I packed silk long underwear, my warmest pants, boots, socks and other sundry cold weather gear for a last minute trip to NYC. It’s been years since I have visited my home town in February, and this year I was told the relentlessly arctic weather was unprecedented. Multiple images of the frozen Hudson River and moaning on Facebook made me truly ponder what to bring and how I was to survive the deep freeze.

Once there, I was pleasantly surprised that my California outdoor gear was fine, better than fine, I actually enjoyed the blistering cold. I gave up on the outdoor ice skating idea, but one day my sister and her kids and I went sledding in Central Park. For some reason sledding other places is never as fun, and after an hour or so on the slope behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I artfully entered the museum to thaw out, grab a cup of coffee and take in some art—a wonderful New York combo of winters sports and culture.

It was cold. It was a good day if the temperature hit 20 degrees Fahrenheit while I was there. I was lucky to be introduced to multiple cozy spots to warm up and enjoy the inside world of winter in the Big Apple.

My first day, I took a walk with my mom in the West Village to the Hudson River and we stopped for lunch at The Spotted Pig, a pub-like eatery in a quaint old building on West 11th Street. In the back, overlooking a snow-filled garden, we devoured a scrumptious smoked haddock and pancetta creamed soup, broccoli rabe and beer. This place was bustling midday, and we met a doll-maker from Canada who was in town for a toy convention. We talked, she always pops into the Spotted Pig when in town, specifically for the smoked haddock soup. She mentioned that the shoestring fries were to die for too and that she loved my name, saying she might name a new doll after me!

Despite my quest to find new go-to places, I did have to swing by Rocco’s pastry shop on Bleeker Street at least once, to pick up some Italian cookies and have a fabulous cappuccino. So many of my favorite places have closed as the Disneyfication of Manhattan takes root.  So, I was charmed to discover these new places to explore.

My mom, an inveterate Villager, had a few of her favorite new haunts to share. One day we met friends for coffee and scones at the Marlton Hotel on 8th street—the site of a long defunct SRO where I used to visit Washington Square Park buskers in the ’70s and ’80s. This completely redone hotel has a fireplace and ample seating for both hotel guests and outsiders. Another cold day, following a trip to the New Museum on the Bowery, we sauntered into the Bowery Hotel for a Bloody Mary to warm us up. Again, a cozy fire, plush seats and packed to the gills with people thawing out. I used to walk this street on my way to CBGB’s, keys between my knuckles to protect against any assault. Today, models mingle with one percenters and funky New Yorkers enjoying the attractive and welcoming lobby and cafe/bar area.

A few other warming huts I enjoyed were in Brooklyn, where my sister and her family call home. Following a yoga class in Williamsburg’s Go Yoga, a tasty Moroccan lunch with full silver service mint tea at Cafe Mogador was a welcome respite. I was also treated to a Bushwick Valentines Day Benefit Party at a raw chocolate factory and a quick tour of the bustling pizza joint around the corner that is definitely a hotspot on cold nights. Roberta’s is a known draw in the area, and folks come from far and wide for the ambiance, cachet and presumably the pie.

Finally, a trip to the Upper West Side and a pilgrimage of sorts to Zabar’s. Tastes of my youth, reassuringly the same quality, affordability and look and still so much to choose from. I decided taking smoked fish home on a plane wasn’t such a good idea, so I opted for chocolate, coffee, shirts, hats, mugs and pictures. I visited with an old friend who happens to have the last name Zabar, and when I gleefully mentioned to her dad that I had bought stuff from his store to take back to San Francisco, he futzed with his Larry David-esque baseball cap and said in an oh so memorable tone, “We ship you know.”

Filed Under Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Cafe, Culture, Food, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, Museum, Museums, New York, Nightlife, Pubs, Restaurants, Williamsburg, Yoga, art


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