A Travellerspoint blog

December 2016

Christmas Markets 2016

NYC & Berlin

Some of my earliest memories took place in New York City, especially at Christmas time. I was born and lived in the Bronx, and my father’s business was on 35th Street in mid-town Manhattan, the part of the city that I’ve known and loved all my life. It wasn’t until I was older that I discovered Soho, the Village, Central Park, Museum Mile, the High Line, and all of the other places I grew to love. For me, 30 West 35th Street was the center of New York. It was the perfect location nestled between 5th and 6th Avenues, next to the back entrance of Orbach’s department store. Orbach’s is long gone, (it’s now a Banana Republic) along with B. Altman’s, Gimbels, and FAO Schwarz, the toy store with the foot piano featured in the movie BIG. 30West.jpg
Every year at Christmas my family would visit all the windows. Very few are left: Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and a couple of others remain and are worth seeing, especially now with all the available technology. Now, the windows are interactive and dazzling. Back then, we would visit the windows, shop, leave our packages at my father’s store and go to eat. Our favorite restaurant, also long gone, was Mamma Leone’s where we would eat until we could not eat anymore. And then we would have warm zeppole, dripping with powdered sugar. To this day, no one has ever made it better, in my opinion. ChryslerBldg.jpg
Just a few blocks away from 30 West 35th, I met Patience and Fortitude, the stone lions who still guard the greatest public library in the world. Near the library is Bryant Park, which was not someplace to go back then. It harbored homeless people and drugs and just wasn’t safe. Now, it’s a destination. Every year the park hosts one of the city’s holiday markets as well as an ice-skating rink and a tree. It’s become part of my new traditions, in addition to visiting the amazing Rockefeller Center tree.
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Last week, I went to Bryant Park to the Christmas market. Inspired by the European markets, the vendors there have a wide array of hand made and home made products and you never know what you're going to find. If you go, you are not only supporting small businesses and artisans, you can find unique products like the truffle honey I found.

A few days ago, one of the Christmas markets in Berlin was attacked and shoppers were killed. There was talk of closing all the German markets for the rest of the season. They decided to reopen and yesterday wary shoppers returned. As someone who lives close enough to NYC that I saw the cinders and ash from the Twin Towers when they fell, and as someone who was in Paris during both the Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan attacks, I’ve thought about fear and terror quite a bit. Fear is real. All over the world there have been irrational, horrific, sometimes random attacks in unexpected places like Nice, a beautiful beach town. Whether I go to New York, to Paris, or to a movie theater, I have decided that if I stop traveling, if I give in to fear, they—whoever they are—-have won. If markets close, if I cower in my home, if I choose fear, then I lose out on so much. And that is not acceptable.

Posted by teethetrav 08:17 Archived in USA Tagged paris berlin nyc macy's christmas_markets bryant_park charlie_hebdo orbach's fao_schwarz bataclan mamma_leone patience_fortitude b.altman's lord&taylor Comments (0)

A New York City Day

From Harlem to the East Village

It’s funny, but I don't think about NYC as a place to blog about. To me, NYC doesn’t seem like travel since I was born in the Bronx and my father worked in Manhattan most of his life. Although we moved to New Jersey when I was young, we were never more than an hour away so going to NYC was something I took for granted. I never knew New York was, well, NEW YORK. I don’t know how old I was before it dawned on me how lucky I was to have grown up in and around one of the greatest cities in the world and that this was a place that people aspired to come and visit. Now, when I go to New York I make it a point to talk to tourists. I ask them how far they came to be here and where they are from. I want to know if it’s their first time and what they have seen. Last week I met a couple from Australia who were here for two weeks. We had a great chat about what they had seen so far, where they had eaten, where they were staying, and their impressions of New York.

I love New York. It makes me happy that I’ll never get to see everything there is to see or do no matter how many times I go. It fills me with joy that there is always another new restaurant to try, or a favorite one to go back to again and again. Ruby Foo’s on Broadway is one that I’ve been to and over and over. If you go, have a Ruby Foo, their signature drink. Bring a group. It’s a fun place to eat a million little things that you share with friends.
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Recently, I went to New York with my daughter to celebrate a significant birthday (hers, not mine). We went all out and ate at two of our bucket list restaurants and, the coup de grace, saw our favorite actor Liev Schrieber on Broadway in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. First, we went uptown to Harlem to eat at the amazing Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster. If you don’t know him, read his remarkable memoir Chef. It’s a great book and his is an inspiring, uplifting story that brought me to tears. Speaking of tears, the cornbread at Red Rooster is so delicious I nearly cried. I know. Cornbread. But it is indescribably good. Everything was. And we loved the whole atmosphere and decor. This is a cozy, feel-at-home, unpretentious place and I plan to go back. Hopefully soon.
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Next, we saw the show. It’s a limited run and the story is raunchy, sexy, funny, and quite sad. And words do not convey the steamy appeal of Liev Schreiber. Suffice it to say, when his shirt came off, there was an audible gasp throughout the audience. Whew.
We waited outside the stage door and he graciously took photos and signed autographs. What a sweet man. I can’t wait for the next season of Ray Donovan on Showtime!
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Finally, it was time to go down to the East Village to David Chang’s Momofuku for his famous noodles. They were everything! Porky goodness with an egg floating on top. But the sublime experience, for me, was the shitake mushrooms on buns.

All in all, it’s a hard call to say what was the yummiest thing all day. Gun to my head, Liev was definitely the winner.

Posted by teethetrav 13:11 Archived in USA Tagged nyc chef ruby_foo red_rooster david_chang momofuku liev_schrieber marcus_samuelsson ray_donovan Comments (2)

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