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Friday, January 25, 2008

GRAND CENTRAL STATION

GRAND CENTRAL STATION
NEW YORK, NY

We stopped at Grand Central Station to have breakfast. This is a great place to people watch and grab a quick low cost meal and cup of coffee.

There is a huge food court under the main terminal.





GYRO SANDWICH - BEST BARGAIN IN MANHATTAN




GYRO SANDWICH
NEW YORK, NY

Try a Gyro from one of the hundreds of street vendors. At $4.00 for the sandwhich and a buck for water, this is the best deal and meal in the city.



MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
NEW YORK, NY

Keli spent a day at the Natural History Museum while Daddy worked.








METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART


METROPOLITAN MUSUEM OF ART
NEW YORK, NY

Truly a National treasure. We saw more famous art in five rooms that you could see in a lifetime. The museum is huge. You can spend days here. This is a must for anyone coming to New York. This is photo of Drew the "Bandit" and Keli in front of the museum.




BODIES - THE EXHIBITION

BODIES - THE EXHIBITION
NEW YORK, NY

This is a truly unique and totally interesting tour of the human body. The exhibition features "real" human bodies that are preserved. You see close-up the Skeletal system, muscular system, nervous system, digestive system, respiratory system, circulatory system and uninary system. You will not believe what is inside your body. It is the most complicated and amazing machine in the universe. The exhibition lets you see EVERYTHING. From inside your brain to every blood vessel and nerve. Each part of the body is opened through an amazing process. You can actually see everything in your body. It is AMAZING. One of the most interesting exhibits is that of unhealthy lungs, hearts and tissue. You can see actual lungs that have been blackened by smoking, cancer growing and other things that I cannot get into because I cannot spell half the stuff. Bottom line is that I learned I should not be eating half the crap you see on this blog. Plus I should exercise more and take care of this wonderful machine they call the human body.




NATHAN'S

NATHAN'S
NEW YORK, NY

A trip to New York would not be the same without a trip to Nathan's Hot Dogs.  Shirley loves Nathan's and will always find room for this super dog.









SEPTEMBER 11TH - GROUND ZERO VISITED


GROUND ZERO SEPTEMBER 11TH
NEW YORK, NY

As we walked from Wall Street one day we were headed for the site of Ground Zero. It was not hard to find because there is a huge empty space in the middle of hundreds of towering buildings. The huge space looks totally out of place in Manhattan. We took a turn and ended up walking by a small window that advertised a September 11 Museum. We entered the door and were taken back to that terrible day that no one should ever forget. The Sept 11th Museum will bring tears to your eyes. It is a living tribute to those who battled and died during those early morning hours on September 11th. There are movies, photographs and actual debris from the site. Small things like a Dad's house keys and parking ticket for the day are all that are left.  As you walk from room to room your heart fills with anger, sadness and pain. It is tough.



There is a wall with photographs of the thousands of people that were loss. Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, grandparents, friends and family. Most so very young and in the prime of their lives. Taken from all of us for no reason. There are stories and audio tapes of the brave firemen who ran into the building while others were running out. Over 300 died that day trying to save strangers. They are the bravest people on earth and true HEROS.


We decided to take a walking tour of Ground Zero with two survivors. One was a fireman who was in the building right before it collapsed. The other tour guide was the husband of a woman who was on the 94th floor. She was killed immediately when the first plane hit. His story of that day was very sad. His wife did not work in the building, but her company had a meeting there on Sept 11th. The meeting was set to begin at 9:00 a.m. The plane hit around 9:15 am.



The fireman tour guide had a Captain take his shift on Sept 11th. Even though he was off duty, he went into action after the first plane hit. He took four other off duty men from his department and they rushed to the Twin Towers. After entering and climbing up 20 stories, he and the other firemen decided that it was not a fire mission anymore, rather a mission to get people out of the building. They helped people down the stairs and then began to clear the area around the entrance to the towers. As one of the buildings started to collapse, they all ran for their lives. The fireman fell down across the street. His leg broken and twisted beneath his body. He asked God if he would die here on the streets of New York. 2o years of service and he did not want to go without a fight. He remembered bringing himself up as debris kept falling on his head and body. He thought that a large piece of the building would kill him. He could not see or feel anything and then darkness. The next thing he remembers is being awaken at his firehouse. Several policeman had carried him to safety and returned him to his station. After attending 75 funerals in the months that followed, the fireman got up one day to go to funeral number 76. He put on his dress uniform, looked in the mirror and said "that is it, no more". He retired that week. The Captain that took his shift on September 11th was never found.




















CAFE LA BELLA FERRARA - LITTLE ITALY, NEW YORK


CAFE LA BELLA FERRARA
LITTLE ITALY, NEW YORK


After a nice dinner we took a long walk through Little Italy and Chinatown. As we made our second stroll along Mulberry Street, we noticed a little neighborhood pastry shop that was filled with photographs and autographs from hundreds of famous people. Good enough for them, then good enough for us. We sat down and were quickly greeted by a great waitress (the red head above with Drew the bandit). We had a chocolate stuffed Cannoli and Keli had an Eclair. Both were delicious. Top it all off with a glass of vino and we were ready to trek back to the hotel to call it a night.















BUTTERFLY BLUE - FRIED CHICKEN AND WAFFLES IN HARLEM

BUTTERFLY BLUE
HARLEM, NEW YORK

BUTTERFLY BLUE
1813 Amsterdam Ave (150th St)
Harlem

It has always been a dream to go to Harlem and enjoy Fried Chicken and Waffles. This is a dish enjoyed by Soul Food enthusiasts. We traveled via cab uptown for what seemed to be forever. Block after block from 49th street to 150th street. 100 blocks of New York passing before our eyes. As you begin the journey you are amidst million dollar apartments on Park Avenue. Your traverse Central Park and then go straight up town. The further the journey the less affluent it becomes until you are in the heart of Harlem. We were dropped off in front of the restaurant at 11:30 p.m. As we approached the Butterfly Blue, we were surprised to see it was closed until noon. Bundled up in our jackets, hats and scarfs, we waited outside as the locals staired. I didn't know if we should get out of town or just wait patiently. Luckily, the restaurant owner saw us outside and opened the door. Come on in he said. We were the only people in the joint so we grabbed a table by the window.  The menu was full of Caribbean and Soul Food selections. We wasted no time in picking the fried chicken and waffles and a shrimp dish for Keli. Each dish is served with two sides. I ordered Mac and Cheese and Red Beans and Rice. Shirley opted for the Beans and Rice and Collard Greens. The portions were huge. The sides were big enough for a meal. When you take some fried chicken and couple it with some waffle and maple syrup you have a slice of heaven. The sides were great too.

BUTTERFLY BLUE IN HARLEM, NEW YORK
FROM HAWAII TO HARLEM AND HAPPY TO BE HERE
MAC N' CHEESE WITH RED BEANS AND RICE
OUR FIRST EVER FRIED CHICKEN AND WAFFLES



LE BERNADIN RESTAURANT - NEW YORK CITY


Le Bernardin
155 W. 51st Street

After careful research we decided to make a reservation months in advance for Le Bernardin.
This is rated and voted New Yorks #1 restaurant on most of the top 10 lists for New York. The restaurant has received rave reviews year after year and is only one of a handful of places that has received the coveted Michelen 3 Star Award. This is the highest rating for restaurants in the world. Everytime we did our research for the "best", Le Bernardin was a the top of the list in food and service.  Per the rules, I dolled up in a suit and tie and got pumped up for a great experience and meal.
The menu here is pre-fix. You get two appetizers and one main course for a little over $100 per person. There is also a chef tasting menu for $180 per person. Add a wine pairing to your meal and it is $320 per person. For this much dough, you would think that you would be in heaven.
Well, it was the exact opposite. Dish after dish was bland, cold and tiny. The portions of each course is so small. If the menu says shrimp, you get one shrimp with some sauce. All of the dishes are seafood here. By the third course you want some meat and some red wine rather than five glasses of white wine. When dessert came we were still hungry, but not hungry enough to finish the rather bland dessert. The service is top notch and they were very nice. I think Keli did best. We ordered pasta with shrimp which was not on the menu. Our waiter had the kitchen make it special for here. This was quite possibly the best dish of the night. At $35 it was a bargain compared to our expensive meal.
This is by far the most we have ever paid for a dinner. I would never ever do it again. If you go to Le Bernardin, make sure you are not picking up the tab. Total disappointment here in the food. The staff however was very friendly and accommodating.






Thursday, January 24, 2008

HAWAIIAN TROPIC ZONE RESTAURANT - NEW YORK


HAWAIIAN TROPIC ZONE
NEW YORK, NY


When it is 30 degrees outside, you can find some bikinis at New Yorks Hawaiian Tropic Zone.
I was invited by Fujitsu representatives to enjoy a great dinner and show. While the girls were good, the food at this place was fantastic. It is an upscale restaurant with incredible food and service. The girls are not only pretty, but really trained in service. Everything coming out of the kitchen was great. Our appetizer platter included a burner to heat your food. Great presentation. Several people ordered the ribs which were delivered to your table on a hanging rack. I had the veal chop which was really good. The kicker to to the evening was the bikini contest held on a stage around the tables. Each table is given ballots to vote. You would think this was enough, but the dessert menu was awesome. They actually give you a viewer to see the desserts on film. I shared the cheesecake balls that we served on a hanging rack with a bubble gum dipping sauce. Really good.


























STATUE OF LIBERTY

STATUE OF LIBERTY
NEW YORK, NY

As a new American citizen, Shirley really wanted to visit the Statue of Liberty. She now realizes what it means to be an American and she is very patriotic. Keli was not too happy because it was so darn cold. Our trip began by going through a very serious and no games security screening. You must take off your jackets, hats, belts and remove everything from your person. This includes watches and wallets. Nothing is left unchecked. After security you board a boat that takes you on the twenty minute or so ride to the Statue. Once you arrive you can walk around and go up to the base of the statue only. Gone are the days when you can climb stairs inside the statue to view the city from the crown. 9-11 has changed everything.








WALL STREET

WALL STREET
NEW YORK, NY

We visited Wall Street during one of the worst days. Stocks were down hundreds of points. The Federal Reserve acted by reducing the prime rate by 3/4 of a point. The New York Stock Exchange is a fortress since 9-11. Cars are not allowed around the buildings. Huge barricades on all entrances and exits prevent any car bomb from getting within two blocks of the building. The building is surrounded by an army of policeman carrying automatic weapons. There are bomb sniffing dogs all around and more security than I have ever seen with the exception of a President. New York knows how to do security. They are very professional and serious.








CARNEGIE DELI - NEW YORK

Carnegie Deli

854 Seventh Avenue, At 55th St


THIS IS A MUST VISIT WHILE IN NEW YORK. A TRUE EXPERIENCE.

The Carnegie Deli is awesome. A true New York classic. It is home to the largest sandwiches on earth. Don't expect to eat an entire sandwhich by yourself. We ordered one and couldn't finish the thing in two days. The Carnegie Deli menu is huge. Filled with Soups, sandwiches, burgers, salads, blintzes and the best cheese cake on earth. We ordered the flagship sandwich that made "Broadway Danny Rose" famous. It is called the Woody Allen. It is a combination of Corned Beef and Pastrami. We added swiss cheese and some cole slaw to ours. The sandwhich costs $16.95, but it will really feed four people. The waitress actually brough us extra bread so we could make mini sandwiches out of the colossal beast that was in front of us. The meal includes all the pickles you can eat too. They bring the pickles by the plate full. Yes, this is a ton of food, but it is really, really good. The pastrami is the best we have ever had. After the sandwich, there is little room for the famous cheesecake. But you must try the cheesecake. Best on the planet.

Note: The bottom picture is what was left after we were done eating. Still enough for two more meals.








LOMBARDI'S PIZZA


LOMBARDI'S PIZZA
32 SPRING STREET
NEW YORK, NY

O.k. I admit it. We have been in New York for four days and already visted Lombardi's twice. The second visit was at the request of Shirley as she was craving the pizza 48 hours after our first visit. Like the Acme Oyster House in New Orleans, you want to run (take a fast cab) to Lombardi's the minute you arrive in the city. This place is fantastic.

Lombardi's is the home of the first coal oven pizza in America. Today the same coal oven cooks your pizza to perfection. The restaurant has been featured on the History Channel, The Food Network and The Discovery Channel. Zagat Survey rated the pizza as "Best on the Planet".

We would have to agree. This is not deep dish or pizza with thick dough and so much on top that you cannot taste the ingredients. Lombardi's is a thin crust pizza topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese and a little basil. We added some sausage and pepperoni and were in heaven. The crust is light and tasty. You can taste all of the ingredients. The sauce, the cheese, toppings and basil. Just a perfect combination of flavors. The crust gets lightly toasted from the coal oven which is great. We ordered a side Ceasar Salad with our pizza. A single salad will serve four people. They are huge. I asked for sardines on my salad and the waitress brought us a huge plate of sardines. I am talking maybe twenty or more. While they do charge extra for the sardines, you get enough for an army on the plate.

Lombard's is all cash. No credit cards accepted. Expect to pay about $20 for a very large pizza and $8.50 for the Ceasar salad. During our first visit the wait was about 30 minutes. Our second visit around 4:00 in the afternoon was wait free. You may want to go before or after the lunch and dinner hours to avoid a wait. Even if you do wait - it is worth every mintue. A visit to New York would not be the same without stopping at Lombardi's for a pie.







BABBO RISTORANTE - NEW YORK

RISTORANTE BABBO 
110 Waverly Place
New York, NY

This is the flagship fine dining restaurant owned by celebrity chef Mario Batali. Mario is the host of the televsion cooking show "Molto Mario". After extensive research on the internet, we found that Babbo was consistantly showing up on the best restaurants lists for New York. Several "Best of" lists ranked it #2 in the city. We wanted to have some good Italian food so we put Babbo on our list and made a reservation several weeks in advance of our visit. Wow....we were lucky to make the reservation in advance because you will not get in this place without one. When our cab driver delivered us to the restaurant, we thought he had made a mistake. The place is located in what looks like a typical New York City home. No big sign, just a small front door. As we entered, we knew that we were not in someones home, rather one of the hottest spots in the city. The bar area at 6:00 p.m. was standing room only. The dining area was already packed and pumping with music and pasta. This is no ordinary Italian restaurant. The menu is filled with many items we have never experienced. Most are described in Italian so we had to get the waitress to help with ordering. After reviewing the menu in detail we opted for the Chef's Traditional Tasting Menu. This is a set four course dinner with three desserts. I had my dinner with a fantastic wine pairing. At $75 per person, this is a bit of a bargain for a night out at a great restaurant. Here is a sampling of the menu we enjoyed:

Babbo Culatello with Pumpkin "in Scapece"
Pappardelle with Hedghogs & Tyme (Totally awesome dish that blew us away)
Duck Tortelli with "Sugo Finto"
Grilled Venison with Acorn Squash Caponata and Mint

While the food and service were EXCELLENT, we were in for a real suprise when people were seated around us. The seating at Babbo is bench style along a long wall. This means that the people on the right and left side of you are basically sitting at your table. You can see and hear everything on both sides. There are no partitions. Just enough room between tables to snake a body through to sit down. While this is sometimes uncomfortable seating because you have no privacy, our night turned out to be quite incredible. Seated next to us was the superstar comedian DON RICKLES and Hall of Fame Quarterback JOE MONTANA. I could not believe my eyes. Here we are from Hawaii and having dinner in New York City. To the right is Don Rickles and to the left is Joe Montana. They were just eating good food like everyone else. After gaining some confidence from the vino, I finally asked Mr. Rickles if we could take a picture. He was very gracious, polite and humble. We talked about Hawaii and some of his work. What a great person. His wife and other couple with him were also very nice and offered to take the picture. Don then gave us a nice autograph and handshake. This is a class human being that has spent his lifetime making people laugh. We are so fortunate to have been able to meet and talk with him. Joe Montana on the other hand was a different story. His guest allowed us to take a quick photo, but no autographs or chatting. Just a nice hello - how are you.
This was a great evening for the family. I would highly recommend Babbo for the food and service. The celebrities are a lucky bonus.
Click link below to view another post of Babbo Ristorante:
http://greateatshawaii.blogspot.com/2010/11/ristorante-babbo-enoteca-new-york-city.html

THE GREAT DON RICKELS SITTING NEXT TO US
JOE MONTANA SITTING WITH US


GRAY'S PAPAYA

GRAY'S PAPAYA
NEW YORK, NY

Listed on the internet as New York's best Hot Dog and shown on the Food Channels Best Hot Dog places is Gray's Papaya. They are known for their "snappy" dogs because they have a little snap when you bite into them. The menu is simple. Dogs with or without sauerkraut and onions. The price is great at $1.25 per dog. While these dogs were good, we still like the Original Nathan's Hot Dogs a little better.