Wednesday, April 13, 2005

New York soul food

The plane trip to Newark was uneventful. The travel agent I was seated next to got bumped into first class, giving us an extra seat in our row of three, which always makes traveling nicer. Got the Super Shuttle from Newark right to the hotel in Times Square for $20, and was in my room trying out the broadband connection by 6 p.m. Hotel 41 at Times Square is next to "Rent" on 41st Street, just off 7th Avenue, and across the street from the stage door of "The Lion King." There was a huge sale tonight at Macy's so I headed down there and stopped along the way for a quick bite at the Jerusalem 2, an ultra-kosher Israeli cafeteria in the garment district, Broadway near 37th. The pita bread is baked on the premises and, as is often the way with traditional Jewish cuisine, is a little heavy but very tasty. I had the baba ganoush plate with falafel, a salad of chopped tomato, cucumbers and onion, and pita. Most of the diners in the place were orthodox families and couples who work in the garment district. All the men were wearing yarmulkes (kipput) and all the woman had long-sleeved sweaters, and most wore skirts. One group of young men sitting in the back had brought chess boards with them. The couple next to me seemed to be on an informal date. The food was vivid tasting and truly delicious, with nice crunchy crust on the falafel. I felt right at home in the place, which is awfully nice when you are traveling.

Shopping at Macy's was a trip. It's the original Macy's, on 34th Street, and when you get up to the third floor, the escalators are the old wooden ones, with slats. The petites section was vast, and I got to try on DKNY petite clothing, which I don't think I'd encountered before. Lots of stuff was 50% off, so the store was pretty much a madhouse. It was too much for me after a long day of traveling, so I walked back up to Times Square, remembering all that I like about New York. This is not, of course, the New York I knew in 1980, but a much cleaner, friendly post 9/11 city. Biggest shock: Finding a Washington Mutual Bank one block from the hotel.

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