NYC and Five Points Fest
New York Times Travel Show
We woke up Saturday morning and were excited to attend the New York Times Travel Show. After getting ready we walked down to 42nd St and stopped for some Starbucks. Once we were done with our drinks we hopped into a taxi and made our way to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
Once inside we found the coat check which was immensely helpful. Greg had purchased tickets for me as part of my Christmas present so we were able to pick up a couple lanyards and head right on into the main area. Our first stop inside was Asia. We sat down and discussed a tour of China focusing on visiting the Great Wall. We looked into information to Tokyo, South Korea, Nepal, and Thailand (we're planning a trip for early 2019). I've never really been one to want to go on set tours but some of the travel companies we met with had unique and fun options at pretty reasonable prices. After Asia we visited the Africa section. We looked at a couple different lodges, safaris, and spoke with South African Airways. Unfortunately, we didn't spend too much time here as we know we won't be getting a trip together to Africa for a while.
Nearby we came across the booth of Rare Finds Travel Club. Melanie created Rare Finds Travel Club and offers her members ideas, tips, and plans for short getaways. Melanie is passionate, intelligent, and very funny; we loved chatting with her. During the travel show a monthly discount was offered, we took full advantage of it and joined the club. I can honestly say, that after reading a couple of the escapes, Rare Finds Travel Club does offer a unique perspective. There were definitely some places I have never heard of that I just have to visit now.
The next section we visited was Europe. We looked at Access Trips and their culinary tours. They do seem to be a little on the high side of pricing but I liked their itinerary's. I was most intrigued by GAP Travel booth. We discussed the new options of active travel on Avalon Waterways with Robin. We have heard great things about Avalon Waterways but knew that it was geared to an older crowd. With their new active options, we agree that if feels like it's something more in line with our travel desires.
After a few hours and about 40 pounds worth of booklets we were ready to head out for some lunch. I would have liked to go to more of the special events or speaking sessions but I am really saving that up for the Boston Globe Travel Show. In Boston I will be attending show during trade day and hopefully meeting up with the group from Travel Massive.
After dropping off all of our brochures and cards we decided to try a casual restaurant nearby. Yaso Tangbao offers Shanghai street food. The restaurant is counter service and offers a large menu. We ordered easily ordered 4 dishes to try. Unfortunately, this is when things went bad. The staff were very disorganized, slow, and other than 1 individual unapologetic.
After a long wait we received our spicy pork soup dumplings, chicken shao mai (sticky rice dumplings), sweet and sour pork ribs, and garlic cucumber salad. The soup dumplings were pretty flavorful, the sticky rice dumplings were filling, the ribs were okay, and the cucumbers were too bitter from the garlic. I wasn't expecting gourmet cuisine but we both felt that this restaurants options were more like reheated food.
After lunch we decided to be gluttons and walk back up to Sprinkles Cupcakes for some dessert. The cupcake ATM was out of vegan cupcakes so we had to be traditional and go inside to order. The staff were very friendly, were happy to package my vegan cupcake alone so it wouldn't be contaminated, and had us quickly on our way.
For dinner we had a reservation at Reichenbach Hall. Our sole purpose for going to this restaurant was to order the pork shank in hopes of having a similar experience to those in Frankfurt. When we arrived, we were brought to our reserved table and given menus. The first thing I noticed was the pork shank was no longer on the menu. What?! I confirmed that this was true! We weren't off to a great start. Our waitress was very busy dealing with multiple tables so after a bit of a wait we finally ordered drinks (beer for great, bourbon for me). To start our meal, we ordered the large pretzel with just mustard. The pretzel was hot and delicious although we had to wipe off a lot of the salt. For entrees I ordered the currywurst and french fries (usually an appetizer) and Greg ordered the bratwurst sampler.
My meal was awful! Currywurst should be cooked bratwurst topped with curry ketchup served with french fries. This dish was bratwurst cooked in a curry ketchup sauce that had been cooking for a while and had been reduced down. It was overpowering and unappetizing. Greg's dish was good although when the best part of the dish is the potato salad I feel like that isn't saying much either.
Unfortunately, I think Reichenbach Hall has become more of a bar scene rather than a restaurant. When looking around you had most of the people drinking only. I noticed that those who did order food didn't finish their dishes either. Needless to say, we wouldn't be back and wouldn't recommend a visit.
On Sunday morning we condensed all of our purchases, brochures, and luggage. After a bit of confusion with the hotel we got our car from the valet and left New York City. 3.5 hours later we were home and happy to see Fred!
We attempted to create a post about how we pack but life got in our way and we ended up throwing together our stuff 10 hours before leaving. On Friday morning we put our luggage in the car, stopped for Starbucks and brought Fred to my parents (where he was spoiled rotten).
After the 4 hour drive we pulled up in front of the Hilton Millenium One U.N. The bellman helped us with valeting our car and welcomed us to the hotel. Since we only had one suitcase we brought it in ourselves to the check in desk. The following experience wasn't up to their normal standards. We weren't welcomed as Hilton Diamond members, we were handed 2 bottles of water, and weren't offered an upgrade. We asked about an upgrade and at first were told we were given a nice King room. This is what we booked. After a while of searching on her computer the staff member was able to secure us a corner room.
Room 3240 offers a hallway closet, coffee bar with safe, a King Bed, a couple of chairs, large desk, large bathroom, and 2 very nice views. The downsides to this room can be easily rectified by the hotel. The first is the rug is shredding a bit right in the middle of the room and should be trimmed. The second issue is that the wall behind the bathroom sink is quite stained and could use a fresh coat of paint. Otherwise we were very happy with the selection.
Tonight we had reservations for dinner at a restaurant that I have been wanting to visit for a while. We arrived a few minutes before our reservation time at Roki Le Izakaya. You should definitely follow them on Instagram! The restaurant didn't disappoint and has become one of my favorites in NYC.
We were seated at the bar which we love! It's wonderful to be able to watch the chef's create and interact with them. Greg and I both ordered the Old Fashioned cocktail while we perused the menu. We ended up ordering a lot of small plates for our meal because everything looked so good!
Our Japanese canapes were Uni, Ahi Poke, and Truffle & Mushroom. The Canapes come on small squares of crispy rice and each one had a wonderful balance of taste and texture. My favorite was the Poke.
Next up was the beautifully presented small Sashimi Platter. We had two types of tuna, crab, amberjack, and three other types of fish (one was from New Zealand). Every piece was fresh, portioned nicely, and didn't need any accompaniments.
The third course was the special for the night. A fatty tuna hand roll which was very tasty but needed to be eaten quickly as the seaweed would get soggy.
The fourth course was the highlight of the evening! Powdered Foie Gras over Duck Chashu is a perfect dish. The Chef brought over a dish of duck chashu topped with arugula. He then proceeded to shred frozen Foie Gras over it and top it with pink peppercorns. The duck was savory, the arugula peppery, and the Foie Gras melted in your mouth. An absolutely perfect bite.
The Pork Belly Bun was next for us. The dish is presented for you to configure your own sandwich. You have the bun, cucumber, the pork belly, and then an aioli. I enjoyed this dish but I did find it a little messy to eat.
Our final dish was the Organic Chicken Karaage. The flavors of this dish were nice. You had the hot and juicy chicken with the sweet and sour sauce on the side (nice so you can add as much as you wish). My complaint is that I wish the chicken was a little crispier.
With the cool atmosphere, friendly staff, and delicious food we highly recommend every dine at Roki Le Izakaya when in NYC.
We were still debating should we go home early or stay as planned after we woke up. In the end we decided it's the smart choice to head home today.
After getting dressed we attempted to find the Starbucks inside the Oculus mall. While it was fun to see the architecture and the stores offered. It was too early for anything to be open and we never found Starbucks. Oh well. We continued on north to our final destination which was Keki Modern Cakes.
Along the way we stopped at Barnes and Nobles. We were hoping to find a couple more Fingerlings for Ruby and her friends. Unfortunately we were still a little too early. I was getting hungry at this point so we went next door to Whole Foods for something to eat and a coffee for Greg. I ordered a blueberry matcha smoothie made with coconut milk - so yummy!
Back outside we made our way past Columbus Park to Chinatown. Keki Modern Cakes creates insanely good Cheescakes. We purchased a bouncy cheesecake and 2 fancy cheesecakes (bring on the lactaid pills). On our earlier visit Greg and I tried the bouncy cheesecake. It was unique, not overly sweet, and very satisfying. This time we purchased the fancy cheesecake for ourselves. The fancy cheesecake is smooth, creamy, the bouncy texture at the bottom, and so addicting!
With cakes in hand we made our way back to the Millenium Hilton Downtown. We advised the front desk that we would be checking out early and asked for the car to be brought around. We ended up losing 40K points but I'd rather have that than be stuck in hours of slow snow travel or worse end up in an accident.
After checking out of the Hilton Burlington we loaded up the car and made the 5 hour trek to New York City. Along the way there were a few adorable towns and shops that we would love to get to again.
When we got close to our hotel we hit some major traffic. Sadly an accident occurred nearby where a car ran into several people. We were detoured all around the hotel never being allowed to turn right. We finally pulled up in front of the Hilton Millennium Downtown. The doorman helped us with our luggage and calling over the valet.
The lobby was small but nicely decorated. Our check in was easy and we were upgraded to a high floor room (thanks again Hilton Honors). Our room was a King room with plenty of room for the two of us and a good size bathroom. Our view was the stunning and moving sight of the 9/11 Memorial and One World Trade Center.
Hailing a cab at this time and in this traffic was nearly impossible. We ended up walking several blocks north and finally snagged a cab from across the way. We were dropped off in front of Chelsea Market a few minutes later. For lunch we decided to keep it simple and order sandwiches from Num Pang. I opted for the Ginger Barbecue Brisket sandwich while Greg chose the Pulled Duroc Pork. I thought I was being smart by not order my favorite 5 Spice Glazed Pork Belly because it can be a little messy to eat. My brisket sandwich ended up becoming extremely messy but oh so worth it. Num Pang sandwiches are full of flavor and texture.
After lunch we walked up to the David Zwirner Gallery for the Yayoi Kusama exhibit. Score! The line isn't that long! After a 40 minute wait (which wasn't bad just cold) we entered the gallery. We waited inside for our turn to enter the 1st infinity mirror room. Afterwards we had to put booties on our shoes for the 2nd infinity mirror room. Our last stop was in the flower room. All in all we were probably inside the gallery for 5 minutes but it was a very cool 5 minutes that we'll always remember.
At this point we needed to warm up so we stopped at Starbucks for warmth and to fuel up! Back outside we continued on to Desigual for some shopping. I am in need of a winter coat and a gift for someone and Desigual is one of my favorite designers! Most of my wardrobe is black, grey, or navy but something about the colors and combination of prints just makes me happy. Inside the store I ended up trying on jeans, dresses, scarves and coats! I totally needed to reign it in and settle down. I chose a scarf for a friend, a coat for me, and a dress for a party I had coming up. Perfect (especially because of a sale)!
We are running out of time before our dinner reservations so we hopped into a cab and made our way back to the Hilton Millennium Downtown. Time to drop off our bags, freshen up and change clothes for dinner.
Jungsik is close to the hotel so we opted for a refreshing walk. We were greeted and our coats were taken for us before showing us to our table. I keep going back and forth on my feelings about our dinner at Jungsik. On one hand the service was incredibly slow to start. Our greeting, drink order, and food order took a good amount of time. From the time we sat down to the time we left we were at Jungsik for 3 hours.
We decided to drink cocktails along with dinner and the cocktails were well crafted. For dinner we chose the Signature Tasting Menu. The meal started with an amuse bouche which represented Korean side dishes. These small bites were a beautiful start to dinner. We enjoyed a variety the flavors, textures, and scents. Our 1st course was the OSETRA CAVIAR. The caviar was a good dish although not memorable. The 2nd dish was FOIE GRAS MANDOO (not dairy free so I decided to risk it with a lactaid pill). The Mandoo and the Japanese Wagyu were delicious but the star was the broth. The broth was scrumptious and satisfying. 3rd course was OCTOPUS. With it's perfect combination of crunchy exterior and tender inside this dish was outstanding. Our 4th dish was BLACK COD. Black Cod isn't usually my favorite but I found that this dish wasn't overly sweet so I enjoyed it. 5th dish was TUNA KIM BAP. This was probably the most inventive dish. The Kim Bap was rolled into a small cigar and was a wonderful taste and crunch. The 6th dish was GALBI. This dish confused me honestly. I still am not sure whether or not this was supposed to be served cold or not but it definitely was. I found it rather off putting and would have said something but there wasn't staff nearby. Next came OMIJA which means "five flavors", which are sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness, and pungency. Enjoyable. The 8th dish was the start of dessert. Greg was given a Baby Banana which was actually a small pastry. Unfortunately, it didn't wow him. He felt the focus was more on the presentation that actual flavor. I was given Pears along with Pear Sorbet. As a person with a dairy allergy, there are two desserts which always disappoint me from a fine dining establishments; fruit or sorbets. Other restaurants with the same amount of notification have stepped up and presented pastries and/or composed dishes to me. In addition to this I have to ask, where was the Korean influence? I basically ended up with pears tossed with cinnamon and sugar. The 9th course was the ROASTED CHESTNUT. Greg was presented with a bowl of roasted chestnuts (for show) and a chestnut truffle to eat. Unfortunately, Greg felt it was truly lacking any chestnut flavor. I was given a different sorbet (not thrilled again). To end the meal we were given a small bowl of petit fours. Luckily these were a combination of sweet flavors and textures that saved the ending of our dinner.
We enjoyed most of dinner but in comparison to other like restaurants we agreed we wouldn't return.
On our walk back to the hotel we discussed our plans for the next day. We were considering the Guggenheim Museum, the Intrepid Museum, Christmas Markets and more. Sadly, we then checked the weather and saw that snow was coming and it would be coming earlier than originally thought. In order to not have a miserable drive home on Saturday we decided to be adults and spend Friday morning in New York but then check out early and make our way home.
An overnight stay in New York City
We left Boston around 6 in the morning after bringing Fred to grandma and grandpa's house. We were a little smarter than usual for this trip. We stopped at the first Starbucks that we saw! Sounds silly but after the Framingham plaza Starbucks are few and far between. We got our coffees (matcha lemonade for me) and some dairy free pumpkin bread and made our way to The Met Cloisters.
We arrived a little after opening time and luckily found a parking spot right out front. We wandered up the stairs and paid the suggested entry fee (If you have it why not support the arts). We opted for a map alone and began wandering the area. We went in and out of the various rooms, gardens, and courtyards. While we didn't spend a lot of time here we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. We loved the art, history, and the calm (even finding a small seating area where we relaxed and enjoyed the weather without being disturbed).
After our visit we headed into the city and made our way over to the Millennium Hilton One UN Plaza our home away from home for the night. For future reference the hotel address is 1 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017 however the valet and hotel entrance is on E 44th St. We had stayed at this property a few years ago when it was just the One UN Hotel and were happy that it's now a part of the Hilton family.
Once we parked we had a good time joking around with the Bell Service staff! We discussed my car and who has or hasn't been to Italy. Very humorous conversation. We headed inside to the check in desk and our room wasn't ready yet but we did get upgraded to a suite (yay Hilton Honors). We dropped off our luggage and decided to go to lunch.
We couldn't decide on where to go. Do we head to Bareburger and try an Impossible Burger (worried about how my body will react to it though), do we head to Chelsea Market right away and get sandwiches at Num Pang, or do we head back to Momosan Ramen for Ramen and Sake? Finally we decided on a savory and comforting bowl of Ramen.
The hostess welcomed us right away and sat us at the bar. Perfect for us! After perusing the menu we ordered the lunch specials of Tonkotsu with a small order of Guydon and Tonkotsu with a small order of curry. To accompany our meal we opted for the Morimoto Sake Flight. While the meal was slightly on the salty side it was very satisfying with the combination of flavors and textures. This was our 2nd visit and we can't wait to return again.
Once a year and only in New York I head to Desigual for some shopping. In previous years I have purchased a coat, jeans, and purse that I always get complimented on. This year I lucked out with 2 purses thanks to their buy one get 50% off sale! Purses and shoes are my favorite things to buy so this made me a very happy camper!
With bags in hand we walked on to Chelsea Market. At this point the temperature outside was pretty warm so our first stop was for some sorbetto from L'Arte del Gelato. Greg opted for the dark chocolate while I went with passion fruit. My passion fruit sorbetto was delicious and refreshing. Unfortunately, Greg wasn't impressed with his and wished we could head to Grom for theirs.
We continued our walking tour of NYC and headed back to the Millennium Hilton One UN Plaza. We checked in again and our keys were ready and waiting for us. We were in room 3343 a one bedroom suite. The room was bright, large and clean. The room was almost perfect except for a few large tears in the carpet in the living area. At this point we decided to cool down and relax in our room for a little while.
Around 6 we went to the 30th floor to the Sky Lounge. The snacks weren't to our liking so we opted to spend $10 on two glasses of red wine. At a small table we sat side by side and talked about our day while we sipped on our drinks.
We went back to the room and had time before our dinner reservations. Unfortunately I started feeling sick. I had previously been having some sinus pressure and a sore throat and I think the warm air caused me some more discomfort. My head was pounding, my throat scratchy, and my eyes were bloodshot. We decided it would be best for me to hang in tonight and try to get some rest.
We cancelled our reservations at Sake Bar Hagi 46 (we'll see you next time) and made our way to Shake Shack for some take out. We ordered burgers (mine gluten and dairy free), french fries, and strawberry mint lemonade.
A quick walk back to our hotel and we were enjoying our food before heading to bed.
On Sunday morning we knew check out time was 11:00 a.m. so we got up early grabbed some breakfast at Starbucks and walked 3 miles to Chinatown. We stopped along the way for some pictures of the skyline and some street art. Once in Chinatown we headed to Keki Modern Cakes. If I'm going to deal with the pain of my dairy allergy it should be for something amazing. Keki Modern Cakes makes wonderful Japanese bouncy cheesecakes. The cheesecakes are light, airy, and not overly sweet. We also purchased a fancy cheesecake for my parents. According to my father it was a piece of heaven!
Since we were running out of time we took a cab back to our hotel. We grabbed our luggage, called the valet, checked out of the hotel, and were outside only a few minutes before our car pulled up.
We hopped in the car, turned on Waze and made our way home. A short while after leaving Manhattan I have to admit I fell asleep. It could be part of the cold I have but I also have a bad habit of falling asleep during road trips. I don't know why but being in a car is relaxing to me (maybe the car was used to soothe me as a baby lol).
I had heard about a BBQ restaurant in Sturbridge MA and as we were about a mile away I mentioned it to Greg. We decided why not give it a try. We pulled into the full parking lot at BT's Smokehouse. We ended up parking behind the restaurant in a baseball field lot. Once we were inside the restaurant we were confronted with a very long line of people. Rather than stand in the crowded area we went back outside and ordered online. We got a confirmation email stating that it would be ready in 30-40 minutes. We decided to go across the way to a local coffee shop for refreshments and to just enjoy the wonderful weather while waiting for our order.
Finally our order was ready. We picked up our brisket, ribs, pulled pork, whole wings, cole slaw, beans, and carrot salad. On the counters you will find a variety of sauces to package up so we selected 4 different types. Hopping back in the car we made our way home where my parents would meet us with Fred so we can all enjoy the food we ordered.
The food from BT's Smokehouse was pretty good. I would say the restaurant is in my top 5 BBQ places we've tried so far. The meats were tender, and flavorful although a tad on the salty side. My favorite was the lean end of the brisket. Greg enjoyed the cole slaw while I loved the carrot salad. Unfortunately the sauces were too acidic for my taste. We both agreed we would venture back out to Sturbridge for a 2nd visit.
All in all it was a wonderful weekend getaway for the two of us!
This review is from January 2017.
Apparently people in western Massachusetts and Connecticut only like Dunkin Donuts. We couldn't find an easily accessible Starbucks for the life of us. With that being said we checked into our hotel and made our way over to Ippodo Tea for a couple Matcha Tea drinks. Greg opted for a strong Matcha (sadly I can't remember the name) while I chose a Matcha Soy latte. A very enjoyable start to the weekend.
Our main reason for our weekend in NYC was so that I could take Greg to some of the museums I've been to. Occasionally we go to New York and I get to explore but poor Greg has to work. On this trip we went to MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) and to The MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art).
Here's some of our favorite moments from MOMA
Both of us are enamored how The MET creates experiences with their collection! Here's some of our faves from The Met
On Saturday January 21st 2017 we were lucky enough to witness and be a small part of the Women's March. We were profoundly happy to see what can be done through solidarity!