It's the beginning of wedding season. One of William's friends from high school was getting married just north of NYC so we of course decided to add on a few extra days to explore the city and have a mini-vacation while in the area.
It was a short trip - we arrived in NYC Thursday morning and left Sunday afternoon, but we played Tetris with our schedule and packed in lots of fun stuff. We took a red eye out Friday night - my first one. I love the idea of red eyes, but for this trip I didn't have a neck pillow so there wasn't much sleep happening on the plane. I promised myself that when I got back I would research them and find the best neck pillow ever so I didn't have to go through that again.
It felt like the plane ride lasted forever with a sleepless night. I'm promising myself I'll get better at sleeping on planes. We were hungry when we finally landed and caught Shake Shack in the airport as they were opening for breakfast - first time eating there for me and I really enjoyed it. My longtime, childhood friend, Michael, was super awesome and let us stay with him while we were in the city so we headed his way to drop our stuff off before he left for work.
After a quick nap to catch up on some missing zzz's, we grabbed lunch at Brgr to satisfy our grumbling tummies. The sweet potato fries were an exceptional treat.
We then made our way down to Greenwich Village. It's so gorgeous there, I loved walking through the streets. I've never been in NYC during springtime and there were flowers everywhere. All the trees were filled with flowers and all the planters were solid flowers, it was amazing! I was in heaven. And not to mention the architecture is also adorable.
I could have sat in the park for a while people watching or wandering the streets, but William had other plans. He surprised me with an incredible visit to The Library at the NoMad Hotel for drinks. They have an amazing bar where you can sit in a beautiful library, it felt like it belonged in Beauty and the Beast. I thought it was fantastic.
After drinks we went towards Union Square since a frozen treat was calling our name. There's a place called Chloe's Soft Serve where it is made with only fruit, water, and a touch of cane sugar. I'm not sure how they define a "touch", it was quite sweet, but regardless, it was delicious.
Afterwards we headed to the Brooklyn bridge to walk across it. I had lived in NYC for a few months during an internship in college and had never seen it. We took the subway over to the Brooklyn side and then walked across to Manhattan so we could see the skyline view the entire time. The bridge is absolutely stunning, it was so much fun to finally see it in person! I loved the massive steel cables paired with the wonderful stone architecture of the pillars. Near the Manhattan side we saw tons of love locks all over the bridge.
For dinner, William took me to Hu Kitchen, one of his favorite restaurants that quickly became one of my favorites as well. They serve paleo food that is absolutely amazing! It's set up like a cafeteria where you can go around and get different mains and sides. I was skeptical at first, but the food was delicious and quickly won me over. After a quick dinner there, we headed to East Village for a comedy show at UCB Theatre. The comedians were all emerging, so it wasn't top notch, but it was still a fun thing to do while we were there. We met up with Michael after the show at Wassail for some drinks. In San Francisco, William and I both love going to Upcider, a hard cider bar, for lots of variety and to be able to experience new ciders. We had heard that Wassail was new in town and was NYC's version of a cider bar, so we had to check it out. The staff was knowledgable and very nice, but it didn't have the selection that I was used to having at Upcider. It was still a wonderful experience - we got to enjoy a few different drinks and have a great time for conversation with Michael.
Friday's schedule was ambitious, but we, of course, had a blast! We started the day off with breakfast down at Cafe Habana. It's an adorable little diner that serves Cuban-Mexican eats. Perfect for breakfast.
After a delicious breakfast, we headed back up to attend a walking tour of Grand Central. The guide was such a character and it was great to learn so many fun facts. For instance, I didn't know that Wall street got it's name since it was against the walls of the Dutch colony that was hiding behind them from the rest of the NYC residents. We also learned that a train station existed above ground before it was built. It was designed to hide the trains and create a grand European boulevard above ground. The station was almost demolished in the 1960s because it was considered an inefficient use of space. It is still an incredible building.
Mast Brothers Chocolate Tour
Small batch chocolate factory in Brooklyn
One of the most exciting things that we got to do on the trip was tour Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory. It's a small-batch chocolate factory located in Brooklyn that makes amazing chocolate. They've created their own process and machines for grinding the beans similar to the traditional stone ground method, but capable of producing on a much larger scale. We were given hair nets and then brought back into their factory and walked through the entire process of how they make their chocolate. It's a long process that can last weeks and even months depending on the beans since the ground chocolate is aged before being made into bars. At the end of the tour we had a chocolate tasting of several chocolate bars. They walked us through the different taste descriptors that we would find in each one. It was absolutely amazing to be able to taste the difference between the bars and the only difference is where the chocolate was grown, nothing else was added. The chocolates that fascinated me the most were the goat's milk and sheep's milk bars. For these, rather than using normal cow's milk, they used one of the other two for each. The taste wasn't overpowering, but really came through in the bar and made it really unique and almost more savory from the tart creaminess that they added.
After the tour, we visited their chocolate bar a few doors down for a drink. William got brewed chocolate, which was brewed like coffee and unexpectedly good.
We grabbed a quick dinner at Dos Toros down the street from Mast Brothers. It's very similar to chipotle, but I actually liked it a lot more, I wish we had some in SF. William has a couple friends in NYC that he wanted to meet up with, so after dinner we first went to Penny Farthing to meet up with Carlos and his girlfriend Lexi. It was a nice bar with lots of vintage details. Afterwards we met up with a few more people for a birthday party, including the Brighter Children team, before calling it a night.
Saturday was the day of the wedding, so we got up early and took a train North from Grand Central to Sleepy Hollow. We got there early and grabbed breakfast with a few of William's high school friends at Sweet Grass Grill before heading to the wedding. It was nice getting to meet the people that I hear about all the time. The wedding was at an old church, St. Teresa of Avila, in Sleepy Hollow. It was strange to me to have an indoor wedding when it was so nice outside, but I guess that's from growing up in SD - people don't have indoor weddings. The reception was 45 minutes away at West Hills Country Club - it was a lovely venue and they did a fantastic job putting it together. William and I had a wonderful time dancing and hanging out with people. Afterwards we made an extremely smart decision and went to see the second Avengers movie in theater with some friends even though we had to get up super early the next morning to ride back into the city. It was a great movie though.
For our last day, we drove back into the city with Greg and Stuart early in the morning since they had to catch a flight. We wanted to spend more time exploring the city before catching our flight out later that afternoon.
The High Line
We started the day with a lovely morning walk on the High Line. That was another thing that I had wanted to do while I was living in the city and I was really excited to get to walk through it this time. It was really lovely, there were flowers blooming everywhere and it was still early so there weren't a lot of people out. The city did an amazing job designing it. There are pieces of art throughout the entire walkway and even some larger areas that have shops and coffee stands. I was thoroughly impressed, I could definitely see myself frequenting the High Line if I lived or worked in the area.
After our walk, we went back to Hu Kitchen for breakfast since I had seen their amazing breakfast menu when we visited earlier. I'm so addicted to that place and wish there was one in SF. Although it's probably for the best so that I cook some of my meals. Their breakfast thoroughly impressed me. I had an amazing paleo eggs benedict that completely rocked my world!
Backgammon in Central Park
After breakfast we continued to walk around the city and ended up at Chloe's Soft Serve again. When we were there last time it said they had pear soft serve on the menu and I got super excited, only to find out that it wasn't ready yet, but this time it was and it was so delicious. We headed to Central Park to walk around after enjoying that. Playing backgammon while on trips has become a tradition for us, so William brought that out while we were walking around and we sat down to play a few games and enjoy the wonderful environment and weather.
William had one more surprise up his sleeve and subtlety directed our wandering through the streets to the HOPE art piece. I'm famous!
I had one more thing that I really wanted to do before we left, so we took off for Brooklyn to go to the MatchaBar. My tea obsession got the better of me and I just had to try this place out. I wasn't disappointed, they were super knowledgable about matcha and how it and tea in general affects the body in a more positive way compared to the caffeine that is found in coffee. They had delicious plain matcha drinks for tea lovers like me, and also flavored drinks that had fruit juices mixed with matcha for people who aren't such fans, which William surprisingly enjoyed too.
Since it was past lunch time, we grabbed some food from The Meatball Shop down the street for a lunch/dinner meal before heading to the airport to end out trip. We also rushed to MacarOn Cafe in Manhattan for tasty treats for the plane. We had an amazing time exploring the city and I can't wait to go back!