In Hell’s Kitchen

We went to Hell’s Ktichen and not the Gordon Ramsey type either, but the real McCoy in New York City, which basically lies between 35 th/ 9 th and 57 streets. It is an area inManhattan called Midtown west, there are various reasons for it having been called Hell’s Kitchen and it would seem that there is no definitative answer. Wikipedia has many of the theories on its website.

   We went for supper before hitting Theaterland at the upper end of Broadway. The whole of the neighbourhood seemed to be on the street, and this was explained by being the International  Food Festival.of course we knew nothing of this in advance and happened upon it by chance . Unfortunately most were on the way to packing away their wares and we were headed to a restaurant called the 5 th Napkin ! An unusual name for a restaurant , but nonetheless it was enroute to the theatre. 

   
We were not unduly disappointed, the place was buzzing and we only had a 20 min wait ( they do take reservations though) . The willowy brunette was sorely tempted by the hamburger that was being served alongside us, but in the end settled for a grilled shrimp Caesar salad with a side of fries, preceded by shared the fried calamari. This at least was declared as being the best Calamari ever ( wish we had chosen one each).  

     The salad on the other hand was marginally disappointing . America does BIG and so when choosing something, which one thinks is a good choice and then for it to be on the small side is disappointing ! However it was good. The willowy brunette declared she could have done with more shrimp, and so could I but it was not to be. On the plus side, it was a great salad, the shrimp delicious and the fries excellent. 

 Our neighbours on one side who had the hamburgers, were also not disappointed, whilst to our minds, the neighbours on the other side  had a weird dinner. An assortment of  dim sum, chicken wings ( smothered in ketchup?) and matzo ball in gravy! The look of it did not leave us feeling green eyed with envy!

I think the moral of this little venture, is, stick to what they do best and go for the hamburger!

The following day we had a similar experience in Harold’s, all day American Bistro, the ( again) shrimp salad was underwhelming and the home fries, turned out to be tasty but a bit soggy sautĂ©ed potatoes. Looking around, the breakfast brunch options of omelettes or ham and cheese croissants also seemed a safer bet.

Another interesting area of Manhattan is the Highline route, this is built on an old elevated railroad and is an urban garden supported by Friends of the Highline. It runs fromWest 34 th ( between 10 and 12 Avenues) to Gansvoort Street in the Meat Packing district. Early on a Sunday morning it is busy, with the urban Joggers, power walkers and tourists, along with blushing brides to be in vertiginous heels, for their engagement photo shoot! What we found however was the ultimate in Multi Story car parking ! See for yourself!

   

Ah well, you win some and you lose some, but we won on our hotel, where we were given a penthouse room, with a terrace, overlooking the Empire State Building, and where we could sit and drink our wine in peace along with the noise of Madison Avenue. What more could you want? Well an upgrade on the return flight? Well sometimes, you do get what you wish for! Should wish more often!!

   
 

Blue berry pancakes and all that.

Here in New York City, the willowy Brunette decided that today was the day for Blueberry Pancakes. This American delicacy is usually saved for a Post Marathon extravaganza, but  for today, no excuse was needed, (Apart from energy required to go shopping) except that it had to be. 

 So off we trudged to the Clinton Street Bakery, which is down in the Bowery area of the city, but enroute ( well sort of) to Ground Zero, or the New World Trade Center . The Brunette had done her research, and so we were forewarned that there could be a wait. Sure enough there was. The Clinton Street bakery is a small restaurant which seats only about 30 people, we were told, about 30 mins, but we were in after only 20, but by the time we left, the line was around the block!   

Oh what to chose, no light eating here. The Brunette ( the willowy one) chose, of course, the Blueberry pancakes and as for myself, the French toast with caramel bananas and pecans. Both came with Maple Butter, and we shared a side of bacon and a side of sausage. 

 The Brunette is a connoisseur of Blueberry Pancakes and declared that these were some of the best, light and fluffy , liked the maple butter and did not feel stuffed nor the feeling of a sugar overload! My french toast was excellent, though far too much,  and think I would have preferred straight up Maple syrup ( not Aunt Jeminas fake maple syrup). And we loved the sausage and bacon! 

 

Our neighbour chose, eggs and sausage on an English Muffin, did not look as exciting as ours, and the neighbour on the other side, chose NOTHING, her boyfriend however did eat, I guess that is the only way to go to this diner and come out without a Heart attacking alert! 

 Considering the small kitchen the short order cooks, who were cooking up a storm, seemed remarkably in a happy mood. 

   So next time in New York City put the Clinton Street Bakery on the top of your list!

On the Road Again!

On the road again and this week sees us in Tepoztlan  which is in the state of Morales  about an hour or so drive southeast-ish from Mexico City. I say and hour or so, as my sources tell me that Never do the drive at night but more importantly Never on a holiday weekend as it could take you three hours or more just to get out of the city. Once through the toll booths and past the shanty towns of the city’s suburbs one hits the federal highway and the countryside is amazingly green and beautiful. The road itself is a bit scary, very winding, and fast traffic with no lane discipline, so just sit back and admire the view!

Tepoztlan is a smallish agricultural/touristic town of about 15,000 inhabitants and is surrounded by the Tepotztcedo mountains which resemble mountains from ancient chinese paintings. At the time of our visit, the jacaranda and bougainvillea were in full bloom. 

   We rented a house with beautiful gardens and pool a short walk from the town centre. Having no intention of cooking ( equipment was limited anyway ) we had to explore the local restaurants. 

Our first forays into town were less than successful. as it was mid week, most of the local restaurants were closed, they tend to open , outside of vacation periods, only at weekends, to cater for the influx of visitors from D.F ( D.F is what the locals call Mexico City).

We checked out Trip Advisor, which to my mind is not the best guide to eating out, after all it is very subjective. However there, ( after our disasters) were two of interest. the first of which was a Garden Literary Cafe, El Sombra del Sabino. It is a lovely little shop selling quality ethnic trinkets,  panama hats and books, both in English and Spanish. The venture was esrablished by a group of  friends, one at least is Canadian. Outside is a very pretty garden, with tables set under the trees, or under umbrellas, under the trees are also swings and hammocks. At weekends there is also a market,  but again, not the usual Mexican Market, there were producers of organic vegetables and fruit, homemade jams and jellies, along with aromotherapy items, soaps and bees wax candles. 

   The menu at the cafe was limited, but wondeful fresh juices and sandwiches and salads and modernised mexican breakfasts/brunch type items. We enjoyed it so much ( it was so relaxed) that we went there twice!)

Our other find was Villa del Tepoz Fuego, and their restaurant Jardin. It is a small boutique hotel, set slightly out of Tepotzlan, surrounded by mountains. the setting is stunning, and is owned and run by Bruce and Marcie a retired couple from Baltimore. They love it in Tepotzlan and initally they were the chief  cook, sous chef, chef, chamber maid, and uncle tom cobbley and all. Now though they are established and employ staff, though Marcie still gives cooking classes. They also do most of the shopping for their restaurant, which includes daily trips to Cuernavca, which is the largest town in Moreles state. Fresh fish is deliverd daily but the town today has a bit of a drug problem with the drug barons moving in.

We went there for lunch and it was exceptional, the garden was beautiful, the service impeccable as was lunch. 

          

I have more to say on Tepotzlan, so watch this space for the second edition!!