When I see or hear the date September 20, I think of Pearl Jam’s Backspacer and driving to a Target store in Massachusetts (where I was spending a long weekend on the day it was released) to purchase it. Target was the exclusive big chain retailer for Pearl Jam’s 9th studio album when it was released back in 2009. Well, September 20, 2015 was a more interesting day than I had 6 years ago.
Like I usually do, I drove to the Newport Centre Mall, parked my car and caught the PATH train into Manhattan. Like my last NYC trip (2 weeks ago), I had a friend along for the adventure. We exited left at the Christopher Street station, turned right onto Bleecker Street to do some quick shopping.
Our first stop was Sugar and Plumm, where we had not stopped on the previous trip. We each got a box of six macarons and then headed to Royce Chocolate, where we each got a box of nama chocolate maccha. My friend also picked up another box of petite truffle pralines. During the warmer months, stopping at Royce also gives you the unique advantage of ice packs, designed to keep your chocolates cool for 7 hours. Although the weather was supposed to be in the 70s and sunny, it was quickly starting feel more like 80s.
As I’ve previously mentioned, my favorite macaron is the salted caramel at Bisous Ciao. That was our next stop. This time, I was the only one who bought anything. I had them fill half of the box (of 6) with salted caramel.
The plan for the day was to have lunch at Sottocasa in Boerum Hill, see Green-wood Cemetery to get some nice pictures of the upper bay and statue of Liberty and then head to Gantry Plaza State Park, walk along the river and have dinner in Long Island City. We boarded the F train at W 4 St-Washington Square and headed to Bergen Street. Although it would have been nice to take a train which goes over one of the bridges connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn, the F was the most convenient option for where we were going and the ride went quick.
We exited at Bergen Street and took Smith Street north up to Atlantic Avenue. I’d been wanting to try Sottocasa since reading about it in Time Out New York. Since my friend preferred Keste (because of their use of fresh tomatoes on the Regina Margherita) over Luzzo’s, I thought she would appreciate Sottocasa. Their Reginella was the same as the Regina Margherita at Keste. Since I had someone to split the pie with, I suggested we also get a Nutella pizza and we did. I went there with the idea that we would just have a light lunch, but I left feeling like maybe I didn’t need to eat again until the next day.
We took a slower walk back to the Bergen Street station and I noticed We Olive, which I had visited back in February 2013 in San Francisco. The Brooklyn location is fairly new and their first on the east coast. Since we were only on our 2nd stop of the day and bottles of olive oil are heavier than boxes of French macarons, neither of us bought anything. At the next intersection (Dean & Smith streets), I noticed Bar Tabac, which I read about last month. There are other French restaurants and bistros between Cobble and Boerum Hills, but we happened to walk past this one. I glanced at their display menus and the dinner menu looked like the most interesting. It was too early for that, so we went back to the Bergen Street Station.
We boarded the G train (her 1st time and only my 2nd) with the intention of taking it to the last stop, but a young lady overheard us talking about going to Green-Wood Cemetery and she suggested changing to the R train and taking it to 25 st. Before we knew it, we were exiting the G train at 4 Av-9 St and boarding the R train. After going to the cemetery’s web site, I saw that this was a better way to enter. What I thought would be a quick photo op turned into a more than two hour visit and a ride from strangers. About an hour into our visit, a woman with a New Jersey license plate asked if we needed help. She offered to drive us around and we got into her car and she drove us around while explaining everything.
When I realized how close we were to the end of the R line in Brooklyn, I thought it would be nice to walk over the Verranzano bridge. I quickly learned from Google that only the marathon runners do that once every year. The bridge is closed to pedestrians, but I still thought that rather than going up to Queens (which would take 30 minutes), it would be better to take the R train to the last stop (Bay Ridge 95 St) and at least get close to the Verranzano bridge.
What neither my friend nor I were counting on was getting a ride from Green-wood Cemetery to John Paul Jones Park. It’s at least a 20 minute ride, but it seemed like we were there in less than five. The man in the passenger seat was from Iowa and the driver was from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. They knew L & B Spumoni Gardens (my favorite restaurant in the 49 states and 37 countries I’ve visited so far) and reminded me that I needed to check out Di Fara, which never seems to work out when I’m in Brooklyn.
After they let us out of the car, we took a leisurely walk down to the pedestrian area under the Verranzano Bridge. The bright sun made photography a bit difficult, but it was still a nice experience. Although I’ve walked the George Washington and BMW (Brooklyn-Manhattan-Williamsburg) bridges, looking up at the longest suspension bridge in the Americas intimidated me a bit. Although I love walking and bicycling, I didn’t feel disappointed that the Verranzano Bridge is not open to pedestrians.
With a trip up to Gentry Plaza State Park out of the question. I thought it would be a nice idea to have dinner at Bar Tabac. The fact that the F train would not be stopping at 4 Av-9 St made this an even easier choice. We had to pick up the G instead and take that to Bergen Street. Instead of transferring to the F there, we got out and went to Bar Tabac (my friend’s 1st French restaurant experience ever). We shared the grilled hanger steak and les moulets frites marinieres (steamed Canadian mussels in white wine sauce with fries).
After dinner, we got the F train with the intention of taking it back to W 4 St-Washington Square, but before the train crossed into Manhattan, we started talking about ice cream. I was too full for ice cream, but not for sorbet. I’d been wanting to try Ice and Vice since I read about it, but had not been in the Two Bridges area since. We got out at the East Broadway stop and walked what seemed like a long couple blocks east to Ice and Vice. They are known for their creative flavors. They only had one sorbet and it had a citrusy flavor, which is what I was in the mood for. I got a cup and my friend got a cone of “gold digger” which is their combination of kalamansi and olive oil. I never heard of kalamansi before, but as soon as they said citrus, I said yes and my friend followed.
We both left feeling satisfied. After we got back in the F train, I thought about how many “only in New York” moments we had during an 8 hour day there. The first one was going to Boerum Hill to finally try Sottocasa and finding the first We Olive location on the east coast and then seeing Bar Tabac. The second one was getting a ride from strangers and the last was the fact that like usual, I went there with a itinerary in mind, but only did part of it. Instead of seeing Gentry Plaza State Park, we ended up walking under the Verranzano Bridge and I got to introduce my friend to French cuisine. Finally trying Ice and Vice was a great way to end another perfect day in New York.