New York for Thanksgiving

New York remains one of the world’s great cities and as always, having visited, I leave wishing I had much more time to spend there. 

We had a great visit to reunite with dear friends Anne and Bill, whom we worked with in Oman 20 years ago. Now in Austin, TX, they rented a small flat in Brooklyn for a week and invited us to join them for a few days.

Bill, Susan and Anne in Washington Square Park

The drive was an easy 7-hours, with a couple of stops. Little traffic on Thanksgiving day as most were already at their destination. We arrived before Anne and Bill so picked up the keys from the flat owner. I’d brought along some vacuum-wrapped ham procured in Spain and a tin of foie gras and a great loaf of bread for our Thanksgiving meal, which we tucked into around 9pm.

The flat was pretty basic but the trip was less about luxury than seeing our pals, eating, drinking and laughing. (They would not take any money from us for the rental.) But I should add that the second-floor flat was right above a bar that featured LOUD karaoke on Friday night, til 4 am! Bill actually called New York’s Finest to complain, was told that non-emergency (violent) calls had an 8-hour wait…

Two blocks from the L Train (subway)which got us into midtown Manhattan in 10 minutes, we spent two fun days poking around the East Village and Midtown. We saw a fun Christmas Market with creative stalls and food vendors. 

Susan buying earrings at the Market

Making Churros (Mexican fried bread) at the Christmas Market 

We then made our way to a big fancy food mall that specializes in Italian food, Eataly: 

We also took the elevator up the 14th floor which has a bar and enjoyed a round of drinks:

That night we dined at Nomad Bar, highly recommended by a friend, and I ordered the $38 chicken pot pie. It arrived with a spoonful of truffle mouse and a skewer of grilled foie gras, both of which were introduced and vigorously whirled into the steaming hot pie, melting and flavoring the inside. It was rich and glorious.

On Saturday we visited the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side, home to millions of immigrants over the last two centuries. Initially densely German, after their generations succeeded and moved out it became home to Eastern Europeans and Jews, and finally Chinese. It was once the most densely populated part of the planet. A hundred years ago, NYC’s population was greater than it is today. We did not visit one of the tenement flats (another visit) but did visit the ground floor/basement business that makes up, still, most NYC apartment buildings. When owned by a German, this street-level business was a German pub, selling lagers to local residents, owned 150 years ago by a Prussian and his Hanoverian wife. (There was no “Germany” back then. The couple likely spoke different dialects and would have had trouble communicating initially.) There would have been several of these on each block. On Sundays—the only day off work for most—they’d be packed. Beers were $.05, and once ordered, you could take your plate to the table and fill it with food, purchased and cooked by the wife.

BTW, the USA has no official language owing to the debate that took place about it as the country was forming, we learned. Many pushed for German as the choice, so high was the level of immigration. (25% of Americans have German lineage). As they couldn’t settle on one or the other, it was deemed there would not be one.

Lunch on Saturday was also special—Babbo, a temple to Italian food, which Susan and I had visited before. 

Lunch at Babbo

This was followed with another old friend reunion, Elayne, who we have known for decades and is a professor at NYU. We quickly began verbally pummeling Trump. 

Sunday we left at 10am and got home by 5pm, not bad given how busy the roads were. It was, as always, great to see the dogs. 

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