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Touch down at JFK and the clock was ticking. I had twenty-four hours but I wasn’t worried. I knew what I wanted out of Manhattan and knew how to get it. I had a plan. I used my seriously early morning arrival as a frivolous excuse to indulge in transcendent butter sugar concoctions washed down with strong hot coffee. First on my list was Dominique Ansel. I must admit, I am a culinary school alumnus trained as a pastry chef. Culinary art is a major part of all my travels. If you have a James Beard award, Michelin stars or an enormous line to get to your work of gastronomic delight: I’m on my way!
A quick bag drop at my hotel and one hell of a walk later I entered Dominique Ansel bakery. It was a tight cozy squeeze into a shotgun of a space. I had to suck in my tummy to keep from bumping into everyone while navigating the long line down the hallway of the busy bakery. The song be my baby was playing but it wasn’t the Ronettes causing the harmony I was experiencing. The scent of the bakery was a harmonious blend of the sweet scent of butter mixed with the perfect balance of yeast. Of course, I ordered the cronut, the croissant-donut hybrid invented by chef Dominique Ansel that made it the most virally talked about dessert item in history, but I’m no pastry rookie. As soon as my eyes met the Kouign-Amann, I knew I was staring into the face of perfection. I put that buttery sugary Breton cake in my mouth and bit down. A Crescendo of shattered layers of crisps lusciously danced into my belly.
When I came back down to earth, I became aware of my calorie consumption. I immediately went for another walk. There’s so much to eat in Manhattan. I needed a calorie deficit! I walked around the union square farmers market being a food nerd wishing I would spot celebrity chefs shopping. I kept walking and stumbled into the most gorgeous pastry porn. I was helpless. The pastries made me do it. I walked into Maison Kayser an authentic artisanal French Boulangerie. The culinary art was stunning, sexy and so tempting. I wanted to eat everything but I knew that wasn’t the responsible thing to do.
I kept walking. I walked straight to Katz’s deli! I never travel to Manhattan and not eat the pastrami sandwich. After hours of walking, heavy calorie consumption, and lack of sleep, I was ready to pass out!
Exhausted I thought I would crash in My hotel room on the twenty sixth floor of the Arlo Nomad hotel: I thought! As I was welcomed to my hotel room the porter informed me that my hotel room was the best room in the hotel: he was serious. Floor to ceiling glass windows formed the walls surrounding the bed I was so posed to sleep in. Sleep? Forget it! I was on top of the Manhattan skyline and the bed was a cloud! The sensational views transformed my state of exhaustion into excitement! Then I felt the bed and how puffy, soft and comfortable it was. I melted straight into it and just stared out of all of the enormous windows framing Manhattan. The sweeping skyline tempted me back into reasoning and logic. I remembered that I am a true gourmand with a party animal that lives inside me. I needed sleep if I wanted to keep up with Manhattan nightlife. I took my standard disco nap.
When I woke up I thought I was dreaming when my travel plan included a reservation at Eleven Madison Park but I wasn’t. I did have an eight thirty dinner reservation at Eleven Madison Park. I’m a well-organized traveler with a hunger for Michelin stars. I was lucky enough to snag a reservation two months in advance. With my limited time, I opted for the bar tasting menu of five courses instead of the ten to fourteen courses. El Dorado 12-year rum, Carpano Antico, orange and cherry bitters teased my palette and helped me get the start to my night out. Butterflies slowly started dancing in my stomach with every step I took toward chef Daniel Humm’s restaurant. upon arrival those butterflys were raving! It felt like Steve Aoki was DJ’ing in my belly! I was only walking into one of the best restaurants in the entire world. My experience was superlative and to do it justice is an entirely different blog post. Five different wines, caviar, chocolate, scallops, duck, and the company of the love of my life had me feeling pretty good. A quick walk to Barlo at the Arlo Nomad hotel and I was in the zone. Gourmandizing and all the surrounding style and good looking people starting to fuel my inner party animal. I was ready for what I think is one of the best parts of travel, meeting people! The bartender kept the cocktail glasses full and people were met, laughter was had and new friendships were formed. My travel experience gave me enough sense to call it a night because it’s no fun nor a good look to show up to the airport in your clothes from the party the night before sick and hung over.
I returned to my room and was once again treated to amazing views but this time it was all lit up! I laid down in bed with the Empire State Building in my face! I fell asleep and when the sun rose it danced rays of light across the Hudson River that taunted me into a state of consciousness. I used my being in New York city as an excuse to eat a bagel and grabbed a LYFT to JFK.