Monday, February 6, 2012

Providence and NYC Trip- Part 2: NYC

Whoops.  Totally forgot to do Part 2 of this post!  Better late than never. 

This was my 2nd time in NYC.  The first trip was my freshman year in college with Gillian (the bride this time around!).  I had just turned 19 and that was my first real adventure/vacation on my own.  I felt so grown-up.  Little did I know how young we still were and how much growing up we still had to do.  I was a star-struck, doe-eyed youngster who still had a smidgen of hope that someday I would  move to New York and become a Broadway star. 

Then reality set in.  I was in like 4 high school plays.  I can totally sing like Carrie Underwood and Christina Aguilera and Miranda Lambert when I'm in my car.  I can't sing to save my life.  And I started ballet about 10 years too late to have any hope of being a dancer.  So, obviously, Broadway went by the wayside. 

Fast forward 8 years.  Gillian and I are returning to the big city to BUY HER WEDDING DRESS!!!   (With her sisters, mom, and maid of honor Natalie).  Now she's the one who has dreams of moving to NYC (which will hopefully come true for her in a couple of months!).  NYC seemed so different to me through a grown-up's eyes.  It's still such an amazing city, so fun to visit.  So many things to do and see (WAY more than we could even try to see in our three days there).  So much FOOD.  Delicious food.  But growing into myself in the past 8 years, I've realized I could never live there.  It's going to be one of those places I love to visit, but will never live.  Unless life throws a crazy curve-ball my never know. 

This trip was a huge 2 1/2 day whirlwind, but so much fun and so exciting! 
We hopped on a bus in Providence at 6:15am Monday morning.  This was no ordinary bus.  Oh, no.  It was a double decker bus with wi-fi!  We got a front-row seat on the top half, so we had a perfect view coming into the city when we arrived around 9:30am. 

The first thing we did was check into our hotel.  We stayed at The Affinia Shelburne, which I was overall pretty pleased with.  They have Philosophy toiletries, which was lovely!  And there was a pillow menu too.   

We had a full day ahead, so we set out to have breakfast at Scotty's Diner which was about a block from our hotel.  Pretty standard diner fare.  I had some over-medium eggs, bacon, and toast.  Boring, I know.  Good fuel for the day though. 

On our way to our first appointments to try on dresses, we stopped by Rockefeller Center. 
And!  And!  I had my first macaron!  I've been DYING to try one after seeing recipes everywhere, and I held out to try one until I went to NYC.  I've been told Laduree is the best.  They're the original French bakery that imported macarons to the US.  But we didn't have time to swing by there, so we stopped into Bouchon Bakery so I could get my macaron.  They had a variety of flavors, but the Nutella one caught my eye, so that's the one I bought.  Gillian bought a homemade Oreo.  We were pretty darn excited about our cookies. first macaron experience?  It was good.  Not awful, not the best thing I've ever eaten.  I think the cookie part was a sweet, light chocolate maracon with a Nutella filling.  Although it just tasted like chocolate to me.  I couldn't really taste the Nutella.  So, yeah, it was good.  I really liked the texture and I will eat anything chocolate, but it was just good.  Not sure how Gillian's Oreo was...we barely had time to eat our sweets!

After that, Gillian had her first dress trying-on appointment, then we had a bridesmaids dress trying-on appointment.  Then we stopped into Dewey's Flatiron for a drink and a snack.  We each ordered a beer (with the exception of Gillian's little sisters) and shared some appetizers.  Mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, chicken tenders, chicken quesadilla rolls...all pretty standard appetizer fare.  We also shared some sort of flatbread-pizza-like thing with goat cheese on it.  I can't seem to find it on the menu now, but it was tasty and fueled us up for the next dress trying-on appointment and held us over until dinner. 

Little did we know, our next appointment didn't exist.  We got to the place, and they were closed (it was MLK day).  We later figured out that this particular location only carried wedding dresses, not bridesmaid's dresses.  Their bridesmaid's dress location was on Long Island, which is where our appointment REALLY was.  Whoops. 

Monday night, we had dinner at Stanton Social.  Gillian was really excited about having dinner here.  She had been here on a previous trip to NYC and loved it.  They serve comfort-food-inspired tapas.  The food was tasty, but the service sucked.  Our waitress was extremely pushy and kept trying to make us order more food.  Not cool.  The best part about this restaurant, though, was the dessert.  I had a RED VELVET TWINKIE.  Uh, yeah.  Freaking amazing.  We also ordered some big puffy cinnamon-sugar doughnut things to share, and a chocolate tasting plate which consisted of bon bons, spicy chocolate ice cream, a chocolate creme brulee thing, and a bunch of other chocolate stuff.  Awesome.  And then on the way back to our hotel, we saw snow flurries!!!   

Ess-a-Bagel for bagels and coffee to go.  I got an everything bagel with chive cream cheese.  It was still warm from the oven.  And they put a TON of cream cheese on it, which is just how I like my bagel.  As a vessel for cream cheese.  Yes, siree.  In my excitement, I dropped half my bagel on the yucky NYC sidewalk and I was pissed.  But the bagels are so big, I was full from my saved half anyway.  Good thing.

We went to Gillian's dress appointment at Saks, then had to head uptown to J Crew for anther dress appointment for us bridesmaids.  We had some time to kill and stopped at a food cart for a snack.  I had a "meat pie" which seemed pretty much like an empanada to me.  By this time, it had started to rain, and we had to huddle under the awning of a snooty apartment building to eat our snacks.  The door man gave us dirty looks.  The part of NYC I don't like?  People aren't so friendly. 

After J Crew, Gillian had an appointment at Kleinfeld.  Yes, the one on Say Yes to the Dress.  She was so calm and collected, and Natalie and I were jumping up and down in our seats and about to pee our pants.  Gillian's consultant was Keasha (from the show!) and we were seeing all of the consultants from the show in the showroom.  After a very intense battle between two dresses, Gillians said "Yes!" to her dress.  And it's so perfectly her.  And it's top-secret. 

Gillian's mom and little little sister had a flight to catch Tuesday evening, so we escorted them back to the hotel to see them off.  Then we met Gillian's cousins for dinner at Toloache.  They are known for their homemade guacamole, and for good reason.  We tried a sampler of their three guacs:  The Traditional, the Frutas (which had avocado, pomegranate, onion, mango, apple, habanero, and basil), and the Rojo (avocado, onion, tomato, and chipotle).  Wow.  I had died and gone to heaven.  I could've made a meal out of the guacamole alone.  For my entree, I ordered an appetizer-sized order of the Tacos de Pastor (pork, pineapple and salsa) and a side of Avocado Fries.  Natalie had the Carne Asada, which was a piece of meat as big as her plate with amazing mole sauce.  I tried that and it was fabulous as well.  After we ate, the restaurant manager came to our table and said he was buying us each a shot of tequila.  Now, tequila and I don't get along so well, but I held it together.  I do my tequila shots with an orange and sugar.  No salt and lime for me.  Yuck.  We had a great evening hanging out and talking with her cousins, then headed back to our hotel and PASSED OUT.

We really didn't have anything planned for Wednesday.  No appointments, just (half) a free day to kind of do what we wanted.  I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to go to Magnolia Bakery while in NYC and try their Vanilla-Vanilla Cupcakes.  This is my go-to vanilla recipe (the one that I made for Gillian's shower!) and I wanted to see how mine held up to theirs.  We didn't get a chance to go to the original Magnolia, but we did swing by the one in Grand Central Station.  Can you tell how super excited I was?

Woohoo!  I have to say, my homemade Vanilla-Vanillas are pretty dang close to the original.  Theirs were a tad drier than mine, but that could be due to carrying it around NYC all day, then home 1000 miles on an airplane before diving into it.  The flavor is dead-on though.  I also got a red velvet cupcake with french buttercream, which was good, but I've had better.  I prefer cream cheese icing on my red velvet, but their french buttercream was pretty exceptional.  The cake was just okay. 

We wanted to do some shopping (the window variety for me), so we headed down to SoHo.  We had brunch at Bubby's Tribeca.  Bubby's pretty much has southern comfort food.  My kind of place.  I had eggs, sausage, cheese grits (2nd best I've ever had- right after a place in Nashville), and toast.  It was kind of pricey, as most restaurants are in NYC, but the food was very good. 

We did some (window) shopping at Scoop NYC, Bloomingdales, CB2 and Madewell.  Anyone who knows me knows I'm a little obsessed with the Kardashians.  Yes, they're crazy, but I love em.  Sorry.  So my friends were nice enough to allow me the indulgence of going to Dash.  Yay! 

The K's obviously weren't there.  And the stuff was really expensive.  I expected the clothes to be pricey, but their Dash logo t-shirts were $60.  Not cool.  I bought a nail polish as a souvenir.  Probably marked up 300% from what I could get it for here.  Oh well.  I'm glad I got to go!

One last top at Dylan's Candy Bar for some treats to take on the plane.  This is one place that I don't see with grown-up eyes.  Walk into this 3 story candy shop, and you will feel like a 5 year old again. 
And then it was time for a scary, nausea-inducing cab ride to the airport to fly home.  It was a whirlwind trip, and I was exhausted but it was a ton of fun.  Hopefully I'll be able to visit more once Gillian moves there. :) 

Hopefully there's still someone out there reading my ramblings.  I have more recipes to share soon!  I've got one cooking up right now, actually.  Adios!