January 18, 2012

NYC For Beginners

Winter is a great time to get away to NYC for a weekender vacation. Last week my best friend crossed the country (from Vancouver) for a few days to take in everything NYC had to offer. I’ve condensed some highlights for those looking for a perfect 48 hours in the city.

Stay at the Ace Hotel. It’s got everything going for it that you want in a home base: Great lobby scene, helpful staff, central location, Stumptown Coffee Roasters (above) for your morning jolt, and a few great restaurants, including chef April Bloomfield’s casual yet Michelin-starred The Breslin, where I had an intense breakfast of deep fried banana and peanut butter brioche French toast.

Once you’ve fueled up, you’re basically going to spend the rest of the day walking. We walked over to Rockefeller Center, taking in the holiday lights and the skaters — it’s as if Christmas never left New York! There’s now a Bouchon Bakery where my go-to Dean & Deluca used to be, kitty corner from the Rock. Thankfully the J.Crew is still there. (Note: impromptu light shopping is always part of a successful NYC itinerary.)

Next stop is Daniel Boulud’s Boulud Sud, the famed chef’s (who’s launching restaurants in Toronto and Montreal this summer) latest Manhattan outpost, full of masterful small plates of Mediterranean flavours. Boulud has carved out a de facto epicurean corner on the Upper West Side, with Boulud Sud (above), Bar Boulud and Epicerie Boulud all hung together like a string of saucissons.

Then hit up the MoMA. There’s a terrific Diego Rivera mural exhibit on until May, as well as a huge Kandinsky retrospective. We happily spent a couple of hours here and could have stayed all day. But there was still much to do: Shopping around SoHo, snacking at Mario Batali’s gourmet Italian emporium, Eataly (above) (the pizza was incredible), and then picking up another friend at Grand Central Station before hitting Dos Caminos on Park for dinner. (My friend Ivy is the chef there — you’ll never scarf down better tortilla chips and guac, and upscale-spun Mexican street food.)

Darn, this blog post is already too long and I have so much more to say! I’ll keep it short and leave you to make your way to Brooklyn for day two; just 20 minutes via subway. Go to Miriam for brunch (fresh Israeli fare). Walk through the parks. Go for coffee. Say hi to the nice people in wooly hats with artful facial hair. Hit the flea market. Go to Superfine for dinner. Grab a chocolate treat at Jacques Torres’ chocolate shop (try the wicked hot chocolate or a mudslide cookie). Then catch a play at St. Anne’s Warehouse. We saw an incredible one man show — Daniel Kitson in “It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later” (bad name, great play).

Finally, walk under the Brooklyn Bridge and along the promenade and the tree-lined streets, and catch the subway back to the Ace Hotel. Share a bottle of bubbly in the lobby and then raise a glass to the finest weekend you’ve had in recent memory.

For more, read all about Kimberley Brown’s favourite NYC shopping spot.

Photo credits:
1-6. Amy Rosen