New York – RedbankJames’s WineBlog

Sorry for the hiatus – we’ve had trouble getting reception here in the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Lovely hotel, but these old girls aren’t exactly wired for wireless. Getting on to the net involves trooping down to the lobby (where we park ourselves alongside a beautifully hand-painted old piano which belonged to Cole Porter and on which some of the world’s loveliest music was composed and played) and trying to connect long enough to reply to emails. But hey, this is New York, who’s complaining.

And this is indeed one of the most – if not the most – exciting buzzy cities in the world. I haven’t been here since I was 39 and not much has changed except it’s safer and the taxis are a different shade of yellow. I still love Grand Central Station’s Oyster Bar where you can eat oysters whose names you never knew existed, then go back the next day and make the guy’s day by having combination (seafood) pan roast or stew. Man it’s delicious – why hasn’t someone opened an oyster bar in NZ?


Soon after we arrived we ate Italian at Bice – great food, bad service:




I’ll not give too much information cos I’m writing an article for NBR magazine on the place, but last night we had a grand time. In a night off from the American Bar Association Conference activities (Colin is a distinguished guest of the ABA) we took the subway downtown, then caught the ferry to Staten Island.




Here’s Lady Liberty herself


“I went to Staten Island Sharon, to buy myself a mandolin…Big boat chuggin’ back with a belly full of cars..” Joni Mitchell.


It was late evening – still light when we went over, but darkening when we returned to sparkling views of the Manhattan skyline. Then we taxied to the Lower East Side to a famous new restaurant called WD-50 on Clinton Street.


“New York is cold but I like where I’m living, there’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.” Leonard Cohen’s famous Famous Blue Raincoat. (Hey, I promise I won’t continue this explore NY through songs of my youth, for example, there have been no “just a come on from the whores of Seventh Avenue”(Simon & Garfinkles’s The Boxer) nor “kickin’ along the cobble stones looking for fun and feeling groovy” (Ditto, 59th Street Bridge Song). Stop it, stop it.


Back to WD-50. The restaurant is owned by one of the only native New York chefs in top restaurants here, and he’s famous for seemingly silly combinations of food, eg, rhubarb with meat, bamboo with fish. But you know what, it really works. It’s not like those daft nouvelle cuisine days when good food was fiddled with so much it was as naff as carrots carved into flowers, or beef stacked so high on mash it was cold by the time you cut into it.


WD-50 serves wonderful, memorable, special food. Go there if you can. We started with a glass of sparkling, then had a terrific bottle of Highwire Zinfandel 2006 from California’s Russian River Valley – a lovely smooth typical Californian Zinfandel.


Chugging back we had a romantic view of the Manhattan skyline, and the lovely old Brooklyn Bridge:



Tomorrow’s our last day. We’ll head over to the Meatpacking District, once seedy and smelly and a no-go zone, now like most of Manhattan, transforming itself into a destination all of its own. Tonight we gladrag ourselves for the ABA’s black tie dinner and dance at the Rockefeller Plaza and I have my diamonds and little black dress all ready. So New York.


I probably won’t blog again until I reach Sydney (for the NZ Bar Association Conference) . Then it’s back to the country, which really, I wouldn’t trade for the Big Apple.


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