(WARNING: looooong post with tons of pictures. But there’s a carousel, so that kind-of makes it worth it, no?) 😉
Friday was a chief example of an upside-down day…righting itself. My Mum and I had planned on heading in to the city via train at 8:30, even though it was rainy and grey- we figured we’d brave the wet. We left with plenty of time to spare, pulled onto the highway, and…traffic. We missed our train before we even hit the Princeton exit.
No matter! We decided that instead of waiting for the next train with two sleepy, squirmy children, we’d just drive. I’ve done it more times than I can count, and in my experience it is much easier with the kids- no pesky subway stairs! We got about as far as New Brunswick, pulled into a gas station, and the car stopped. Just…nothing. I guessed the battery, even though I just put a new one in.
Three jumps later, and all we could manage was a jerky crawl for about a quarter of a mile down Route 1. Something was just wrong about the way it was running, so I pulled over again, this time into a Sunoco with a full service garage. The exceptionally nice mechanic ran some diagnostic tests while my car doors randomly locked with J & C inside. Cue mild panic and 10 minutes of sticking a rod through the crack above the window to manually open the door. I finally got a diagnosis- my alternator was laid to rest on that dreary day.
Argh. There wasn’t anything else to do but have him repair it, so we hung out in the garage while Jack splashed in puddles.
A little over an hour later we were back on the road, a little dispirited because my mother had missed seeing an old friend due to the car troubles, but determined to enjoy our day. I am so glad we stuck with our plans instead of letting the troublesome beginning set the entire day’s tone- we ended up having a lovely time.
I had Luis meet us in midtown, and from there we went down to the Village for…
…crepes! Strawberry and dark chocolate- sinful and delicious. There is a creperie on MacDougal that I have been going to for years. I used to take the train from my apartment uptown just to grab some of these amazing treats- they never disappoint.
It’s a teeny tiny hole-in-the wall place (seriously, their storage is above the shop- the employees climb a ladder into a trapdoor in the ceiling to get extra supplies), but in my experience those are the goldmines.
There are two small counters inside (2-3 stools max), but Jack wanted to sit on the benches flanking the entrance and watch the world go by. A child after my own heart.
This is Jack demanding more food after devouring an entire lemon/sugar crepe. Go figure.
After all that rich yummy food, we all felt a walk was in order.
There is a restaurant down the street from the creperie called The Minetta Tavern. It was redone a few years ago, and now I hear it is a pretty popular place, but years ago it was a favorite of my Grandfather’s. He worked in Manhattan for 38 years, and one of his favorite things to do after work was head down to Minetta’s for dinner and a drink.
I miss him most when I am in New York- if anyone loved and lived that city, it was my grandfather. He once took my father along on a tour of the subways (underground!) with a group of engineers. New York was his town, and I often wish I had the opportunity to walk the city with him and hear his stories, if only for a day. When I walk past Minetta’s, I like to think that he is beside me, heading in for a manhattan before catching the train home. The next time my mother and I are in, this is definitely on the menu.
After a bout of nostalgia and a fleeting moment on a playground before we got hit with more rain, we got in the car and headed into Brooklyn, passing some awesome art along the way. Does anyone know what this building is?
All that driving was beginning to give me a cramp, so I let Carolyn take over for a while.
She’s a natural!
Luis has a new job at a restaurant in Brooklyn. Looks haphazard from the outside, but the menu is all deliciousness and Luis said the restaurant is packed most nights. I am going to try to visit him here within the next few weeks to check it out, even if I only eat a salad or some veggies (most of the plates are fish-based). He is working alongside some of our friends from The Barking Dog, so I got to say my hellos to them and catch up for a few minutes before Luis went in to start his shift and we took off to start the rest of our day.
There is a small area of Brooklyn between the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges. It sits right on the East River overlooking downtown Manhattan, and it is one of the most beautiful areas in all of New York. For years I have been itching to get my mother here- I knew she’d go wild for the cobblestone streets and picturesque views across the water. On Friday, after years of trying, I finally got my mother into DUMBO.
DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, and it is hands-down one of the most pleasant places in the city. It has only recently begun to draw attention to itself as more and more people fall under its spell.
It charmed my mother immediately. To be honest, the rain really made it. Something about the fog and the grey was so parisienne, especially coupled with a stop into Almondine.
I love this little bakery- it’s on DUMBO’s main street across from Jacques Torres, and it’s the perfect place to slip in for a café au lait on a dreary day. They also have giant meringues the size of my arm.
I fell victim to more than a few of these in my pre-vegan days. Mum got a little raspberry tart that looked yummy:
They always have work by a local artist for sale. Right now it’s a woman named Jen Furguson. I don’t know her, but she has blown me away with her gorgeous renditions of the Brooklyn Bridge.
We stopped by Jacques Torres to oogle the cookies.
They always have these Love Bug chocolates, and they get me every time- so cute!
There is so much to love about DUMBO- you could spend an entire day here and you’d never get used to the views. Between the aged brick architecture and the looming towers of the bridges, my Mum was swept clear away. I, on the other hand, kept my eyes trained on more immediate details. Check out the street art!
But the highlight of our DUMBO explorations was the discovery of a carousel…
…in between the bridges, on the water, in a glass enclosure with views of Manhattan across the river. Outrageous- it felt as if I were dreaming, it was so surreal.
Jane’s Carousel was actually built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1922. It lived in Youngstown, Ohio until 1984, when it was purchased at an auction by David Walentas, DUMBO’s original developer, and his wife, Jane. The carousel was laboriously restored to its original elegance and installed in Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2011.
Jack had never been on a carousel before- as far as I know, he had never even seen one, and here was one of the oldest and most ornately constructed carousels in the world. Of course he was going on it. Especially since it was only $2 a ride, and would require that I accompany him. Sold!
Mommy was probably a bit more excited than Jack. Don’t judge.
We went around about 5 or 6 times, just long enough for Jack to warm up to the idea of sitting on a wooden horse and spinning around on a giant musical platform. Then it was Grammy’s turn!
Jack was more enthusiastic this time around because he got to sit in one of the chariots.
Look how cute they are!
For some reason my mother looks totally adorable riding on the carousel with Jack, whilst I look ridiculous.
It was definitely the highlight of my day, taking Jack on his first carousel ride. With children, there are so many “firsts” that you’d think they couldn’t possibly all be exciting…but they are! I can’t wait to take Carolyn on her first ride now- I didn’t feel comfortable carrying her on, and I know she’s not old enough to grasp the concept. Though when she is, I know where we’ll be going.
We wandered around a bit more and drank in our surroundings. I took an unnecessary number of pictures- I just couldn’t seem to get enough of the views.
Stunning. We’re definitely planning a trip back, hopefully on a day when the weather is nicer so we can spend some time at the park. My mother kept saying how much she loved it, and I was so glad that our day had made such a wonderful turnaround. It was tough leaving DUMBO, but we had a date back in Manhattan…
The one and only. Minetta’s was my grandfather’s place- Lalo is mine.
Patty and I used to meet here three or four times a week for lunch and girl talk. So much of our friendship was cultivated here, and now it has become our sanctuary. The food is fresh and delicious, the atmosphere is comfortable yet exquisite, and we can always get a table.
This lady. We both lead busy lives, so we don’t get to talk nearly as much as we’d like to- but every time I see her my heart is warmed.
We dove right in- salads for everyone, especially after the sugary crepes that morning. We also ordered a dish of their mixed olives- if I had to guess how many of those Patty and I have eaten during the course of our friendship, I’d have to put it somewhere in the hundreds. We love olives.
I can’t say it enough- seeing Patty was heaven. Jack and Carolyn definitely remember her, and they were both happy to see her- laughing and playing like we hadn’t ever been apart.
It wouldn’t be Lalo without giant bowl-mugs of café au lait! Served with the usual mini Toblerone…
…which Jack promptly stuffed into his mouth.
We also got this outrageous flourless dark chocolate torte, split four ways…
…and eaten in record time. It was so rich and decadent. Lalo has a huge selection of desserts- it’s really their specialty, and they never disappoint.
Our waitress was totally in love with the kids. She swept Jack away before we left- he didn’t seem to mind.
It was tough saying goodbye. Life takes over, and I don’t make it into the city nearly as much as I would like. So much of my heart is there- it still feels like home whenever I visit, and I know that as the kids get older I am going to feel more of a pull to get them in. I often wonder if someday will find us heading back in for good, but then again, I can’t imagine life without a farm stand down the road. Right now, I think we’re exactly where we need to be- and honestly, I think we always will be.