Christmas in the Empire State

This always happens to me. I get all excited about Christmas, make all these plans for the delicious dishes and cookies I will be making, promise to blog about all my seasonal exploits and start listening to holiday music nonstop. This year was a record – I tired of all that stuff by Dec. 9.

I’m trying to reinvigorate my culinary sensibilities, however, and tomorrow’s tacky Christmas sweater party might give me an excuse (I’m bringing garlic-sizzled chicken wings and eggnog cheesecake squares).

Meanwhile, I spent last weekend on a dreamlike mini-vacation with a bunch of my girlfriends in New York City. We saw the city in all its holiday splendor, shopped ’til we dropped, stayed up way too late and abused our feet. I even lost my voice!

We also ate a ton of amazing food. Let me take you on our Big Apple culinary adventure:

The best pizza I have ever had in my life was at Artichoke, near Union Square. It was $4 a slice and worth every overpriced bite. Creamy cheeses oozed out of it – we were in heaven as we ate, standing on a dirty sidewalk pocked with old gum.

Artichoke/spinach pizza

While waiting to meet up with friends, Heidi and I enjoyed a few drinks and an appetizer of gnocci at Aroma, a wine bar in lower Manhattan. The wannabe actor-waiter was nice eye candy. 🙂

Cocktails and an app. at Aroma

All weekend, my two girlfriends and I stayed with my cousin, who lives in an Italian neighborhood (Guidos and Guidettes). She was surrounded by Italian delis, bakeries and markets. We had brunch at one deli/bakery (I couldn’t help saying, “leave the gun, take the cannoli”):

Pastries like you wouldn't believe!

They had a menu full of cured meats that I hadn’t even tasted of before. This is the sandwich menu…

We all ordered sandwiches piled high with fresh ingredients. I got house-made prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes.

Later, we wrote Christmas cards at The Little Cupcake Shop (when in Rome):

Lemon cupcake

They had apple cider, cookie dough, gingerbread and pumpkin flavors!

Later that night, we went out to eat in Little Italy, where an old man told us that we all looked like “flowers, sent down from God.” Then he blew us a kiss and touched his heart. Gotta love older Italian men! After that, we went to a bar that was serving all-you-can-drink mojitos for $20 a head (drinks were normally $9 each)…which of course we took advantage of, and then got the crazy idea to go to Times Square at 2 a.m. This was a good seven subway stops away, and like an hour away from home. Still, we carried on, some of us ate hot dogs and we slunk back, too tired to do much more than giggle.

The next morning, we slept it off and had bagels from a shop down the street that had a bunch of neat cream cheese flavors.

Bagel as big as my head

Our last day, we ate at a French cafe near Rockefeller Center…

Fresh berry tart

Tea and espresso

This was one of my very best vacations in a long time. Just goes to show that the company you keep really impacts how your vacation experience will be. I think all of us need to have a lovely weekend in New York City at least once in our lives – it is at once exhilirating and utterly exhausting.

Just stay away from Macy’s – that place is madness. Cheers, friends. xoxo

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3 responses to “Christmas in the Empire State

  1. I had such an amazing weekend full of friends and food! Everyone keeps asking what we did, expecting Broadway shows and museums. When I tell them eating, shopping and walking, they give a funny look. But to me, it was perfect.

  2. I really wish I had stopped at the Little Cupcake Shop…. those look delicious!

    Miss you guys!

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