Thursday, December 22, 2016

If You Can Make It Here, You Can Make It Anywhere - Part I

For years and years we've heard how magical New York is during Christmas, so we decided to see for ourselves, and like Nashville and Las Vegas, eat our way through the Big Apple.

I have no clue if this was actually Manhattan or not, but it was a lot of lights in the somewhat area of where it should have been so ...

When we took off there was actually a high school game being played, but I wasn't quick enough with my phone to get a picture. Here is just a random football stadium in New Jersey that was lit up.

On our ride to the hotel from the airport you could see the Freedom Tower standing tall.

Our first day in NYC started with a trip to Bantam Bagels. We first saw Bantam Bagels on Shark Tank, and have wanted to try them out ever since.

Now, I'm not a huge cream cheese fan, it's too mushy, but these were actually really good. With the different ingredients and flavors they add, it helps to thicken the filling up. Wifey liked hers more (she likes cream cheese), but I was actually pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed them as much as I did.

After breakfast we strolled over to 90 Bedford Street to the apartment building from the show Friends.

From there we went to the Hess Triangle. The only remaining private property in New York city.

We stopped in the local Goorin Bros hat shop on Bleecker St and picked up some new scarves. Thankfully so because I didn't bring anything like that and these were a huge life saver. Once that wind kicks up, you can't run for cover quick enough.

We had some time before lunch so we did the, lets just see what we can find, plan. Well, what we ended up finding was, of course, the dog park in Washington Park. We may or may not have stood there for a few minutes to watch since it made us miss our little guy even more.

Santacon was going on while we were there too. Basically just people dressed up like Santa and going on a bar crawl. This was at 11a.m. and people were already drunk.

I dunno, some cool looking big clock on the side of the building, so I took a picture of it.

Our first lunch was at Joe's Pizza. I didn't get to take a picture of our pizza. It was slammed, and we were lucky enough to find a table, so we sat down and pigged out as quickly as we could.

The Public Theater

The oldest manhole cover in NYC. Of course it'd be half under water, and no, I wasn't about to touch it to clean it off.

I decided that I was going to go on a mission to find the best hot chocolate in NYC (since I hate coffee). The first stop was Cafe Gitane. It was dark chocolate, which I'm not a huge fan of, but was actually really good. Plus, they put a puppy paw on it, so bonus points, right?

When Dawn and I first started dating a buddy of mine said I out kicked my coverage, and said she should be on America's Next Top Model. I made her pose with the ad.

From a recommendation from a school buddy, we had our first dinner at Agave. It's Southwestern style food.

Really good minus the trashed Santacon table screaming their entire conversation a table away from us.

After dinner snacks were brought to you (well, us) by Bar Bacon. I think it's fairly self explanatory as to why we went there. We ordered the bacon taster which came with 2 slices each of their jalapeno, maple, hickory, and I can't remember the last kind.

Everything was really good until some really big guy tried to get into a fight with the bartender for cutting him off. I mean, when you tried to fight someone and tell them that you'll break them in half because they think you're too drunk ... you're kind of proving them right.

Ok, enough of that ... BACON!!!!!

Sunday, Day 2 started off at Tompkins Square Bagels. It was a little bit of a task to get to. No trains really run that close, so once you get off it's about another 15 minute walk. Whatever though, we're trying to burn calories so we can eat all of the calories.

I read all over to expect long lines, but as we walked up, you clearly see nothing. A couple of people in the window, but no huge lines.

Well, that was until we got inside. The register was at the front of the store, and the line went all the way to the back. Which was probably a good 50 feet or so. They have it all figured out though, and the line moved very quickly. We were to the front and paid in 10 minutes.

I did the bacon, egg, and cheese on plain (they didn't have anything with jalapenos on it (insert sad face).

The lady had the jalapeno cheddar cream cheese on an everything wheat bagel.

A quick stop in Grand Central Station and to the Grand Central Holiday Fair. It wasn't as big as some of the others, but had vendors the others didn't.

The Roosevelt Hotel

Since we ate at Guy's Las Vegas restaurant, we thought we should also try Guy's American Kitchen & Bar while in NYC.

I had the Bacon + Chicken Mac n Cheese. When it came out I'm thinking, "is that all?" Yes, that's all, and it's more than enough, and very gooood.

She decided to go with something to warm her up a little more, and really enjoyed their French Dip.

After lunch, we needed something a little sweet, so we strolled on over to Carlo's Bake Shop a.k.a. the Cake Boss. If the walk over didn't burn enough calories for the dessert, the million degrees in the shop definitely did.

She had the carrot cupcake and moaned and groaned the entire time, so I'm guessing it was ok. My cookies were "like grandma used to make them." Delicious with the perfect crunch on the outside. Now the cup. That's my cup of milk to go with my cookies.

After all that, we figured we needed to burn some calories, so we headed back to 7th avenue and walked back up to our hotel.

The oldest Christmas shop in NYC

I surprised Dawn with a photographer to do some pictures of us. Nearly everything I and the photographer tried to work out originally didn't work out, but the end result was better than anyone could have hoped for. As we were getting ready to leave, I received a text from the photographer that we may have to reschedule but it was up to us, but it was snowing pretty good and she wasn't sure how it'd work out. We both said, let's go for it. It'll be fun.

(Not one of the professional pictures)

One of New York's finest.

One of my new all-time favorite pictures.

Big balls

If this doesn't "look" New York, then I've got nothing for you.

My eyes are closed, but this is just a cool looking picture.

After the photo session we had dinner at Babbo. An elegant Italian "ristorante" tucked in between apartment buildings in Greenwich Village near Washington Square Park. It was opened in 1998 by well known chef's Mario Batali and, former Master Chef judge, Joe Bastianich.

Sorry, we ate the chickpea bruschette before the drinks came. They were delicious.

For me, it was the Lamb "Testa" Ravioli. At first I was thinking "where's the rest?", but it ended up being the exact perfect portion.

Not sure why my camera decided to look like it was in warp speed, but she did the gnocchi with braised oxtail.

For dessert we had the apple crisp. I won't lie, I could have eaten 4 of these things.

Day 3 started with a couple of issues. The train we needed had significant delays, and kept stopping between stations so we were standing there packed like sardines with no flowing air. I got mad, so we got off. Then we went to the next train that could get us where we were going (with no delays), and we went in on the wrong side. We ended up grabbing a muffin at some bakery (wasn't the greatest ever), and then headed down to the National 9/11 Memorial Museum.

It was so crazy to see this with the clouds so low. It made the Freedom Tower look like it was reaching to the heavens.

Another building near by under construction, going through the clouds.

The North fountain.

They place a rose on the name when it's that person's birthday.

Happy Birthday Jose Manuel Cardona

There's actually 2 sets of these, so once you're between them you're not moving if they don't want you to.

The line for the 9/11 Museum was pretty backed up, so we thought we'd hit lunch a little early, and hopefully catch the museum while everyone else went to lunch (didn't work).

I'd seen Blue Smoke on countless shows and lists for best BBQ in NYC, so it was a must stop destination for us.

It wasn't a cold, cold day, but a very windy day, so when we walked in and saw the sign for Bourbon Apple Cider, that was a no-brainer.

She did the brisket sandwich with baked beans. I couldn't tell from my seat if they cut the brisket the wrong way, or if it had just been sitting out for a little too long, but it looked dry and she agreed that it was. She even said the beans were a little, meh.

I ordered the pulled pork plate with mac and cheese, and added an order of ribs. The mac and cheese was really good, but I've been spoiled with bread crumbs on top. The pulled pork was also really good, but once I added their vinegar sauce, it was basically pure vinegar. The spare ribs had really good flavor, but they at least finish their ribs on the grill and lower on the bone was nearly crisps.

We basically came to the conclusion, the food all tasted good, so they just apparently don't know how to cook it.

For all of the hype and a $100 for lunch, we both left underwhelmed.

With lunch in our belly's, we walked back over to the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Thankfully the security here was very understanding (unlike the one at the Federal Gold Vault) when I realized I had my pocket knife, and allowed me to check it and pick it back up once we left.

We weren't exactly sure what to expect going in, but the second we made it through security check, everything from that morning just comes back like it was yesterday.

The portion of wall to the left is the first drop of the South Fountain.

It didn't state it, but I'm going with the assumption that this is the last known picture of the Twin Towers.

The flight pattern of all 4 planes.

Once you exit the museum the South fountain is right there.

Just walking the grounds, if you really step back and rebuild the towers in your mind and then imagine the magnitude of destruction that day. It takes you back, breaks your heart, and just pisses you off all over again.

Monday's dinner was set for Burger and Barrel. Again we started the meal off with some delicious drinks.

She had the BMC Burger which doesn't come from onion rings, but when they come on mine, they're moved rather quickly.

I went for the tried and true, Bacon Cheeseburger, and it did not disappoint. Burgers are one of those "hard to do wrong" items, but then every now and then you get those burgers that are just on another level. This was one of those.

Not pictured is my order of Rosemary Tots. They could be the single greatest tater tots I've ever had. It was definitely an eat till your miserable kind of thing.

Our first show for the trip ... Chicago.

After the show we had to run (ok, we took the subway) over to Madison Square Garden. Although she's smiling in the picture, don't be fooled. She absolutely hates Basketball. Unfortunate for her, I made the executive decision that we're in NY and the Gamecocks happened to schedule a game at one of the most famous arenas in the world, and we would be going.

We made the 2nd half, and although SC lead at half, we decided to leave our Offense in the locker room, and let Seton Hall come back and take the W from us. I'm officially 0 for however many men's Basketball games I've been to. I get it, I'll stop going :-(

Bantam Bagel

Joe's Pizza

Cafe Gitane Hot Chocolate


Tompkins Square Bagels

Guy's American Kitchen and Bar

Carlo's Bake Shop

Babbo Ristorante

Blue Smoke BBQ

Burger and Barrel


Gamecocks Basketball when i'm in attendance

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