Sunday, November 20, 2011

Manhattan, my dear old friend.

We must spend more time together as the weather chills and the pressure of midterms mounts. Oh I have missed the briskly romantic hum of traffic and the long quiet ride into the city. So, when offered a perfectly educational excuse to visit the city that I love, I jumped on the offer.
My baking and pastry techniques Chef instructor participated in the 2011 International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant show (IHMRS) at the Jarvitz center this weekend past, and being that I harbor what can only be described as hero worship for him, I had to go along to see his work. He is pretty much "the man" when it comes to sugar sculptures, so he would be making a stained glass piece a-la Frank Lloyd Wright along with two other Chefs from the CIA. We were able to sneak tiny glances of it the past few weeks leading up to the show as he practiced portions of it and let them out to set in the kitchen, but as for the completed work, I was waiting with bated breath to see it. He dropped small hints of the show, but finally as the time grew close, told us that as students of the CIA, the $50 admission fee would be waived. This cemented my decision to spend an afternoon in the city.
For this trip, I took the train- a first for me. As I was on my own on this adventure, I planned my itinerary ahead of time to assure that I could find all of the places I wanted to visit. I called a cab for eight o'clock, and bought a train ticket for eight forty five. When the train arrived, I strolled on, bundled in a cream colored hand knit lace scarf (thanks to the profound talents of Becca Dear), warm and comfy new york and company grey trousers, and a heart filled with excitement and comfort. As if my grandmother of an ipod had known exactly what we were up to, the next song in my shuffle was a wistfully beautiful song by the delightful Ella Fitzgerald. I felt like I had stepped into a Woody Allen movie, cue the black and white and bring me my disgruntled and bemused pseudo playwright.
The train dropped me off at Grand Central, so the walk to the Javits was just as fantastic as I had hoped. It may be due to recollections of strolling 42nd with my family, or snip-its of films shot in NYC
that make me feel so at home surrounded by bustling business women, awestruck tourists and general city life, but either way I was happy as a clam to make my way past the familiar shops and sights. To my delight I saw that the shops at Bryant park were already up, so I took my rumbling stomach over to see what snacks they had to offer. I picked up a cranberry cider to chase away the chill and a fat, warm pretzel, because it's one of those traditions that simply can not be forgotten. When I got to the show I was thrilled to see all of the chef whites and checked pants that meant I had indeed made it to he right place. When I got inside, I really only had one mission; find Chef's piece. Through the labyrinth of stain-resistant tablecloths and imaginative marketing banners in the far corner of the immense showroom I found the section for restaurants. And tucked into that was where they had all of the cakes, sugar work, and bread displays. The CIA had their own table, which if I do say so myself, grabbed your attention immediately by the clean and striking work perched proudly upon it. The Chef's names were not placed beside the work, but I knew the one I was looking for immediately.
I had to force my way though a bustling crowd of onlookers to get a good picture, but it was well worth it.
I also snapped some shots of other CIA pieces; I wish that I knew the Chefs responsible for them so that I could congratulate them.

 I believe that one was done by a student here at the CIA, unbelievable, no?

Great details on this one, I was incredibly impressed. But that's become the norm for me, when looking at the things that the Chefs here can come up with.

This one was for the breads portion of the competition.

All of the Chefs and students from the CIA won first place in their category, and along with that, my Chef instrustor also won Best in show! But along with all of the other competitions he's taken first place in, it's no surprise!

Everyone who competed did an unbelievable job, and I wish that I could congratulate all of them! It was so inspiring.

After the show I caught a cab to The Strand and picked up some books after joyfully wandering the shelves for a few hours. I could get lost in there, the smell of love worn pages in the used book section and the chatter of people disgussing their favorite reads is so comforting. I love chatting with the people I find in places like that, some of the best book recommendations come from the staff and customers alike.
I had planned to have lunch at Union Square cafe after my little shopping spree, but the $16 gnocchi and the growing line chased me away. So I just took to walking, and found a welcoming burger joint, packed with people but baring a manageable line. I picked up a veggieburger and fries and happily munched whilst people watching out the window and clutching my new finds from The Strand. It was delightful, and I wish that I could recall the name of the place I had found. 
After lunch I began strolling back, and stopped once again in Bryant. Right across from the rear-end of the little park is a chocolate shop that I absolutely adore, Lilly O'Briens. So I grabbed a hot chocolate and found a nice spot in the park to relax and enjoy the Holiday hustle and bustle. All in all it was exactly what I needed to destress from CIA life. I can not wait for my next opportunity for a Manhattan excursion.

Love and walking shoes,

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