So who’s the winner?

This is my last week in the land of plenty and this will be the final post. At least in New York.

I am joined by brother number two who comes with culinary skills equal to some of the city’s finest big chow providers and so the contest begins.

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There’s no need for the gratuitous posturing though!

In fact we have seen a few contests during his stay including two squirrels fighting over an acorn in the park, the Brooklyn Nets taking on the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks taking on the Chicago Bulls. The squirrel fight turned out to be the most entertaining.

In summarizing the visit and the food (its mostly about the food of course) there is little doubt that this city of varied smells, sounds and towering structures (cheesecake) has no equal in the world. We have already tried Scotland and found it wanting.

But I’m not so sure it has it all. Not absolutely.

The burger from McDonalds in New York is easily as rubbish here as it is back home.

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And I am convinced we do snowmen better.

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And are these creatures actually real dogs?

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And lets remember that I easily produced the best burger in New York.

Now what can brother number two bring to the table.

How about Mac’n’Cheese

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Tasked like heaven and even New York hasn’t produced anything of that quality yet!

And as for the lasagne…

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You would have thought New York could have done better with its Italian population. But no…

It has left us cold

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However…

I cannot forget what New York has given me and my series of visitors. Cheesecake to die for, chilli dogs and sandwiches we can only dream of ever finding on one of our cafes. It has pushed its way into our thoughts and hearts like nothing else and for that reason, New York takes it by a furlong.

I fly next week home to the Bonnie land of my youth and am glad I am doing so.

But I will miss New York. Thank you for having me and Merry Xmas.

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Thanksguzzling

Now we come near the end of my food adventure and sadly my nearest and most expensive (I mean dearest) has flown for wintrier climes. Now instead of giant cakes she must tolerate mediocre slices left over from yesterday’s poor sales. She will stumble into potholes instead of cellar doors, she will run round the Inverness distributor road instead of Central Park and she will no longer have to leap from the road to avoid mad taxi drivers (oh hang on, that’s just the same isn’t it?).

Worse. I will soon be coming back to all that too!

Nonetheless before she left me stranded here all alone she did do some more eating.

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Picture above halfway through a small delicacy to take the edge off her appetite prior to dinner.

New Yorker’s take thanksgiving seriously. They don’t thank anyone for going into their shops and spending money but they do get all ‘have a happy holiday’ and smile a bit more. And as soon as thanksgiving is out of the way the Xmas trees came out lining the streets and introducing us to a new street trader desperate to get you to part with your money. It’s full steam ahead to Kris Kringle’s big day here with shops lit up, amazing window displays and at every turn a different take on sparkliness.

Getting into the spirit of it all, for our thanksgiving we decided to thank farmers for keeping cows overfed and for hens producing daily protein pills.

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All home cooked of course but wonderful fresh ingredients from the amazing http://www.traderjoes.com/ on Broadway/72nd Street. This supermarket is like a maze and you can remain lost in it for days.

My good lady was also treated to the best burger in New York prepared the same way

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but on a different day. Honest!

Dessert came direct from Trader Joe’s hot air balloon factory.

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That’s one to show our local bakeries back home.

Here’s some more balloons.

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As our holiday weekend treat (apart from enjoying the Macy’s parade of inflatable advertising) we took a trip to Coney Island to enjoy the sea breeze and to see New York folk enjoying the beach.

It was closed of course.

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But there was still a few birds about enjoying the attractions.

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The attractions being our lunch…

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Sourced at the amazing Nathans http://www.nathansfamous.com/

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Which thankfully was open.

We considered trying Nathan’s challenge which currently sits at 69 hot dogs.

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But as you know neither of us has much of an appetite…

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?’

http://www.patskingofsteaks.com/

http://www.genosteaks.com/

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!

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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

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which only left room for a small main course

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and I could barely manage my dessert

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that was my pre-dessert. This was dessert

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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

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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).

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

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

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

Like these people do

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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

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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)

Snickers?

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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?

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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?

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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

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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

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http://www.harryssaloon.com/

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

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

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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!

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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Only to wipe it off when the main course arrives!

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Where will we put it all!?

No problem – washed it down with a large Pepsi

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and joined the queue for the loo…

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

Little Boxes

My good lady wife has progressed from her first tentative steps around New York into a crazed shopping animal who has pretty much scoured the four quarters seeking the bargains of the century. I’ve certainly eaten a lot of biscuits as these appear to be purchased to sweeten the daily news of ‘necessary purchases’. A giant cookie for me – a new dress for her, a slice of cheesecake for me – a new top (and a slice of cheesecake) for her. Of course she had to get the top to go with the dress.

The problem is New York is one of the fashion capitals of the world and in this vast marketplace there is something for everyone. Even redheads have their own high fashion store

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It is difficult to control a woman in a city of sparkly lights and ‘closing down’ sales.

Today I managed.

HOW?!

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Good question (terrible joke).

The answer lies with the one thing women love more than clothes and sparkly lights.

Little boxes.

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No not that kind of box!

These…

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and these…

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The first was a takeout box from Mee Noodle Shop http://www.simplemenu.com/menus/meenoodleshop which is fifty metres from my apartment. Sister number two searched high and low for these little boxes and there they were all the time, just around the corner. The feast inside was brilliant.

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No chips of course. But I have come to expect that – I really am becoming classy.

The second box came from http://www.pasticceriarocco.com/the-cafe and this was the tardis of boxes because we obtained one of the biggest cookies in the world from this shop in Greenwich today. One of them here pictured to scale against a large building

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We sat and ate these in the park and watched three pigeons have heart attacks after nibbling on the crumbs.

My devious plan to divert her from clothes using little boxes was working very well and we hit mid-afternoon with no purchases whatsoever. As we passed Bloomingdales I had to think quick. Quick look at me!

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A quick snap and I ducked into http://www.yooglers.com/ with the promise of a little box full of frozen yoghurt.

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That put a smile on her face…

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And after that close shave we were both exhausted and had to head for home. A whole day with no garments purchased whatsoever. I should go down in history as some kind of heroic male role model on that performance. I even managed to get her to have her picture taken with one of those painted naked women on the street

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And to top it all I found Wally…

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That’s him with Mrs. Wally showing him a new pair of shoes she just bought from the shop next door.

He needs some lessons from me I reckon.

Mr New York!

There has been an awful lot of eating in the last few days and not a lot of blogging. It’s all been down to brother-in-law-number-two who made it patently clear early in his visit – ‘I’m an eater not a blogger!’

So with all the grub-shovelling I have been a little neglectful.

It’s not just the food he has been consuming. He has eaten New York for breakfast – marching here, there and everywhere, up tall buildings, in and out of museums and still managing to sit through three Broadway show lotteries before winning a cheap ticket to Wicked on his last day. The man is New York daft!

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Of course all the sugar he has consumed might account for some of the energy.

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If you think that’s sickly sweet try this…

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All together……awwwww!

Most of the week has been about reunions such as the one depicted above. Wife number one hit the New York side walks with her brother on Friday and on Saturday we all teamed up with cousin-in-law-number-one (I am losing count here) and her hubby for a feast at http://www.bensdeli.net/ where the food is all kosher. I’ve never had false food, so I’m a bit unclear as to what that means.

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Now this deli which is situated quite clearly on 38th Street just off 7th Avenue is not at all difficult to find.

Unless you are looking for it of course.

In such circumstances it wanders off at will and you can spend most of the day scouring the streets looking for it ignoring the fact that some people need to pay a visit to the littlest room while others lost the feelings in their legs somewhere near the Empire State building the previous day.

But we found it thanks to Mr New York himself.

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The determination of the man was a sight to behold and the fact that he lost it in the first place was never mentioned.

The food was another sight to behold…

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This was a small sample of the ‘kosher’ fare on offer at this very pleasant and comfortable restaurant.

I could only manage a massive sandwich having consumed the deep fried contents of these sacks only twenty four hours earlier at http://www.fiveguys.com/

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Of course we also had three quarters of a cow as well slapped between two loafs of bread…

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It’s just as well we have been walking so much.

After Mr New York departed last night some semblance of normality returned to my life. With wife number one back at my side life is much better (still had to do the ironing though…) and a there’s a good bit less stress on my stomach as we did a nice four miles run in the park and some gentle walking to the shops. One of my home made meals for dinner didn’t overwhelm us but we have plenty time.

I must be slipping.

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But I tell you something. I am very glad that things might calm down now there are no more people to get overexcited about the food in this city…

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Discovering New York

This weekend is marked by the arrival of brother-in-law number two who is a big New York fan and fellow food enthusiast. He is also available to take in some culture when pushed so yesterday my scheduled visit to the Met on fifth avenue was graced with his presence.

The Metropolitan Museum is a massive cache of treasure from countries all over the world and even some from America (in a little section at the back behind the cafe).

The collection is so huge it is hardly surprising people look goggle-eyed.

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Youngsters tend to find it a bit boring though.

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Half time snacks for this world exploration came from an old favourite (vendor outside) loaded with every topping possible.

Which of these is the greater work of art?

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I think we all know the answer.

Okay lets move on from world discovery. Or not….

Columbus day in New York is not only a holiday but a day to celebrate discovery. A fitting tribute to the Spanish explorer who was sure the world was round and headed in one direction to get to the other.

What did I discover today?

Firstly that brother-in-law number two insisted upon buying my food (therefore I would be eating a lot). And secondly that heading South with a view to ending up North resulted in us coming across greater treasures than originally intended.

The Columbus Day Parade runs from 47th to 72nd (so I believe) and we did intend to come back to this after a walk down town to rediscover a book shop I came across a couple of days ago. Hunger struck early though and after some frustrating diversions seeking a nice little cafe we found http://www.cafecondesa.com/ in the Village. A light snack for the weary travellers seemed in order.

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A croissant filled with eggs and cheese and ham for moi. While the health conscious brother-in-law insisted upon eating fruit.

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With sizeable wedges of French toast and a bucket of maple syrup to supplement it.

Seeing the grub made some local children freak out in the strangest of ways….

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And animals were so terrified at the sight of our ravenous eating and gnashing teeth as we demolished the feast they leapt from the ground in fear…

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Now I am not sure if all the walking (and gnashing) makes one even hungrier or are we just a couple of pigs but it wasn’t half an hour before we felt the pangs again.

It was time for dessert.

Since the maple syrup and fruit could not be termed ‘sweet’ as it was served with ‘eggy bread’ and we all know that dessert goes down a different way we could justify locating some fine New York cheesecake.

And good lord did we find some fine New York cheese cake at http://www.magnoliabakery.com/

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We had a pecan and caramel topped one and a key lime one. Apparently ‘Sex in the City’ was filmed at this shop which has a nice little park outside to sit in. Useful because you can’t sit inside for all the people queuing for ‘Sex in a Cardboard Box’!

With all the sugar coursing through our veins (and the parade finished long ago) we decided it would be a good idea to head to the park and play ball to work it off and we did spend a few minutes chucking a softball back and fore to work up an appetite for dinner.

An old favourite this time http://www.angelospizzany.com/ and I am not going to repeat how good this place is.

The evening ended with a seat in Times Square people watching before heading back.

We never got to the parade of course, but Columbus never made it to the Indies either and look what he found!

I am so glad he did.

What can’t you get in New York?

Wife number one (and also the current Mrs. Blog) is due to arrive in the Big Apple this week and her advance party (brother-in-law number two) is due in about four hours into JFK.  Today, therefore, was a last chance for me to eat something neither of them will be interested in. Since the current Mrs. Blog was stuffing her face with fish and chips last week after her half marathon in Glasgow I thought it would be appropriate to seek out a good old fashioned fish supper for my own pleasure knowing that this will not be on the menu for some time to come.

‘Fish and Chips! In New York!?’,  you cry.

You get everything in New York.

I also had a mind to look for this ‘cronut’ thingy that everyone is going on about and to grab some of my usual snaps of New York life on the way.

If you allow yourself to be distracted by flea markets at the weekend in New York you can easily find yourself well off your intended route. You head down town and come across a street market and before you know it you are four blocks away with nothing to show for it but an ‘antique’ number plate you paid ten dollars too much for. Or worse, a T-Shirt with a filthy slogan that’s only funny in really bad company.

I didn’t buy either but I couldn’t resist a T-Shirt with a transfer that will disappear after the first wash.

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Mrs. Blog will put a stop to such frivolity next week and replace it with far more useful items such as wooden bowls with native American designs and canvas bags to hide her other bags in.

Now chasing up and down markets is hard on the legs and I wondered if I should get one of the Citibikes which seem good value at $10 a day.

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Basically you pay your money at http://citibikenyc.com/ and pick up a bike at a place like the one above and drop it off somewhere else in the city. Possibly in a place like the one below

I have met someone who cycles in New York regularly and his level of anxiety and peripheral awareness reminded me of ‘Brundlefly’ so I decided to give it a miss

I walked on with the two legs God gave me and eventually came to a shining testament to New York’s colonial history situated right on Greenwich Avenue a few hundred yards from the bottom of 8th Avenue.

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I could instantly tell from the smoking chef outside that this was going to be authentic British fare.

And it was very good indeed.

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They even had Irn Bru (though not diet – a flaw in their understanding of British culture in that we prefer a healthier option drink with our greasy fast food).

It wasn’t all that cheap. Pollock was the cheapest fish but I had haddock and paid $15 with a can of diet coke. Ten quid – not too bad.

http://www.asaltandbattery.com/

Full to the gunnels with salt and batter, I went with renewed vigour to find that ‘cronut’ thing at http://dominiqueansel.com/cronut-101/

I didn’t get one.

I found the shop and it was singularly unimpressive. No doubt a ‘find’ for the Manhattan jet set who apparently queue from 8 a.m. every morning to sample this lump of deep fried dough for five dollars of their Wall Street earnings. For me I think I will wait for the Greggs substitute because I can think of much better ways of wasting that amount of money.

I could have had dessert at the chip shop for $4

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Didn’t see anyone queueing for one of these. They should try drumming up business like this guy

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I could have had five bargain books from this crazy book shop which has endless corridors of cheap books http://www.strandbooks.com/

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Or I could have parked a car for ten minutes on one of these

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Just so I could find out how they get them up there.

For my five dollars I might even have been enlightened as to why so many dogs found my old chum Fred so attractive

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I kept my money and headed Uptown through Grand Central Station to pick up some burgers for my visitors (see previous blog for details) and some nice American cheese.

Speaking of American cheese, guess who were ahead of me coming onto 8th Avenue.

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You really do get everything in New York.

Conned Beef!

Scotland and New York could do with exchanging more things to each others benefit. I have to say, though, I’m not sure New York would come off best.

Take fire escapes. In New York they have the fire stairs ‘outside’ the building where the fresh air and rescuers are, not inside close to the hot flames, the choking fumes and certain death.

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The fire hydrants are also sticking up out of the pavement easily accessible, not flat and buried under a millimetre of tarmacadam spread by a team of shifty looking itinerants in a white van.

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This one is pictured next to the team who were assembling my lunch sandwich (more on that later)

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Speaking of holes in the ground, any reader of the Beano will know that uncovered drains make superb comic devices but also that our real drains are far too small and our health and safety rules far too strict to ever create such a superb moment of hilarity. Not in New York where the unsuspecting out-of-towner is a prime candidate for dropping into the abyss when passing a store getting a delivery.

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This is one of the safer ones, mostly they don’t bother with the warning cone.

For those of you who have not read the beano…

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It doesn’t get old does it?

And the underground heating system in New York is surely something we could benefit from in the frozen North…

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Mind you most of the people on our streets are steaming every weekend so we may not need this feature.

New Yorkers also maintain a good balance of efficiency and politeness that we seem to lack back home. You don’t go up to a counter in a shop without knowing what you want for fear of being tongue lashed in three different languages but at the same time you will almost certainly be wished ‘a nice day’ once you have mastered the pace of retail transaction. In Scotland the end of a retail transaction is almost certainly ‘NEXT!’ or in Glasgow ‘WHOOZ FURRST!’

Okay – enough of the faff – on to the food…

We have been exchanging food ideas for decades with New York but I have to say we have definitely lost a lot in translation and I think I know why.

New York is awash with restaurants (every fifty yards) and, although they are all busy, it is hugely competitive. Good looking men and women walk the streets trying to kidnap tourists into their restaurants offering everything from a flirty suggestive look to 50% off for those who don’t fall for their more obvious charms. In Scotland you have to travel some distance and then go into the restaurant and hope one of the staff finds a sufficient time slot in their social networking tasks to notice that you are interested in eating. Once you finally find one you don’t feel much like changing your mind and going elsewhere (its more trouble than its worth). You end up eating whatever crap they choose to serve you.

Take the humble toastie…

In Scotland…

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Looks okay?

Here is a toastie shop in New York

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This one is situated on 51st Street between 5th and Madison Avenue close to Jimmy Choo for those of you who wish to keep your women out of the way while you nosh on massive wads of pastrami and corned beef awash with ranch dressing (not our version of corned beef – fat caked cow shavings).

http://www.toastiesnyc.com/

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Bought for $8 (about £5 – the cost of a toastie in local pub?)

Of course just as their health and safety practices leave a lot to be desired so does their attention to pricing (in some areas – such as the Broadway tourist trap – not Toasties to be clear).

I obtained two slices of fairly average pizza from http://rayspizza.com/ on Broadway for my dinner tonight.

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I couldn’t quite fathom the menu so I grabbed this expecting the usual three to four dollars a slice. My change from a twenty was eight dollars. Now either a slice of pizza at Ray’s costs $6 or I was short-changed. This article I read later may be enlightening

http://nypost.com/2013/09/22/secret-mob-history-of-rays-pizza/

It’s not the first time I have felt that my accent suggests a lack of awareness of currency. If the five I got in my change was a ten that would be about right. It’s frustrating when you get caught out like that, especially the embarrassment of feeling that some chancer has got one over on you. It’s down to experience now.

But at the time I had wished the ground would open up and swallow me.

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