Wednesday, April 8, 2015

New York City Travel

I am a person who absolutely loves to travel. I travel at least once a month. So far this year I am averaging 2-3 trips a month. haha I know that may be a little excessive but I believe in creating memories on trips. Besides the blog conferences I attend a majority of these trips are done with my children, but luckily my parents gave my husband and I and the other married couples in my family a trip to New York City for Christmas. My husband had never been before and I had only been once so it was fun and new for almost everyone!

Since I travel often and get a lot of people texting or emailing about travel questions I figured it was about time to add traveling and travel food to my blog for everyone to enjoy!

So here it goes....since time was limited we took the red eye and got in New York about 6 am and started our day off with a bang. We stayed at the Amsterdam Court Hotel which ended up being a great location! The rooms aren't too spacious, but thats to be expected in New York. They had nice showers and upgraded shower heads and overall it was a clean hotel. Very central to Central Park and Time Square. When you are trying to hit a lot of destinations in a short time and have to ride the subway or take taxi's location is crucial. Have a great location helped us save time and be able to do more things and overall saved us money on taxi fares.

Now onto the fun! The worst thing about traveling with 8 people is trying to get seated in a tiny restaurant in New York City. The best thing is being able to sample so many amazing things because everyone orders different things!



The first day we headed straight to Norma's for breakfast. This is a classy breakfast spots where celebrities go for a new breakfast. They seat you and then hand you a yummy smoothie shot. Then the waiter asked you for orange juice. It almost makes you think that it is free because they offer it to you right after the free smoothie shot. The orange juice is $9 which can be high for some but it is fresh squeezed and very good! So if you love orange juice try it out! The crunch french toast was super yummy, HUGE and sweet so plan on sharing it. The chicken and wild mushroom omelet was my bother in laws favorite. I loved the berry brioche french toast. It wasn't too sweet and the portion was half the size of the crunchy french toast. So it was perfect for one person. I ordered Norma's eggs Benedict it is their special but for some reason I didn't love it. It was odd to me that they put it on a pancake instead of a english muffin. Maybe ask them if they can put it on one if you order it. The sauce was very yummy and the asparagus were amazing. Plan on spending a atleast $25 per plate.

Crunchy French Toast

Chicken and Wild Mushroom Omelet


Berry Brioche French Toast

 Norma's Eggs Benedict

We then headed to the 9-11 Memorial. The new memorial building is amazing. Worth the money for sure. So much history and information about that tragic day. The last phone calls from people who died and police dispatch calls. The movies they have playing are very well done. When you go plan on spending 3 hours there. And if you are a history buff or serve in the police or fire or military plan on even more time. 

After that we headed to Patsy's Pizzeria. I went to New York with my friend a year and a half ago and we ate here too and I needed to go back and take my husband. He loves pizza and lets just say he ate 4 large slices of their pepperoni pizza. Everyone loved the pizza. We didn't love the antipasto salad. Maybe its because we were expecting lettuce or some sort of greens to be on the salad and it was more of a meat and cheese platter. So I wouldn't order that again. I liked the pasta carbanara but didn't love it. Last time I remember loving it more though. The mushrooms in it are super yummy though! The spaghetti with pepper and sausages was just average. Their sausage and mushroom pizza and pepperoni pizza defiantly were amazing though! Our favorite pizza of the trip! We order family size in everything and had way too much fun! The pasta dishes are huge. The large pizzas are the size of normal pizzas but not as big as the usual giant New York slices of pizza.

Antipasto Salad

Pasta Carbanara 

Sausage and Mushroom Pizza

 Pepperoni Pizza

Spaghetti with Peppers and Sausages

Our Table


We then headed to see Finding Neverland on Broadway! If you are in New York City and it is playing you MUST go see it! It amazed me and all of us! I have seen my fair share of Broadway plays and this is by far my favorite! So new and fresh with great effects!

After that we headed to the famous Shake Shack! You can't go to New York City and not try this! We had a few different types of milk shakes they were thick and good! I feel like the shakes are hit or miss. They weren't very good the last time I had them but this time they were super good! Strawberry was my fav! We then had some yummy cheese fries that I highly recommend! I like the stuffed portobello mushroom that are stuffed with muenster cheese so I got the Shake Stack! I dream of it! It is so yummy. The other half of us got the smoke shack and they loved that too! So really you can't go wrong with whatever one you order!

Cheese Fries

Shake Stack


 Smoke Shack

The next morning we woke up and headed to Dough. It is a fun doughnut place. They have multiple locations. The one I went to was inside the Row Hotel where they have "City Kitchen" which has some awesome little eating places. I was sad that most of them weren't open yet since we were so early in the morning. But next time I go back I will go closer to lunch and try a few of the little shops out! We had a good variety of doughnuts! The lemon poppy seed which was my husbands and sisters favorite. Very lemony. The coconut which was my favorite not too sweet and tasted kind of like a crumb doughnut. The salted chocolate caramel which is very rich and very chocolatey! The nutella which was my moms favorite and my second favorite and the interesting hibiscus doughnut which my dad got. It was fun to try something new but it wasn't my favorite. 


 Salted Caramel Chocolate

 Lemon Poppyseed

 Coconut

Nutella

 Hibiscus


We then headed to Central Park and rode in the bikes that they take you around in. It was $70 per bike cart and it was so worth it! They told the history of the park and showed us where famous people live that have views of Central Park and which movies were filmed there and where. There was a lot of areas not opened yet that they open in summertime and where they have concerts during the summer. But we were still able to enjoy the park. I have walked in the park before and I did not enjoy it as much. I didn't get the full effect of the park like I did on the bikes. And I didn't learn anything new either when I walked. 

We then headed to the David Letterman show where we got picked to be in the front rows and be on tv. We were approached by someone in Time Square the day before and they gave us tickets. So if you are wanting to be on the show be on the look out when you are in Time square. The taping of the show does take up a lot of you day unfortunately. But it was fun experinece! 

Then we headed to Jacob's Pickle. Where they make their own beers, pickles, butters, and jams. Wow it was yummy! We tried a lot of yummy things! We started with biscuits and spread and the fried pickles. The biscuits were super good! They had two kinds of butters and then a raspberry jam and a orange marmalade jam and then honey. We all ate these up! Then we all tried the pickles and they were good. Not to die for but fun to try! We all ordered a variety of things. For the sides we had the sausage and galena mac n cheese, the cheese grits, fries and street corn. All were very yummy. Really everything we ordered was so good! Everyone had their favorites depending on what they liked. My husband ordered the chicken and pancakes. It was huge! He said it wasn't his favorite thing but the chicken was really good. A few of us got the gravy smothered chicken meal and we ordered half mushroom gravy and half sausage gravy! I was so glad that I did that because they were both yummy and it was fun to go back and forth between the two gravies! The salmon salad was my sister in laws favorite she ate it right up! The pickles and cheese burger is what my dad always orders when he goes!  And the southern BLT was as amazing as it looks! And to top it off the Root Beer Floats are amazing (which I didn't get a picture of) made with their homemade root beer. Their sodas are not re-fillable so be aware of that! They are also very well known for their homemade beers. 


Biscuits and fixins

Fried Pickles

 Sausage and Jalepeno Mac N Cheese 


 Street Corn


 Salmon Salad


 Chicken and Pancakes

Pickles and Cheese Burger with fries

 Southern BLT with Cheese Grits


Smothered Chicken with half mushroom and half sausage gravy

Then we head to Momofuku Milk Bar and tried out a few of their items. We got their caramel apple pie (which tasted like a apple pie lara bar), swirl (half cereal milk/half maple cream cheese) ice cream rolled in cereal, their birthday cake balls, and their crack pie. We all decided that we loved the crack pie and could have done without the rest. My brother did love the birthday cake balls though. I wish I would have tried their birthday cake.  We also got 4 of the cookies and tried them. They were thin and chewy. So if you like that type of cookie give them a try. 

Soft serve ice cream rolled in cereal

 Caramel Apple Pie


 Cookies

Crack Pie

We then headed to the "Top of the Rock" at the Rockefeller Center to enjoy the night time view. It was $30 a person and I thought it was worth it for the view. It was a great way to see the entire city lit up at night. I talked to one of the workers there and they said that the best time of down is sunset. The tickets sell out so if you want a certain time of day book ahead of time. We weren't able to go until almost 11 pm because we didn't book far in advance. 

If you can believe it...after that we headed to the famous Serendipity 3  for some more dessert. We ordered a couple of the orignal frozen hot chocolates (feeds 1-2), the drugstore hot fudge sundae (feeds 2-3), and the banana split cowards portion (feeds 2). We enjoyed all of them. My husband practically drank all of the frozen hot chocolate that we were suppose to share, but other then that we had a good time haha. Even though the portions are large they do have a minimum charge per person. I think it was around $8 a person. 

Frozen Hot Chocolate


 Coward's Size Banana Split


Drugstore Hot Fudge Sundae


What a day! Stayed up way too late and then woke up in the morning and headed to Clinton Street Baking Company. This place was super yummy and super crowded. When we got there it was raining and there was no standing room inside and a 2 1/2 hour wait. We ended up getting it to-go and it took only like 20 minutes to get our food. We ordered the sunshine muffin (not pictured) Spanish scramble with chorizo and I substituted mine for bacon with sourdough toast, clinton street omelets (pick 2 toppings), Brioche french toast with caramelized bananas, roasted pecans and warm maple butter,  and Maine blueberry pancakes. Their potatoes are so yummy. Their scramble and omelets were great too. My husband loved his french toast and their pancakes are out of this world! The blueberry pancakes weren't too sweet like I imagined and tasted very fresh.  If they have a shorter wait I would say eat it there. The food is worth it! If not get it to go and you can still enjoy it!  

Spanish Scramble

 Brioche French Toast

Clinton Street Omelet with sourdough toast and potatoes 

 Maine Blueberry Pancakes 

Maine Blueberry Pancakes with warm maple butter  

We then took the Stanton Island Ferry and saw the Statue of Liberty. I have always wanted to go up in the crown but was too late to book it. We also looked in doing a helicopter ride to see it. With such a big group it was going to be hard to do it. But if it was just my husband and I we would have done it! After we got off we went to Canal Street to shop around and got a few fun things. Then we headed to Coney Island. Online it said that it was opening day of the park so we were super excited. Unfortunately it was on the forecast to rain so they had changed the opening date. So when we got there we were bummed to find out that the rides weren't open and that only a few places to eat were open. My brother in law enjoyed a Nathans Hot Dog and we got some ice cream at a fun candy shop  called Williams Candy. I was sad that we missed all the crazy and cool rides but at least they had yummy treats! 



Mint Chocolate Chip and Cookie Dough Ice Cream 


We got back in town and got tickets to see Les Miserable such powerful songs and a classic musical. After that we went to a really yummy eating place that is in the Hell's Kitchen food district. It was called Empanada Mama. It was a really yummy Colombian food restaurant. When I was talking to my husband after the trip and asked him what his favorite thing he ate was he said the skirt steak that he ordered from here. And obviously we ate and ate this trip so I guess that is saying something. After our waiter brought us our food the guy next to us told us that the real Colombian way to order your food is with white rice and red beans. We did the black beans and yellow rice and thought it was super good. But if you are feeling a little more adventurous try it the Colombian way! I personally order the avocado salad with skirt steak on top and loved it. Very refreshing and the avocado was just perfectly ripe! My brother in law ordered the ox tail soup. He absolutely loved it. We didn't love watching his pick up the weird looking bone and chew on it to get the meat off it haha but he said the meat was super tender and way good. My husband and a few others ordered the skirt steak and we got a few empanadas since that is what they are famous for! The spicy chicken, breakfast, Brazil and Belgium chocolate with bananas empanadas were all really tasty. We did think that in the Belgium chocolate one that the bananas were a little mushy in them but the chocolate was unbelievable. They gave us a few sauces for the empanadas and the red sauce is super hot so beware. 

Avocado Salad with skirt steak


 Skirt Steak with yellow rice and black beans 


 Empanadas- breakfast and Brazil


 Spicy Chicken Empanadas in back with sauces (red hot)

 Ox Tail Soup

 Belgium Chocolate and Bananas Empanada 

After that we headed to Max Brenner for some yummy and fun dessert. They have lots of yummy chocolates there that you can buy. That was my take home gift for my husband last time I was in New York without him. My parents got the store's sundae and my mom said it was the best sundae she has ever had! The one bite of it I had was super yummy they didn't leave much for me to try because they loved it so much. My husband and I and my sister and her husband both ordered the Classic European Fondue which was set up super cute and fun to eat. My sister in law did catch a few marshmallows on fire but that just added entertainment to the meal! My brother order the hot chocolate and he was in heaven!!! Him and his wife also ordered the Melting Chocolate Truffle Heart Cake and Shake. It tasted as yummy as it looked! And again the set up was super cute too! 

The spectacular melting chocolate s'mores sundae

Classic European Chocolate Fondue


 Melting Chocolate Truffle Heart Cake and Shake


 Milk Chocolate Hot Chocolate

Enjoying roasting the marshmallows for the fondue 

By that time it was past 2 am so we headed back to the hotel. The next morning was our last day there. We were all pretty tired for the past few days so we decided to go to a nice breakfast at Sarabeth's by Central Park. We ordered a few drinks the hot chocolate, orange juice, and four flower juice. I loved the four flower juice. It had orange, pineapple, banana and pomegranate juice all mixed together. The hot chocolate wasn't too sweet but was very chocolatey. A few people ordered sides of bacon, actually we order $40 worth of extra bacon and by the end it was all eaten up by everyone! So yummy. I got the jalepano and cheese omelet. It wasn't my amazing but it was good.  The crab bakes Benedict was unbelievable. My husband got the steel cut strawberry and banana oatmeal and said that it was good. The lemon ricotta pancakes were really yummy. There was a lot of pancakes on that plate! We also tried the farmers omelet and that was good. My dad had the one great sirloin burger and it was one of the best burgers he has had in a while. Everything was yummy. I wasn't blown away by anything that you must order. They seem like a good classy breakfast place where everything you get will be yummy. My brother in law really did love the Benedict so if you are a Benedict fan order one of those! 
Four Flowers Juice

Orange Juice

Hot Chocolate

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

 Side of Bacon

 Strawberry Banana Steel Oatmeal

 Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict

 Jalepeno and Cheese Omelet

 Sirloin Burger



We then went shopping at FAO to get toys for our kids and then hoped in a limo and headed to the airport. If you have a big group that would make you take more then one taxi to the airport look into taking a limo. It really wasn't that much more and it made the experience more fun! 


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