Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekly Roundup - September 28, 2012

Porter Lounge - On Saturday morning my mom and I escaped Toronto and our troubles for a pre-25th Birthday New York City getaway! Back in the Spring after returning from Israel and itching for another trip, my mom and I had found an incredible deal for flights to New York. Too good to not take advantage of, we booked a 3 day, 2 night trip to New York! It was our first time flying with Porter airlines, and happily it met the high expectations we had thanks to all of the Porter hype we have been hearing for years now. It was such a stress-free and speedy traveling experience! One of my favourite parts was the Porter lounge, complete with big, cushy seating, complimentary Wifi, an espresso machine, snacks including salted almonds and shortbread cookies, beverages, and more!

Markt Croque Monsieur - After arriving in New York and stowing our bags, we were desperate to sit down, relax, and enjoy a delicious New York meal. We hadn't made any reservations beforehand, but we knew we would find great food as long as we kept our eyes open for crowds. On Sixth Avenue we came across Markt Restaurant, a buzzing French cafĂ© with a cute patio and large open floor-to-ceiling glass windows. We immediately got a table right next to the patio (perfect for people watching) and ordered Eggs Benedict (my mom) and a Croque Monsieur sandwich (myself). This perfect grilled cheese hit the spot to give me the energy to take on New York!

GROM Gelato - After lots of walking, sightseeing, and window shopping, we joined the long line outside of GROM Gelato for a cup of the indulgent Italian treat. One of the best cups of gelato I've tasted, I couldn't get enough of the Espresso and Baccio combo we ordered.

A.O.C Oysters - While strolling around Bleecker St. during the day, we were taken by a cute French restaurant with a beautiful backyard patio and a steal of a Prix Fix menu at $25, including foie gras and Filet mignon. We put our names down for dinner at A.O.C that evening on the spot!
Central Park - Here's me (Danielle Rose), happy as a clam on a beautiful stunner of a day in Central Park. This was my fourth visit to New York and although I've strolled a little bit of the historic park before, I've never really walked through the whole thing, getting to see the beautiful man-made pond filled with happy couples in canoes and even a gondola, the stunning Bethesda Fountain (that I'm sitting on the edge of here), or the striking John Lennon memorial Strawberry Fields. Getting to really experience Central Park this time around made my love for this magical city grow even stronger! 
Columbus Street Festival - After our leisurely stroll around Central Park, we decided to just walk around and see if anything would catch our interest. Lucky for us, we happened to stumble across the Columbus Street Festival. Full of flea markets, food carts, clothing and perfume stands, and a live band singing the Blues, the festival was just what we needed to cap off the perfect Sunday in New York. Without any agenda, it was great to have the time to take in the festival, dance to the music, drink a pint right on the New York street, and watch as nearby residents stuck their head out their apartment windows to experience the excitement from above. This was one of my favourite parts of the whole weekend!

Converse Stars & Stripes - In the Converse star in Soho I was taken by their striking wall display of rows upon rows of converse shoes in red, white, and blue, lining the walls to symbolize the American flag. I love how patriotic New Yorkers are.

Dos Caminos Tacos - After faking sick to get out of a horrible restaurant (don't worry, we hadn't ordered anything yet) we ended up at Dos Caminos, a modern Mexican restaurant with locations in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. With a heated outdoor patio and killer margaritas, Dos Caminos was a great place to spend our last evening in New York.

M Bar at the Mansfield Hotel  - With prices of New York hotels as sky high as their buildings, we decided to check out some boutique hotel options. Although still expensive (after all, this is still New York) we decided upon the Mansfield Boutique Hotel, located in Central New York, for its reasonable prices, complimentary breakfast, free Wifi, and independent appeal. The complimentary breakfasts, served at the Mansfield's M Bar, were delicious with my favourite of the two mornings being their poached eggs on brioche with truffled hollandaise. We also loved the complimentary espresso machine that ran 24hrs, that we definitely took advantage of!

Eataly Tagliatelle with Short Rib Ragu  - One of the highlights of my trip of course involves food. I had been hearing about Eataly NY for months now, and have been dying to go, but all this time I thought it was just a restaurant. Boy was I ever wrong. So much more than just a restaurant, Eataly is a retail space, culinary school, has numerous restaurants inside, and is, in fact, a philosophy! Bringing the highest quality and most authentic ingredients from across Italy to New York, while collaborating with some of the city's top Italian chefs, Eataly was one of the most well done and special food experiences I have ever had. I'll leave it at that for now, because I could go on and on talking about Eataly, or what I now refer to as 'Heaven on Earth', and I need to save something for my upcoming blog entries on my New York adventures. In the meantime, definitely check out their website and learn about this celebration of all things Italian.
Eataly - One of my favourite sections to browse at Eataly was La Pizza & La Pasta section where we sat down to enjoy an incredible lunch. While waiting for our table (only a 10 minute wait!) we drooled over the fresh pasta counter filled with the most beautiful and delicious sounding house-made pastas I have ever seen! At the counter we were lucky enough to sample their house-made gnocchi in a wild boar ragu, which absolutely blew me away! Never in life have I tasted such light gnocchi, and the sauce was to die for!

Eataly - I have always loved the look of a beautiful brick pizza oven. Eataly's pizza oven was like a typical pizza oven all dressed up for a night out, covered in glistening gold tiles. They were so stunning, I had to take a photo!

Eataly Margherita Pizza - Because we couldn't possibly choose between ordering just pizza or pasta for lunch, my mom and I decided to order a pasta dish and a pizza to split to taste the best of both worlds. Although Eataly's pizza menu had numerous tempting flavours, we decided to go with a classic margherita pizza to compare it to our favourite pizza in Toronto, Pizzeria Libretto. As much as I go crazy over Libretto's incredible margherita pizza, Eataly's wins as my all-time favourite pizza! What bumped Eataly to number one? It all came down to the cheese! I've always found Libretto a little stingy on the cheese, whereas Eataly topped their delicious thin crust pizzas with a generous amount of mozzarella cheese!

Toronto Sky - It's always hard to return home and go back to reality after a vacation. You always seem to catch a case of "the grass is always greener", imagining living your life in your vacay destination. It's even harder when your vacay is a mere 2 nights and 3 days. The day after returning home, as I begrudgingly walked to catch my bus, I looked to see the sky illuminated in pink, gold, purple, and orange, an incredibly stunning sight, in my incredibly familiar neighborhood. It was a good reminder to see the beauty of things to matter where you are.

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Listening To:
Alabama Shakes - You Ain't Alone

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