NYC Virgin: A Guest Perspective

(New York, NY) — On our recent trip to Manhattan, we had the distinct honor of escorting two "newbies" around town. We really enjoy plotting out fresh things to see and do in the Big Apple, but there's a particular thrill with being entrusted to plan a long weekend for friends. So, we jotted down all the hot spots we could cram in, contacted other acquaintances who live in the city, and prepared for as much debauchery as we could muster. Our friend "Cookie" has agreed to share her first-timer experience...

When the opportunity to visit New York with experienced foodie friends came up this past January, the hubby and I did the only logical thing...we jumped at the chance! We have always wanted to visit the Big Apple, but the trip seemed a bit daunting. Where does one stay, eat, visit? With so many things to do the choices can easily overwhelm. Having tour guide friends seemed an opportunity not to be missed. Tickets were booked and the countdown began.

Upon arrival at LaGuardia I knew we were in for a treat. The hustle and bustle was exactly as expected. My first NYC cab was about the equivalent of my first rollercoaster: terrifying, but I was somehow willing to hop out and take another exciting ride.

One of our first stops was Eataly. A few steps in the door and I knew why New Yorkers take so much pride in their city. This place alone is a good reason to book a flight. The selection and quality available at this market are breathtaking. I tugged at LettersToJ’s coat more times than I can count, “Oh look at that!” over and over again. I had a similar experience wandering through the markets at Grand Central Station. I began to see space and other suburban comforts as something I may be willing to compromise on for the other amenities so readily available in NYC.

Later in our trip, we returned to La Scuola di Eataly for an aperitivo with the winemaker. After a fabulous class, our group sauntered out of the classroom for another round of food ogling, each segment of the market revealing even more than we noticed the first time. Eataly offers multiple variations of produce, mushrooms, cheeses, and charcuterie we can’t even get here in West Michigan. In case the selection isn’t enough to tempt you, perhaps they can win you over with the wine. Where else can you sip barolo while gazing upon four different vintages of Parmigiano-Reggiano?

Despite all my excitement, I was keenly aware of one thing: you will pay dearly for the magnificent bounty this city has to offer. This trend was no more noticeable than at our drop-in at the Algonquin hotel. While out exploring, we decided to take a break from the cold at the famed landmark to enjoy a cocktail. A quick glance at the menu and we were settled on a single cocktail. The guys sent out a tribute to the Dude with $21 White Russians while the ladies sipped at similarly priced martinis. I guess you don’t have to advertise a happy hour when the tourists are eagerly filing in to quaff martinis in one of Hemingway's former haunts.

Fortunately for the budget conscious, there are hidden gems tucked all over the city. LettersToJ and I found a fantastic Belgian bar only a few blocks away from Times Square. They were pouring Chimay, Delirium, and various other Belgium beers for prices similar to those at home. The place smelled a bit like a rundown old pub, but the witty conversations with our Romanian bartender made up for anything that may have been lacking in ambiance.

In our too-short weekend trip, we experienced everything from fine dining to dive bars, all within a relatively small area. The seventeen different places we tried were but a mere scratch to the surface of what this city has to offer. I, for one, can’t wait to go back!

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