Sunday, 14 February 2010

Dogs, airplanes, ministers, and food

Happy Valentine’s Day to all! I hope you all have someone to hug and if you don’t I suggest you find someone (I include cats and dogs in that category).

We arrived in New York City late yesterday afternoon after what proved to be a not-so-terrible flight from Houston (which is about the best flight one can have these days of sardine packed flights with no leg room and food that I would not feed above said dogs or cats). It proved quite an interesting beginning with the “hearing dog” at our gate before we boarded. He was drawing a good bit of interest as he was a very large dog and not in a container. He was allowed on the airplane with his owner and had his own first class seat. I must confess that I envied him the legroom. I tried to find a photograph for you but I am unsure of his breading other than he is some mixture of large poodle and some other breed with short ears. He was very well behaved; we didn’t hear a bark from him the entire flight.

Our airplane was one of the smaller ones that flies cross-country and was seated three to each side of the aisle. As the adorable husband is a “window seat” kind of chap, I made the sacrifice and took the middle seat; this is only possible because he lets me drape myself all over him and he helps to entertain me during longer flights. All 5'10" of me becomes very antsy after the flight time passes three hours. I become very grateful for my IPod as it helps me escape to somewhere else during the flight. I used to be able to do that with a good book but flights now are so uncomfortable that the music works better for me.

Seated next to me was a well dressed chap who was obviously on some sort of trek with three of his likewise well dressed mates sitting nearby. As he spoke to the surprisingly cheery (I’ve come to expect them to be pissy or angry) flight attendant, I immediately picked up the English accent (Essex as it turns out). He was a tremendously good sport about my climbing over him several times to make my way to the bathroom. A bit of conversation revealed that he and his fellow travelers were ministers going to Brooklyn for a week long seminar and help “getting further along our spiritual path”. A lovely sentiment and a worthy goal for us all I thought. He has been in America for the past thirty years or so but we had a nice time reminiscing about London (where we have both lived at one time), comparing neighborhoods, and laughing about common adventures in Scotland and the misnomer that the Scots are inhospitable. As it turns out we are both in agreement that Houston is the home of the worst and most unpleasant weather on the planet, but filled with lovely people.

My adorable husband joined in toward the end of the conversation and when the nice minister asked, “What will you be doing in New York?” J. had not been able to hear much of our previous conversation over the ambient noise level of the airplane and replied,

“We will be eating, drinking, and fornicating.”

I quickly added, “We are married.” And J. gave me a funny look, as if to say, ‘When did you become so prudish?’

Later as we were retrieving our baggage I mentioned something about the “ministers” and J. said, “He was a preacher?!”

“Why yes dear.”

“Oh that’s why you said the bit about our being married? I wondered why you said that. He was a minister?! Oh I can’t believe I told a preacher I would be ‘fornicating’!”

He was so embarrassed. I reassured him that the chap appeared to take no offense and had appeared to me much like many of the Church of England ministers I had known while living in London; they are all very laid back and tolerant of transgressions to the point of being almost lax in their view of (da da de da – heavy organ music) sin.

J continued to shake his head over his faux pas and I continued to giggle.

We arrived at the Waldorf and once again I am amazed at the American version of a “mini suite”. In Europe that would mean that your room would have a chair and you would be able to fit more than one person comfortably in the bed. In America it means a huge room with tables, a couch, a desk with internet connection, a mini kitchen with refrigerator and microwave oven, a massive television, two big closets, a dressing room as well as a bath complete (unusual for America) a bidet. The Waldorf is a rather old hotel but she wears her years well and so far the service has been quite good.

We made our way down to the bar thinking we might eat in the hotel rather than venture out into the cold as we were both a bit done in by the long day. Sir Harry’s Bar was a disappointment as J’s martini was not the frigid temperature he prefers and it was far from the desert dry he requested -more like a soggy biscuit really. My Kir Royal was quite good but the service in the bar was well below par.

We took a look at the casual restaurant in the lobby but were put off by the extremely limited menu, and we didn’t feel up to the posh and dressy Bull & Bear Steakhouse also in the hotel, so we buttoned up and headed out.

Just a couple of blocks away we found a nice little store for stocking up on water and snacks for our little kitchen , and ask about local good restaurants. Thank you Mr. man-at –the-checkout!

Pescatore Restaurant at 955 2nd Avenue was brilliant. Superb service and our timing was right on the money as the place filled up just after we were seated. J had steamed clams that were melt in the mouth delicious, served in a broth that was ambrosia when dipped with the bread. For the entrée I had the yellow tail tuna in a tomato sauce that was so fresh I could taste the vine. J had a pasta dish, a Rigatoni Pomodoro with Italian sausage that was perfectly al dente and he said “just really good”.

We were so impressed that we made reservations for today after the play for our Valentine’s Day celebration.

We are attending the matinee of Race, written by David Mamet and starring James Spader this afternoon. Review forthcoming…

I began my day at 0600hrs by making my way down to the first floor of the hotel where tucked over in the corner is a Starbucks – ah yes the stars align. I’ve been up telling you about the beginning of our trip while J had a sleep in but he woke about eight and presented me with one of those lovely turquoise boxes with white satin ribbon!

Have a lovely day. Ciao.


Sparx said...

Oh, you're staying at the Waldorf! I'm so envious, what a classic place to go. Do they still do the salad? Still one of my favourite all time salads... or is it a misnomer and it wasn't actually invented there?

Big sigh. I quite fancy a week in New York... must get working on the frog...

Lynn said...

OK - I did hug my cat.

Wow - what a great time you are having. And I love the story about your husband and the minister. I'm thinking the minister would not have been offended by that though. :)

I Beatrice said...

And were there heart-shaped lights on the Empire State building? Or does that only happen in the movies?

My husband and son often stay at the Pierre when in New York - another rather grand old lady of which they are very fond.

lady macleod said...

The hotel is lovely but the price of room service, which we normally enjoy, is exorbitant! $11 for a toasted bagel?! That's why I have been making morning runs to Starbucks (located fortunately on the ground floor of the hotel). The Waldorf Salad ( was created here and they continue to serve it.
Oh my yes, the Frog should bring you for a visit!
Thank you for coming by.

Good, the cat works! Yes we are indeed having a grand time and I agree with you about the minister.
Thank you for coming by.

I Beatrice
I don't know if the lights are heart shaped but they do light it up in red and white for the holiday - just like the movies. :-)
I agree The Pierre is a grand hotel as well.
Thank you for coming by.

Wine in Thyme said...

lovely post. I didn't think people said "fornicating" out loud and in conversation any more.

lady macleod said...

Apparently they do! Thank you and thank you for coming by.

Robin said...

Definitely yours was a funny time! Fortunately I have someone to hug and also travel!
We are going to Brooklyn next month thanks to these Brooklyn New York sightseeing tours and be sure that I post my feedback just like you did! Please if you have any advice or suggestion let me know! I will be grateful!