I found this wonderful combination bakery and gourmet shop when walking home from school one afternoon and exploring Greenwich Village. All the delicious pizzas and pastries in the window lured me in.
I had just eaten my lunch, so I was not that hungry and just wanted a snack. I saw the small doughnuts in the windows called Bombolones, which are yeast doughnuts filled with chocolate or vanilla cream fillings and then rolled in granulated sugar. The small one is $2.15 and the large one was $5.00. Don’t let the price deter you as it is a sweet and filling little dessert. The fresh vanilla cream played beautifully off the sweet dough and sugary topping. Each bite was wonderful, and it was…
The colorful and mouthwatering selection of donuts is what lured me into this popular and very special dessert shop in Greenwich Village. Just one look in the window wanted to make me walk inside.
The unique logo
Walking into The Donut Pub is like walking into the donut version of “Willy Wonka’s”. There are just so many choices and all those delicious donuts scream “Buy me”! I have only been in The Donut Pub a few times, but I am hooked already. Just looking in the window makes me hungry.
The first time I passed the shop I was just taking a look at what was on display to see what they carried and this delicious and mouthwatering large…
Park Terrace Deli has been one of my go to places to eat uptown for a few years. I came across the deli when I was walking “The Great Saunter”, the 32 mile walk around Manhattan and needed an additional breakfast for extra protein and carbs. They did not disappoint me.
Park Terrace Deli at 510 West 218th Street
I always order the same thing here, the Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a hero roll ($6.50) and it is one of the best in Manhattan. They scramble two fresh eggs and then tuck it into a soft chewy hero roll lined with American cheese. Then they top it with several pieces of crisp bacon. The combination of flavors is amazing, and the portion size is enough for breakfast…
A la Mode Shoppe is the type of ice cream/candy shop that every neighborhood should have in it. It is a colorful spot with unusual, homemade ice cream flavors, and a nice selection of gourmet sodas, candies and gifts. The store is decorated with bright colors, comfortable chairs and a festive inviting environment. They even have a small party room off to the side of store with seating for small children.
The inside of A la Mode Shoppe (A la Mode Facebook)
What I come for is the ice cream. There are two flavors that I come for when I visit the store, Pink Sprinkles, which is Strawberry ice cream with loads of colorful sprinkles layered…
Well after seven years of trying to get to DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival I finally got down to the city to get to the tidal basin to see the display. It looks like it will be eight years as almost all the cherry blossoms disappeared almost two weeks earlier. All the leaves were long gone and as I overheard another tourist say to a friend that she was disappointed that she had not known and most of the trees were bare.
The festival was in its second week and most of the trees had gone green. I found out later from the Internet that they peaked on March 21st and right after that we had all that rain. It probably knocked the petals off after that.
The festival ran through April 16th, 2022 (the peak of the blooms was March 21st)
It was bummer in that I finally had a free weekend open to visit Washington DC and I had been looking forward to seeing Mother Nature’s show. I even took an early Amtrak train down to DC so that I could spend time in the Basin area when I arrived. The sun does not go down until 7:30pm now (which is a pleasure).
The trip down by train was nice as I love taking my time and just watching everything fly by. The train was packed. I kept forgetting that it was the start of the Easter weekend and people were starting their holiday travel plus for some schools it was Spring Break and college students were coming on the train loaded with luggage. The train was almost completely sold out.
Union Station was a shocker. I had not been in DC since the summer of 2019 when I went down for my Georgetown interview. The station was buzzing with commuters milling around the station and workers coming in during their lunch and dinner hours to enjoy the restaurants and shopping in the terminals. Union Station had a nice selection of restaurants and boutiques to visit, and it was a nice place to spend the afternoon.
The place looked like a ghost town when I arrived. The terminal was busy but not like it used to be and so many businesses closed. The lower-level restaurant food court was practically empty. That was really spooky. There was two people downstairs in the about four restaurants open and one was a homeless guy. I could not believe what COVID did to the station.
Still, it was a beautiful day and I decided to walk up First Street to my hotel. I was staying at the Marriott Courtyard DC in the NoMA section of DC (North of Massachusetts Avenue-Frah Frah) and it was only about a twenty minute walk for me. I could not believe how quiet DC was at the time. It was late afternoon and the only people that I saw on the streets were the security guards guarding the buildings. It looked like everyone had left DC for the holidays.
The Marriott Courtyard DC/Capital Building at 1325 Second Street NE
I was able to check into my room early, unpacked and off I went down New York Avenue to downtown. My first stop was Chinatown because I was starved, and I needed the late lunch. Downtown DC is one of the places in the core of the city that really has kept its architecture intact and has lots of character. On D, F and G Streets lots of older buildings from the post-Civil War era to the end of the Victorian Age and the facades now been incorporated into new buildings.
F Street from the White House to the arena used to be the old shopping district up until the 1990’s and you can still see the ghosts of Garfinckel’s, Woodward & Linthrop and Hecht’s Department stores in the architecture of these former grand department stores.
Garfinckel’s Department Store was the inspiration for my novel “Love Triangles”
Sadly, though when the arena was built, it pretty much knocked down the core of Chinatown and what is left now is about five restaurants, a small grocery store, tea shop and a gift shop that I am not sure whether it is open or not. There are still a few hangers on that give it some character but it’s not like the Chinatown’s in New York or Philadelphia.
There is one restaurant I still love going to when I am in DC, and I always visit it for sentimental reasons and that’s Chinatown Express Restaurant at 746 Sixth Street NW (see my review on TripAdvisor). I discovered the place several years ago when I was on a location search for my novel “Love Triangles” (Day One Hundred and Fifty-Two: Reading the Prologue of the Novel “Love Triangles”):
The entrance to the former Julius Garfinckel & Company: The inspiration for the novel “Love Triangles”. The entrance is on F Street in Downtown DC.
What attracted me to Chinatown Express then as now was the cooks are always making homemade dumplings and noodles in the window of the restaurant. One of the owner’s was making pulled noodles on my first trip there and then after that I was always looking for the chef making the pulled noodles.
The last time I saw him was when I went down for my Georgetown interview. On this trip, I saw who I assumed was his kid’s wrapping dumplings in the window and I had to have some of those.
Not really looking at the menu, I ordered Pan-Fried Pork and Chive Dumplings and Fresh Pulled Noodle Soup with Roast Pork, all of which is made inhouse. What a lunch! The dumplings were crisp and tender on the outside and a well-spiced pork mixture on the inside. This was made even better by the soy sauce mixture that I dipped them in.
The Pulled Noodle Soup had a nice rich chicken broth as a base with large slices of roast pork, fresh Bok choy and long strands of freshly made noodles in the soup. The soup was a meal onto itself. I slurped the soup with the noodles being sucked up at the same time. The roast pork had a nice, sweet glaze on top and they gave me a lot of it. The soup warmed me up and filled me up after a long journey.
After lunch was over, I had a lot more energy and ready to tour DC. I headed down to the Washington Mall to see the Tidal Basin. What a disappointment! The blossoms were over. There were still some trees around the basin that we a certain species of cherry tree that bloom late (these are the ones we are waiting for to bloom at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden) and these were the ones on the fringes of the basin that everyone was taking pictures of with their families. I guess it is another year before I see them again.
This is what it was supposed to look like but didn’t (Wiki)
All the trees around the basin had flowered and dropped their petals. There were a few bunches of late bloomers here and there in groups that my fellow tourists huddled around to take pictures. It was pretty sad because the DC Cherry Blossom Festival was in its second week and the blossoms had bloomed already. Mother Nature had the last laugh!
Still the trees were bursting with green leaves and the start of summer looked like it was upon us. It seems that everything was growing two weeks in advance even up by me and it looked like late Spring all over the Washington Mall. The paths were full of people looking at the trees making the same comments that I did about the leaves. I have to say that the tourists have come back. I heard many languages being spoken as I walked to the Jefferson Memorial on the other side of the basin and people were taking pictures of everything. It was nice to see DC busy and full of people all over the Mall.
The Jefferson Memorial was being repaired but still impressive and makes a statement when you walk around the structure. You can see all the quotes that spoken carved in the walls and reading them I was wondering how far we have come as a society with everything going on today. I had to dodge construction and people taking pictures in every direction.
I walked back to the patches of flowering cherry trees and the groups of people huddled around them desperate to show in picture the beauty of the trees. I have to admit that these patches of trees around the Washington Monument were very impressive.
The Washington Monument at 15th Street NW when I visited in 2007
I stopped for a while, bought a Coke from a vendor selling beverages all over the Mall and sat on the lawn and just relaxed and watched the sun set. Groups of families were sitting on the lawn, chatting, laughing and taking pictures. It was nice to see people again visiting the country and enjoying the city.
As I left the Mall lawn, I walked back into the downtown area. I stopped by the Portrait Gallery, but they were closed for the evening. Outside the Portrait Gallery, they were having one of the Cherry Blossom Street events with food vendors, musicians, people playing video games on the big screen and then they showed a Japanese cartoon film. There was a food vendor named Miguel’s Miniatures, who made homemade empanadas, churros, mini doughnuts and homemade lemonade. The prices were really reasonable.
I ordered the mini doughnuts that were ten for $5.00. These were freshly fried in front of me and then they had a series of glazes in squeeze bottles and sprinkles and candies to top them. It was a really nice concept and the doughnuts hit the spot after a long walk and a good lunch. It was nice to munch away while listening to the music.
As it got dark, I walked back to the hotel to settle in for the night. I have to say that Washington DC is a great walking city. Unlike Manhattan, the streets were really clean and well-groomed, and I did not see the amount of homeless that I would see in New York City. As I walked back up through downtown and up New York Avenue, I just noticed how organized the city seemed. There were a few tent encampments but again they were under overpasses and kept out of view from the rest of the neighborhood.
I walked through most of the Northeast section of the city, just north of New York Avenue and admired all the old town houses. They all look like they had been sandblasted back to like and the fronts of the homes were covered in flowering plants and there were lots of rainbow flags almost showing me the gentrification of the neighborhood.
When I got to around where the hotel was located, I got a little lost and did not realize that there were two First Streets off New York Avenue. I knew that I had not reached the McDonalds that I had passed or some of the street art that I use as a marker to remember where I walked. So, I walked around the block and down another street. That is when the fun began.
I walked down the first First Street and knew I did not recognize anything, so I just walked through this construction site of two new buildings going up and walking through the alley way between both sites and passed a dark church on the side of these construction sites. I thought that might be a good sign. I got to the other side of the street only to walk up a street between the two First Street and more construction only to have a group of 30 bikers without helmets coming at me in each direction.
I was more perplexed on why they were not wearing helmets and doing dangerous wheelies than coming at me in every direction. Even some of the bikers had strange looks on their faces as they surrounded me and went around me. It just said to me “What was I doing there?” and “Who was I?” and they continued to ride down the street and never looked back.
They never came back around to see what I was doing. I ended up in front of a public housing complex where the residents gave me a strange look walking by. Some were trying to hide that they were smoking substances that are no longer illegal.
I just looked back once and then kept walking and found my way back onto New York Avenue, crossed the bridge on the highway and then recognized a piece of art on the street that gave me back my directional sense. I knew my bearings as I crossed over New York Avenue and walked down North Street NE back towards the hotel. It was like another world from the one I just walked through. There I found Menomale Pizza Napoletana NoMA at 35N Street NE.
It was surreal. I felt like I went from one world to another in just a few feet. The restaurant was just going through it first seating and people were leaving. I looked at the menu and decided that I was hungry. That and I did not want to know if I would have enough energy once I got to the hotel to come back, so I entered and got a table. What a wonderful decision.
The menu had a nice selection of appetizers, pizzas, entrees and desserts and I settled on a simple Pizza Margareta ($14.95) with a Coke. I wanted to keep it simple because it was getting late, and I did not want to have to digest a heavy dinner so late at night.
Menomale NoMA at 35 North Street NE
The pizza was excellent with a topping with a fresh tomato sauce with crushed tomatoes and freshly made mozzarella and basil with a little olive oil on top. The pizza was also the right size for one person about the size of a large dinner plate. Being a thin crusted pizza and the dough was light and chewy, it was not difficult to devour the whole pizza. I thought the service was very professional, friendly and personal. Several waiters stopped by my table to see how I was doing. Between the food, atmosphere and service, it was the perfect meal. It ended a very strange walk back to the hotel.
The one thing I have to credit Marriott with is that their beds are super comfortable. I hit the pillow and slept soundly that evening. When I awoke the next day and opened the blinds and let the sunny morning inside the room. I felt so relaxed and not a bit tired from all the walking that I did the day before.
I had a quick breakfast at the McDonald’s around the corner from the hotel and had my usual Sausage with Egg McMuffin combination breakfast. It always hits the spot, but I will be pretty honest. Maybe it was all the walking or just I was hungry, but I needed more even after I left the restaurant.
As I made my way down to the Mall to visit museums, I needed something else to eat. So I stopped at this small Farmers Market on I Street NW right near Milian Park and saw a woman selling empanadas and stopped for one. She said she made them from her mother’s recipes and her breakfast empanada contained Mexican bacon, chorizo, eggs and Chedder cheese. For $4.00, I thought it was a fair price. The same thing in the Farmers Market in Union Square, they would have charged six or seven dollars for the same thing. It was the perfect breakfast accompaniment.
What I liked about DC was things like this. There were small Farmer’s Markets on the side streets, vendors with all sorts of foods all over the Mall and in front of the Portrait Gallery was the Downtown Cherry Blossom Festival with the movies and food. People have been complaining how bad DC has gotten and maybe it was me but in the two days I spent there, I only saw very positive things to participate in.
I finally got to the Hirshhorn Museum at Independence Avenue and 7th Street to see Yayoi Kusama exhibition that I had seen discussed on ‘CBS This Morning’ a couple of weeks earlier.
The Hirshhorn Museum at Independence Avenue and 7th Street (Hirshhorn Museum)
This was one of the reasons I had come to DC on top of seeing cherry blossoms that were not there. To my surprise, the museum had been open since 10:00am (I thought it did not open until 11:30am) and then the guy at the door says I needed timed tickets that were distributed starting at 9:00am that morning. He would not budge!
Ms. Kusama is a Japanese born artist who was trained at the Kyoto City University of Arts and is known for Avant-guard works and her later use of polka dots as her trademark.
Video on Ms. Kusama’s work
I went back upstairs to talk to the ladies at the desk and God must have been listening to me because in front of me were two people who did not want to go see the exhibition and I was able to grab one of their tickets. Talk about luck! I hate to say it but the guy at the desk downstairs looked disappointed that he had to let me in.
I swear that the Yayoi Kusama exhibition was well worth the trip down to DC. What an interesting way not only to display art but to be part of the art exhibition as well. The exhibition started with a few larger pieces of her work with lots of polka dots and pumpkins until you got to move to the private rooms where you got to part of the exhibition. This is where it got interesting.
The curator told me that this pumpkin belonged to the museum
I got to walk into her Mirrored Room with here soft sculptures and was left inside by myself for thirty seconds when the door closed. It was amazing and mind-blowing that you could see the repetitiveness of yourself in the artform and got to experience what she had seen as well. All those little red and white soft sculptures all over the floor made you feel like you were in a surreal ‘Wonderland’.
The Mirrored Room at the Hirshhorn Museum was like being in a surreal ‘Wonderland’
After leaving the mirrored room, I passed a through a small walkway and then when entering the next room of polka dot lanterns, it felt like you were walking through some crazy dream. It was so odd and exciting at the same time. It was so thrilling to be part of the artwork. It was like being in a usual funhouse.
The Polka Dot Lantern Room at the Hirshhorn Museum is a colorful ‘funhouse’
The exhibition is so engaging I wanted to walk through it again but the lines to get in when I left were so long that I knew I would not get tickets again. It is an exhibition that was worth the wait and the trip down to DC and I highly recommend it.
After I left the exhibition, I visited the Laurie Anderson exhibition and was again memorized by the lines of flags going up and down like a surrealist dream. Her videos of people sharpening knives was pretty weird as well.
Ms. Anderson’s work was just as wild, and she also makes it fun to walk through an exhibition. You become part of the art and that is just as interesting. Ms. Anderson is an American born artist who graduated with a BA from Barnard College and MFA from Columbia University. She is known for her Avant-guard works that spread across many mediums (Wiki).
The Laurie Anderson exhibition “The Weather” was another unusual journey
After spending most of my morning participating in the art of the Hirshhorn Museum, I wanted to walk through the sculpture garden. It was nice to walk amongst the flowers and all the pieces of art.
I knew I would be heading back to Manhattan after I finished at the museums and I stopped for lunch in the Washington Mall, which was line with food trucks. I stopped by a very busy one I had seen the other day called “Ribeye Philadelphia Steak” for a Cheesesteak. I had not had one since I went down to Philly for the Penn/Cornell game.
For $13.00, I got a large Cheesesteak with Wiz and a Coke and ate it on the lawn of the Mall. God, was I in the mood for that Cheesesteak. I felt like I was back at the Reading Terminal Market again. The roll was really fresh and chewy and the steaks were perfectly cooked. They must have made a mistake in the order because I got Provolone inside the roll and Cheese Wiz on top. I didn’t care. The combination was delicious and I just relaxed on the lawn on a sunny afternoon and enjoyed my lunch. Don’t miss this food truck when looking for a meal in the Washington Mall.
I walked past the White House and talk about security. The whole place was cordoned off and security is extremely tight. I had never seen all of this before. For the last twelve years there has been so much craziness with protests and people trying to get into the White House I do not blame them for the security. I have to say one thing, I saw the real FBI guys protecting the perimeter of the area and now understand why people think I look like I am in law enforcement. These guys looked like a younger version of me.
Me in front of the White House in better days in 2007
I walked back to the Downtown area and went to visit The National Portrait Gallery at Eighth and G Street for the “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue” exhibition.
The National Portrait Gallery at Eighth and G Street in Downtown Washington DC
I still remember the Watergate scandal from when I was a kid. The only importance that it had to the nine-year-old me was that all the cartoons and kids programming was cancelled for the hearings. Learning more about the incident in college and from books was how hard this hit the American public and their trust of the government.
National Portrait Gallery exhibition “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue” (Time Magazine Cover)
The exhibition had all sorts of illustrations of the scandal and the people who were participants of it. It was funny to see the names and faces of the people who were involved in this event and know now that most of them are no longer alive to defend themselves. Even though the scandal was seen in the form of illustration, it did make a point into the ramifications of what happens when you get caught.
It was a low point for our country, between that and the ongoing war in Vietnam and inflation, you have an idea of why the country was so cynical. I am convinced this is why the Disco era happened. When it was all over, people needed to blow off steam and have a good time. Plus, the Baby Boomers were coming of age and needed time for themselves before starting a family.
It was funny to see how the artists depicted these important people or people who thought that they were important. It is amazing how fast the mighty can fall fast. It was not until the Reagan Administration that there was some pride back in the country and in some ways that was all a facade as well. It takes an exhibition like this to point that out.
After I toured the exhibition, I toured the Hall of Presidents and saw all the portraits. I saw the portrait of the recent president and listened to the comments that patrons made. They were not all bad and some were quite complimentary. When you are touring this room, you have to remember that everyone is human, and all of these men have made mistakes in the past. Since many people do not know American history or the backgrounds of most of the people in that room, it is hard to comment on.
Before I headed back to the hotel to head home, I stopped in the Downtown Cherry Blossom event they had in front of the National Portrait Gallery and listened to the music again. The kids were playing a video game on the large screen and parents were swinging in the swings by the tables.
I stopped by Miguel’s Mini’s again and had one of his stuffed Churros with Bavarian cream. If you wanted to ever sink your teeth into something delicious, it was a freshly fried Churro filled with fresh vanilla cream. It was decadent and the perfect snack before my long trip home.
I picked my luggage up and walked back down to the train station and just made the 5:00pm train back to New York City. Talk about luck with the last-minute travel plans.
Even though I got to see just a limited version of the Cherry Blossoms in DC it gives me something to shoot for next year. It was a nice two days in the nation’s capital and told me one thing, not everything in Washington DC is all that bad.
You just have to look for the positives and you will find them!
*This blog is dedicated to Lucy, whose input and cheerleading for this blog has been much appreciated and to another memorable lunch!
I have been volunteering at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen for almost nineteen years and over the years you become friends with the other volunteers. Lucy and I have gotten to know one another over the years. Last Spring, we had gotten together for an amazing lunch over pizza from Lions & Tigers & Squares on West 23rd Street.
Maybe it was the pizza, maybe it was the weather or maybe it was just the view of the Flatiron Building in the background as we were eating lunch by the plaza next to Madison Square Park or maybe all of the above. It was just an amazing lunch.
Over the Fall and Winter months we had kept in touch and the conversation always went back to that amazing lunch and just the beautiful view of the Flatiron Building in the background while we ate. I had commented to her that all over the world people wished they could be in the very spot that we were in eating lunch and here we were eating there. There is sometimes a moment in time that are just perfect.
When Lucy came in again, I had been through a lot lately losing my friend, Barbara and some family issues. So, it was nice to have someone nonpartial to listen. I was going through a lot at one time.
Having had pizza the night before and for lunch the day before that, I really did not want to go back to Lions & Tigers & Squares at 268 West 23rd Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) so we on a whim tried S & A Gourmet Deli at 240 Eighth Avenue (See reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) for a sandwich.
Talk about another excellent lunch. The sandwiches there are excellent. S & A Gourmet Deli does a great job with their food. I ordered Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich ($8.99), which was two freshly fried chicken cutlets topped with Swiss Cheese and Ham topped with spicy mustard on a fresh hoagie roll. Each bit was amazing.
The Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich at S & A Gourmet Deli
The two of us had a nice afternoon talking about what was going on in our lives and just enjoying the warm weather. What was strange was only about an hour before it was pouring down rain and then as we met it cleared up. By the time we finished lunch, it was almost the same weather as the time we had lunch last year, sunny and warm and in the 70’s. I guess God was listening.
Having lunch outside with the Flatiron Building in the background is amazing!
After lunch was over, we said our goodbyes and I was off to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see the Magnolia trees blooming and the breathtaking Daffodil Hill, where thousands of daffodils would be blooming at one time around a 100-year-old Oak Tree.
With everything going on, I am getting a little leery about traveling by subway but off I went. The ironic part is that the trip was smooth and quiet and non-eventful. I found out later on that evening that the N Line earlier the morning had been hit with a smoke bomb and a shooting. Talking about shattering an imagine. Thank God I did not know all this on the trip down to Brooklyn.
The Entrance to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at 990 Washington Avenue
The weather was even better when I got up the stairs on the Number 2 line outside the Brooklyn Museum. It had gotten even warmer. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden was the busiest it had been all season with people taking pictures of the now blooming Cherry trees and Japanese Garden coming to life in the early Spring months.
Daffodil Hill was just as spectacular as the many years before. The daffodils were in full bloom and the hill on the other side of the Japanese Garden next to the flowering Magnolia trees which were also in full bloom. The scents were wonderful with scents of sweet jasmine and candy.
There are very few places in the world that are perfect but the bench by Daffodil Hill is one of those spots. To sit there and just admire Mother Nature at work at her best is just something. I look forward to this every year and is one of the main reasons why I keep renewing every year. For one afternoon, I just want to sit at that exact bench and admire Mother Nature’s handywork.
The Japanese Gardens are starting to bloom
The Cherry Trees in the Japanese Gardens on the other side of the hill were just coming into bloom as well and the whole effect showed that Spring is here and not a moment too soon. Everyone needed the warm weather to come and relax us. It has been a long Winter.
I ended spending over two hours just walking around the gardens and relaxing under a tree like everyone under the Cherry Tree Esplanade that has not bloomed yet. The soft grass and the relaxing sounds of contemporary music on every half hour was a nice way to spend the late afternoon.
Once left the gardens, I was going to go to the Brooklyn Museum, but it was closed and the weather being so beautiful I decided to walk to Downtown Brooklyn and see how the reconstruction of the Fulton Mall was going. So I took the long walk around the circle and walk down Flatbush Avenue towards Downtown Brooklyn. I made a few detours along the way and explore Brooklyn.
As I got to the turn off to Atlantic Avenue just off Flatbush Avenue near the Barclay’s Center, I decided to make the turn and explore a neighborhood I knew well. This part of Brooklyn I had used for my novel, “Firehouse 101” and I spent many a day exploring the streets of Boreum Hill and Cobble Hill for my book, noting the streets, parks and businesses. There are lot of memories of me walking this neighborhood almost twenty years ago.
My novel “Firehouse 101” set in Boreum Hill and Cobble Hill Brooklyn
I can’t tell you how many times I walked Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, Smith Street and Court Street for inspiration. Many of the observations of those afternoons were written into the book as I tried to make it as real as possible.
When I got to the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street, I made the right turn and walked the length of Smith Street in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn. It also amazes me how a neighborhood keeps changing as new businesses keep opening and closing changing the complexity of a neighborhood and how the long-time businesses still chug along and watch it all happen. There are those family-owned enterprises that make the City unique.
As I rounded Smith Street, admiring all the new gift boutiques, gourmet shops and small restaurants, I crossed over Degraw Street to walk the ‘border’ of the neighborhood in my novel and walked to Court Street and walked up the street. I needed to stop a few times at some bakeries that I had been to many times on my walks here.
As I walked all over Atlantic Avenue, I saw all the new little boutique bakeries with their $5.00 cookies and $7.00-$9.00 pies that looked delicious but were not worth the money. No pie that is about three bites is worth $7.00. When I visited the longtime neighborhood favorite, Monteleone’s Bakery at 355 Court Street the woman at the counter reminded me why this bakery has been around for 100 years. Quality and service.
The pastries at Monteleone’s Bakery are delicious
The prices and selection are also a nice part of the bakery. Their miniature pastries which are nice sized sell for $2.00 a piece and the selection of them is extensive. I bought a pastry stuffed with cannoli cream and a mini cream puff with vanilla cream. I had the woman put them in a bag so that I could eat them along the way. They both lasted barely a block.
When I mentioned to the woman about the $7.00 pies and $5.00 cookies at the bakeries on Atlantic Avenue, she just laughed and said this is the reason why Monteleone’s is so popular and has been around so long. They know their customers. I know that I will be back when I visit the neighborhood again.
I was still hungry as I walked down Court Street to the Fulton Mall and downtown, so I stopped at the Court Pastry Shop at 298 Court Street for another pastry. I love my sweets and had not been there in a few years. It is funny that the Court Pastry Shop was used in a very funny scene in my book “Firehouse 101” so I always remember my trips there in the past when I was doing location spots for my book. Their cream puffs and eclairs are delicious.
I eyed my favorite eclair in the case and bought one immediately ($3.50). I swear it had been at least three or four years since I had had one and they are still the best. They had such a thick layer of chocolate icing on them and filled with the most delicious vanilla cream.
Now being full of sweet snacks, I continued up Court Street to the Brooklyn Court House and then walked back down Fulton Street to the Fulton Street Mall. At this point most of the Fulton Street Mall has been demolished and replaced with new apartment and office buildings. This was part of the Bloomberg Administration’s plan to revitalize downtown Brooklyn with a broader retail selection and replace many of the older buildings.
It is not quite done yet but within five years most of Downtown Brooklyn should be redeveloped. It looks so much different from even two years ago. This was documented in film “My Brooklyn”.
The film on Downtown Brooklyn “My Brooklyn”
It was such a nice afternoon, and I was enjoying the sunshine so much and I had a lot of energy with all the desserts in me, I decided to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, which I have done many times and never tire of looking at the view.
Talk about the perfect afternoon to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. It was clear, sunny and about 70 degrees. It really looked like the tourists were back because people were taking pictures all over the bridge from every angle including ready to fall off the bridge because they were leaning so much over the rails. The view of Lower Manhattan was just spectacular.
By the time I got to the Manhattan side of the bridge, I was starved. I decided that I had the energy to walk to Chinatown which is only a few blocks away from the bridge entrance. By the time I got to Chinatown, it was almost seven in the evening and found that most of the smaller places were closed (it was a weekday). So, I walked all over Mott Street, East Broadway, Catherine Street, Henry Street and the Bowery and decided on an old standby which I love Dim Sum Go Go at 5 East Broadway.
I was hungrier than I thought. I started with Shrimp and Mango Rolls ($5.95), Duck Spring Rolls ($5.95), Pork Soup Dumplings ($6.95) and Steamed Shrimp Dumplings ($5.95). After devouring all of that, I ordered the Pan-Fried Pork and Chive Dumplings ($5.95) and the Steamed Roast Pork Buns ($6.95). Everything was so delicious and fresh and came out steaming hot. Even on a weeknight I was surprised by how full the place was and it seemed that people were ordering more than me.
I especially loved the Shrimp and Mango rolls with the breaded and fried ground shrimp mixture with a piece of fresh mango in the center. It had a nice sweet/savory flavor to it and was fried perfectly golden brown. All of the dumplings were cooked to perfection and the pork and chive dumplings had a nice flavor to them (See review on TripAdvisor).
The Soup Dumplings at Dim Sum Go Go are excellent
By this point it was twilight and just getting dark, but it was still so nice out that I decided I wanted to walk through the East Village to see how busy it was that night and to see how many NYC students were out and about. Plus, I wanted to see if the Anthology Film Center was still open on Second Avenue (it was closed that night). I walked up Second Avenue past all the trendy little restaurants and closed shops which were packed with students. I could not believe how busy the area was this time of night, but it was still in the 60’s and just a nice night to mill around.
By the time I reached 14th Street, I figured I might as well walk back to Port Authority and walked up a combination of Second, Third and then by East 23rd Street, up Lexington Avenue through Kips Bay and ‘Curry Hill’ which I had visited a year ago. All of the Indian restaurants were busy as well and the smells of cumin and curry wafted through the air. I always love walking through this neighborhood.
I walked across East 34th Street and arrived at the doors of Macy’s and Herald Square was just as busy as the rest of Manhattan with people walking around the plazas of Herald and Greeley Squares. Koreatown on West 32nd Street off Broadway was also packed with students and tourists going out to dinner and enjoying the dessert restaurants. The restaurants serving Bubble Teas and Korean Cheesecakes has long lines to them.
I finally arrived at the Port Authority at almost 10:00pm and could not believe how far my journey took me. From the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to the Port Authority. This is the power of wonderful warm weather, a nice evening breeze and good food. It gives you the energy to keep going.
The weather finally broke today, and the sun came out and it warmed up. Now it feels like Spring even with the threat of a snowstorm in a few days. I am just hoping that all we get is rain. The thought of snow with all my daffodils and tulips coming up is too depressing. I figure the weather is getting warmer on the East Coast and we will not have to worry about this.
I was finally able to volunteer in the Soup Kitchen after two years. The days of the buffet lunches is over with COVID going on and we have now switched to a bagged grab and go meal with a to go hot entrée and bagged snacks to go with it. We had to bag over 500 pieces not just for the day but for the next day as well. Five of us got the work done with an hour to spare and we were able to finish by 11:30am.
I had time to visit the Avenues of the Hudson Yards and because there were only two Avenues to visit, it did not take too much time. I spent most of my time avoiding construction sites and dodging vehicles. As I have said in previous blogs in this neighborhood, these blocks are rising like the ‘Land of Oz’ and as each is finished adds to the simmering look of a modern neighborhood encased by the rest of Manhattan. The Hudson Yards is a city amongst itself.
The modern day architecture adds a totally new look to Midtown Manhattan and you should see the views from New Jersey as you exit the Lincoln Tunnel. It looks like a glittering picture with the buildings lit. It reminds me of when I worked in Manhattan before 9/11 and looking at the magnificence of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers at night. This always showed the power of New York City.
As I finished my day at the Soup Kitchen, I made my way across West 28th Street passing Chelsea Park. The playground was busy with school children on their recess and parents and guardians watching them. The benches was filled with homeless people who were starting to eat their lunches that we had just served them and talking among themselves. It is sad that this is still a state of affairs in the twenty-first century but I am not sure what the solution is in the era of COVID. I just try to do my part to give people their dignity back.
Still when you reach the edge of the park on Tenth Avenue, it is like walking into another world. Tenth Avenue is lined with art galleries, high end restaurants and luxury homes that are mentioned in the documentary “Class Divide”. Two worlds that co-exist next to one another on the edge of the public housing projects.
“Class Divide” on HBO on West Chelsea/Hudson Yards
Since it was such a beautiful sunny day, I started walking up Eighth Avenue, watching the crowds grow near the new shopping center and make their way to “The Edge” on the top of 30 Hudson Yards. The views from the top must have been thrilling on such a clear sunny day.
The building 30 Hudson Yards was designed by architect Bill Pederson of the firm Kohn Pederson Fox and Associates and is the new home for the WarnerMedia Company and is located at the corner of Tenth Avenue and West 33rd Street. The building is the second tallest building in New York City behind One World Trade Center and has the highest outdoor Observation Deck in the City. The building is taller than the Empire State Building located further down the road at Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street (Related Oxford website).
30 Hudson Yards in the Hudson Yards complex (Wiki)
The observation deck, “The Edge” is located on the 100th floor of the building and offers spectacular views of New York City and New Jersey. It is the highest outdoor observation deck in the City and showcases the innovation in design (Related Oxford/Wiki).
“The Edge” at the top of 30 Hudson Yards (The Edge)
I could see that tourists were finally coming back to Manhattan as the lines are starting to get longer at the site. It is nice to see people visiting New York City again. As I walked past the Hudson Yards Mall, I realized that this was where the Highline started and I made the trip up the stairs to see where this amazing park began.
When I reached the top of the stairs at the platform that covered Tenth Avenue and saw the most unusual sculpture in the middle of the platform. This unique work called “Untitled” looked like an airplane flying over the platform and come to find out it was based on a drone. The work is the artist’s reaction to Drone warfare the US conducts aboard (Wiki/Artist Bio/NY Times).
Artist Sam Durant is an American born multimedia artist whose works deal with social and cultural issues. He has his BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.
‘Untitled’ by Artist Sam Durant is atop the Highline
Artist Sam Durant talks about his sculpture “Untitled”
I walked the Highline from Tenth Avenue down West 30th Street, enjoying the views of the Hudson River ahead of me and the plantings that adorned the sides of the walk. Being such a beautiful sunny day the walkway park was extremely crowded so I just walked closer to the river to enjoy the breezes and then walked back and people watched. The seats above the Tenth Avenue entrance are the perfect place to work on a tan on a sunny day.
I rounded around West 28th Street again dodging all the construction and the construction workers who had stopped to eat their lunches and spread out all over the sidewalks. The one nice thing is that the area is loaded with breakfast and lunch carts offering all sorts of cuisine. The aromas near the construction sites smell of hot chilis, cumin and curry.
While walking up Eleventh Avenue, I passed the Equinox Hotel at 33 Hudson Yards and was faced with the most colorful and creative mural that looked like it was expressing groups of people and the way they live. You really have to walk around the hotel to see the whole work, but the affect is amazing. I found out later this painting was American artist Elle Street Art called “HYxOffTheWall”.
Elle Street Art explains her mural at the Hudson Yards
She wanted to reflect the neighborhood and the diversity of the City. She really wanted to show the positive part of the heart of New York City.
Elle is a New York based Street/Graffiti artist known for her bold statements. She started out as an illegal graffiti artist and over time has built a reputation as one of the top touring street artists which has led to commercial works seen all over the world (Artist bio).
Next to the hotel in the same courtyard where the rest of the Hudson Yards surrounds is the impressive “Vessel” work, one of the cornerstone designs of the Hudson Yards and a signature building. It sits like an impressive statue in the middle of a group of skyscrapers.
The Vessel was designed by architect Thomas Heatherwick in a honeycomb like structure that consists of sixteen stories, a hundred and fifty-four flights of stairs, twenty-five hundred steps and eighty landings to stop at and observe the view. It is known as TKA (Temporarily Known As) for the structure’s name (Wiki). The structure was opened in 2016 and has recently closed for viewing because of visitor issues.
I walked around the complex to admire the structure and look at its beauty. It has such unusual look to it almost like a puzzle that is opening up to the sky. It looks like it shot up from the ground which is what makes it so unique.
Architect Thomas Heatherwick describing “The Vessel”
After I left the core of the Hudson Yards complex, I visited the 37th Street Food Market for lunch. What I liked about this deli was the outdoor dining tables which are nice to eat at on a sunny day. They are located on the side of the building in a small area of the sidewalk surrounded by plants and lighting. It is a very pleasant place to eat meals.
I ordered a Chicken Parmesan Panini that was pretty good. The sandwich was filled with chopped chicken cutlets and topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella. The sandwich was then pressed, and it served with a side of sauce. It was delicious.
The Food Market also has a nice selection of groceries and snacks and it’s a big place for the local residents to meet and one of the few places in the neighborhood to get these items until you walk over to Eighth Avenue.
I finished the walk walking around up Eighth Avenue and the Upper Part of the Hudson Yards around West 40th Street revisiting some of the streets I had seen in twilight just a week earlier. They seemed less ominous on a sunny day and did not have the shady characters standing around under the underpasses to the Port Authority. Just watch yourself at night walking around this part of the neighborhood.
As I have said before, the Hudson Yards is a neighborhood in transition, and it will be several years before all of these buildings are finished. The effect will be amazing in that they are building a City within a City and it will change this part of Manhattan in the future.
New York City just keeps morphing even in the Pandemic years!
Please read my other blogs on walking the Lower Part of the Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
Day Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight-Walking the Borders of the Lower Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
With the Easter holidays coming up, the aisles of the local stores are filled top to bottom with Easter candies of all assortments. One particular that I found that I had not eaten in years are the Spangler Bunnies, Chicks & Eggs, a delicious marshmallow candy that comes in various colors and the shapes of bunnies, chicks, and eggs that are perfect for any Easter basket.
These soft and sweet little candy figures are very similar to Circus Peanuts, another item that the company makes. This specialty item is only available at the Easter holidays. The consistency is slightly firmer than a traditional marshmallow but these rich treats taste of a sugary goodness in each bite.
These sweet treats are only available at the Easter holidays.
I had to pick one of the coldest days of the year to come into New York City. Since it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I decided to finally visit the Museum of Mathematics on East 26th Street. The museum has been closed for most of the pandemic and finally reopened for people to visit. I decided to endure the cold weather and visit the museum I had passed so many times on my walks in the Rose Hill and NoMAD neighborhoods.
Since the museum and NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) are the next neighborhood over from the Lower Garment District, I decided to walk the avenues as well to see what changes have taken place in the last twenty years as well.
With the renovations of the post office to the new train station and the development of the Hudson Yards, this neighborhood is quickly being changed from small office buildings to an extension of Midtown with shiny new office buildings and apartment buildings. New parks and malls are being developed for the residents moving in and in the over seventeen years that I have been volunteering at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen on West 28th Street, I have watched the entire neighborhood gentrify. I have never seen a neighborhood be knocked down or sandblasted since my walks in Harlem.
I started my morning walking down to Madison Square Park, which has been my headquarters since visiting these neighborhoods. The dog walkers were in full swing as well as parents strolling around with their children both in carriages and the playgrounds. Even though it was about 30 degrees at the time, it looked like people just wanted to get out of the house.
The first Shake Shack is located in the southern part of the park, and I could not believe the lines and the people dining outside. I guess people really did have cabin fever. Wanting a snack before I visited the museum, I bypassed the restaurants that I had seen earlier in the year and headed to a new takeout restaurant whose flags indicated that it had just opened. I went to Dim Sum Sam at 28 East 23rd Street.
The restaurant looked like it had just opened that day (I read that it had opened the week before) and the case lines when you walk in are filled with all sorts of buns and egg custards. The prices were a bit higher than Chinatown, but the food was a welcome on a cold day. I just had a quick Roast Pork Bun and an Egg Custard which were both delicious. I ate them as a crossed the park and finished before I got to the front door of the museum (see my review on TripAdvisor).
The Roast Pork Buns are amazing
The National Museum of Mathematics is a great little museum for families with small children. The museum has two full floors of exhibitions with a spiral staircase separating the floors and a gift shop at the entrance. On the main floor there are interesting interactive exhibitions such as the Shapes of Space that show how different shapes fit together on a curved surface. I was not too sure what the point of it was, but the kids seemed to enjoy it and it was interesting to see how they connected. The Square wheeled Trike was interesting as you rode a square wheeled type of bike on a bumpy surface to check velocity. The kids and young parents really liked this.
The “Shapes of Space” exhibition
The displays I enjoyed on the main floor were Motionscape, where you had to walk as fast as you could on the track to check the relationship between velocity, your position and acceleration. It was interesting to see how your body movements when walking affects the way you react. The other display that was really popular was Hoop Curves which was always busy. The exhibit used statistics and a robot arm to shoot the basketball. The kids got a real kick out of this when trying to make a basket.
On the lower level, there were more interactive displays along with an explanation of the math along with the creators of the theory. I found that interesting because you could see who all the mathematicians were who the projects were based on or who had contributed to them.
One of the interactive displays that I enjoyed was the Tessellation Station, where you could create displays with magnetic tiles on a large board. Later I learned about Tessellation as a form of making shapes fit together in a pattern and then the theory behind that. It was a fun way to use your creativity.
The “Tessellation Station” exhibition is a lot of fun
Another was the Tree of Life, where the computer copied the movements of myself and then used them to show the how I moved my arms and legs in a pattern. It was funny to see myself repeated over and over again like a tree with branches. It really did measure the movement of my body.
The Twist and Roll display showed how to put different shapes and sizes together and show their movement on the board. The one display that all the kids got a kick out of was the Math Board, where the colors and shapes of the section of the floor lit up when you walked on them and was controlled by the way you walked on them.
The “Math Board”
The Museum of Mathematics is a great museum for younger children who want to get physical and have a good time and like the interaction. I learned a few things too about the fundamentals of math and some of its background theories.
Still, it is a great museum for kids under the age of twelve and their younger parents. I think anything over that age would warrant a trip to the American Museum of Natural History or the Liberty Science Center with more exhibits that are age appropriate. It is a museum you should visit once or twice with small children who are at the learning stage and just want to have fun.
After I left the museum, I decided to walk the two avenues in the neighborhood of the Lower Garment District and see how things have changed over the years. There has been tremendous growth and building in the twenty-five years since I worked here and for the better. Most of the older buildings and cut-rate businesses are gone being replaced by a vibrant commercial district that was desperately needed in this part of the City.
Ever since the City reopened last June and even before, this area of Midtown has been changing at breakneck speed. The blocks around Eight Avenue has been under construction for about three years with one small building blocking a bigger one from being built on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 34th Street. Madison Square Garden on the corner of Eighth Avenue between West 33rd and 32nd Streets is under construction for renovations and additions and much of lower Eighth Avenue the smaller businesses have emptied out due to lack of business with the pandemic.
Madison Square Garden is one of the most controversial buildings in the City when it replaced the old Penn Station. The majestic building that was designed by McKim, Mead & White in the Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1910 was closed in 1963 and knocked down for the current building.
The outcry from this started the Historic Preservation Movement in the City and prevented future buildings from demolition. These types of buildings are now protected under New York City’s Landmark Preservation Act. The biggest problem cited at the time was that the rail service was declining, and the building was getting too expensive to maintain (Wiki).
The old Penn Station that was knocked down in the 1960’s
With the reconfiguration of these grand train depots today not just at Grand Central Station (see my blogs on Midtown East and Murray Hill) as well as Penn Stations in Philadelphia and Washington DC, I could only imagine what it would be like today. We are now seeing it in the new Moynihan Train Hall in the former James A. Farley Post Office building.
The James A. Farley Building was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White and was designed in the Beaux Arts style, the sister building to the former Penn Station (where the current Madison Sqaure Garden now sits). The current renovation of the building to turn the dream into a reality is by the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Wiki).
I was able to walk the halls and staircases of the complex that afternoon and the interiors are still not finished with a few of the restaurants now opened but the polished floors and new artwork is in full view. The public bathrooms are a nice change from the ones in Penn Station. The rest of the complex will be open by the spring.
The new rendering of the James A. Farley Building to the Patrick Moynihan Train Hall (Vno.com)
Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a former politician and diplomat.
The train station is now open but not yet finished but the first restaurants have opened and there is good traffic flow through the former post office. I could not believe what a five-year renovation and millions of dollars can produce. When the new train station opens fully with shops and restaurants, it will rival anything all the other stations.
Down the block from the station, there are two restaurants that do stand out amongst the closed establishments and the fast-food restaurants. One is New York Pizza Suprema at 413 Eighth Avenue. The pizza here is amazing but a bit pricer than most of the pizza places in the Garment District but the quality more than makes up for it. Every time I have eaten here the food has been terrific.
The other restaurant that I enjoy when I am in the area is New Dynasty Inc. Chinese Food at 393 Eighth Avenue in a store whose sign still advertises videos and games. Don’t miss this excellent and very underrated Chinese takeout establishment. I love their Orange Chicken and Roast Pork Lo Mien when I eat there. They also have excellent eggrolls.
When I walked back around Eighth Avenue and down West 34th Street to Seventh Avenue, there is construction all along West 34th Street so don’t be surprised if this is all new businesses and shops and dining in the next year. Madison Square Garden is going through a major renovation and rebuilt on this side of the property.
Like the Grande Dame of the neighborhood, the Seventh Avenue entrance of Macy’s greets you on the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 34th Street. This entrance leads to the Men’s Store where you have really nice public bathrooms in the basement level if you need them.
Walking down Seventh Avenue from West 34th Street brought back a flood of memories for me of lunch breaks from work and a lot of late night walks from the Fashion Institute of Technology when I was attending graduate school there. There still is a lot of silence as Madison Square Garden is active but not as much as it was before COVID. Even Penn Station is not as busy even though Manhattan is opened up. Many people are not back to work yet in the office buildings.
The creepy part is passing the Hotel Pennsylvania, one of the most famous hotels in New York City (Pennsylvania 6-5000 as the song goes) at 401 Seventh Avenue right across from Madison Square Garden. The hotel had been closed since the pandemic started but even when I worked at Macy’s the hotel always seemed run down. It was not a place many Macy’s executives wanted to stay at when they were doing business at the store.
The Hotel Pennsylvania was built in 1919 by the Pennsylvania Railroad and was designed by architect William Symmes Richardson from McKim, Mead & White. It was designed by the firm who designed Penn Station across the street and the limestone facade mirrored that of the station. The hotel has gone through many ownerships over the last one hundred years and returned to the name Hotel Pennsylvania in 1991. The hotel closed for business in April 2020 and is in the process of being demolished. There will be a new series of office buildings built in the area (Wiki).
The Hotel Pennsylvania at 401 Seventh Avenue (Wiki)
We will always have Glenn Miller though. Pennsylvania 6-5000.
At the edge of the neighborhood lies the back of the campus of The Fashion Institute of Technology which just reopened to students earlier this year. It is nice to see the campus finally back in session again.
There are a few interesting restaurants that I have eaten at over the years along the way. Mustang Harry’s at 352 Seventh Avenue I had just eaten at earlier in the year for the Michigan State University versus University of Kansas Champions Tournament basketball game. The food is good, but it is very expensive for what you get (see the review on TripAdvisor).
Mustang Harry’s at 352 Seventh Avenue is a good place to watch the games
As I made my way back up Seventh Avenue, I stopped at Rony’s Fresh Pizza at 355 Seventh Avenue for a quick slice for a snack. This little hole in the wall pizzeria near FIT was really good. For a dollar, the pizza had amazing flavor and the sauce was delicious. Sometimes these places surprise you.
Rony’s Fresh Pizza at 355 Seventh Avenue is terrific
After I finished my walk of the Avenues, I took a detour up Sixth Avenue back to Bryant Park and stopped at Krispie Kreme at 994 Sixth Avenue for a doughnut. All this walking put me in the mood for something sweet and I had not been there in a while.
I had a Lemon Filled Glaze doughnut ($2.00) and I swear, it was the best two dollars I ever spent. I had not had one of these doughnuts in over a year and it always tastes so good. The best part it was still warm, and you could taste the glaze over the sweet filling (see my review on TripAdvisor).
I walked all over Bryant Park just admiring the crowds in the park on such a cold day and decided to take a walk-up Times Square and watch the crowds. I could not believe on such a cold day lots of people were milling around.
I ended the evening back in Hell’s Kitchen at Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen at 811 Eighth Avenue. I had not been there in almost three years since before the pandemic. It had not been open for the longest time and before the pandemic, it was always packed during Christmas of 2019. I swear I have been coming to this restaurant since its opening.
Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen at 811 Eighth Avenue
The food here is excellent and what a meal on a cool night. I started with an order of Fried Bread, which tastes like a churro without the sweet filling. That really warmed me up with the crisp soft bread at every bite. I had an order of their Soup Dumplings and I love to slurp these things with every mouthful bursting with every bite in your mouth.
The order of Wonton Soup was perfect on a cold night with the rich broth and soft meaty wontons and Bok choy is almost a meal onto itself. I really missed the food here.
Walking around the neighborhood brought back so many memories of my years of working at Macy’s and for that has changed in the neighborhood it feels like little has as things still do look the same. They just look better and more vibrant.
That’s what can happen in twenty-five years in a City that just keeps morphing.
Please read my other blogs on walking the Lower Garment District:
Day Two Hundred and Seventeen: Walking the Borders of the Lower Garment District/Flower & Fur Districts:
My best friend approached me at the last minute and asked if I wanted to go with her to the “Wendy Williams Show” taping on February 28th, 2022. I had never been to one of these shows before, so I said sure. I did not know that I would have to be up at 5:30am to get into the City to stand in the VIP line by 8:15am.
We had a lot of fun as they warmed the audience up and got us going. Wendy Williams was on hiatus at the time of the shooting so Michael Rappaport was our host. I found it fascinating how they run these shows and how they all work.
Maricel and I at the filming before the show started
The show that morning.
I could see the two of us every time the host asked the head camera man a question. We could be seen sitting at the top of the platform. We did make a shot with the camera before one of the breaks so that was pretty cool.
Maricel and I on TV! This was right before the second break.
The show lasted an hour and we got to see one of the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” (whom I did not know because I never watch the show. I have not seen it since Season One). There was also a shopping segment and a discussion of current events. The taping was for about an hour.
After the show, I took Maricel to Milanes Spanish Restaurant at 158 West 25th Street right around the corner from the studio, where they specialize in Dominican food. I had been there twice before. The food was excellent, but the place is so run down. It really does need a refreshing (see my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com).
Milanes Spanish Restaurant at 158 West 25th Street
The food there is amazing though. We shared some chicken and beef empanadas for an appetizer, then Maricel had the Oxtail Stew, and I had the Cuban Sandwich. I thought the food was delicious with the sandwich being filled with freshly roasted pork, ham and Swiss Cheese and then pressed into a fresh roll.
The Cuban Sandwich at Milanes Spanish Restaurant is delicious
It was cold all that day, not just in the studio and the restaurant but outside got unbearable with the wind. After lunch was over, I just left the City for home. Still weather aside, it was a great morning and a lot of fun.