We spent the week visiting many typical tourist sites, but doing lots of walking so that we ended up with a decent sense of some streets and the overall shape of the city. There are thirty-two captioned photographs above; while below I will provide a day-by-day rundown of our week orientated round the fast food we ate.
We took the subway on Sunday morning into Williamsburg, and spent the morning at East River State Park, at the Brooklyn Flea. We looked out over the East River and drank citrus flavoured slush from Kelvin Natural Slush Co., and ate hot dogs from Asia Dog. I had a ‘Wangding’: an organic beef dog with Chinese pork belly and spring onion. It was very good, and happily the trend for gourmet hot dogs appears to be extending to the UK: there is, at least, a place called Primo’s selling gourmet hot dogs in Leeds.
From Williamsburg we chose to walk down to Dumbo and Brooklyn Bridge Park. The journey wasn’t quite from the Battery to the top of Manhattan, but as it happened – without electronic or paper aid (we hadn’t yet bought a US SIM card, and my phone wasn’t working efficiently without one), and walking past many Orthodox Jews (though we didn’t get as far south as Borough Park) – we got fairly lost, and ended up circling back on ourselves a couple of times with increasingly sore feet before finding our way. Once in Dumbo, we ate cake at One Girl Cookies; and after wandering and spending time in the park, at Smorgasburg food market ate a lobster sandwich from Red Hook Lobster Pound, maple bacon on a stick from Landhaus, and duck dumplings from Brooklyn Wok Shop.
On Monday we went into Manhattan, straight to Times Square, then walked to the Rockefeller Center before looping round and eating carnitas burritos at the Chipotle on Eighth Avenue. After shopping on Fifth Avenue and walking through Central Park on into the evening, we returned to Brooklyn and called to order food at 67 Burger, on Flatbush Avenue just round the corner from the apartment at which we were staying. The phone call was inordinately difficult owing to my pronunciation of the number eight; but having struggled, I succeeded in obtaining one of 67 Burger’s titular beefburgers with sweet potato fries and a vanilla milkshake. It was a pretty good burger.
After Chipotle and burgers on Monday we were pretty full, and didn’t eat anything until the middle of the afternoon. We’d visited the American Museum of Natural History across the morning, then walked through the Upper West Side: to Columbia University, past Tom’s Restaurant – the exterior of which Seinfeld made famous – and to Riverside Park. On the way we ate at a place called Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too on West 110th Street. Quiet in the mid-afternoon, the small restaurant serves soul food, and we were content with the fried chicken and candied yams we ordered.
We started Wednesday in Brooklyn, at the Brooklyn Museum: a nice building with an impressive collection, pleasantly peaceful in the middle of the week, and with a fantastic exhibition at the time featuring the watercolour paintings of John Singer Sargent. From there it was to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, outside of which we ate ice cream; and as we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan for the evening, we stopped at Katz’s Delicatessen. The system inside Katz’s seemed a little daunting on first analysis, but the pastrami sandwich I ordered was delicious: where store-bought pastrami in the UK is often thin and lean, this was juicy and fatty and full of flavour. I was handed a piece over the counter before my sandwich was prepared – a momentarily confusing interlude – and after assenting to its taste, the meat was sliced and piled high between slices of rye bread.
In terms of food, Thursday was about Shake Shack. Between an early morning cruise round Manhattan and a long visit to MoMA in the afternoon, we ate at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. We had a ShackBurger and a SmokeShack, with crinkle cut fries and a black & white shake, and the food lived up to its esteemed reputation. Towards the evening we strolled along the Battery Park waterfront.
Beginning Friday with a cannoli at Caffe Palermo in a diminished Little Italy, we then walked through the small streets of Nolita and the boutiques and outlets of Soho and made our way to Washington Square Park. Taking a snow cone from the park and passing along Bleecker Street, we traversed the Meatpacking District and Chelsea Market, then ascended the High Line; descending at the other end to take the subway to Upper Manhattan; before ascending again, this time to the hill above the Hudson upon which sits The Cloisters.
On Friday evening, we travelled to the Bronx to see the New York Yankees. Watching baseball live is a profoundly different experience to the English football games I’m used to: engaged to the action on a different level, amid a relaxed atmosphere and a diverse setting with an array of food stalls, and families seated and chatting alongside die-hard supporters. At Yankee stadium we ate two Philly cheesesteaks courtesy of Carl’s Steaks.
We were due to fly back to Amsterdam on Saturday afternoon, so we got up early and went to Top of the Rock, stopping momentarily to eat from the Dunkin’ Donuts at the Rockefeller Center. After doing more shopping, and heading for a few hours at the Met, we were up and away: our respective weights probably not having increased over the week owing to all the walking, and certainly insufficient to keep us grounded.