We had already accomplished most of the items on D and M’s list of things to do. We were off now to do some things on the Alex-list that hadn’t shown up on either of their lists. Probably because they are slightly less food-obsessed than me, and not at all bridge-obsessed. We were off… to Brooklyn!
A quick and terrible subway trip (you remember that, at this point in time, I’d just gotten off a boat?… yeah, good times) got us to mainland and Brooklyn. Our first stop was to where Giada De Laurentis claims the best spicy hot chocolate is brewed – Jacques Torres. For those of you out there who are as foodie as me, you’ll understand my excitement at the idea of visiting a few of the restaurants that serve food that chefs would consider ‘the best thing I ever ate’ (a tv series about amazing food). Through our trip, we entirely failed to go for entertaining doughnuts, or try tempura battered bacon, or any number of things. So, when I realised that Jacques Torres was right near the Brooklyn Bridge, it became a driving focus. I was going to have a Jacques Torres Spicy Hot Chocolate. The plan was that we would grab something to eat at Jacques Torres, along with our spicy hot chocolate, and then head over to take some pictures of the bridge, and on the bridge, and from the bridge. The plan faltered a bit when we realised that Jacques Torres doesn’t serve things like sandwiches… they serve chocolate. Lots of chocolate, in various shapes and sizes and forms. There was brittle and Easter eggs, and hens and high heeled shoes, and chocolate bars, and chocolate filled cookies, and chocolate beverages, which is great, but does not a meal make. Luckily, we were right next door to the Water Street Restaurant and Lounge, so the plan was altered to include eating at one place, and getting spicy hot chocolate at another.
As we walked through the doors of the Water Street Restaurant, voices rose in song. We were just in time for the last Choir of the day, competing in the Gospel Choir competition. We were also still in time for brunch (despite it being about 3pm), which included sangria and a wide assortment of unusual breakfast foods. By the time we were done ordering, the choir had stepped down, to be replaced by a Grammy Award winning artist whose name I don’t remember, and whose music I had never heard before. He was very talented, masterfully used the phrase, “Can I get an Aaaaa-MEN!”, and told the story of how Jesus was with him when he was nearly in an accident with a crazy cabby on this visit to New York.
Jacques Torres was Chocolate Heaven, and a truly hellish experience to me. The smell of delicious chocolate was overwhelming and did nothing to help my body come to terms with not being on a boat. Skipping the purchase of a hot chocolate made right there, I settled for grabbing a few chocolate bars, and a big jar of hot chocolate mix before making a bolt for the exit and fresh air. Brutal! However, having only just tried the hot chocolate last night, I can safely say that it’s a good thing I didn’t try it while I was there. It is so rich and amazing that it would have sent my stomach reeling, and I might not have recovered enough to be able to try it again when I wasn’t feeling awful. It is very delicious. The mix is clumpy and full of cocoa nibs and chunks of chocolate, definitely not your standard powdered chocolate mix. I bought their Wicked Hot Chocolate, which has allspice, cinnamon, ground, sweet ancho chilli peppers and smoked ground chipotle chilli peppers in it. It isn’t spicy at all (in my spice-fiend opinion), but the flavour is amazing. I figure I’ll add some cayenne to my next mixing of it, to add a bit of heat, but if you’re not looking for that kind of spice, then the hot chocolate is already perfectly flavoured.
Brooklyn Bridge was amazing as well, and we got some great shots of it. I have no idea how the people who do photographs for posters manage to get shots of the bridge completely empty… they must have to close the street and the pedestrian access down for a few hours.
We also made it out to the Highline Park, which is a park they made on a no-longer-in-use section of raised rail tracks. They kept the railway ties and the rails down in a lot of sections, and made some lounge-chairs with train wheels that sit on the tracks. It will be so beautiful in the summer, once all the plants are green and blooming again. Even when we were there, when most of the grasses were brown, and lots of the plants had died down to nothing, it was beautiful. And such an innovative way to incorporate parkland into such a heavily populated area.
Our last night in New York, we ate at the Red Eye Grill, where we were waited on by the most hilarious waiter. We arrived pretty late (adjusting thoroughly to the New York timeline for dinner), and there were a number of menu-items that were no longer on the menu. Despite that, we still managed to get some amazing food, and great service. And, of course, dessert. I ordered banana cream pie, and what came out was about three times bigger than what I’d expected, and made entirely differently from what I was used to. There was cream, but it was poured in around the layers and layers of big pieces of banana, and then the entire thing was topped with whipped cream. I couldn’t finish it, but it was easy to pretend it was relatively healthy, since it was mostly made up of chunks of banana. We packed up portions of our desserts, and then our waiter brought us out a massive bag of little pastries and cakes. For breakfast on our way home, we had leftover dessert and all sorts of little cookies and walnut and banana breads, along with some tasty fruit smoothies we picked up on our way to the airport.
We took the subway, and then the train to the airport, which was a much much more effective way of getting to Manhattan. It isn’t nearly as confusing as we thought it would be, and it is such a nicer ride than being stuck in stop and go traffic trying to escape the city. I HIGHLY recommend taking the subway instead of dealing with traffic. It will cost you 5 dollars for the airport train, plus 2.25 for a ticket on the subway. We already had our 7 day passes (they don’t have a shorter time-period pass, and we wanted to have unlimited subway rides without worrying about refilling our metro cards or anything), and bought our train passes at the subway/train station before boarding.
All in all, the trip was amazing. We had great food, saw lots of touristy things, and also saw a few less-than-touristy things. We had some great and unique experiences, and avoided being mugged or heavily rained on. Where is my next big trip, in my jet-set and glamorous life? Thunder Bay! But not until late summer, when hopefully the blackflies and deerflies and horseflies and mosquitos will have died down enough to let the plane land safely and with moderate-to-high visibility.