I have always enjoyed traveling, even if it meant sleeping in a tent when I was younger. I prefer hotels and cruise cabins now, but the motivation is the same...an adventure waiting to happen. Sometimes you will find me traveling with my husband and/or family. Sometimes I will travel alone, and sometimes I will travel with friends. I hope you find it entertaining to keep up to date with me as I explore the world around me. Warning...I like to take pictures of food so don't read if you're hungry. More adventures await...see ya soon...Amy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Last Day in New York

St. Patrick's Cathedral

The Rockefeller Center

The Shake Shack for yummy hamburgers

Our flights today leave mid afternoon. Knowing this, we started packing last night and finished our packing this morning so that we could see a few more things in the area around the hotel. We ate breakfast this morning in the hotel and it was delicious but a little expensive. We walked to St. Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue. It is a beautiful Neo-Gothic style Roman Catholic church completed in 1878. It almost looks out of place, sitting among the high rise office buildings. We spent some time wandering around inside and admiring the architecture and beautiful stained glass. Across the street from the Cathedral is Rockefeller Center. I had planned to take Kate up to the observation deck so she could look out over the city. The line was really long and our time was limited so she decided to save that for another trip. Many people choose to go up in the Empire State Building for the view, but the line at Rockefeller Center is usually shorter and the view is just as nice. We walked by the NBC Today show studios and Fox studios while we made our way over to our lunch spot, the Shake Shack! We passed by Maison du Chocolat, which is my favorite chocolate shop in Paris. I forgot that they had a location in New York! Of course we had to stop so I could add even more chocolate to my suitcase. The Shake Shack has several locations around the city. We found one nearby so we could try their burgers and ice cream. I liked this hamburger better than the slider we had yesterday. It was a true greasy yummy burger. I didn't have a shake, but ate the ice cream instead. I wouldn't hesitate to go back to the Shake Shack on another trip. We walked back to the hotel, grabbed our bags, checked out of the hotel and secured a ride back to the airport through the bellman. For anyone who wonders how I get my chocolate home unmelted, I always carry it with me on the plane. I pack a small zippered bag in my suitcase that lets me bring breakables and chocolate as a carryon on the plane. I have to pack it around in the airport between flights, but its' worth it to me. I'm already planning my next trip to New York. Don't know when or with who, but I will definitely return. Sorry there are no pictures of either Kate, me, or both of us. I guess we were too busy eating cupcakes to think about it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hitting the Highlights

The coffee shop where we went for early morning coffee. It was located to the left of the hotel.

Grand Central Station

Inside Grand Central Station


The Doughnut Plant

loved this little artsy doughnut seat inside

Chalk art outside the door....Happy Mother's Day to us!

The menu that causes anxiety because there are no descriptions of the day's offerings and the pressure is on when you reach the counter. What they have available is on racks without descriptions either, just names....oh the decisions.

The yeast doughnut with the melting Valrhona chocolate and the heavenly oatmeal, cashew, sesame seed, cranberry and apricot doughnut on top

Kate's carrot cake doughnut with cream cheese inside

tile mosaic inside one of the subway stops

this statue used to stand at the world trade center. it was damaged during the attack and now stands with an eternal flame in battery park in memory of those who lost their lives.

Lady Liberty in the harbor

Ellis Island

the new World Trade Center building under construction with a picture in front of it's future self

Stand4...my new favorite shake place

the menu...duh

our baby shakes with big fat straws....chocolate peanut butter cup and toasted marshmallow

our itsy bitsy slider hamburger..so cute and yummy

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I think Kate would have liked to know what are all those people doing just sitting around on the steps.

Magnolia Bakery...the beginning of the cupcake craze

swirls of pastel goodness...this is a traditional and very sweet cupcake

The Chrysler Building

Orsay Brasserie

Kate's veal in a cream sauce with vegetables to be served over jasmine rice. We had to figure that out ourselves as they didn't do it for her so she just dumped it on.

one of my favorite things, medium rare filet mignon with bearnaise sauce and fries
Today is Mother's Day. We started our day at a coffee shop next door before heading downtown on the subway leaving from Grand Central to the Doughnut Plant. I had read that the Doughnut Plant was well known for their "gourmet" doughnuts, but I really had no idea what to expect. The Doughnut Plant is located at the edge of Chinatown and there was a line to the door when we got there. We have figured out the lines in these little joints definitely indicate that something yummy is worth waiting for inside. This was no exception. I tried one of the yeast doughnuts covered in Valrhona chocolate and an oatmeal cake doughnut packed with teeny chips of cashews, sunflower seeds, cranberries and apricots. To die for!! Kate had the Carrot Cake doughnut that was filled with cream cheese. Oh My Goodness!!! We loved the cake doughnuts. If there had not been a line and we had not left the area to eat in a little park, I would have gone back for more! I really wasn't that impressed with the yeast doughnut. I will skip that next time. With our bellies full, we started a day of touristy things, visiting some of the highlights of New York City. First stop was to see Lady Liberty. We went down to Battery Park through the Financial District stopping to watch all of the Asian tourists take a picture with the Wall Street Bull. It was really funny. We decided not to take the boat out to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island due to time constraints. After taking our pictures, we took the subway to see the construction site of the new tower at the World Trade Center site. We spent some time in St. Paul's Chapel, the site of rest for the relief workers during the Trade Center disaster. St. Paul's is serving as a temporary memorial until the official memorial building is completed. We were getting a little hungry and decided it was time for lunch. I had read about a hamburger spot that had great shakes called Stand4. They had these little mini shakes that were soooo cute and absolutely thick and delicious! I don't even like shakes, but I plan on drinking another one of those peanut butter chocolate shakes again. Kate's toasted marshmallow shake had a cute little toasted marshmallow on top...adorable. They also had precious little sliders which were tiny hamburgers. We each had one slider which came with a few fried pickles and should have shared our orders of fries. To demonstrate my schedule flexibility, I had planned to go by Max Brenners Chocolate by the Bald Man for dessert but we were soooo full that the thought actually was far from appealing. Instead, I just showed Kate the inside of the restaurant, bought a little chocolate for a gift and we moved on to our next stop, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. There was a special exhibit called Savage Beauty which had dresses by the late Alexander McQueen. I think we would have had to have been there since the doors opened to even get a glimpse. We had to give up on that idea and just wander around checking out the art. Our feet needed a break and we stopped at the cafe for a drink and a break. We rode the subway back to Grand Central Station, where we found some more cupcake and chocolate shops that I wanted to visit. Magnolia Bakery has the reputation of starting the cupcake craze and they had a location in there that was not near as busy as their SoHo location. We also visited LiLac chocolates which i brought home to try. Kate came with me to Saks 5th Ave. to see if they had the perfume version of my new favorite scent Idylle by Guerlain. It's only available at Saks as it's not widely marketed in the U.S. just yet. I picked up the Eau de Toilette in Paris last fall and it's not available at all in the U.S. I was so excited to find the perfume there. We came back to the hotel in time to change for dinner and drop off our purchases. We decided to save our cupcakes for dessert. Dinner was at Orsay, yet another french inspired restaurant. The food was really good, but it was soooo loud and crowded in there, that I hoped we still had a voice when we left. I left with a headache, but had a delicious Mother's Day meal. We are so sad to leave tomorrow, but intend to squeeze in every drop of sightseeing that we can before we go.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Warhorse.....a favorite day

Times Square

Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center

Oh what to choose?

Kate's pecan sticky bun....luscious

The chocolate macaron on the left was large and too sweet...i prefer my little ones from Laduree in Paris. The Bouchon in the center is a little flourless chocolate cake that wasn't that great. The bacon and cheddar scone however was fabulous.

Lawn bowling in Central Park and they give lessons!

New York skyline from Central Park

a random band in Central Park

Bethesda Fountain

Central Park Lake near The Boathouse

Bow Bridge

Real Flowers in the pots on Bow Bridge

I just love sugar lumps!

wonderful french style fluffy ham and gruyere omelet

Kate's salmon and avocado sandwich with the frisee lettuce she "loves" so much

chocolate and caramel molten cake

Warhorse the play....awesome!!

the horses were puppets, but they seemed so real

The Upper West Side

Levain Bakery...home of the best cookies in New York...seriously!

almost passed it by....notice the people standing in line

Left to Right.....Chocolate Chip Walnut, Chocolate with Peanut Butter Chips, Chocolate with Chocolate Chips and sold WARM! Kate bought Oatmeal Raisin. The chocolate ones are the best to me.

the coolest subway station back to our hotel

La Masseria near Times Square....wonderful Italian food

I love a bread basket with mixed breads

Kate's spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce

I can't remember the name of this pasta, but the sauce was a light cream with panceta (Italian bacon)
The clouds were gathering today and we had tickets for the play Warhorse. We crossed Times Square to head uptown to our breakfast spot, Bouchon Bakery, located in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. The subway literally popped out right there! People were setting up for a fashion show while we were there which was interesting to see. Bouchon Bakery was delicious! Once again, Kate had the best, a pecan cinnamon roll that was soooo sticky and yummy. My scone was a bacon and cheese scone and for something that wasn't sweet, it was really really good. I will probably get it again on my next trip, it was that good but I will also get that pecan cinnamon roll! Oh and the bathrooms there are quite swanky. I should have taken a picture. After breakfast, we took the subway uptown and walked over into Central Park. We entered at the perfect place to find two of my favorite parts of Central Park, Bethesda Fountain and Bow Bridge. We saw people playing lawn bowling and listened to a 3 man band giving a performance. We had reservations for lunch at Bar Boulud which was directly across the street from our theater. Lunch was delicious and traditionally french. We split a molten chocolate cake for dessert. We wandered over to the theater and thought we could find our way in pretty quickly, but we ended up following another family around as they looked for the entrance too. Warhorse was playing in the Vivian Beaumont Theater in the Lincoln Center. Warhorse is a play from London only in New York for a limited time. It is a beautiful and creative play about the love of a boy and his horse, war, family and the sensitivity of animals. The horses were actually puppets, but by the end of play they seemed so real. It was amazing and emotional. It was early afternoon when we left the play and we set out looking for the place known for the most amazing cookies in New York, Levain Bakery on the Upper West Side. Once again, we almost walked right by the place we were looking for. It was a tiny bakery with a line out the door which moved quickly. From what we could tell, they only make 4 varieties of cookies and a few loaves of artisan bread. Between the two of us, we bought all 4 varieties, well I bought 3 of them but who's counting. They were FABULOUS and HUGE and sold WARM!!! I am definitely going back to this place. We were able to go back to the hotel a little early to rest before dinner. Our hotel recommended an Italian restaurant nearby just off of Times Square. We have been so blessed to have restaurants within walking distance. We ate dinner at La Masseria. It was some of the freshest and best Italian food I've ever eaten. I can't imagine it was just because I was hungry after nibbling on cookies, but we ate so much of our pasta that we didn't have room for dessert. Actually we had cookies waiting back at the hotel, but who's telling.