I took a short excursion to New York during Kristen's spring break with our dad. It was a mixture of family and fun, a return to winter, fancy pastries, lots of Chinese food and some weird Chinese television shows. But, it was good to go back to see my dad's family and spend time with my other grandma despite the language barrier. If anything, it again shows that food is a source of communication, too.
In typical New York fashion, as soon as we got off the plane and settled in, we were off to Chinatown and Little Italy. Compared to San Francisco Chinatown and Honolulu Chinatown, the buildings loom taller and with more interesting architecture. It seems more widespread as if everything Chinese starts to leak into the other communities in this area. One shop could be a Chinese Laundromat and the next could be an up-and-coming boutique. And of course, Saturday was busy. It forces you to be pushy like everyone else, especially to keep up with a speedy 86-year-old lady. After getting some good luck charms and super cheap strawberries, the sun was warm enough to sit down and observe the trendy 20-somethings enter Chinatown and gabbling Chinese families blend into the rest of the city.
There was much debate whether or not it was going to snow that day in the days coming up to this trip. It didn't, but it was the coldest day. When Kristen and I got dropped off at Katz's that morning, there was a huge gale of wind that made us hurry into the luckily empty deli where we got a pastrami sandwich to last us through the day. Then, it was down, down into the subway at the Delancey and Essex station where I finally got the meaning behind the intersection of these two streets. We took the train uptown to the 9/11 Museum where the height of One World Trade Center makes you crane your neck more than is good for it. At 1,776 feet, It is really tall. Then, in sight were the pools–two deep black squares with a smaller square in each of the centers. The quiet rush of the water and the fact that you can't see into the depth of the center pool makes me think that the symbolism behind the pools reflects the depth of loss that the United States faced during this tragedy. The pools are hauntingly beautiful but I think appropriate for memorializing the attacks of 9/11. And the museum was thoughtfully planned and full of eye opening artworks, artifacts, stories, videos and voice recordings. It's all a bit eerie and contemplative. You can't help but just feel sad and reflective the whole time. There's so much stuff in that museum that it's almost too much to take in. It's a bit of a relief to return to the surface, breathe in some fresh air and try not to imagine what it must have been like around that surrounding area on 9/11.
Later that afternoon, Kristen had plans to meet some friends so my dad and I took what we thought would be a short ride to Grand Central Station. Of course, it was not and we ended up taking the 7 line all the way out to Queens and back because it didn't operate at certain stations. By the time we got there, our stomachs were empty so we ate some of Katz's infamous pastrami sandwich on the balcony where the Apple Store is blindingly bright and fluorescent. A little bit weird but better than being out in the cold. I played around with long exposures for a bit and walked around, admiring the architecture and wondering if there was going to be any sort of flash mob which sadly there wasn't.
We ended the day with walking from Bryant Park to Times Square where the closest Kristen was ever going to get to Hamilton was right outside the theatre. We also skimmed by Rockefeller Center and took refuge from the cold in the Lego store and the Met store. By the end of that, I was scolding myself for wearing boots with no arch support because flat foot problems.
For the crazy Californian / pseudo Hawaiian in me, waking up to a couple inches of snow is comparable to kids waking up to a White Christmas. Sure, the stuff melted in a few hours but I'm never around snow to see the normalcy of it on the East Coast. After a languid subway ride into the city, we spent the rest of the day on foot. First, at the High Line, where all the vegetation was dead-looking but still beautiful. We back tracked to Chelsea Market which reminded me a lot of Portland and the Ferry Building Marketplace with it's hipster-like shops and eateries. Then, it was back on the High Line again which I thought was a lovely juxtaposition of urban landscape, architecture and repurpose. It certainly made the designer in me pleased. I can just imagine how lush and green it can get in the spring and summer.
At the end of the High Line, we decided to skip out on standing in the cold to see The Daily Show in favor of a few bakeries that were recommended to me. We went uptown to the Momofuku Milk Bar for their crack pie and cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookie. Then, up a few more blocks to the food court in The Plaza to find Épicerie Boulud. It was a late lunch but we split a panini and their Raspberry Chocolate Ganache Croissant which is the best croissant I've ever had. It was light, fluffy, crispy, buttery but not too greasy and filled with a decadent chocolate ganache. It didn't look like much from the outside but the inside was sure a surprise. I think I'll have dreams about the croissant for a while now.
The last full day in New York was actually spent on the Jersey side where we paid respects to my grandfather. I've never been a particularly religious or superstitious person and I'm not sure how I feel about the afterlife but it's all part of the custom–the cleaning the gravestone, planting new flowers, providing food and drink, burning paper money and bowing in threes. We weren't there very long and were rather hungry after so we stopped by at a little hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop whose name I can't even remember. We took the sandwiches along to Liberty State Park and by the time we sat down and ate them, it was one of those "it tastes so good because you're starving" situations. I'm sure the sandwiches are still just as good under normal circumstances but they were exceptionally good while overlooking the Manhattan skyline. And they were huge. The half size was a foot-long sub. One was eggplant parmesan and the other was a mushroom cheesesteak. More than anything, the highlight was the bread itself–soft, slightly chewy and it had soaked up the juices of the sauce just enough. I doubt I'll have a sandwich just like that in a long time.
It was good, New York! But, I'm glad to be back in California where the weather is currently more mild, the hills are green and there's less honking on the streets.