In no particular order…
1. Cycling round Central Park
It is hard to establish the scale of Central Park until you see it from overhead, a giant rectangle of green surrounded by high rise concrete and glass. With a little less time on your hands, navigating it by bike is a good way of seeing the various nooks and bridges, baseball fields and lakes, just keep to the slow lane to allow the lycra clad athletes to lap you at high speed.
This one mile stretch of elevated park lies on a former railtrack that once swept over the westside of the city. Thanks to a couple of neighbourhood residents who campaigned to have it restored to a public space and not demolished, this is now a major destination with benches facing out over particular sights, flowers and plants planted the length of it, and even some classy food trucks to pick up a paleta for your walk (try the cucumber and lime lolly pop from La Newyorkina).
I didn’t go a day without eating pickles in some form while I was in the city, but this place is a veritable mecca for pickle enthusiasts. The giant vats of pickles take centre stage here, with quarter sour, full sour (being 3 months pickled) being the lingo of choice for these pickler. I took away some delicious pickled mango and slightly spicy okra.
I was defeated by a bagel at Murrays, they are sheer whoppers compared to London’s Beigel Bake’s. I went for a very tasty salmon pastrami, with a cream cheese, caper and tomato (!) filling (there were gravalax, norwegian, scottish offerings for the smoked fish element). They wrap them tightly in a brown bagel paper then sliced straight through the lot to serve. Then most of it falls out on your lap as you take a bite, but you can see why the place comes highly recommended by locals.
Mile End Deli is a New York take on a traditional Montreal Jewish deli, specialising in pastrami sandwiches, poutine (that curious combo of cheese curds, chicken gravy and chips), meat hash and the like. I tucked into an exemplary pastrami sandwich on pumpernickel and pickles.
On the vintage book trail, I headed to Bonnie Slotnick in the West Village. The website says it all, “don’t like us on facebook, don’t follow us on twitter”, this is about the pure pleasure of tactile books. This selection is riveting,with original versions of Julia Child as well as the obscurest of topics, like the banana book I picked up, exploring the storing, prepping and eating of the great nana.
David Chang’s Momofuku (meaning Lucky Peach) is a New York institution and part of his burgeoning empire of hip eateries. His signature is the Pork Belly Steamed Buns, which lived up to every expectations, soft, sweet with melting soft pork belly. (Pic credit Tripadvisor)
One piece of advice for visiting Moma, go with plenty of time to spare and a warm jumper. The city’s Modern Art gallery is one of the finest of its kind, so allow a lot of time and prepare for the freezing air conditioning. I was lucky enough to catch the Le Corbusier exhibition, which is on until September 23rd, and features an extensive selection of the architects sketches, painting and drawings.
There’s a lot of pressure to have the perfect dinner for the last night in town, and Diner was the perfect place to fulfil that. In an unashamedly cool part of Williamsburg, next to sister restaurant Marlow and Sons, this places feels like you are eating in a train carriage, with its vaulted ceiling and sloping tables. The cocktails and food were excellent, I guess what you would label it modern American: a punchy string bean salad with bacon vinaigrette starter followed by a beef shank with grilled radicchio, corn on the cob and jalapeño pickles.