Friday, March 30, 2012

Whirlwind New York - Day One

Back in November 2011, we recently spent a few whirlwind days in New York. I was passing through on my way to a week's work in North Carolina and I had managed to wedge in a short layover in New York. It was all decided in quite a hurry, which meant that we travelled to New York with no real plans. But as always, New York didn't disappoint.

After a hairy taxi trip, where the driver spent most of the time getting incomprehensible directions from someone on the other end of the line, we arrived at our hotel in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is changing rapidly into a cool spot, providing a nice alternative to staying on Manhattan. Following check-in we headed out into a bright but cold winter's day for a walk. We wandered along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade which has great views onto Manhattan Island. From there, we wandered northwards until we came to the magnificent Brooklyn bridge.
Underneath the Brooklyn Bridge
At this stage we were getting hungry, but thankfully we spotted Ignazio's Pizzeria, tucked in under the Brooklyn Bridge on Water Street. We were drawn in by the delicious looking pizzas served atop pizza stands. I've since seen these stands in many US restaurants and I think it's quite a clever way of serving pizza, as they free up a lot of table space. As drooling over other peoples food from outside a restaurant is never really socially acceptable, we headed inside, where the air was filled with delicious pizza smells.

My tipple of choice was a bottle of delicious Blue Point Blueberry Ale ($5), brewed locally in Long Island, while he enjoyed another native drink, Brooklyn Brown Ale ($7). We shared a simple starter of baked anchovies ($8) while waiting for our Sicilian pizza ($21). When the pizza arrived at the table, it was a riot of colour. Bright red tomatoes and vibrant green basil jostled for position, and the cheesy topping was grilled to crusty perfection. One pizza was more than enough between two of us, especially considering the thicker New York style base.

Blue Point Brewing Company Blueberry Ale

Pizza at Ignazio's, Water St, Brooklyn
Ignazio's Pizzeria, Brooklyn
Refulled, we headed back out into the cold air and continued our walk along Water Street. We entered the Brooklyn Bridge Park and eventually came to the foot of the mighty Manhattan Bridge. At this stage, the winter sun was starting to sink low, providing some lovely daylight for photos. Being down at the edge of the water provided a magnificent viewpoint to survey the city. Afterwards, we turned inwards, and headed south, passing underneath the huge, sturdy feet of the Manhattan bridge, where the air is constantly full of the sounds of passing trains and traffic. I'd reckon that living anywhere near the bridge would require either being a heavy sleeper, or a set of the finest earplugs.       
Manhattan Bridge
Later that night, we found ourselves having a few drinks in Eamonn Doran's on Montague St. That's the great thing about being Irish, there's always an Irish bar with an Irish barman. Even after only 12 hours in America, it was nice to hear an Irish accent.  With a few drinks onboard, we felt insulated enough to head out into a bitter cold night. We walked back down to the Brooklyn Promenade to see the New York Mahattan skyline at night. Despite the intensely bitter cold, this was a magnificent sight.

Himself is always hungry, so on our way back to the hotel we stopped at a Five Guys burgers outlet on Montague Street. Five Guys is a real success story, having grown from a single Virginia store in 1986, to over 900 outlets in the US. Their burgers regularly receive accolades, and there are apparently 2,500 possible burger combinations. Himself kept it simple ordering a bacon cheeseburger and fries.

The burger was very much an American style burger with two thin but juicy patties, oozing melted cheese. The fries were substantial, with skin-on and lightly dusted with a flavouring mix. This isn't a gourmet burger joint, but it is a fast-food joint where you can get a real burger. (Read this blog post for more about a similar chain, Jakes' Wayback Burgers).
Bacon cheeseburger at Five Guys
Fries at Five Guys

More to follow soon on Day 2 of our New York trip...

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