Susan's Blog - New York City Christmas 2014 Day 1

For our first Christmas back in the US, we were spending the holidays with Tom's family in New Jersey, so we took a few days before that and spent the time in Manhattan. One of the first things we did when we got into the city and checked into the hotel was to head towards lower Manhattan for lunch at a Jewish deli. Tom had done some investigation and selected the 2nd Avenue Deli. It has a nice hammered tin ceiling and glass dividers that somewhat reminded me of a French bistro. They started us with pickles and slaw. Tom had a warm pastrami sandwich, which he had been talking about getting for a couple days. I decided on the mushroom barley soup and a knish. For those of you that don't know what a Knish is (I didn't really before I ate it), it is a snack food consisting of a filling covered with dough that is either baked, grilled, or deep fried. In the most East European traditional versions, the filling is made entirely of mashed potato, ground meat, sauerkraut, onions, kasha (buckwheat groats), or cheese. Other varieties of fillings include sweet potatoes, black beans, fruit, broccoli, tofu, or spinach. In my case, it was deep-fried and filled with mashed potatoes. And then a picture of me, content after my knish lunch!

Next we headed back to midtown to the Christmas Market at Bryant Park. They had a bunch of little shops that sold mostly somewhat unique things. There were alot of "hand-made" soaps and lotions (pricey ones at that) along with socks, scarves, and gloves. A few food places sprinkled here and there as well. There was also an ice skating rink setup that was overlooked by a large Christmas tree. I guess this is the Rockefeller Center of Midtown :-) I grabbed a picture of Tom in front of the fountain in the middle, although I didn't get him smiling, huh?

Bordering the park is the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library, a large, statuesque Beaux-Arts landmark building. We grabbed a few pictures from the lobby, with a huge tree and candelabra between the grand staircases on either side of the lobby. I also grabbed a picture of a part of the ceiling and its' intricate details. You'll see more pictures of the outside in a later blog.

So here I become a "criminal", since they specifically said "no pictures" and I took a few. Our first of two Broadway matinees was 'You can't take it with you' at the Longacre Theater. It is set entirely within a house so the rotating stage shows the exterior and then the interior of the house. We were lucky enough to catch a show with James Earl Jones in it! It was a great show ... very funny!

Then dinner ... we decided to go to an Italian restaurant called Barbuto. There is a French chef, Daniel Boulud, that has multiple restaurants in NYC that we've gone to, as well as having lunch at a restaurant he used to have in Beijing, and buying one of his cookbooks. In an article in the NY Times (on Where these amazing Chefs go to eat when they are not cooking or at one of their restaurants), he mentioned that he likes to go to this restaurant and eat the chef/owner Jonathan Waxman's signature chicken (chicken with a salsa verde of capers, anchovies, garlic, hand-chopped parsley, arugula, basil, tarragon and sage). So if it is good enough for one of the best French chefs .. it's good enough for us! It is quite a unique location, since it is in an old garage and still has the concrete floor and garage doors, which can be opened during warm weather. It was also quite loud and quite dark. We were usinga new camera so the pictures are ... well ... less than ideal (sorry). We also had the pleasure of having dinner with our friends Carrie and Jason, who lived in our same building in Shanghai and who now have moved to New Jersey. We decided to go with their "family style" meal, which gave us multiple different dishes to share for each course. There was too much food, good wine, and great friends to start our vacation.