“Wachit buddy, I’m walkin’ ‘ere!”

Over the May Long, and a bit longer, I had my first “east coast excursion” since moving to Toronto. Visiting New York for the first time was a great blend of food, standard tourist-y fare and some non-standard events.

We took in a Broadway show, which was something I really wanted to do. Since we waited until day of to get tickets, all the “good” shows were sold out but we were able to score some for Bullets Over Broadway. I preferred the movie (starring, my fave, John Cusack!) but Zach Braff channeling his inner-Woody was cool. Moj was also able to fulfill her NYC-Woody Allen experience requirement, even if by extension.

Other than that, I’d have to say museums were more enjoyable than most of the landmarks but that the view from the top off the Empire State Building at night was worth the wait — but likely would have been better if we’d come later and avoided more of the line. Although on our walk back to the hotel, it was awesome when someone stopped us and asked for directions and I was able to say, “24 blocks that way, 2 blocks that way.” It was a great end to most of our trip Moj asking if we were lost or I knew where we were going. And, then, I’d point to our destination across the street or we’d round a corner and see the marquee!

I’m not sure if the culinary experiences were that much better than going to great places in Toronto or Vancouver but we certainly did eat well most of the time. Momofuku was only okay but probably suffered for so much hype built up around it for the trip (Moj loves Lucky Peach). Much better were the Spotted Pig and Fedora; I got steaks at both and they were delicious. Though I thought the marrow butter at Fedora was a little overkill. Perhaps I’m just over bone marrow? (Whoever thought I’d need to type a sentence like that?!?) All the food credit goes to Mojgan. Hakkasan was also an unexpected pleasure, and I think I had my first raw food experience at Pure Food and Wine — both recos from a friend.

We managed to catch a Yankees game, with both local and Toronto friends and that was pretty fun. A day trip to Brooklyn to check out a flea market and then bum around Williamsburg was also one of the more enjoyable and casual days. While the ice cream (Moj didn’t realize it was vegan before ordering — hah!) and porchetta (heart you, Meat & Bread!) were a bit of a disappointment at the flea market, the bourbon sour at Cubana Social was probably my favourite of the trip. Speaking of cocktails, the hour killed at the Orient Express Cocktail Bar waiting for dinner resos (different day) was some Agatha Christie-themed good times.

Paul & Moj - Central Park May 2014

Perhaps the most unusual — but eagerly anticipated — activity was Sleep No More. It’s one of those, “can’t tell you too much because it ruins the experience” but I think more info than I had is useful. Essentially, it’s a play taking place in “real time” on multiple levels of a building. If you’re watching a scene play out amongst a couple characters, then you’re missing out a scene happening somewhere else with different character(s). You can follow a single character from area to area, follow random characters, or wander around completely on your own interacting (rummaging through drawers, leafing through papers, etc) throughout the area.

The play itself is largely unspoken but since you are literally in the action (sometimes the characters need to move audience members aside to perform the scene, sometimes ushers keep people back if it’s too kinetic), it is very enthralling. You’re also trying to figure out just what exactly is happening inside The McKittrick Hotel, and it’s a dreary and unsettling location — two hours with almost no talking seems to just heighten the tension!

For me, a big deal was made about the ability to wander off on your own, so I did it a lot at the beginning. I’d suggest following more of the actors at the beginning and exploring later when you’re trying to find another scene. Moj said that a lot of people are repeat visitors, and I can totally see why. Each visit would allow for an almost “choose your own adventure” telling of the same play. Once again, don’t want to say too much but it was a pretty powerful experience and one I would highly, highly, recommend.

Anyway, I was glad that I was finally able to visit the Big Apple. Looking forward to the next visit and future east coast adventures.

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