid for this trip by American Express as compensation for administrative incompetence on their part), by a classic 'hey, forget about it' limo driver, who was presumably moonlighting from his full time occupation as a stereotypical Brooklyn mobster.

Saturday Morning - more shopping

Saturday Lunchtime - to Maze at the London, ,the lighter side of Gordon Ramsey's attempt to win over NY city, really stunning food in an attractive location, light but delicious dishes, cooked perfectly and stunningly presented, served by consumate professionals. The colonials don't seem to have taken to our Gordon and there did seem to be a preponderance of European accents, however as the great and wise philosopher, the blessed Mr T might say, "shame on them yankee fools", this is fine food and they don't deserve it anyway.

Saturday afternoon - more bloody shopping

Saturday evening, exhausted, did I mention the shopping ? A light meal at Madison and Vine, Mrs Stuffy remarked, (to my mind with an inappropriate level of ire) on the (in her view) unnecessary familiarity of the young , attractive and very tactile waitress. I'm a more reasonable person and found no problem with such attentive, personable and personal service.

Sunday morning and the first snow of the year was delivering Yuletide ambiance to the the city that never sleeps, what better way to celebrate than with a little festive ... shopping ?

All too soon, lunchtime, and knowing it would be cold I'd planned ahead, a brisk walk down Park Avenue, frostbite nipping at all exposed areas to Les Halles, one time stamping ground of Anthony Bourdain, whose writings I commend to my readership, into the snug and quintessentially French feel of this delightful bistro, stunning onion soup (the best, I'm prepared to wager, on the wrong side of the Atlantic) warming the cockles of a jaded soul, a great bottle of red and the best hanger steak you can imagine, rare and pink and bloody and falling apart with a sharp look.

Sadly no time for any more shopping but back to JFK and an overnight flight to Heathrow.

I can never really relax on planes, I feel it's important that I stay alert in case of sudden flight deck salmonella and the plaintive cry of "anybody got three hours in a Cessna?"

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