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A Helluva Town


Helluva, used on Broadway, was changed to “wonderful” for the movie as Comden and Green’s lyric was too racy for Hollywood.  New York is many spectacular and awe-inspiring things, but, truthfully, wonderful “honk honk” isn’t one of them.  Still, where better for a quick weekend away On the Town?  SS got a nice Valentine’s gift.  Or so it seemed.  Our near
private bulkhead deuce at the front of economy disappeared mysteriously the day before
departure.  AC switched the
aircraft.  I phoned (24 minutes on hold)
to ask why (7 minutes on hold for staff to ask the help desk).  No one knew.
So, so much for paying for premium seats.  Thanks AC, voted best airline in North
America something like five years in a row.


Lower Manhattan from the plane upon descent to LGA


We had a smooth
leg to YYZ where the snow on the ground looked ominous, connected through the
new crazy-ass CDN to US system where you wait in a lounge for your name to appear on a reader board before
joining an enormous US Customs queue (thank goodness for Nexus) and the last
hour, in the back row of an old 34 row Embraer, was rocky at best.  A cryptic figure eight descent took us twice past the
Statue of Liberty before landing at LGA.
I will not weigh in on the 80 mph cab ride near death swerve entering
the Queens Midtown tunnel.



We checked in
to the year old Refinery Hotel, a renovated millinery in what remains of the
garment district.  This is the first time
we’ve ever had “front” windows in a NYC hotel, which is novel in a way.  The Empire State Building hovers a couple of
blocks away.


Despite the
cold, we walked ten blocks south to the Nomad which has a wonderful bar restaurant on
28th.  On the way back we
reacquainted ourselves with an east coast winter specialty: Wind chill.


Friday dawned a
beautiful day.  But traffic also let us
know it was time to rise and shine.  Few
sirens too.  We had coffee in the room
then suited up with scarves and gloves (and, glorious thermal socks).  Walked over the Grand Central and caught the
IRT express to 86th.  Forty
blocks in seven minutes; match that Skytrain.  Then an
exceedingly brisk walk to the Met.


It’s been near
two decades since I’d made the trek.
Still a glorious outpost for cultural significance.  When you need to look at art three or four
millennia old, this should be your first stop.


Egyptian wooden sculpture, 2000 BC, brewery and bakery


Gold Gazelle on a headband
Mirrors.  Such as they are.
Roof of a Papua New Guinea traditional home
Papua New Guinea statues in the Oceania hall
Cameroon Royal Couple
Three hours
later we made our ways back to the Herald Square Macys which has a wonderful
outpost on the seventh floor called Stella:



Afterwards we
did something uniquely NY by traipsing through the design center at 200
Lexington, which is, essentially, an outpost for the trade, dozens of brands
with boutiques for furniture, lighting, antiques and such.  The whole
tenth floor is 1st Dibs, if anyone is crazy enough to get their
enticing email blasts (which I do, and drool over their multitude of over
priced original artifacts).  $7000 tray
anyone?  It reminded me of Woody Allen’s
Alice when Julie Kavner, an interior decorator, arrives with an eel trap which
she recommends could be used as a lamp shade, or a vase, and adds “It’s a steal
at $9,000.”


Prison shank collection.  I kid you not.  $3400.


Fornasetti dog umbrella stands.  Doberman and collie here, boxer and German shepherd also available.  From $6300 to $9000.  I am not making this up….
We headed back
to the Refinery for some pre-dinner R&R.





I phoned Batard to make a dinner reservation six weeks before our visit; they wouldn’t take reservations until one month out. I called one month out; 5:30 or 10.  We went to Brooklyn instead.
Dinner was at
Delaware and Hudson, a surprise in the One Michelin Star category earlier this
year in NYC.  Although in Brooklyn it was
actually an easier subway journey than the upper east side, south to 14 then under the river to Bedford.  Signs of the “storm of the century,” not, still
dotted the curbs.  I’ve only ever been to
Brooklyn three times, tops, and each time the changes are uber profound.  Williamsburg in particular has the feel of
what made Toronto interesting in the 80s.



D&H has a
sorta set menu where you choose a main, but you share tapas starters, then there is a
small first course, then after a main there is dessert and house made
chocolates.  $54 per; not bad considering a slider hamburger at the Nomad was $18.  The chef’s grandfather worked for the D&H railway, which linked NY with Montreal.  It ran as the oldest independently owned railway until sold to CPR in 1991.  Anyway…  The starters included a borscht with dill and
crème fraiche, a spaghetti squash slaw, home-made pretzel bread, blue fish pate
(superb), lamb meatballs and fried Maine sardines.  The first
course was a ricotta ravioli with a Virginia ham and Swiss chard.  For mains I had a snapper on cauliflower
puree with tiny baby Brussels sprouts; SS had a winter vegetable hash.  For dessert they gave SS cheese, I had a
shoefly pie on crème anglaise with a warm chocolate fondant.  The chocolates were exquisite, SS even had a
salted caramel.  All hell breaks loose in NYC!  It is a helluva town…

We have something of a view with the ESB not too distant.  But what is wonderfully NY is that the ESB at night, through our hotel room window, transitions through colours and hues.






The author of Here Hare has traveled to over 45 countries on six continents, and has lived in Canada, the UK and Australia.

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