That Time We: Visited New York City

Tristan exploring Wall Street

Living on the same continent as the ‘Land of the Free’ means we will hopefully be making a lot of trips across the border.  Last month, we zipped down to the Big Apple and checked off another item on our Bucket List.

Having made a pretty good dent in the NYC tourist attraction list when we visited in January 2015, this trip was all about catching up with a fellow Aussie expat over all the food and drink we could handle.  Here are some of the highlights:

Summer on the High Line

If you are visiting NYC, we definitely recommend checking out the High Line, which runs from the Meat Packing District to somewhere near Penn Station.  It is an urban park which has repurposed a now defunct railway line which once ran above the streets of Manhattan – and it’s pretty awesome!

We first visited the High Line in the heart of winter during our last trip to NYC.  While it was a stunning space to wander through in the winter (and offered a tranquil surrounding to observe the hustle and bustle of the city below), it is definitely a far more special place to visit in the summer.  On the day we were recently there, despite a sudden downpour, the High Line was packed full of people.  As we wandered between the apartment buildings, peering into third-storey windows to get a sneaky glimpse of the residents living alongside the High Line, we were surrounded by street performers playing music, food and drink vendors galore, and ice cream stalls helping to cool you down from the intense New York humidity.

The best part of the High Line for us, though, is that the 2.33 km route offers numerous points where you can stop and take in some spectacular views of Manhattan.  Unfortunately, the two times we have visited, we enjoyed the walk too much and didn’t snap enough decent pictures to share with you.  The best we can do for now is this photo of the adorable, teeny, tiny snowman we saw on the High Line last year:

Snowman on the High Line

And this photo of some funky art we spotted between the buildings when we visited this time around:

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[Bonus points if you can spot Tristan in the photo!]

Cindy & Tristan go to White Castle

Cindy & Tristan go to White Castle

We have to confess, neither of us has actually seen the 2004 Box Office hit, Harold & Kumar go to White Castle, but we assumed that the fact a whole film was made on finding a White Castle meant that when you did find one yourself, you should definitely check it out.  So, when we stumbled past a little White Castle restaurant in NYC, we knew we had to go on in.

For those (like us) unfamiliar with the White Castle chain, we preface this part of the post with this: White Castle is not where you go for a gourmet meal.  It is known for its small, square hamburgers, which apparently used to be periodically advertised at five for ten cents.  It is therefore no surprise that its typical clientele is generally of the slightly more rotund variety – indeed, when you walk in, you will probably immediately notice that the seats are about 2-feet wide, ready to accommodate the broader girth of its patrons.  Anyway, you don’t go to White Castle for fine dining, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

We took a few minutes to peruse the pretty impressive range on offer and finally settled on a Double Cheese Sliders Combo featuring two 2×2 inch beef patties steam-grilled on a bed of onions, two slices of American Cheese, and two slices of pickle, all served on a signature White Castle bun, and a Chicken and Waffle Slider, which was literally chicken sandwiched between two waffles.

The verdict?  We are honestly torn about the whole experience.  On the one hand, we are not confident that what we ate was either meat or made of human grade food, but on the other hand, it didn’t actually taste half bad!  The buns were super soft, the cheese the right amount of melty and the chicken and waffle slider offered an interesting combination of sweet and savoury.

If you’ve had White Castle before, we would love to know what you thought.  Otherwise, when you’re in North America next, please give it a go and let us know your verdict.

Smorgasburg

After a late night (which included a jug-load of Margaritas), Sunday inevitably started with a long sleep-in before we were able to make the trip out to Harlem to visit our Aussie-New Yorker friend in her beautiful brownstone townhouse.  We then travelled the short trip over the East River to Brooklyn to what was perhaps the very best part of the entire weekend – Smorgasburg.

Smorgasburg is the self-described Brooklyn Flea Food Market which has now spread to a variety of locations throughout Brooklyn and around the country.  During weekends, food vendors congregate in the various parks to sell their artisanal meals.  We visited the Prospect Park location, which was full of people lazing on picnic blankets, snacking on food and just generally chilling and enjoying the summer sunshine!

Anyone who knows Cindy knows that food markets are pretty much all she lives for. So her goal was to eat as many different things as possible.  Thank goodness we didn’t eat breakfast, because it meant we were able to well and truly stuff our faces!  What we loved was that it wasn’t the usual food market type food – the vendors, who are passionate about their work, come up with interesting combinations of ingredients and create something unique and mouth-wateringly delicious.

Our favourite?

Definitely the Taiwanese style wraps by Outer Borough – the almost roti consistency wrap really took this dish to a whole new level and we are dreaming about the day Outer Borough opens a location in Toronto.

Just for completeness, and because (according to Cindy) food photography is by far the best genre of photography, we also filled ourselves up on the following dishes (which came a very close equal second to Outer Borough) by Lumpia Shack, C Bao and Mofon•GO:

Anyway, we are definitely looking forward to checking Smorgasburg out again.  The park atmosphere was incredibly relaxed and made for a great place to hang out with friends and enjoy a few drinks.  Honestly, if we lived in New York, we would probably brunch there every weekend.

 


 

All in all, a great trip to New York City and we are looking forward to visiting again soon – it is, after all, only a 1.5 hour flight from Toronto! But best of all, we got to catch up with a friend and enjoy being almost fully Aussie again for a weekend.  [We may not have ended up downing that promised bottle of Veuve, but we guess it was still good to see you!]

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