God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A NYC Sunday With Friends

In Torino (or Turin) there is the ultimate foodie store--Eataly. Ken and I made a pilgrimage there in 2009 and spent time wandering the various sections with every type of gourmet food you might want plus at least 2000 types and brands of pasta. The bottom or basement floor is wines and beer--of course, all Italian. Amazingly enough, we left empty handed. Sometimes there is so much to buy that it is simpler to just look--I often feel that way in department stores here.

Anyway, the opening of a NYC branch of Eataly a few months ago gave the perfect reason for a gathering of friends. So when Sunday arrived the catalyst for the the long trip from California also arrived--the day to see what Eataly, USofA style had to offer.

But, because the other focus of these few days (and why it was possible to spend 4 days walking and still gain 2 pounds) was eating, we started the day with breakfast at the Blue Dog, a casual, neighborhood, friendly eatery with good wholesome food offerings--and, filling.

The gang at breakfast: Carol, Sheri, Kim Chris (left) Ken, Jan, Jane, Terry (right)
From the Grey Dog we walked to Eataly but first detoured to the charming, fun Chelsea Market, another food haven inside what was the old National Biscuit (think oreo, etc.) factory. If I lived anywhere neat NY, I think this would be a frequent visiting place for me. Many of the same specialty shops we saw in Greenwich had branches here plus there is a great market with many products found in ordinary grocery stores in Italy. We needed more time there but were due to meet the rest of us in Madison Park across from our proclaimed destination.

Eataly was OK but disappointing when compared with Turin--much smaller, fewer specialties, ONLY 4 flavors of gelato, merchandise pretty crowded together resulting in not much traffic flow space. There is a large selection of olive oil from the various regions of Italy--that is the section I would most frequent. I was disappointed because they did not have Casey's favorite grocery store cookies--Ringos. Bummed!

But, don't get me wrong, we did have a good time. After rambling through, we finally settled in at the bar and enjoyed a glass of very good wine--thanks, Chris and Kim. I enjoyed having the time to just sit and talk with Kim. When you are with a large number of people, it is hard to fine one-on-one time with anyone.

Leslie, Terry, Sheri
Fuzzy picture of Kim and Chris

Although I think the thought was that we would eat lunch here, because most of us had just completed an awesome breakfast at The Grey Dog, we just weren't hungry--forgetting that we had joined up with people who were probably very hungry. I do wish they had spoken up as I am quite certain I could have been coerced into eating at the fish restaurant overseen by the same chef as Esca where I had that great meal on Friday lunch. I did feel bad later when they mentioned that they had expected to eat.

I am proud to say that when we were through, we bravely tackled the subway and proved that if you keep trying, you can win. Got on at the right place, got off at the right place--all of us at the same time. Done good!

Back at the hotel we all congregated in our room and had a good time talking about I can't remember what--just girl talk--sort of like the much younger dorm-living days. It was fun and relaxing. Carol and Sheri soon left for a quick early dinner before catching their bus back to Philly. Leslie left to fly home to Georgia. And, Rosie, Vicky and I were ready for another night in NYC.

The three of us had a quick dinner at a Mexican restaurant next to the hotel and then Vicky and I headed to the theater while Rosie planned on exploring Rockefeller Center.

Vicky and I had previously purchased our tickets to see Fela at the Eugene O'Neil Theater which was just a few blocks "down and over" from our hotel--an easy walk. Both Vicky and I enjoyed this rather unusual show--not one that would appeal to everyone; it is not the typical Broadway musical; it is not a happy romance; it is not one that lifts you or that when you leave you feel rejuvenated and up beat.

In the order of some other 20th-21st century plays and musicals, Fela is a political tour de force portraying events in Nigeria during the late 20th century as much of Africa erupted and unscrupulous men became unspeakable evil dictators. Fela Anikulapo Kuti was an entertainer who became an opposition voice and as such was persecuted and destroyed. Eventually he died of complications from AIDS.

The music and dancing were awesome, frenetic, intriguing, loud and fascinating. I had no idea bodies could move like that for so long. Vicky says the dancers will pay a physical price in later years; I think she is totally right.

For Vicky and me the choice of show was a good one. I am glad we went.

And this was the end.....I had my hotel room to myself the last night--I liked the aloneness time. The next morning it was the shuttle to LaGuardia and the long flight back to California. Casey and Ken met me with smiles and hugs.

I so enjoyed the smile on the face of an observing man as Casey ran and hugged and snuggled and was happy to see gramma/mom. It was as if we had given a moment of pleasure to a stranger.

It was good to be home.


barb cabot said...

Oops don't know if my previous comments went through or disappeared. I said great post and loved the reflections and images of the trip. Also loved the vision of your welcome home with Casey and Ken. Thank you.

nancyhol said...

Sounds like a great trip, Jane! Wish I could have been there. I've led a sheltered life and have never been to NYC.

Jane said...

Nancy, you must sometime go to NY--just because it is there. But...just carve out a couple of things to do as even though it is small, it is exhausting. I had somewhat wanted to go to Ground Zero but didn't make it. Next time....

Yes, Barb, the welcome home was special.