Sunday, January 6, 2008

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (PART IV): NEW YORK, NEW YOOORRRKKK!

With Christmas officially over, it was time for a little fun and games. Lesley, Ning and I had planned an overnight trip to NYC for the day after Christmas, so come that Wednesday afternoon we were on our way despite the rain. What could’ve easily been a 4-hr drive ended up taking almost 7 hours thanks to the downpour that followed us from Maryland all the way through to the Lincoln Tunnel.

We got to the hotel around 7:30PM, and got ready to go out. We took a cab to Rockefeller Center, where we got to see the famous Christmas tree. Despite the rain, tourists were out and about, and even the skating
rink was in full-operation. We quickly took some pix, and then ran into a hot dog stand that happened to be blasting Jocelyn Enriquez’s "Do You Miss Me?" on the radio. We took that as a sign: we were meant to be there at that moment. Serendipity. OK, maybe not so much. We were starving like hostages, so we decided that we’d hit the first place we saw. We turned the corner and before us was TGI Friday’s. We thought about it for a second, then decided that we did not drive all the way to NYC to eat there. Luckily, after turning another corner, we saw an oasis against the rainy backdrop along W. 49th Street: Alfredo’s.

We didn’t have a reservation, but they graciously accommodated us. The scene was familiarly "New York City." It was loud inside, and the dining room was nicely lit. The d├ęcor was simple and chic – clean lines (square tables, chairs, wall-frames), and bright colors (oranges, yellows, reds). The restaurant is one of just a handful, with the original in Rome (incidentally, the original restaurant is credited for naming the famed fettuccine dish). People of all types were seated for dinner –from the nicely coiffed party having after-work drinks and eats, to the tourists wearing their parkas and tennis shoes. It was busy and bustling; extremely "East Coast." Our waiter took forever to tend to our needs all through the night, but that was e
xpected. We put in an order for drinks, and Ning and I were schooled on how to order a dirty martini by getting the most "bang" for our buck: up, dirty on the side. (Thanks, waiter!)

We started off with the Frittura Alla Romana, a generous mix of calamari, shrimp, and veggies fried in tempura batter, and served with a spicy marinara sauce. It was a great way to curb our hunger after the long drive from MD. When our dinner came, we were already buzzed (up, dirty on the side!), but not far-gone enough to miss out on the feast before us: veal for Ning, New York Strip for Les, and the sea bass for me. Either we were overly hungry or the meal was genuinely delicious. Whatever the case was, we plowed through our dinners. I can’t even say that I remember how good the meal was because memories of the drinks dance around in my head more so as I try to think back. At any rate we took a chance at a winner. Prego!

The rest of the evening/trip is all a blur, but it went something like this: drank more at a bar on 86th and 2nd (?) with Maria and crew, grabbed more eats afterwards at a place called Gemini Diner (where I "stole" the rest of the fries that Ning and I couldn’t finish), slept, checked-out of the hotel, took a cab four or five blocks to Herald Square, walked by the Christmas windows at Macy’s, did a little shopping at H&M (so not the same), then grabbed lunch at some place called Martinique ---which was just OK. Eh. We fought the rain, and the traffic, and finally – a cup of yogurt and a meal at Popeye’s later – made it home around 8PM on Thursday night. We were spent.

Without the rain, we probably would’ve ran into less traffic, and we might’ve had the chance to do more in the city as we had hoped. This time there was no SoHo, no Greenwich, no Times Square or Broadway. No Century 21, no Grey’s Papaya, no Peanut Butter & Co. But we did go to Rockefeller, ate well, and certainly drank well. That was all we needed.

---

Coming soon… Home for the Holidays (Part V): Winding Down.

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