Every time I go to NYC I bring my colorful scarf. It’s not your regular scarf, it a very special piece…
I remember vividly my first visit to New York. It was 13 years ago at night and I was in Kate’s car, blasting some Georgian music and probably smoking. I stopped breathing for a moment when I saw the breathtaking view of Manhattan with the lights, skyscrapers and lit up bridges. It was amazing and even though I go there at least once a month, the view still takes my breath away.
David and I don’t need much reason to visit the city; it never fails to live up to my expectations. Sometimes I go there by myself and take the train to Grand Central, which is another breath-taking iconic spot. I look up the blue ceiling on the main floor and thank Jacqueline Kennedy in my heart for not letting anyone destroy the building. Most of the time, I have no plans, I just wonder around the streets filled with old beautiful brownstones in the Upper East or West side, walk down to the village and have a cup of coffee at the oldest coffee shop called “The Groove” at McDougal street, stroll over the beautiful Brooklyn bridge, take thousands of photos, explore China town and have a bowl of soup at one of the tiny places where only locals go to, or go to the Central park and observe the people there.
New York has the best museums where you can find anything you like or are interested in starting from the old Egyptian culture to the crazy modern art which I still don’t get.
I always discover interesting food places, whether it’s a bake shop, sandwich stand or a restaurant. Sometimes, I’m disappointed with my choices but mostly I’m pretty happy.
Today, we had to bring some things to Sopo, who moved to her fourth apartment in Harlem. I cooked some food as well, knowing how much she misses and craves mama’s homecooked meals. As we were planning to visit Georgian restaurant for the evening, we decided to walk around and burn a few calories to earn our meal.
We stopped at a very small and cute museum in Upper East side. This was the place David took me to on our first date and I remember every moment of it. Maybe he thought I was Russian and that’s why he brought me to Nicholas Roerich museum. Now he knows what a big difference is between Georgians and Russians and how much we hate when they connect us with Russia. The museum is small, quiet and hardly anyone there. I like his paintings, the subtle colors of sun and mountains but not too crazy about his work. I would rather go to the MET and see my favorite paintings of post impressionists. Growing up and reading about Van Gog, Pissarro, Claude Monet and Gauguin, I would never imagine that one day I could see their original paintings hanging in front of me. So when I stood in front of Modigliani’s and Monet’s paintings on our first date, the tears were falling down my face and I couldn’t stop the. It was amazing. Now I’m spoiled and hardly ever go there.
I was getting hungry and we decided to stop by Pizzeria Sirenetta that had great looking pizza and outdoor sitting area. Cocktails looked good as well. I didn’t even check the reviews, I just had a good feeling and followed my instincts. When the weather is 75 and sunny, it’s a shame to sit inside. We ordered a cocktail and a wild mushroom pizza to share. It was absolutely amazing: thin crust, slightly burned edges, still chewy, with strong mushroom flavor accompanied with the fontina cheese; it was heavenly. No, I don’t need much to be happy. My basil cocktail was on point; not too strong and not too sweet. The waiter seemed to have a good sense of humor, which is always good when you get corky customers like me. Now I could walk more.
We walked around the central park for a while, it was packed with people as always, parties going on all over the place, people running, walking their dogs, riding their bikes, and just relaxing and reading their books. I love Central Park; it’s gorgeous any time of the year, though fall is my favorite season with the ground covered by red, yellow and orange leaves, and warm sun on blue sky. David was craving coffee so we stopped by the cute looking bakery (Silver Moon Bakery) where you could see the bakers shaping bread and making cinnamon rolls. Because I like to try new things (I don’t usually eat pastries, but I like to try a bite), I ordered a peach frangipane tart (almond flour), anticipating to get the same experience I got at Westport farmers market when I had the most delicious almond and fig tart from Sono Bakery. You can imagine my disappointment when I took a bite of my tart and it was ice cold and tasted like it was two days old. I hate it when staff/chefs think I’m not able to notice the difference between fresh and stale product. Unfortunately, while I was bitching and complaining, David inhaled the tart and I couldn’t even bring it back. However, I did write a pretty nasty review on Yelp. Don’t worry, I also wrote a good review for the pizza place.
We still had a few hours to spend in the city and I was looking forward to meet Maya (the owner of Oda House), Lela, my friend and have an awesome evening there.
I don’t usually go to the Georgian restaurants because I can cook Georgian food if I want and I never crave or miss it. But, because I heard a lot of good things about this place and I am friends with Maya on Facebook, I wanted to visit her. I called her in the morning to make sure we had seats for the evening. The restaurant is in alphabet city in the East Village, it’s a good size square room, kitchen separated with a wall and glass where you can see the chefs working behind it. The walls were covered by the reproductions of Modigliani painted by a Georgian painter. It was cozy and welcoming and I already felt at home. We sat at the bar while waiting for Lela, sipping on some Georgian red wine and chatting with Maya, who was a plastic surgent when she lived in Georgia. She started working at the restaurant after moving to NYC and few years later opened her first restaurant in the village. It had its ups and downs but good food combined with good hospitality made this place successful in a short period of time. Lela joined us and we moved to our cozy table. No matter how hard I try not to over order, we still end up ordering too much food. I ordered some of the dishes that David knew and loved, like khachapuri (cheese stuffed dough) and khinkali (meat dumplings) and some of the new dishes he has never tried, such as kharcho (beef soup with rice), smoked pork belly with tkemali (Georgian plum sauce) and chicken with blackberry sauce. In a few minutes we were in food heaven, moaning after every bite… A complete foodgasm. The soup was amazing, thick, flavorful beef broth heavily spiced with fenugreek and coriander; I felt it warm my body. The cheese bread was fantastic, light, cheesy and it melted in my mouth. We didn’t leave a crumb on any plates and when we thought we couldn’t eat any more, Maya sent a plate of desserts with the trio of Georgian cakes and yes, we finished that too. That was hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I thought I could cook Georgian dishes well, but this was on a whole new level. I don’t know if it’s a bad or a good thing that I don’t live close to that place. I’d probably be there at least once a week.
If I lived in NYC and didn’t have to work, I would probably spend my time walking in the streets, taking photos of the buildings, discovering new food places and writing about it. Maybe one day…
We arrived back in Ridgefield at 1:30 am. David mentioned that my scarf fell on the ground. I told him that was not a scarf, it was Teo my friend who I always carry with me when I go to New York. He thought I was still drunk.