Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vacation Ends - Reality Strikes

We had a terrific vacation, thank you everyone. Kevin had an L.A. California road trip with his buddy Rick, we did some serious fooding in Manhattan, and the whole thing ended with the perfection of relaxation at the North Carolina shore. 

Manhattan is, of course, pretty much the direct opposite of the Outer Banks, in many, obvious ways.  We planned our New York City eating spree down to pretty much every meal, with little left to chance.  Nags Head - nothing planned more than an hour or two ahead, and certainly no reservations made.  We ate out every. single. meal.  Citibank loves us.  Supporting the local restaurant scene is what we are all about.  

 Of course we walked everywhere in New York.  We paid our annual visit to the High Line, and as usual, there was the Empire State Building.  The High Line is really one of the most wonderful parks of NYC these days, even in March.  It was actually the most crowded we've ever seen it.

Near Bryant Park, we get another view of the Empire State.

The only other non-food part of our itinerary was our annual visit to the site that is Ground Zero.  It is going to be a rich and emotional memorial when it is finished - it's emotional now -  and it will be interesting to see how it ends up when it is truly "open to the public".  The new world trade tower is already a dominate feature of the New York City skyline from the train window, and the fountains at its feet are a moving tribute to the many lives lost on the site.  I'm sure it was not done without controversy, but this is one tourist who has been paying her respects at Ground Zero every year since November of 2001 and it never fails to hit right in the heart.

Food dominated our trip to New York as always. I had done some serious homework, via ChowHound mostly, to set us up with a two-meal-a-day itinerary that would take us places we are not likely to find either here on the Shore or down at the Beach.  

We started with dinner at Daniel Boulud's Boulud Sud, near Lincoln Center.  Here two very happy things happened - we met up with several members of Kevin's family for dinner, including a niece who lives on the Upper East Side, and, we had our first "wow" dish of the week.  

Along with Kevin's niece and her date, Kevin's brother Tom and sister-in-law Jean were at the table.  As you can imagine, it was a lot of laughter and a huge tab, as no one held back.

My first course was seriously wow.  Beef carpaccio, garnished with all sorts of goodies, including a sous-vide egg yolk.  This was not to be the only egg-on-a-dish that I would order, but it was absolutely one of the best.  Unfortunately, I only took two food pictures...and this was the only one that turned out.

One of the more controversial restaurants discussed on the ChowHound site is Hakkasan, a very upscale Chinese chain restaurant, with the original in London, and now with fancy outposts in places such as Dubai and Las Vegas.  The reason we decided to give it a go was the promise of some of the "best dim sum in NYC", which you know we love.  And it was really, really good - it is on our list for a return visit - with a definite reordering of the Prawn CheungFun

The other egg-on dish happened when we very luckily scored two seats at the bar at the amazingly popular Minetta Tavern, near Washington Park.  Shaved Brussels sprouts with a poached egg was another "wow" dish, simple and well executed, delicious.  And there were a few more, as we go on and on - the razor clams at Casa Mono, hakka pork belly at Wong and the really wow octopus a la plancha at Lincoln, the first place we are going to have dinner next time we go to New York. 

One of the finest meals was lunch at La Grenouille, where we met up with one of our original supporters, beginning with the Ironstone, where Table 16 or 17 was the choice seat, up to the KVI, where it was Table 4? and then here at Brooks Tavern, where Table One was always the favorite seat.  Marie Stewart, currently of Sutton Place, recently of Kennedyville, met us at La Grenouille for a most fabulous lunch.  We were at table for almost 3 hours, and then we left to have a look-see and a cocktail at one of Marie's favorite holiday haunts, the truly New York 21 Club.  It was a most delightful visit, and a delicious meal to boot.

One of the main reasons I had for wanting to go to La Grenouille was for the "ouefs a la neige", which is also known as "Floating Island".  Perhaps my favorite all time dessert, it was on their lunch menu and that clinched the deal - we were going there for a fancy French repast.   Everything was as we had hoped - the glamorous dining room filled with flowers, the seriously professional French service, the quenelles de brochet that I had, the souffle that Marie had, and the pot-au-feu that Kevin enjoyed.  And then, my Floating Island - what a joy it was.  I did not want it to end...

My picture is not that good, but trust me, I ate every little speck. 

Then the true spirit of vacation occured when we arrived at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 

Everyone loves the beach, eh?

To cap the week off, we made the exciting discovery that the Vanderwende Dairy Ice Cream Store was open on Saturday!! What a great find, just over the Delaware line near Bridgeville, directly on our path home from the Beach!  Cows in the field behind the shop, with their aromatic contribution, and their fresh milk churned into some pretty good ice cream only steps away from the barn.   Who knew?  Well, we do, now!

But, as happens, our holiday is over, and we are back at it here at Brooks Tavern.  It was a terrific few weeks of serious R&R, and we are now geared up for a new year of BT dining!  The adventures of our return will be fodder for another time...

Welcome Back!


  1. Wow.....I've waited for this....for details of your R&R and you did NOT disappoint. As always, I love your descriptions of "Food"...and your photos beautifully enhance your incorporated family and friends....and wrapped it all up with the beach. I'm not sure it gets any better. Welcome home!!!! Shari

    1. Thanks Shari! As usual, you are too kind. And hey, congratulations on your three new, what? grand-nephews and niece? That is the most wonderful news of all!

  2. you guys sure look good all dressed up in your Sunday best. in looking at that picture it occurred to me that Kevin kind of looks like Tom. Melinda

    1. They do look alike - it's just that Kevin has more hair! Ha!

  3. So enjoyed seeing you two at lunch. Come back to New York soon, or I will be "forced" back to the Eastern Shore to dine in the only real restaurant in Kent County!

    1. It was really great on our end too, Marie! We will definitely be doing it again!