Friday, October 23, 2009

No Ulterior Motives: Part 1

Just on a vacation in New York and I had no professional reason to go. This is a change of pace.


I met my dad and brother at JFK since our respective planes were mere minutes apart in landing time. We were chauffeured into midtown by cabbie Stuart Joffe (read the link, seriously this guy was ridiculous), a little Jewish guy from Brooklyn who has been driving a cab in New York for almost fourty years. He regaled us with tales of the celebrity passengers he's had (focusing mainly on who was gay and who was a jerk in real life).

We grabbed some lunch at Juniors (tip: always share anything here), saw Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps (my first Broadway play, cute and fun), and had a late dinner at Five Napkin Burger where the highlight was the espresso brownie sundae (sorry, no picture). I slept sooooo good that night.


We were all up bright and early to catch a ferry to Ellis Island for the morning. The day was sooooooooo perfection! Dad had secured us some sweet reservations for the official Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island cruise. Yea, it is touristy, but it's a history museum, so I know I'm gonna love it.

They do try to recreat the imigrant experience for you in the process of getting on the boat (metal detectors, huddling everyone together in long lines or in a big tent) but we were happy to do it.

The three of us waiting to board the ferry.

Wind in my face and liberty at my back.

Lady Liberty as we passed.

Her original name (btw) is "Liberty Enlightening the World" and she wasn't as big as my brother thought she would be. We actually didn't disembark on Liberty Isaland, although it was an option. A floating photo op was good enough for the likes of us. Considering we couldn't climb up into the statue anyway (a privilege reserved for those who had the foresight to get tickets months in advance) we headed straight to Ellis Island where my dad's grandpa arrived from Ireland in the 1920s.
Approaching in the ferry

The grounds were beautiful, and the building has been restored as a museum.

Enjoying the audio tour in the "registration hall."

We all loved the museum and would give it high recommendations (definitely invest in the audio tour, so worth it). It was very revealing not just about the process on the island but the immigrant lifestyles before and after arriving in the United States. Fascinating stuff. A must see even for the most cynical.

The day just got nicer and by the time we left we could take a relaxing stroll from Battery Park to Stone Street in the Financial District. We got there at the peak o the lunch hour and it was hopping with people (which I thought was super fun). Chowed down at the Stone Street Tavern (pretty good but not too memorable) and walked up to Wall Street to catch our train back to midtown.

Sam (my brother) had wanted to go down to Washington Square Park to photograph the arch (and anything else cool looking.)

My brother is a photographer. :)
He also wanted to do some shopping at some stores downtown. So I went with. The coolest store we went to was Uniqlo a Japanese store with so many sweaters I wanted to move in.

It looked like a clothing Ikea with three floors of very affordable merchandise.

After such a big day we decided to lay low grab some grub and enjoy the NBC Thursday night line-up (ok, that was mostly for me.) Searching for a place to eat I happened to hear a few random things about Mooncake Foods and all three of us were glad I did. It was this fantastic asian diner with absolutely no frills but AMAZING service AMAZING food for AMAZING prices. We had lobster and mango summer rolls and edamame for an appetizer, New Zealand lobster, craw fish and mushroom wonton soup, and steak kebabs with peanut sauce for dad, sam and me respectively, plus two glass of Sapporo for the guys for the price of what we had been paying for lunches. Go there, now

Lobster dinner special.


Steak kebabs.


Friday was finally supposed to be the day we did what we came here for which was to visit the PDN Photo Plus Expo, featuring photographers and cameras and all things photo related. It was interesting and I did learn a few tips but honestly, after an hour I had pretty much got the gist of it.

My brother graciously escorted me to my desired destination for the day: central park. We strolled and enjoyed the upper west side for a few hours before meeting with Dad for lunch at Manganaro's Heroboy, where diets go to die.

My selection was the day's special: chicken cutlet with spinach and mozzarella. Yum!

I only ate half and took the rest to go, so I wasn't too bad. This place get a big thumbs up from me not only because of the food but the atmosphere which consisted almost exclusively of locals.

Dad headed back to the Expo and Sam and I needed naps after our epic walk around the west side. It started to get rainy which made all of us desire some more delicious Italian comfort food. We braved the weather to get to Carmine's, a popular spot in the theater district known for family style dinning. We got there at nine and got a table at ten (it's the kind of place where you should make a reservation, is what I'm getting at) but the time flew because of the great company!

The gentlemen enjoying drinks at the bar.

Each dish at Carmine's is enough to feed six people. Luckily the guys had been here before so we decided before hand just to order salad and an entree.

This is just my share of salad.

Up close and personal with our main course.

We made a respectable dent in the seafood linguini (which featured some of the most velvety scallops I have ever had the pleasure of tasting).

The clam broth of the pasta was also too delicious to resist soaking up with some bread!

The final verdict for Carmine's? It is super busy, and a little touristy, but the food is totally worth it! Next time I wouldn't go with less than four people (five or six would be perfect) and I would make a reservation.

Next installation coming in a bit! Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the rest of my vacation.


  1. That's it...after Paris; New York City, preferably with a couple of my favorite folks along with to help me navigate the unknowns.