If You Get Caught Between the (Half) Moon and New York City

Published by Miss Prissy on October 2nd, 2014 - in Prissy's Privilege
So I tend to get bored on flights.  I’m not that person who can sleep anywhere, no matter how tired.  Usually I get GoGo so I can read mindless stuff online. Not this time! 
 
Our friend Rockin’ Robin recommended two books: “Judgment of Paris” (George M. Taber) and “Wine & War:The French, the Nazis and the Battle for France’s Greatest Treasure” (Donald Kladstrup and Petie Kladstrup).
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We were pretty excited to be going back to New York.  Greg and I had not visited together for two years, so it was time.    Time for family, friends, half a cow, Italian food, Derek Jeter, and copious amounts of drinking.  The flight was pretty non-descript, but the taxi out of Newark was….interesting.  First off, let me show my age when I say that I miss the days when cabbies actually KNEW where they were driving.   Now mind you, they’d sometimes drive you to B.F.E. if they sniffed “tourist”, but still–I miss the pre-gps days (except for mine, I NEED that device).  So we went to the proper area to “order” our cab with the address of the rental car company and paid our fare beforehand.  Perfect, no reason to go on the “scenic route” to beautiful downtown Newark <shudder>.  Not-so-perfect.  Enter the cabbie who asked Greg to “plug the address into this….”Jul69

Except the device didn’t look as good as this.  Except his gps looked like he ran it over with his cab a few times.  Seriously, are you FUCKING kidding me?  If we WANTED to do this, we wouldn’t have hired HIM!  Sure, we could’ve rented the car at Newark–it was a lot more expensive so I guess that’s what we get for trying to be cheap, but come on!   The moment cabbie handed Greg the old piece of shit gps, it’s  battery died.  Of course it did.  So then we pulled over while cars whizzed by us.  Did I mention it was hot?  And that once again, I was in a cab during the summer with no a/c?  Yeah, that too.  So cabbie pulled over to call the guy at the rental car company–I don’t remember which one–doesn’t matter.  I do know that I could hear through the cabbie’s cell phone that rental car guy was Italian.  Please.   Aside from being Italian, I didn’t live among them for 47 years and not hear a paesan dialect a mile away (in this case, 5 miles away).  One thing was for certain, “Italian Rental Car Guy” had no use for the cabbie.  With a “Yeah yeah, I’m busy whaddya want?  Yah, I can’t hea-ah you”  ::::Click:::::  Another phone call and 20 minutes in the sauna cab, where we witnessed passengers in two cars flipping each other off and yelling.  Welcome to Jersey indeed–and to downtown Newark.  Let’s get that rental car and GTFO.

 

So we were on the road to Long Island to see our friends Peter and Arleen.  Greg has known them since his days at the old Ramada Inn (now “The Inn of Key West”).  So here’s the thing about our Garmin (whom I call “Judy”)….if there are more than 2 people in a car, the passenger should not have her eyes only on Judy.  That’s how people we kinda sorta missed the detour, sooooo….we took an accidental exit off the GW Bridge and into Washington Heights late in the afternoon.  It took a long time in traffic to get situated, but eventually we did.  When we arrived, our guest bedroom was ready and Arleen was pouring the wine.  Jul2Thank you, Peter and Arleen.  That wasn’t even the half of it 🙂

 

Peter and Arleen have been asking us to visit for years.  They’ve also wanted to take us to Peter Luger for years.   There are two Lugers: the original in Brooklyn and another in Great Neck (Long Island).  Jul7Peter and Arleen asked Greg to choose the wine and he obliged: Chateau Montelena Cabernet.  Yummmm!

 

Jul3 Of course there would be more to this evening than the wine, albeit delicious.

 

Then they arrived: two orders of “Steak For Two”Jul8The masterful handy work of the waiter was flawless.  Clinking the cutlery and “basting” the meat, it seemed everything was synchronized.  Then again, some of those waiters have worked at Peter Luger for 30 years.

Jul9We sort of put a big ole dent in that serving plate.

 

Jul10Medium-rare, please?  The perfectly cooked meat nearly disintegrated into our mouths.   Such amazing flavor.

 

Jul9AAnd then there were the side dishes!  Luger’s special German fried potatoes and creamed spinach.  Oh, don’t despair about that little puddle of red.  I tried the Peter Luger Steak Sauce and dipped the potatoes….not the steak! The sauce is okay but the potatoes are awesome on their own.

 

Jul11Of course we were stuffed to the absolute gills.  But since Peter insisted upon dessert, what could we say?  Four spoons, please? Luger’s Special “Holy Cow” Hot Fudge Sundae with homemade “Schlag” (whipped cream).

 

Jul11ASome may think the PL gold chocolate coins are hokey, but maybe I’m hokey too.  Chocolate coins remind me of childhood and I loved this touch.  Totally old school 🙂

 

It was packed for a Tuesday night, though from what I hear, it’s packed every night.  Apparently there was such a demand from Lawng Islandehs for a Luger of their very own that they put a second location in Great Neck.  Peter and Arleen have been regular customers of PL for 30 years +/- and the staff does everything they can to make our wonderful friends happy.  I didn’t have the nerve to ask our waiter to shove my ass out the door, so I opted to roll prior to gratuitous photos.Jul4 As I said on my Facebook page….this is what 20+ years of friendship looks like.   Thank you for everything, Peter and Arleen.  You are the best!

 

Jul5Me and My Captain prior to going back to Chez P&A for, guess what, more wine.  And more Lipitor.

 
 

So the next morning, it was on to upstate….the real upstate, not Poughkeepsie.  Before getting on the road, Peter sent us on our way with some very special cookies.  Jul12 This box held the famous Black and White cookies.  So famous in fact, that Seinfeld dedicated some footage to them.   There have been a few arguments regarding which is the better cookie: the Black and White or the Half Moon.  There are some downstaters who insist they’re one and the same.  No Central New Yorker, past or present, has made this argument.  We KNOW they’re not the same.  I did, however, have an experiment in mind for The Handsome Captain™.  This would have to wait until we got to my parents’ though.

 

So we were on the road again.  Getting out of LI was a helluva lot easier than getting into it and NO detours!  Yay!  One would think that since we ate a half cow the night before, we wouldn’t need to eat for, I dunno–a year.  Not so.  We got to my parents’ house, did some visiting, and took Mom to lunch.  When I visit New York, I do not eat snapper, grouper, nor Cuban (anymore).  Jul20 Central New York especially is about Italian food.  Like the Pasta Fagiole from Cafe Del Buono, yummmm!!!!  One thing about living in Key West and visiting New York City and San Francisco is that prices in Central New York are downright cheap in comparison.  PS–My leftovers provided 2 more lunches for the folks.

 

Jul21Greg’s lunch of choice was the Rustic Ham Sandwich: ham, roasted peppers, and melted provolone on garlic bread.  SO GOOD!  The fries were frozen so I don’t need to tell you how I feel about those.  For the price point though, we had no other expectation.  Besides, the melt-in-your-mouth garlic bread more than made up for them.  Mom’s lunch wasn’t  all that photogenic but still delish–stuffed eggplant!

 

Prior to checking in to our hotel, we took Mom shopping and had to pick up these.Jul13Hemstrought’s Half Moon cookies.   Once we got back to my parents’, Greg’s taste test began.

 

You see, Greg was the perfect candidate.  He’s not a Manhattanite nor a Central NYer; he had no skin in the game.Jul14Black and White on the left; Half Moon on the right.  Which would he prefer?  Well, for Greg, it was a draw.  He preferred the vanilla, cookie consistency of the Black and White; I prefer the cakey Half Moon.  He preferred the creamier frosting on the Half Moon, as do I.  The Black and White icing seemed closer to (but not) a fondant….we just didn’t care for it.  I admit that I’m biased, having grown up with Hemstrought’s Half Moons but I think they’re better.  Sue me  🙂

 

The eating did need to stop, though….esp since we were meeting Wayne and Stephen not that many hours later.ChesterAnd we did, at Dominique’s Chesterfield Restaurant, East Utica.

 

Not the best quality image, but….Jul16 I’ll take it  🙂    Greg, me, Stephen, and Wayne (who gave me away at our wedding–he played my Dad, lol).

 

As if the company wasn’t awesome enough, there was also the food.  Utica, NY Italian comfort food.Jul15 Fried calamari and another regional favorite, Greens Morelle (escarole, cherry peppers, garlic, prosciutto, oreganato mix, and imported Romano).  Jul15A  A closer look.  Deliciousness with spice and flavor prior to the entrées.

 

Next up, Chicken Riggies (created in this very restaurant)!  It’s true, in the 1980s.  As the name indicates, this dish consists of chicken, rigatoni and hot or sweet peppers in a spicy cream and tomato sauce.  Every Central NY Italian restaurant has their variation of it.  In my recipe, it’s hot cherry peppers all the way, baby.    Jul24So here’s the thing about Italian food, especially that made at some local joint (or even in your Nonna’s kitchen).  It isn’t always, shall I say, pretty?  In fact, sometimes it can look like something the dog yakked up.  Now I mean absolutely NO disrespect to homey Italian restaurants.  Regular folks order this paesan comfort food, not for the aesthetics, but for the intense flavor.  Chicken Riggies are a rare treat but how I enjoy them.

 

Jul23Greg opted for the duck special in a port wine sauce.    Everything was amazing, especially with the Chianti.  As lovely as the dinner and company was, we had to call it a night and head back to the hotel.   Not a luxurious hotel since it wasn’t that kind of visit.  This was a check-in on my parents and a visit with friends trip.  We stayed at the newly-refurbished Red Roof Inn in North Utica and I’d do it again.  Clean room, comfy bed, economical.  It had a purpose.

 

The next morning, we grabbed some coffee at Fastrac and went to my parents’.  After all, it was time to eat again 🙂AquaAqua Vino’s for lunch.

 

photo_1-2It was a chilly day in Central NY–in July!  Me and my Mom 🙂

 

Jul18And Greg with his mother-in-law  🙂

 

Jul25Greg ordered the Reuben, one of his favorite sandwiches–this one did not disappoint, especially with the side of homemade chips.  I’m not a huge chip eater, but when they’re homemade, I do make exceptions.  Yummy!!!!

 

Jul26Grilled Chicken over Aqua Vino Greens was my delicious choice!  More greens, yay!  Why?  Because that’s what Italians eat in Utica and I’m sure not going to get them anywhere else unless I make them (which I’ll start doing here).  As delicious as Aqua Vino’s greens were, they weren’t quite as good as Chesterfield’s.  But still yummy.  And my parents got another treat because half of my lunch got doggy-bagged 🙂    We took Mom for some shopping, and Greg made out like a bandit at Macy’s!

 

And a few hours later, it was time to go to Sylvan Beach and meet my friend Lisa.  Jul29The place we decided upon was Harpoon Eddy’s–one of those lakeside places that opens just for the season.

 

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Jul30Lisa and I have known each other for almost 13 years when we used to do promotions together.  We had some drinks and apps before Lisa had to take a train to Chicago.

 

So we went across the street to Harpoon’s “older sister” restaurant “Eddie’s Restaurant“.  (Photo compliments of roadfood.com)Jul201Eddie’s has been around since 1934.  My parents used to rent a camp and bring me here in the 1960s.  We always had at least one meal at Eddie’s and always ended our meal with…Jul28Coconut Cream Pie!!!!   SO good!!!!  It tastes like childhood 🙂

 

The next day it was back on the road again….Jul31Back to Jersey!

 

So the rental car got dropped off and we got picked up.  Thanks, Mike!Jul34I decided on some sun.

Jul35Greg, Mike, and Ann decided upon a dip at Famous Original Casa Leibs–our home for the next 4 nights.  RE-LAX!  At least until it was time to get ready to go to Da Bronx.

 
 

And what a trip to Yankee Stadium! Mike and Ann surely know how it’s done!  The jitney and 2 subway rides and we were there!  It helped that we got there early. Jul80The Handsome Captain’s™ entrance into Yankee Stadium.  He’ll become a Yankee fan yet!

 

Refreshments first, though!Jul84 At Stan’s! Where else? (I LOVE Stan’s!)  With Mike & Ann.

 

Jul85And us

 

Jul202And all of us 🙂

 

A part of Stan’s memorabilia….this one is for Mariano (Mo) Rivera who retired last year.  I can’t wait to see the stuff they’ll have for Jeter next year.  Jul36

 When 8.2 million feels like a few too many.  When we wonder if it’s really worth it.  We have the Yankees.

 

photo_4-1 (2)Just some gratuitous posing 🙂

 

Jul37It was a warm, cloudy evening against Toronto.

 

Jul302It wasn’t a sold out game, but I didn’t care.  The last time I was at Yankee Stadium was 2008 and the last time I saw the Yankees was in interleague play (Miami, 2009).  I couldn’t get up there to see a last Mo game, but that wasn’t going to happen with Derek Jeter.  Nooooooooo.

 

Jul38And the boys were sure enjoying themselves!  He’s SO going to be a New York Yankees fan!!! Squee!!!  The game was fun (we won!) and it was great to be at the stadium again….to be at Stan’s again….to feel a part of the NYY again.  So the game ended on a good note, Sinatra echoed through the stadium, and everybody was waiting for the subway.  Mike & Ann paid somebody off because we got through that big old line and hopped on the train.  It was so perfectly scripted, yet so real.  Hat’s off to them, when it comes to getting into and out of the city, they are MASTERS!!!   It was back to Jersey, a good night’s sleep, and anticipation of the weekend with our friends.

 

Good morning from Famous Original Casa Leibs.Jul40Obviously I love where we live, but I admit–I miss the northeast, esp during the summer.

 

Jul42Jawsie getting some sun, too.  Look at all those empty cans!  I can’t believe this dog drank so much beer 🙂

 

Jul66These 3 were drinking beer and looking good.

 

Jul41Cheers to my Greg, Peter, Mike, Laura Ann, Mike, and Ann.  Cheers to old friends! 🙂

 

Jul67And cheeers to my girls!

 

Jul68And then there’s the meat!  All the guys are totally carnivorous.  Mike’s pork was amazing!

 

So much fun was had on Saturday that we did much of the same on Sunday!Jul56 Mike, Ann, and Laura Ann prepping food and drinks.

 

Jul58 Jul57

Mimosas and Bloodys, seriously?  Can’t beat it with a stick on a Sunday morning with friends.

 

Jul301 Jul300
How do you choose between the savory and the sweet?  Easy–you don’t! All this drinking is just an excuse for carbs.

 

 

 

So then the party needed to be moved back to the pool.Jul59The Handsome Captain™ with my BFF, Laura Ann.

 

 

Jul43And then there’s Ann, the rose amongst alllllll thoseeeeeee thorns.  And look, everybody’s holding a Kingbird Charters koozie!  Fabulous!

 

Jul44But we all know that Jawsie is the HMFIC (Head MotherFucker in Charge).  And does he EVER get spoiled by Uncle Mike.  (We have A LOT of Mikes in our life!)

 

Jul70 This is that crew of men you just can’t keep from the grill.  Two Mikes and a Captain.   More eating and more drinking led to some napping.

 

Post napping led to watching Mike on the big screen from 3 years ago.


Then it was time to go back to bed in anticipation of Monday.
 
 

And Monday arrived.Jul98Good morning, Jawsie!  Do you want a dog treat?Jul32Ohhhhhhhh, such a good boy!!!!

 

 

So it was time to go into the city, yay!    The High Line, to be exact.   Just a few shots along the way.Jul47

 “The High Line is an elevated freight rail line transformed into a public park on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line.” (From the link above)

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Jul53Serenity in the city.  Just lovely.

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 I didn’t have one, but still….Mmmmmmm

Jul88After our lovely time walking High Line, it was time to walk Chelsea.

Jul89Straight to Chelsea Market, specifically to Chelsea Wine Vault.

jul91And Greg’s favorite section behind bars, lol.

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And 3 bottles later….

Jul93SOLD! We really like this place.  It’s a good thing we didn’t spend more time there 🙂

 
 

Then there was this.  New York City pizza, baby!Jul94 Jul95Wow, do I miss this.  REALLY GOOD F*ING PIZZA!  Amadeus Pizza, 408 8th Avenue.  Just one piece before we were on our way back to NJ.

 
 

Jul96Just after a stop for happy hour at The Crab House, Englewood.   Let the games begin and open that happy hour menu!

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Jul81Fried pasta, crunchy and yummy.

Jul82Jumbo lump crab cakes.

Jul83Shrimp and crab quesadilla.

Jul100And us, not on a plate.

 
 

This outing too was fabulous.  However, since we had packing to do for the trip home, there was a quick stop at Whole Foods for skewers and back to Famous Original Casa Leibs.Jul200Where we relaxed with….you guessed it….more drinks!

Jul45And did some relaxing with Jaws.  Awwwwwwww.

 

Speaking of dogs….Jul33I started going through The Famous Original Casa Leibs’ Doggie Door about 6 years ago.  Alcohol had something to do with it.  No really, it did.  Jaws kinda looked at me like “WTF?”  He still looks at me like that.

 

We had such an amazing time on this trip!  Of course we couldn’t see everybody–we never can.  But we did pretty well.  HUGE HUGE Thank Yous to (in order of appearance): Peter & Arleen, my parents, Wayne & Stephen, Lisa, Mike & Ann, and Mike & Laura Ann, and Pete.  You all hold a very special place in our hearts and your hospitality and friendship mean a great deal to us.  ❤

 
 

Please allow me to end with something else that has a place in my heart. The New York Yankees. Goodbye Derek and thank you–the pleasure was all our’s and I’m happy to have been a part.


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