A Happy Weekend in NY or ‘The Tree was Just the Right Height’

The tree was just the right height

The tree was just the right height

I have a wonderful friend “R” who I met during my residency in upstate New York. We try to keep in touch and see each other a couple of times a year. She is a very good egg. We’ve established this fun tradition of baking Christmas cookies together. Well, ‘Tradition’ may be overstating it a bit, but suffice to say that the first time we got together at Christmas time we did go nuts baking cookies for a twelve hour binge. But I digress….

She came to visit a few weeks before Christmas last month, and we had such fun doing classic New York Christmas season things. We crammed so much into one two day period I am tired just thinking about it! But it really was good-natured fun.

(All the listings with quick descriptions will follow in a list below).

We started with brunch at our local neighborhood breakfast haunt The Eastside Eatery. We caught up over some omelets and heard about all R’s news. To walk off the excess calories, we took our dog Ellie to the Carl Schurz Park Dog Run. Ellie always has a blast there playing with the other Yorkville pups. Then, we bought a fresh neighborhood Christmas tree, which Bobby proceeded to decorate because R and I were busy baking our Christmas Samoas and Macaroons. He thought it was too scrawny, but given the size of our apartment, I thought it just the right height (like the trees in Michigan according to Mitt Romney, but I digress again).

When we were done, we got ready and left to go see Annie on Broadway by route of dinner at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, Libertador. The show was great, although, another theater goer puked during the first act a couple rows ahead of us, which added some extra unnecessary drama. Then, after dinner, as if that all wasn’t enough, we came back home and rented the Pacqiao vs Marquez fight on Pay-per-view. Of course we were rooting for Marquez, although I do like Pacquiao too. Followed at last by some much needed Zzzzzzzz.

The next morning we woke up late and then headed out to the New York Botanical Garden to see the Christmas Train Show (in the Bronx). Trainspotting makes one hungry, so we caught lunch at Antonio’s in the Arthur Avenue Italian neighborhood and then headed back to Manhattan. We made a quick stop to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. And finally, we dropped her off at Penn Station and wished her a Merry Christmas.


The Eastside Eatery

A cute Greek diner-like establishment on 1st Avenue and 91st Street. Clean, attentive staff, typical extensive Greek diner menu. I think they will basically make you whatever you want from the length of it. This place checks all the boxes for the diner you would want steps away from your apartment door for those lazy weekend mornings.


Carl Schurz Park Dog Run

If you haven’t been to this beautiful NYC park which overlooks the East River, you are missing out. Best time to go is the late spring/early summer because they do a wonderful job with all the flowers and planting. (I believe that at least in part it is neighborhood volunteers). The dog run was recently renovated so it is large, modern with good strong and tall fencing. As always you have to keep an eye on the other players, especially if your dog is a natural Beta. Some of the dog owners can be a bit oblivious, but that is everywhere.

Annie the Musical

Perfect for Christmas. I know for all you skeptics out there who poo-poo Broadway, you are grumbling, I can understand somewhat. I am a recent Broadway convert. But it was just so nostalgic. The singing was great. We all got choked up as Annie sings Maybe… in her New Yawk accent. Sandy the dog is also pretty awesome. Plus, there is a lot of plugging of Roosevelt’s New Deal which I thought was appropriate in the current political climate. Ah hem….

Libertador Parrilla Argentina

One of the best restaurants in Yorkville. Starting with the feel of the place, it is trendy and feels modern but yet old world somehow. There is a beautiful hostess with a thick curly head of hair that is very welcoming and pleasant. The interior has a vast ceiling height which makes it feel quite open and there is a lovely long bar. The food is simply delicious. Pretty much everything. You must eat the signature Empanadas- the pastry is wonderful, as are the fillings. The grilled beefs are great and they have a wonderful chimichurri sauce on the side. We keep going back…


The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden

What a nifty neat New York holiday tradition. Great for kids and families. What they have done here is to interweave train tracks with toy trains of a relatively large size that drive through a totally botanical array of structures that form all the major landmarks of the New York City and the Greater New York area. In other words, they have used all plant material to re-create small models of all these famous places. It is pretty magical. Worth the trip. There is a wonderful gift shop at the Garden as well – a perfect place to pick up gifts for your office Kris Kringle person. It is recommended that you purchase tickets in advance for a target arrival time in the busy pre-holiday season. Parking is easy in a lot across the street if you intend to drive.

Antonio’s Trattoria

Have you seen the movie A Bronx Tale? A wonderful Arthur Avenue Italian restaurant. We went for lunch after the Train show. The owner/manager made a point of extending a warm welcome to us (though it was pretty empty at the time we went). I am not raving about it; it is a good version of what it is trying to be which in my estimation is a step above the red checker table cloth Italian joints. Prices are moderate. We each had pasta and were full for the rest of the evening. I had the Carbonara which was really rich, but yummy.