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!

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It’s Summertime and the Living is . . . Sweaty!

As I am typing, I am sweating. Welcome, Summer! I’m only 9 days into the Season and I’ve had a blast so far. Franz and I celebrated our 10 year Wedding Anniversary at The Grand Del Mar and had an amazing 10 course dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Addison. I can’t wait to share what went on behind those doors, but I will have to post that in July. Why? I’m heading out to Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio to see family, and I just ran out of time this week to finish writing. Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@megangillkopp) because I can guarantee it will be a food extravaganza, some Bourbon tour debauchery in Kentucky, and a reenactment of Oktoberfest in Cincinnati.

In no particular order, here are the highlights of my Summer so far . .  .

Our Neighborhood Footbridge is Getting a Much Needed Facelift!

Our Neighborhood Footbridge is Getting a Much Needed Facelift!

Franz Bringing Me Flowers on Our Anniversary. He Included My Favorite Flower, Bells of Ireland Which I had in My Wedding Bouquet!  Thanks, Franz!

Franz Bringing Me Flowers on Our Anniversary. He Included My Favorite Flower, Bells of Ireland Which I had in My Wedding Bouquet! Thanks, Franz!

I finally tried a cronut!  If you haven’t heard of a cronut before, it is a cross between a donut and a croissant. I would imagine these could be really screwed up, so go to an amazing baker for one. The one I had at VG was delicious.Trying a Cronut For The First Time at VG Donut and Bakery in Cardiff By The Sea.

V G Donuts & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Meeting Chef William Bradley After Our Meal at Addison.

Meeting Chef William Bradley After Our Dinner at Addison.

Addison at the Grand Del Mar on Urbanspoon
Let me know what awesome stuff you’ve done so far! I would love to read about it!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

I’m Alive!

I’ve been absent since last year, so I wanted everyone to know I’m alive and well.  O.K., that sounded really dramatic.  I feel like so much time has passed since I last posted!  I just returned from Cleveland, Ohio.  It was great seeing family and friends and eating all of the great food Cleveland has to offer.  I have so much to discuss and some great photos to share.  I need to get my thoughts collected, and I promise to post some fun stuff next week.

Since it is Friday, I would like to try to maintain the recently created tradition for this blog and share my favorite thing during the past week.  This was a tough one because I experienced a ton of awesome food and experiences.  The clear winner, however, was the Cleveland Museum of Art.  If you live in Cleveland and haven’t gone, shame on you!  And I don’t think I’m being too harsh!  Is it the entrance cost holding you back?? (It’s free.)  Is it the lack of amazing art work?? (It’s one of the best in the world.) Maybe you think you might get hungry and there wouldn’t be a good option for lunch or dinner nearby? (The museum has a brand new restaurant, Provenance, that has an amazing view of outside – and a full bar to boot.  My mom and I saw a yummy looking Sunday brunch being served.  What better way to spend a Sunday?? There’s a cafe, as well, where you can take food out into the gorgeous new atrium and admire the stunning marble facade of the original building. Oh, and Little Italy is a stone throw away.)

Check out this video:

I have my B.A. and M.A. in Art History, but you don’t need any special degree to really enjoy this gem.  Oh, you don’t live in Cleveland?  So you don’t travel outside of your city?  You don’t take vacations?  You might consider Vegas, Miami, or Seattle for a trip, right?  I propose you consider Cleveland.  I guarantee you will have an amazing vacation (maybe avoid the Winter months).  I must disclose that I grew up in Cleveland, but I can honestly say that I’m not writing this with any bias. I’m not writing this to make my mom happy, either.  And I’m not getting paid to endorse this city.  That would be awesome though!

Here are some of my favorite pieces from the CMA’s collection:

Mourner from the Tomb of Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy

The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew

Stag at Sharkey’s

The Red Light

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Take Care and Happy Eating!

Quick Visit to Cleveland

This past weekend, I flew into Cleveland to attend a funeral in Plymouth, Michigan.  My sister’s father-in-law, whom I’ve known since I was 12 years old (I still can’t believe that!), was taken away from us too soon from ALS.  It was a wonderful funeral, and Howard would have loved it!  The food and drinks were flowing and the laughs never stopped.  The photograph above is from Christmas 2008.  My brother-in-law, Tom, and his father, Howard, are in the foreground.  My dad, father-in-law, and husband are in the background.  Howard will be missed by many.

I arrived into Cleveland Thursday night.  There was just enough time to check out Michael Symon‘s B Spot in Crocker Park.  I had a hard time deciding which burger to order and settled on Breuben ($9) – a burger topped with Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Swiss, and Russian Dressing. I can’t leave Ohio without having at least one Great Lakes Brewery beer, so the Dortmunder Gold ($5) was a perfect complement to my meaty burger.  It was a perfect meal.  I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be full because it looked small.  Looks are deceiving!  Along with a side of Rosemary Fries and Onion Rings my parents and I shared, I was just fine!  Next time, I might opt for a Bad A** Shake, possibly the Chocolate Banana Marshmallow with a shot of dark rum ($9), perhaps?

B Spot Burgers on Urbanspoon

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On Sunday, I had a full day free with my parents and brother in Cleveland before I flew back home to San Diego, and we made the most of it.  We met my in-laws for breakfast at Lucky’s Cafe in Tremont (Chef Heather Haviland).  We got there as soon as it opened because the place is small and very popular.  (Good thing to know: If you have a large party, they’ll take a reservation. Otherwise, get there early or else expect to wait.)  What I really loved about Lucky’s is that even though they were super busy, they let us linger at the tables.  We never felt rushed, and we were able to relax and enjoy our breakfast.  A few of us ordered Gingerbread Waffles surrounded by roasted apples and topped with delicious whipped cream drizzled with caramel sauce.  It truly was a dessert, and I loved every bite.  I ordered a Hot Apple Cider since I rarely get the opportunity.  All of their hot beverages come in huge mugs which I greatly appreciated.  It was the perfect cure for the chilly weather we had that day.  A couple other people ordered “Shipwreck” which was a mix of hash browns, eggs, vegetables, cheddar cheese served with their house baked toast and fruit.  I’m definitely going back, and I think I might get that next time!  It’s a little pricey, but in exchange you get house made breads and pastries, food from local farmers, and a home-like ambiance.  For 6 of us, including food and beverages, the total bill was about $100.

Lucky's Cafe on Urbanspoon

After my gluttonous meal, my family headed to The Cleveland Museum of Art.  If you are reading this and are not living in the Cleveland area, make a point to visit the city and make sure the museum is number 1 on your to do list.  And if you live in Cleveland, and haven’t been recently, go!!!!  One of the best summer jobs I ever had was being a security guard there.  I was paid to look at art (and to tell people to step away from the artwork) all day long.  I loved it!  However,  I did get tired of people saying “I could do that”.  If you say that, just make sure a security guard isn’t around.  But I digress ( I do that a lot!).  The special exhibition is “Rembrandt in America” and runs through May 28th.   Rembrandt’s works are often under scrutiny by Art Historians.  Is it or isn’t it by the Master?  This exhibition allows the viewer to compare a number of paintings that had originally been attributed to Rembrandt but were later determined to have been done by a student or someone copying his work.  There is a room devoted entirely to showing visitors how scholars study a painting in order to properly (hopefully) identify the artist.  I found it amazing to see the life Rembrandt brought out of a work – or put into it!  There are 2 paintings that really felt like the subject was in the room with me.  I could go on and on, but just do yourself a favor and check it out.  It’s the best $14 you’ll spend.  And there are two paintings in the exhibition that are from San Diego!  Woohoo!  I thought this was interesting, too:  the maker of Glidden is a sponsor and each room in the exhibition is painted in a different color influenced by Rembrandt’s works.  Before you enter, you can pick up a color palette sheet.  If you happen to love the green used in one room, you know exactly which paint to pick up at the store!  And speaking of Glidden, if you are a visitor and need a hotel room close to the museum and many other attractions, check out Glidden House.  It’s a mansion that was built in 1910 and is now a very unique hotel.   There are so many things to do just steps away!  Another tip, the tickets for Rembrandt are timed.  (Only special exhibitions have a fee.  The rest of the museum is free year round. Love CMA!!)  I recommend getting there when it opens so that you can immediately go into the exhibition, and there will be fewer vistors which is always nice!  Otherwise, you may have to wait to enter.  If that’s the case, there’s plenty other galleries to visit, but just remember your visit may take longer than you orginally planned. (Check out this video about “Rembrandt in America”:  666BnpAxTBY)

The time I spent at The CMA made me work up an appetite!  Hey, that’s a lot of walking and standing!  My family decided to head over to Presti’s Bakery and Cafe in Little Italy for some doughnuts, coffee and hot chocolate.  In my younger days, my friends and I loved going to the original Presti’s location (which used to be up the street a bit) after the bars had closed and stock up on some freshly made doughnuts.  Those were the days!  Before we left, I picked up one of their Pepperoni Rolls to bring back to my husband back in San Diego – one of his favorites.  I highly recommend getting one of those, too!

Presti's Café and Deli on Urbanspoon

It’s amazing that I was only gone for a few days, but I have so many awesome memories from my trip.   As always, I am already looking forward to going back to Cleveland to see family and friends – and to eat great food!!

As always, take care and happy eating!