Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tourguide and Nursemaid... and pizza love

Friday night into Saturday, Jonathan's sniffly-sore throat thing turned into a full-on cold, so it was a bit of a downer all around. I had hugged him at the airport, and realized that I probably already had the bug. But I tried to think positively as I inflated the Aero mattress for him in my living room (soooo glad I bought that thing a few years ago!). If a woman's going to get sick, it's most likely just before her period. Guess where I am in my cycle. Sigh. Jonathan was VERY down about it. I blame a lot of that on the fact that he has a Cancer Moon, honestly. Cancers are mopes. LOL And they don't "let go" of things very well.

Saturday was a bust. Jonathan was sick, and didn't have the energy to go sightseeing. I was bummed too. It was a gorgeous day, and we had made a lot of plans regarding what we were gonna see in NYC. My motherly instincts kicked in and I spent the afternoon tending to him and making chicken noodle soup (yep, from scratch). At least when I cook, I focus my mind on it fully, and this intensive recipe kept me busy all afternoon. And it was gooooooood. If I say so myself.

Sunday, he was feeling a little more up for sightseeing, so we headed to the Cloisters museum in Ft. Tryon Park in uptown Manhattan, where I've never been. Yeah, I've lived in NY/NYC area my whole life, but there are things I still haven't seen. People Jonathan spoke to back home told him to see the Cloisters. Some of it was very nice, but since it's all Medieval art, by the time I had see my tenth "Madonna and Child" interpretation, I was bored. LOL This part of Manhattan is very lovely, near the Inwood section. It's green and hilly, if you can believe... and there was a gorgeous Hudson River/Jersey view from the Cloisters.

When we got back to midtown Manhattan, we took a chance on a pizza place, but it was atrocious. I was trying to get Jonathan some real pizza (not the slop he's accustomed to), and instead we got some kinda gross stuff with a doughy crust, too saucy and tasteless. It's insane that there are more crappy rather than good pizza places in Manhattan. I knew we'd have to go to Brooklyn for the real stuff. I showed Jonathan Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral and of course Times Square.

Monday I took him to South Street Seaport, and we had lunch/dinner at Heartland Brewery, where he was able to get some local beer. Jonathan likes to sample local beer when he travels. From there we visited the World Trade Center site, and neighboring St. Paul's church, which has become a bit of a museum/memorial even though it's still a functioning church with services. It's very moving to be there, no matter what faith you practice, or even if you don't practice anything at all. From there, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, which I haven't done since I was a child, so I enjoyed it.

Bklyn Bridge facing Bklyn

Manhattan Bridge & Empire State

View of Manhattan from Bklyn Bridge

As you can see, we had some fabulous weather. :o)

We walked across the bridge twice, and got some Mister Softee ice cream near City Hall.

On Tuesday, we rode the Staten Island Ferry, another thing I haven't done since I was a very small child, so it was a bit of a treat for me too.

Manhattan from SIFerry

Lady Liberty

I chatted with one of the crew men on the ferry while Jonathan snapped those pictures. The crew guy (from the Bronx) and I (from Brooklyn) had a chuckle about me doing all these touristy things. But it was nice. I won't say I take these sights for granted, but it's good to show them to someone who's never seen them.

Jonathan and I rode the ferry back to Manhattan from Staten Island (nothing to see there LOL) and hopped on the subway headed to Brooklyn. My dad's been enjoying pizza at DiFara on Avenue J and 15th Street in Midwood, Brooklyn since before I was born. When my family and I lived in Midwood for a time, we were all spoiled to have DiFara in our backyard. I was a kid then, so admittedly I didn't really appreciate the work of art that is a pie from Dominic De Marco, who's been crafting pizza for more than 40 years. But I sure do now. I haven't been there since I was about 16, so it was an event. DiFara has gotten "best pizza in the city" awards for several years now, and more recently, Time Out New York and Zagat have deemed it the BEST in NYC, period.

DiFara Pizza

Here's Zagat's 2007 review:

"Maestro" Dominic De Marco "works magic" at this circa-1963 Midwood pizzeria offering "handcrafted", "epiphany"-producing pies made with "totally fresh ingredients"; despite "seedy" decor, "painfully long" waits and a "middle-of-nowhere" address, it's got "da best pizza in Noo Yawk."

Oh yeah, Zagat rates the food 26 out of 30.

Zagat prints the DiFara name in all caps, which is a prestigious distinction they give restaurants. They aren't kidding about "painfully long" waits at DiFara. Dominic makes every pie himself, no matter how busy the place gets. And he's an old man now, so he may be moving slower... who knows. But every pie is "crafted" with love, that's for sure. Dominic makes his own sauce on premises, and all of his ingredients are fresh. he stands over the pie, hand-shaving slices of fresh Mozzarella onto the thin crust, stained with just the perfect amount of sauce. The pie also gets a sprinkling of extra virgin olive oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Once it comes out of the oven, it gets another dusting of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh snipped basil leaves, which Dominic cuts with a scissor over the pizza.

You stand there (with a crowd, since the place is always packed now) staring at Dominic as he works, 'cause it takes about a half hour (or longer, if you're behind a lot of people) from start to finish, but when it's all done... boy, oh boy. If you're very hungry, this can be such torture! I had the sense to quickly ask for two slices as a pie came out of the oven, while Jonathan had gotten a single pepperoni slice. But he realized after he took his first bite that he'd be waiting another half hour to get a second slice. ;o) He waited, and he was blessed with a sicilian (square) slice the second time.

Jonathan Pizza

My dad tells me that Totonno's in Coney Island is great too. I'll have to get over there one of these days...

After that extraordinary experience, I picked up some bagels (I HAD to... Jersey is a sorry place for bagels too), and we headed back to Manhattan for a quick stroll into Central Park.

Imagine 5-8-07

Lennon Imagine

It was a short walk into the park, since we were tired, and didn't want to be there once the sun set. ;o) Jonathan got the gist of this spectacular place in the center of Manhattan. We got back to Jersey and decided to have a drink at the Italian restaurant by my house, GP's (I love that place). The place was of course a bit dead -- it was Tuesday night after all, but we chatted with Charlie the bartender (from the Bronx!) and two of my neighbors. Steven is a Frenchman now living in Guttenberg, and he had brought a jar of pate to share with the bartender, but Charlie declined. I tasted it, and it was odd. It was pork pate. Jonathan and Steven happily slathered it onto pieces of bread and gobbled it down, while I got quite the buzz off my Ketel One and cranberry beverages. ;o) I knocked one of my drinks all over the bar... I'm such a damn lightweight idiot! LOL Charlie graciously kept our drinks flowing (at least one or two were on the house), while I nibbled on the meatball appetizer special of the night. It was a good time. I chatted with another one of my neighbors, Camilo, who gave me the name of a temp agency in case I needed it.

I dropped Jonathan off at LaGuardia on Wednesday afternoon, and I visited my brother for a little bit (he lives right near the airport... just a short bus ride away).

I slept late today... and now I feel that familiar tickle in my throat... I'm getting sick. Sigh. I will fight it hard.

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