Tag Archives: travel

Katz’s Delicatessen

One question that I hear over and over again from people planning to visit NY is “where should I go eat for a real NY experience?” The first answer that comes to mind is “Katz’s Deli“. If you live in NY and haven’t been yet, I’m not sure you’re a NY-er. There’s only one valid excuse from not going to Katz’s, and that would be that you’re a vegetarian – ’cause it ain’t much vegetable there other than french fries and pickles.

It opened in 1888 and I doubt it changed much. They still throw sawdust on the old floors when it’s wet outside. They still have fluorescent lights, an old water fountain at the back of the main room, the “send a salami to your boy in the army” program. I suspect that some of the plates are original, too. (kidding, they look like they’re from the 60’s or so).

Katz's Deli

There are many tempting things on the old menu, and all of them good to excellent, but do yourself a favor and get the pastrami. At least for your first visit. You might think you like corned beef or tongue or liver better – you’re wrong. You like pastrami. It’s still the best in the city, no matter what you hear about a couple of other famous places. And it still has the NY attitude – not nasty at all, they’re actually funny and nice if you’re a nice guy or gal yourself, but a sort of gruffness that’s only natural when they serve thousands of people a day, every day. Anyway, remember at all times that you’re there for the pastrami, and nothing else matters.

Katz's Deli

Make your visit as pleasant as possible and remember a couple of things.
1 – Upon entry you’ll pass a security guard that will hand you a small ticket that you’re supposed to give the guy at the counter after you got your grub. He’ll hand it back to you with the amount you owe written on it. Don’t loose that ticket or you’ll pay your meal a flat $50. If you didn’t misplaced it, you’ll hand it to the cashier by the exit and pay what it says.
2 – At the counter, ask one of the guys for “pastrami, fatty, on rye”. It’s not fatty at all (see pictures), just juicier. With mustard, and pickles of your choice, sour or half-sour.
The fries are unremarkable, but if you can’t do without – passable.

There is a row of tables along the wall that have waiter service, but I find that part of the experience is interacting with the guys at the counter. They cut your order on the spot, there are no back kitchen elves that sliced the pastrami 2 hours ago. They might give you a taste of the piece they’re cutting from if they like you. And if you like them, tip a buck or two per sandwich. There’s no other tip to leave in the establishment (unless you’ll sit at the waiter tables, of course).
As you probably noticed, it’s a fairly large sandwich. It’s also about $15. If you’re a light eater, share one or take home a doggie bag. Slim chances you’ll have leftovers but I’ve seen it happen.

THE pastrami at Katz's

Oh, and remember the famous orgasm scene from When Harry met Sally? Right, it happened at Katz’s. There’s even a sign above their table if you want to not only have what she was having, but also sit in her chair (which I doubt has changed since, either).

Katz's Deli

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Metropolitan Museum of Art

There’s not much to say, it’s fame makes it superfluous. Maybe just a piece of advice: don’t expect to see it all in one day, it’s not doable. But it’s soooo wonderful!

You better shut up

My sentiments exactly

(not so) sweet dreams

Not so sweet, accomplice

La frileuse

.

The Death of Socrates - detail

Chess


The Cloisters

Situated way uptown at Fort Tryon Park, The Cloisters is the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Medieval Art branch and it has on exhibit about 3000 works of Medieval European art dating from the ninth to the sixteenth century. There are priceless tapestries, sculptures, manuscripts, exquisite stained-glass windows and metalwork, housed in a building that was assembled from architectural elements dating from the XII to the XV century. The gardens you’ll find in three of the cloisters have been recreated from information found in manuscripts, documents and herbals.

While the building is not a copy of a specific medieval structure, there’s a definitive flow in the arrangement. Be it inside or outside, you’ll be enthralled by the works of art; every few steps you’ll feel the urge to stop and contemplate. It’s definitely one of the most interesting museums in NYC.

Some of my favorite artifacts: the oldest (and supposedly the first) set of cards, the unicorn tapestries (all 7 of them), St. Michael’s statue, the German busts (they were used to hold the cranium of the deceased person depicted) and the stained glass windows. One of the gardens offers beautiful views of the surrounding area; there’s a cafe where you can have a snack and rest your feet in a, well, monastic atmosphere.
Impossible not to take a lot of pictures – bring an extra memory card.


Chelsea Market

Located on 9th Ave. between 15th and 16th St., Chelsea Market has been created in a building with a pretty famous history: the former National Biscuit Co. dating since 1890’s, and that operated until half a century ago. It might impress you more to know that this is where the first Oreo was created and manufactured – in addition to Fig Newtons, Saltines, Barnum animal crackers and Vanilla Wafers.

In an area that 15 years ago had almost no commercial appeal, almost no pedestrian traffic, was pretty desolate and left to the Hudson River winds, it was bought and reinvented by a visionary businessman in the 1990’s.
While the upper floors have been rented for company offices, the ground floor has been remodeled in such way that the original character of the building not only has been preserved as much as possible, but also enhanced by showcasing it’s character. The result is a an enchanting space that opened in 1997 as a gathering of specialty stores mostly food related, and although it evolved over the years it hasn’t changed much. The wholesale flower shop left and made way for an Anthropology store, a couple of other stores replaced by the others, some fantastic restaurants opened… all in all, evolving is not a bad thing.

There are bakeries where you’ll find bread or cookies, there’s a wine store, there’s a fish market and an Italian market, and much, much more. Wander around and be enchanted – by either the industrialist art so beautifully blended with the original building, or by the little pleasures you’ll find in any of the stores. There is a Jacques Torres counter, there’s a L’arte del Gelato counter, there are Fat Witch brownies or Eleni’s exquisite cookies.

The pictures were taken quite a while ago, but I hope they still show why I love Chelsea Market.


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