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Heading Back to the City!

(Note: For the complete story of our New York adventures, scroll down to July 2)

Sunday arrived too quickly and we had to say our goodbyes to Suvir, Charlie, Vibhuti, and all the animals. After spending more than 20 minutes figuring out how to program Hertz Rental Car’s version of GPS, amusingly called “Never Lost,” we waved goodbye and headed back south to New York City.

As we approached the outskirts of Manhattan, we called to return our car, only to be told that it was rented for another two days and if we wanted to turn it in early, it would cost an additional $400. We weighed all our options and bravely decided to drive into Midtown. Jon figured that if he could drive in Paris, he could handle traffic in New York City.

Remember Hertz’s “Never Lost” GPS system? It didn’t work exactly as the name implies. We ended up going across the RFK Bridge more than once, unexpectedly ended up in Brooklyn, viewed the Statue of Liberty, and drove through Chinatown. Of course every time we drove across the bridge, we knew where we were and, consequently, where we didn’t want to be. Finally, we got our bearings and arrived at the Sheraton Towers (7th Ave and 53rd St), only two hours behind our anticipated arrival time.

Suvir had given us a list of things to do and see while in Manhattan, but all we wanted was a hot shower and to find someplace for a relaxing dinner. We ended up at Cucina di Pesce in the East Village via a quick Google search. I’m still not sure why we ended up there; I attribute it to a combination of the power of website design and being very tired and hungry. Let’s just say Cucina di Pesce is not a place I would visit again.

Monday morning, though, we made our way to Balthazar (Spring & Broadway) for a delightful breakfast. We started off with big bowls of steaming café au lait and house-made doughnuts. I, of course, had to see how their doughnuts stacked up against mine. Having received unbiased opinions from both Jon and Joe, they determined that mine are better.

Jon had his usual eggs over easy with a side of bacon. Joe ordered two soft boiled organic eggs with “soldiers” (little slices of toast). I was the most daring in my breakfast selection with two tender buckwheat crêpes stuffed with fluffy scrambled eggs, meltingly-smooth Gruyère and a mesclun salad.

After breakfast, we walked through Little Italy and over to Chinatown. Chinatown looked very familiar, then I remembered we were there the day prior when we were lost. From there, we took the train up to the New York Public Library and walked up Fifth Avenue and through Central Park to 72nd.

We had dinner reservations Monday evening at Dèvi, where Chef Hemant Mathur spoiled us with the seven course Chef’s Tasting Menu. It was three hours of pure dining bliss.

Of course, we had to try the Manchurian cauliflower, as Suvir has demonstrated that recipe several times when he taught classes here in Minneapolis. The preparation tasted a little different than what have cooked here. We concluded that Hemant probably used a different ketchup.

Other highlights from the dinner include the melt-in-your-mouth Grilled Scallops with Roasted Pepper Chutney and Bitter Orange Marmalade, and the Tandoor-Grilled Lamb Chops with Pear Chutney and Southern Indian Potatoes.

I think we tasted every dessert on the menu and then some. My favorite was the Black Forest Cake, perhaps because I got Jon’s bite (he is allergic to coconut).

If you ever got to New York, Dèvi is a must-stop, even if you are only in the city for 24 hours.

It was up early for our drive to White Plains (thanks, Delta, for changing our flight; we flew into JFK and out of White Plains). It was a long day with flight delays in both White Plains and Atlanta (yes, Atlanta). We finally made it home safe and sound and are already planning to visit America Masala some time this winter to keep Charlie and Suvir company during the cold, dark winter in upstate New York. It’s kind of like the cold, dark winter in Minnesota, so why not spend it with good friends?

Here’s the list from Suvir of what to see and where to eat in New York City in no particular order:

Museum of Natural History (Upper West Side)
Rose Planetarium for “Journey to the Stars”
Takashimaya department store (Fifth Avenue)
Bergdorf Goodman (Fifth Avenue)
Ino Restaurant (Bedford Street @ Houston & 6th Ave)
The Frick Collection (5th Ave & 71st St)
Nice Green Bo (off of Mott St at 6th & Bayard) for dim sum
China Town Brasserie (Lafayette St)
Mandarin Oriental (in the Time Warner Center) for drinks at the bar