Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cloisters, Bouchon Bakery, Grand Sichuan (Thursday, Oct. 25)

We began our first full day in New York with a trip up to the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art up in Fort Tryon Park. It's in Upper Manhattan and it's a rather long subway ride there. It's a collection of medieval art housed in a gorgeous building that looks a bit like a castle. The gardens are lovely and the walk up to the museum is rather scenic, especially on this rainy Thursday.

From the walk up to the musuem:

That would be the George Washington Bridge crossing the Hudson River. All in all, it was a lovely walk through a wooded area. At the top of the hill was the museum.

The museum has a few cloistered gardens, which are very lovely. They're recreated to look somewhat like medieval gardens, so they have a slightly overgrown, wild look to them.

The art was very interesting. It's organized in chronological order, so the earlier stuff was almost pagan in its style. Then it progresses to pre-renaissance stuff (I'm not sure if that's correct... I'll have to check with T. for dates).

After the museum, we headed to Columbus Circle for a quick lunch at Bouchon Bakery, which J. recommended. I also wanted to head to a mall-like place so I can pick up a restaurant guide for NY. Thank goodness Columbus Circle had both Borders and lunch. Bouchon Bakery is by Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se (among others). Cool tidbit: Pixar animators studied the kitchen of French Laundry and had Keller's input for the really adorable Ratatouille. Shocking tidbit: Dinner at the French Laundry is a $240 pre fixe meal. Holy cow.

D. had a croissant sandwich, while I chose a slice of focaccia. It was topped with pesto, eggplant, roasted red peppers, and red onion. There was cheese, but I wasn't sure what it was. Something like parmesan that isn't too runny and had a nice sharp flavor.

For dessert, a chocolate chip cookie and a peanut butter cookie (the picture show half of each, which is how we divided them). Very good cookies. The peanut butter cookie had peanut butter filling sandwiched between two thin and crispy cookies. Yum.

Afterwards, we wandered around Manhattan some more, then headed back to our hotel with a copy of the Zagat guide. We found Grand Sichuan in the East 50's (2nd Ave. and 56th St.). It was pretty good. Not outrageously fabulous, but decent Chinese food.

We ordered the scallion pancakes, which were deep-fried instead of pan-fried. That was weird, but it still tasted good. D. ordered his usual kung pao chicken. Since they had an "American-Chinese" side of the menu and "Sichuan Cooking," I felt the need to order from the Sichuan side. I picked the dried and sauteed shredded beef from the chef's specialties. It's salt-and-pepper crusted and no sauce. That's kind of annoying, as the coating does well with rice, but the flavors were strong and spicy overall.

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