Once upon a time, Jeff and I lived in New Jersey (for two years), and New York City was just a relatively short train ride away. It’s been 14 years since we left the Garden State, and we hadn’t been back…until last weekend. We flew to New York on Thursday night and planned to spend two whirlwind days there before taking a one-day nostalgia trip down to central NJ and returning home Sunday night.
With so much city, and so little time, we decided we would not see a show or spend hours in a museum. No, this would be a walking and eating tour of Manhattan. We started out on an already hot-and-humid Friday morning by making a beeline to the Bouchon Bakery at Columbus Circle (there’s also one at Rockefeller Center), which is conveniently located next to the southwest corner of Central Park. 
We shared a pain au chocolat (good, but we like Le Panier’s better), a raspberry almond croissant (good, but I like Boulangerie Nantaise’s almond croissant better) and a small coffeecake. The coffeecake was a total winner:
Then we walked…
…and walked…
…and walked some more. We hit almost every nook and cranny of Central Park (think of the kid from the Family Circus cartoons, who could never go from Point A to Point B in a straight line, and that was us). I am ashamed to admit that, in all the times we went into Manhattan while living in New Jersey, we left most of Central Park unexplored. “What were we thinking…what was wrong with us?” was a common refrain as we visited boathouses and turtle ponds and castles and huge statues and lovely conservatory gardens before walking down Central Park East, which includes such architectural wonders as the Guggenheim:
Finally famished, we made our way back to the Upper West Side, to Zabar’s, a classic food mecca. (It also holds a special place in our hearts, because we got married in Manhattan…at City Hall…and after having a nice Italian lunch in Greenwich Village we went to Zabar’s and bought wooden spoons. For no particular reason other than that we needed some. I bought a few more on this trip.) 
We knew that we wouldn’t be getting many vegetables at dinner, so we each bought huge mixed green salads from Zabar’s beautifully stocked to-go cases and topped them with a shared potato/green bean salad and a dilled  broccoli salad. 
We carried them a few blocks to Riverside Park and enjoyed the view of boats and joggers from our bench.
Then we went back and bought souvenirs (the wooden spoons, a Zabar’s logo insulated lunch bag, chocolate, tea, salami, digestive biscuits, rugelach). 
Not pictured are the ice cream cones we enjoyed in air conditioned comfort at Shake Shack. Did I mention that it was 86 degrees and humid? Chocolate for me, banana bread for Jeff.
After that, we grabbed a subway down to Greenwich Village and dinked around there for a while before hoofing it over to the Lower East Side to get our pad Thai on at Pok Pok Phat Thai, the latest restaurant from Andy Ricker, winner of the 2011 James Beard Award for Best Chef, Northwest. 
Pok Pok Phat Thai opened at the end of August, replacing Pok Pok Wing, which served what I hear are pretty darn amazing wings, as well as green papaya salad. The cashier told us that a lot of people are really upset that there are no more wings to be had…and the couple sitting next to us was shocked at the menu change. I ordered the pad Thai with shrimp, Jeff got the version with pork. They were good, flavorful and not overly sweet. We have plans to eat at both Pok Pok restaurants in Portland next week!
Tomorrow: The unfairness of not having 12 stomachs.