I Want To Wake Up In . . .

. . . that city

That doesn’t sleep

And find I’m king of the hill

Top of the heap . . .

Sing it, Ol’ Blue Eyes!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMfz1jlyQrw

What a great song about a great city.  After living in The Big Apple for a New York Minute, as they say, Franz and I agreed that we had to return for a visit every year.  Last year a pesky hurricane cancelled our trip, so we were super excited to return this year.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve never stepped foot in NYC, or if you have been so many times you feel very comfortable telling a cabbie about to hit you as you cross the street to stick a knish where the sun doesn’t shine,  it’s overwhelming because there are so many options!

This year we opted to stay in the downtown area, right across the street from One World Trade Center.  Hotels can be a little less expensive, its away from the major foot traffic, and it is easy to get from here to anywhere on the island and beyond with the subway.  Interested in seeing One World Trade Center?  Wait a year or two.  It’s a pain in the butt, especially if it’s snowing or raining, entering the space.  There are so many people visiting and I felt like I was going through airport security.  Not a peaceful entrance to say the least.  You can walk around the two impressive waterfalls, but the museum is not scheduled to open until Spring.  Again, wait a year and then go.  It’s best to make a reservation well ahead of time.  One year we went and didn’t have a reservation and it was booked for the entire weekend.  This time one could get a spot without a reservation, but it requires waiting in an additional line which was very long.  After getting through all of the check points, waiting in line after line, and removing coats and belts, I felt very moved and beyond sad seeing the actual site and all of those names listed around the fountains.  It’s a tough way to start a trip, but necessary, I believe.

One World Trade 6

Between checking into our hotel and making our appointment time at One World, we grabbed the subway and headed over to Brooklyn for a pie at Grimaldi’s (http://grimaldisnyc.com/about/).  Again, this is where one can get very overwhelmed.  You can read websites, blogs, newspapers, Facebook post, whatever – you will get so many great recommendations for pizza.  I like Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn because I love their pizza and I love seeing the Brooklyn Bridge.  The crust is a nice thin, but not too thin, crust.  They put just enough fresh sauce on it to make me smile, and not so much cheese that I want to take a nap.  I like my pie simple: pepperoni with fresh ricotta.  They put fresh basil on it, but I asked for extra on the side.  I like lots of fresh basil.  And pepper flakes.  That’s it. Fold that baby in half (lengthwise) and now we are talking!

Grimaldis Entrance

The location I’ve been to in the past was a couple of doors down from the new spot. I loved the new location. It’s more comfortable, and I like sitting upstairs. Again, I love people watching!!

Grimaldis 1

No Frills Menu

No Frills Menu

We had to include our pup, Monsieur.

We had to include our pup, Monsieur.

Day 2 of our trip was Thanksgiving.  We slept in (which we never do!), polished off some coffee and amazing bagels in the Hell’s Kitchen area called Pick A Bagel. We found it through Yelp, and it was way better than some of the reviews!  Just like the pizza, you can become inundated with recommendations for a good bagel place – and there are bad ones.  Sometimes you have to wing it and you might be pleasantly surprised! Our plan was to walk throughout Central Park after the Macy’s Day Parade was over (we had zero interest getting into that mess), call the family in Ohio, check out our old neighborhood around 71st and 1st, and then meander up to Harlem for our Thanksgiving Buffet reservation at Ginny’s Supper Club.

Pretty sure this is what Heaven smells like.

Pretty sure this is what Heaven smells like.

Now this is the way to start Thanksgiving morning!

Now this is the way to start Thanksgiving morning! We shared an Egg Salad on Rye.

Pick A Bagel even had cupcakes that looked like Hostess Cakes! I really wanted one.

Pick A Bagel even had cupcakes that looked like Hostess Cakes! I really wanted one.

Making plans for Thanksgiving was a huge deal.  I love making a turkey dinner, and I’ve never gone to a restaurant for the special day.  Thanksgiving and Halloween are my favorite days of the year by far!  I didn’t want to screw it up!  I’ve been wanting to go to Chef Marcus Samuelsson‘s Red Rooster restaurant (http://redroosterharlem.com/) for years. While trying to find the perfect dinner spot, I discovered Red Rooster has a restaurant on the basement level, Ginny’s Supper Club (http://www.ginnyssupperclub.com/).  My checklist for the perfect restaurant Thanksgiving dinner:

  1. Buffet style.  We didn’t want one plate of food or a silly 3 course option.  Boo!
  2. Not crazy expensive.
  3. Turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing had to be on the buffet.
  4. Cozy atmosphere with a Holiday vibe.

Ginny’s hit everything on my wish list.  And there were fabulous entertainers throughout the meal, too.  I felt like I went back in time.  I ordered a Moscow Mule and let the eating games begin!  I would highly recommend this place.  My only complaint was that we officially had the worst server in the world.  Everyone else around us had great servers. Ours, to put bluntly, sucked.

Here are just a few photos of what was consumed . . .

Ginnys Buffet

The spread . . .

Ginny's Meats

Meat . . .

Ginny's Turkey

. . . and more meat.

The Mac and Cheese was one of our favorites!

The Mac and Cheese was one of our favorites!

I could eat roasted veggies ever single day.

I could eat roasted veggies ever single day.

Never had Catfish on Thanksgiving before!

Never had Catfish on Thanksgiving before!

Delicious Butternut Squash Soup!

Delicious Butternut Squash Soup!

Thanksgiving isn’t complete without these sides!

 . . .but these were just meh.  I think they were mislabeled.  They tasted like a  simple Pumpkin Bar.  Kind of a buzz kill.

. . .but these were just meh. I think they were mislabeled. They tasted like a simple Pumpkin Bar. Kind of a buzz kill.

The Pumpkin Whoopie  Pies were good . . .

The Pumpkin Whoopie Pies were good . . .

Ginnys sign

Two very full customers!

ginnys table

Our table had such a great view of the band – and awesome spot for people watching!

I will give you a few more recommendation in the next post.  One of my goals on this trip was to spend more time in Brooklyn which we accomplished.  It is an amazing area with so many things to do.  I’ll fill you in on some spots not to miss and a couple of places that you can pass by.

Whenever I go to NYC, I always go with an itinerary in hand.  However, the best tip to give on traveling around the city is to be flexible (and learn to use the subway! So easy and so much faster than a taxi!).  If you see an interesting bar or shop, stop in.  If you can’t make it to that amazing cupcake shop you read about in some random blog like this one, who cares?  I love looking back at my itinerary to see which places I never visited.  Hey, it’s a list for another time!!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Here a Kale, There a Kale, Everywhere a Kale-Kale

I love food trends.  It’s fun to see what people create with the hot item of the season, or the month, or the minute.  I over indulged one weekend in New York City when pork belly was all the rage. Bad idea.  My husband and I couldn’t even look at pork belly for about a month.  Then there was the ramp craze.  That wasn’t a big hit with me.  It was just ok. Then kale got the spotlight.  It was (and seems to still be) everywhere!  Is kale even cool anymore?  I will never tire of it.  Of course you could swap it out for turnip greens or Swiss chard, but I still really enjoy kale.  And there are many types to choose.  Check out this blogger who documents 6 kinds: http://www.pigandvine.com/2013/01/garden-6-kinds-of-kale.html

Top Ten Reasons to Eat Kale

  1. It goes with anything! Just Google recipes for kale, and you will find a combination you like.  Say you don’t eat veggies often (a la Ron Swanson), add some quinoa and some grilled chicken.  You prefer sweet entrees?  Make a nice vinaigrette, add some strawberries, maybe throw in some sautéed shrimp, and dinner is served.
  2.  It is super filling. It’s like eating a bowl of rice.  It seems to really expand, and yet I’ve never felt uncomfortably full.
  3. Talk about healthy!? It’s one of the healthiest foods on the planet! It has a ton of fiber, calcium, vitamin B6, A and K, magnesium, etc., etc.  However, I have read that too much kale may interact with some medications and can interfere with the absorption of calcium, so have that milkshake from Jack in the Box another time, and speak with your doctor about drug interactions. I even think you get health benefits for just reading about it!  So well done.  You’ve just increased your magnesium!
  4. You can eat kale, and then feel ok about that Jack in the Box milkshake you will gulp down later!
  5. It’s really tasty, and you feel good eating it.  You know when you donate to a worthy cause or finish a charity run?  That’s how I feel after eating a bowl of kale.
  6. It doesn’t have to be 100% healthy.  Go ahead, throw a pork belly on it.  It won’t judge you.
  7. You can bake them and eat them like potato chips! Or you can have someone else do the work for you.  Thanks, Trader Joe’s! Kale Chips
  8. I think it keeps one regular.  Just being honest.
  9. You can try growing it and talk about it at farmers’ markets so you sound really cool.
  10. It’s so pretty!  You can use it in a floral or table arrangement!

I had lunch the other weekend at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas.  My husband had a delicious steak, and I thought it was very reasonably priced for Vegas.  I ordered the Frisee, Kale, and Warm Bacon Salad with a Soft Poached Egg. Divine.  Again, it doesn’t always have to be healthy!  However, I’m in love with a recipe that doesn’t clog the arteries.  I discovered this recipe in Good Housekeeping (April 2013).  It’s a Dr. Oz recipe (and I now love him because through his show I discovered the cleanse I did last month), and I think it’s a great one for people who already love kale and for those who are not so sure about it.  Another option with this recipe is to blanch the kale first or add the quinoa hot if you are not crazy about eating kale raw.  I’ve read that it is even healthier to eat kale cooked.  You have so many options with this simple recipe!

Apple and Baby Kale Salad

  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained (*see note below)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used avocado oil just because I like to mix it up every so often.)
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 6 cups mixed baby kale (Or use any kind of kale you like.  I like them all!)

Cook quinoa according to the directions on the package; let cool.  (I didn’t let it cool that much.  I just threw it in.)

Whisk together mustard, oil, lemon juice, green onion, and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Add apple, kale, and cooked quinoa; toss to combine. And, of course, it’s great topped with sriracha.  Like I even need to mention that (insert eyes rolling).

Why do I love this particular recipe?  First of all, I love the unexpected sweetness of the Granny Smith apples. Second, if you (or someone you know) think you might not like kale, it’s a great introduction.  You could add more quinoa and not use as much kale.  **You could replace the quinoa for something all together – you could add orzo!  Why not?  It would be like a pasta salad with some kale.  Maybe throw in some blue cheese?  OK, I’m just getting hungry now.

Kale and Apple Salad

Even if kale has jumped the shark, I’m not letting this trend go anytime soon!  What’s your favorite food trend?  I’d love to hear about it! And if you head to Vegas anytime soon, check out Mon Ami Gabi.  There’s a patio (no reservations accepted for that area) that is on the strip.  Talk about a great day:  A bottle of wine, steak, kale and watching the lovely people of Vegas walk by!  What could be better?

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Mon Ami Gabi on Urbanspoon