Tuesday, January 7, 2014

life lately: Christmas travel

So, I'm back to recap my trip to Delaware and NYC. It was filled with many misadventures...

- We arrived on Christmas Day. In a beach town, there aren't many options for Christmas Dinner, so we drove to Ocean City, MD (about 40 minutes away) to eat at a restaurant called Reflections inside a Holiday Inn. Needless to say, my hopes weren't high. You walked in and the place screamed 1985. There were mirrors everywhere (thus, "Reflections") mixed with concrete bricks that made you feel like you were in a castle. Andrew ordered an Old Fashioned that tasted like club soda (which isn't even an ingredient to one of those). We overheard a waitress talking about her twins and how she "knew they were fraternal because they came from two separate eggs" (ummm, on what planet do you discuss your embryos with strangers at dinner?). The bread is covered with honey and poppy seeds and when then put it on the table, they include a bowl of water with lemon to dip your fingers in to get the sticky off. Not only was the bread gross, but I didn't want to stick my fingers in the shared cleaning water. Ew. (Also, I named it Hot Ham Water, ten points if you get that.) The food was pretty awful and flavorless. The table of four next to us had two orders of prime rib and both were apparently inedible - we heard them tell the waitress "our dogs will be very pleased with this" as they sent it all to the back to be wrapped up. It was a laughable dinner, at least.

The Beach! | Andrew with Lucy, his sister's dog | Me with Brandy, my FIL's giant German Shepherd | Large Thrasher's French Fries | Boardwalk | Fractured Prune Donuts

- My father-in-law lives right by a huge outlet mall and there is no sales tax in DE, so we took advantage! And my husband asked to go to Home Goods, which made me a proud wife.

- We had dinner at a place called A(muse), which I had high hopes for, but it wasn't that great. My short ribs were overcooked, but the coffee was at least really good.

- When I went to Delaware two years ago, I was introduced to Thrasher's French Fries. We don't have fries like this in Texas - with malt vinegar over them instead of being served with ketchup. They were so good! Last visit, we shopped on the boardwalk as we ate the fries. I went in a store, Andrew stayed out with the fries, and finished the whole order when I wanted more. I have been bitter since. Not this time, friends. I got a huge order of Thrasher's (split between four people) and ate more than I needed to! We only spent a few minutes on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk but I think it is so cute - I really want to visit it in the summer!

- I also went into donut overload this trip. Andrew's dad got me hooked on Entenmann's chocolate donuts when he lived with us a few years ago. Sadly, they are no longer sold in Texas. I told him that I wanted to get my fill so he had boxes waiting for me, plus we stopped at the Entenmann's outlet on the way back from NY. Plus, The Fractured Prune, a place with amazingly decadent donuts that they make to order, was actually open this weekend and I got to visit it. It was as amazing as I had hoped and if I ever win the lottery but not enough to quit working,  I would seriously consider buying a franchise. I loved it!

- We originally planned this trip so that we could go to a Giants game. Since their season was pretty bad, we didn't think any starters would play so we kept the trip but nixed the game. We had a hotel room booked in NJ, so we drove there on a Saturday. We checked in, then drove into NYC to visit the World Trade Center... only it took an hour and a half to make a twenty minute drive (why did we drive? I'm not totally sure. My father-in-law lived in the New York area for 40 years, so he was pretty comfortable with it). We missed our reservations, couldn't find parking, and ended up getting snacks and drinks at The Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village. Their deviled eggs were on The Best Thing I Ever Ate and their burger was pretty yummy, too.

Pig stuff all over the wall at The Spotted Pig | No, that isn's human waste, it's chicken liver toast, and I hated it | The best Deviled Eggs, yum | Their burger was awesome, too - Roquefort cheese and nothing else. 

- After lots of walking around to build up an appetite and kill time, we had dinner at Blue Hill. It was nominated for a James Beard Award and is in a former speakeasy. One of the appetizers we had was cool - it was different dried fruit, charcuterie, and bread served on a gold tree - but my dinner was only okay (ricotta gnocchi with pork jowl). Andrew talked me into getting the ice cream trio for dessert. One of the flavors was milk jam, which was like dulce de leche, and it was amazing. Creamy, rich, and not too sweet.

Tree appetizer | Bouchon Bakery smoked salmon brioche, coffee cake, and coffee | Bacon from Peter Luger Steakhouse | Chocolates from Jacques Torres

- Sadly, Sunday was our only full day in the city and it decided to rain. Luckily, I got to see the Rockefeller Center tree and some of the shop windows on Fifth Avenue before it got too bad. We went into Saks which was amazing! The windows had animatronic displays that told the story of the Yeti on the roof of the store and the first floor had branches, greenery, and lights all over the place. Is it cheesy to call the store magical?

Inside of the store | Windows outside | Me with the giant Yeti

- Since we couldn't sightsee much due to the weather, we ate and drove around. A lot. We went to Bouchon Bakery, which is so good. I had been to the one in Vegas before. For lunch, we went to Il Buco, a restaurant/ market with Italian meats, cheese, and pastries. The short rib sandwich and pizza were delicious. We stopped at Jacques Torres, a chocolate shop, and got chocolates to bring home as well as one of his cookies (his cookie recipe, though a colossal pain in the butt, is the best I have ever made). We ended up at a Giants bar in Brooklyn where a drunk guy showed my father-in-law his nipple and claimed to have been stabbed by a Puerto Rican once. Colorful crowd. Dinner that night was at Peter Luger, a steakhouse that's been around for over 100 years. To me, it was just okay; I'm just not a huge steak eater.

Gnocchi, Pizza, and Short Rib Sandwich at Il Buco

That's basically my trip in a nutshell. If it hadn't rained, I think we would have had a lot more fun! But, it was neat to see the city with my father-in-law and hear where he went as a kid, what movies were filmed where, and what different things used to be. I also learned he is a champion parallel parker. My opinion on NYC hasn't changed much - I still don't think it's a city for me. If I ever go back, I really want to do it right. Stay in the city, in the heart of the action, and go to a show, eat at a few hole in the wall restaurants, and walk everywhere. Maybe one day!

At the Rockefeller Center Tree | Art in Washington Square Park | Empire State Building | Fifth Avenue Windows | Huge Christmas Lights


  1. great recap! i've always wanted to be in NYC for the holidays; so much to do there! last time we went, we walked from the world trade center, all the way up to madison square gardens (and went through all of those little adorable pockets ie. chinatown, chelsea etc). it took us 10hrs but it was so worth it!

    Vodka and Soda

  2. I hate when it rains and I am visiting a new city. That always sucks and I feel cheated a day or something!

    All this food talk is making me hungry! Even if some of it was just ok. I try not to get my hopes up too high when trying new places, you ever know what to expect. At least you guys had a good spirit and laugh about your Reflections "dinner."

    I have always wanted to visit NYC...hopefully one day!

  3. AHHH I am so excited! You went to all the best places down at the beach!! The Fracured Prune is THE BEST! And bahahahaha I went to that Reflections restaurant when i was like 13 when I stayed at that hotel with my friend and her family and it looked EXACTLY the same then! I was cracking up at your description because it is so spot on! And those outlets are the best outlets, seriously, I've never found any better ones. And yay for you for putting vinegar on your fries, that's the only way to eat them. Okay I will stop rambling now! Glad you had an awesome trip :-)

  4. We went to NYC once over the summer. The real reason for our trip was for a friend's wedding in Long Islnad, so we only had one actual day IN the city; I must go back! Hey, at least that Reflections "dinner" made for a good story? LOL

  5. Too bad that it rained but at least you got to hit a few good spots. I might just have to add those restaurants to our list.

  6. They have fries like that at all the fairs here and at 5 Guys Burgers. I love salt and malt vinegar on my fries it's such a treat.

    It looks like you guys had an adventure for sure, I love the huge Christmas lights in the picture at the bottom!

  7. Stinks the weather didn't cooperate but it looks like you still made it to quite a few places. Enough good food to cancel out the not so good food.

  8. so watery and yet there's a smack of ham to it. lord i love arrested development.

  9. I'm so glad you tried The Fractured Prune donuts!

    Any time you want Entenmann's, let me know. I live 30 seconds from one of their outlets.

    EW on your Christmas Eve dinner but LOL @ hot ham water.

  10. No sales tax in DE?! Say whaaaat?! Tell him I'm coming over to go shopping.
    Also... those donuts... they need to be in my belly! But the nasty bread and finger dipping bowl... no thanks.

  11. I want some of those donuts NOW! They look so so good. And those super skinny fries look amazing, too!

    The Yetis are adorable. I would have so much fun looking at them and taking pictures with them. And those freakin' huge Christmas lights?! I love them.

    Apparently, I'm ready to go back to NYC and visit some time. So if you are in need of travel buddies, David and I can join! (He hasn't been to NYC and I haven't been since I was in high school.)

  12. I want all the food! Especially the donuts! I don't eat them nearly enough. The yeti's are adorable! And yes, the store can still be magical. :)
    The nipple guy stabbed by a Puerto Rican?!? LOL I would not been able to keep a poker face if someone told me a story like that!

  13. Donuts, yum! Looks like a fun trip!

    I love that Yeti! :)

  14. I'm just now reading this, but I loved your trip recap! Sounds like a lot of really good (and really bad) food was had! Such a bummer that it rained while you were in NYC. You definitely need to go back someday and do it right! Staying at a hotel in all the action makes a huge difference!

    Also, I'm glad you didn't freeze to death ;)

  15. Y'all ate great on this trip....seriously my mouth is watering!


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