Taking the High Road

My poor dear wife is feeling despondent that she will be in Scotland afore me, and not because she will miss me or anything, more that she will miss New York (the new love of her life – second only to fallen leaves).

This is a big weekend for us – tomorrow we will ‘crown’ the visit with a view of the city from the head of Lady Liberty and on Sunday we will run the Brooklyn Half Marathon.

How do you get such a weekend off to a flying start?

From the air of course.

Well kind of from the air.

The High Line is a fairly new park (http://www.thehighline.org/) in the west of the city and follows a raised railway track (now disused thankfully) from 30th street to 14th. It hides between 10th and 11th Avenues so not an obvious place to be but is well worth locating.

It gives a really unique view of the city along a board walk about twenty or thirty feet high.


It is also very quiet at this time of year (hardly any beggars or vendors of garbage) and those you do encounter can simply be told to hop it.


But there is no doubt that, with the breeze coming off the Hudson and the chill of winter in the air, it feels a little cold.


Once we had made our way into the village from the end of the park we set about feeding our faces and ended up at the excellent and quaint http://www.cafecondesa.com/ which throws food at you for pennies of your money.


The light of my life had a substantial steak sandwich while I, being sophisticated, had the Torta de Milanesa (a chicken sandwich).

I am in no position to say how the steak sandwich tasted as it disappeared while I looked down to place my napkin but the Torta thingy was amazing. Great place this and so rustic and olde worlde the view outside even takes you back to a more pleasant time.


Only joking. This was in the police museum located temporarily on Wall Street while the real museum is refurbished after being washed out by Hurricane Sandy. Strange that the temporary museum is also a wash out as the picture above is somewhere close the highlight of the exhibits.

We returned via Union Square where we were due to pick up our running jerseys for Sunday and then travelled onward along 5th Avenue to enjoy some shopper-dodging. On return we were greeted with the excellent news that, finally, the flat has gas!

I cooked pasta and we followed it with a purchase from http://www.magnoliabakery.com/


Fully refuelled just like these guys. Ready for anything the weekend can throw at us!


Such amazing food – I think I see why the thought of heading home is so depressing. Scotland’s restaurants will need to raise their game.


Amish Mash

New York is becoming colder and the trees are golden but slowly becoming bare of leaves. My good lady wife has taken to recovering these remnants of arboreal growth and packing them in her bag for some future project that will involve a leafy display of some kind. We have purloined willow from the Whitehouse Lawn, cedar from Central Park and needles of fir from the Rockefeller. It has become an addiction of sorts – she starts twitching excitedly and breathing rapidly whenever we travel somewhere new and the streets are found to be covered in the colours of Fall.

I guess I shouldn’t complain. It’s better than collecting items from New York’s diamond district.

Now it’s hard to tire of the food in new York but there does come a time when you begin to wonder if there might be more to life than huge burgers, pizza slices and creamy cheesecake. It is also true that leaves falls all over the United States and when the opportunity to spend the weekend in Pennsylvania was presented to us we jumped at the chance. I wanted to discover new grub while my good lady went into a cold sweat at the idea of finding a variety of falling fronds from the forests of Amish country.

The trains are quite expensive to Philly from New York but buses are very reasonable and they take the Lincoln tunnel which is a Disney ride of an experience in a bus three inches shorter than the height of the worm-hole under the Hudson.


We took the megabus.com from 34th street to the heart of Philly for about sixty dollars round trip. It was very comfortable and we got a seat right at the front. That allowed us to feel the very fear of death the driver had to encounter on a daily basis.

On arrival in Philadelphia, the very heartland of American independence, we naturally headed for the most important historical monument in the country.

Not Independence Hall….

The Rocky steps!


which I gleefully ran up and bounced at the top just like the Italian stallion himself.

Sadly the great city of Philadelphia has chosen to place Rocky’s statue at the bottom of the stairs these days so he was not there to greet me. I was reliably informed that the museum curator determined that Rocky did not represent American ‘art’ and it’s position in front of the museum was improper.

It seems that multi-coloured worms coming out of the ground better represents the American spirit and culture.


Ok you say – what about the food?

Philly Cheesesteak is the staple of all citizens of this great city and the hot debate about the best is summed up in three words ‘Pats or Genos?’



Both are located near the Italian market in Philly from whence the great fighter ran to the iconic steps of the Museum so many years ago to eventually defeat Apollo Creed. As we passed both of these places the queues were longer than the Lincoln Tunnel so we chose to remove ourselves from the debate and sample cheesesteak from any-old vendor of fast food in a place called The Bourse (http://www.bourse-pa.com) close to Independence Hall.

It was both cheesy and steaky so I was quite satisfied and the vendor threw in another Philly speciality (the soft pretzel) for nothing!



I am told that the only thing I was likely to get for free from Geno or Pat was the suggestion that I should return to my homeland (in less polite terms) as they do not tolerate anyone who does not know exactly what they want, can state same in an understandable local accent and uses less than five words – (cheese steak, white, onions, mustard). Otherwise you may be shot and buried in a shallow grave by your server.

After touring the city we headed into rural Pennsylvania to explore a quieter, more religious community.

That is where the food really became interesting.

In a small church shop in Valley Forge we discovered Wacky Cake and Shoo Fly Cake which are Amish recipes and taste wonderful. There isn’t a link here but I have looked up a recipe and want to try making them because they are just magic.

For dinner we discovered the joy of Amish community entrepreneurship in the shape of a leaf – a Shady Maple one (http://www.shady-maple.com). This eat-all-u-can was going to satisfy both my appetite and my good lady’s need for a tree frond fix.

This was my starter


which only left room for a small main course


and I could barely manage my dessert


that was my pre-dessert. This was dessert


followed by a large bowl of whippy ice cream (not shown – eaten too quickly).

As we tumbled out of this restaurant having spent the princely sum of $20 a head, we discovered the gift shop below sold as large a range of unusual goodies as the restaurant sold food.

My personal favourite cookie jar here


I’m afraid that was not all the food this weekend though. I know you must feel ill but bear with me.

Breakfast was late eaten but featured another local delight known as Scrapple (a cross between Haggis and Square Sausage).


Obviously that’s not all I ate – I needed something more substantial


All of this was consumed at a very charming little tearoom in Hanover, PA.


The prices were ridiculously low so well worth going here before they realise the year is 2013 not 1813.

Like these people do


Before signing off this blog entry I should mention that this weekend marked the 25th Anniversary of my marriage to my leafy-mad spouse. She is completely cookie so what better way to tell her how I feel that to show her


Washing it Down In Washington

Yes, it has been quiet on the blog front and I do appreciate your patience as I attempt to eat enough good food to justify your time and attention.

Last week was the New York Snickers and my good lady wife and I (as failed ballot entrants) took to the streets the day before just so we could cross the line (http://www.nyrr.org/races-and-events/2013/nyrr-dash-to-the-finish-line-5k)



If you didn’t need explanation you are over thirty five!

It was a nice experience running through the streets of New York and, for our purposes, it did get the taste buds ready for something substantial. We delayed on eating though as we wanted to really get our juices flowing.

What better way than to do some mugler shoring?


If you are under twenty five you probably think this has something to do with Harry Potter, otherwise you will probably realise this sign can be viewed on a Circle Line Cruise with http://www.circleline42.com.

The Circle Line cruise promotes a trip around the island of Manhattan and costs a tasty thirty nine dollars (discounted in many outlets). We paid thirty one but didn’t realise this meant that we would get all the way to Bronx and be turned back because of a ‘broken bridge’. Alas, that is exactly what happened and I still await the response from customer service regarding the missing piece of my ‘circle’ trip.

I don’t hold out much hope given the last time I made my unhappiness known to Johnny UtakinTheP (see previous blog for explanation) was completely ignored.

Surely they realise that a circle is a circle. If I ordered an onion ring would they serve this?


They can’t blame my wife for munching a section out of the Hudson River while my back was turned! Or can they?

Anyway we returned via the East River to where we started and headed to old favourite Bens – http://www.bensdeli.net/ for this magnificent feast


This was around five hundred top notch slices of cow in gravy (and that’s kosher!). Great big chips too (or fries as they say – honest).

Now that pretty much destroyed my appetite for a week or so making it difficult to consume blog material. Hence the silence for so long.

But over the last couple of days we have made up for this during a day trip to Washington where time constraints meant we would only have a few hours to ‘do DC’. No time to consider buses or trains. We walked miles and miles and joyfully filled up to keep fuel levels high.

This was our first stop



I chose the half-a-bull’s-ass seared on a rack with cheesy potatoes


while my delicate flower of a spouse chose the less calorific option


I nearly lost a finger trying to pinch a bit of lettuce.

But she did walk much much further than me as she searched for a sugar daddy to replace me with (it is the city of the power brokers in America so where better?).

She thought she found one too!


But even she couldn’t bring any colour to his face.

I could tell she’d eaten far too much though.


That tree had no leaves left once she let go and it pinged back!

Our day in Washington took us all over the place. I think we took the odd wrong turn too.


But by the end of the day and as the sun set over the Capitol we got back to the station in good time for our return to NYC.


In fact we were early enough for our train to grab a snack. Yes we were hungry!

Off to the wonderful http://www.johnnyrockets.com/ in DC’s Union station. This is a traditional US diner that really puts a smile on your face


Only to wipe it off when the main course arrives!


Where will we put it all!?

No problem – washed it down with a large Pepsi


and joined the queue for the loo…


They were a bit stony faced but they let me jump to the front.