Sunday, December 19, 2010

Day 112: The Cousin

Photo of the Day: Do You See What I See

In this post, you will see lots of amazing food. As I mentioned yesterday, my cousin Grace, who is from Indonesia and currently lives in Houston, is visiting this weekend, and my role is to be the local tour guide and photographer for her travels. Grace grew up watching shows like Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, and as an unfortunate side effect, has an unattainably glamorous image of New York City. By nature, she also enjoys the finer things in life and aspires to be a socialite. Hence, I found myself indulging my wickedly pretentious side as we traipsed around swanky Midtown locales. When else would I have the opportunity to compare and critique the foie gras of New York's finer eateries or spew random trivia on modern art?

After a late start, we met up at The Modern, a sleek and sophisticated restaurant attached to the Museum of Modern Art, for lunch. We were starving and ordered some perfectly delightful appetizers, including pan-seared Sullivan County foie gras with pickled quince and double duck consomme and grilled diver scallops with roasted beets, Swiss chard, and hazelnuts. I enjoyed the fresh scallops but was put off by the unfamiliar flavor of the beet. The foie gras was fantastic; although last night's dish from Momofuku Noodle Bar (see Day 111: The Kids) had a more interesting and complex texture overall, the actual liver portion was much more fresh and flavorful today. My main course was a decadent Colorado lamb saddle with lamb pancetta and roasted lemon chickpea coulis, which was very rich and tender.

After our satisfying meal, we strolled next door to the MoMA. Though she has little actual interest in the art itself, Grace saw the photos I took for my blog during last month's visit (see Day 85: The Museum) and wanted to go primarily to reenact her favorite shots with her in them. We raced through the collection snapping pictures and left after just half an hour so.

Before it got too dark for photos, we decided to dash down to Central Park. I took Grace and her friend to the entrance off Fifth Avenue by the pond, which I think is both one of the prettiest and most convenient locations in the whole park. I was shocked to see the pond had been sealed with a thin veneer of ice; it was my first time ever to see a naturally frozen body of water!

By then, we were all starving again (you know how these fancy restaurants serve such dainty portions), so I opted to take the girls to my all-time favorite dessert spot: Momofuku Milk Bar, where we indulged in various cookies and cake balls. While my young tourists were very pleased with their sugar high, they still did not have their cravings fully satisfied, so we had a little pre-dinner with some crab and pork soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai. Our dinner reservation wasn't until 8:30 p.m., so we killed some time on Fifth Avenue, stopping by Henri Bendel and the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, then grabbing an early dessert at the popular Magnolia Bakery. On our way to the restaurant, we also swung by The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park for a little Christmas browsing and photo opportunities.

Our final stop for the night was dinner at Cipriani Dolci, located inside the Grand Central Station Terminal. Despite being an offshoot of the distinguished, world-famous Cipriani restaurant group, the food was, in a word, overrated. The very promising appetizer of delectable ricotta and black truffle panzanotti was followed up by my very average veal cheeks, which was clumsily overpowered with an uninspired tomato-based sauce and toed the line between tender and mushy. But even though the meal was a disappointing way to end the day, I still enjoyed hanging out with my cousin and getting to glimpse a side of New York I can rarely afford to experience.

The entryway to The Modern.
Hanging out with minors today, so wine glasses remain unused.
My cousin Grace and her friend Nadya.
Pan-seared Sullivan County foie gras with pickled quince and double duck consomme at The Modern.
Grilled diver scallops with roasted beets, Swiss chard, and hazelnuts at The Modern.
I am excited to try our appetizers.
The Modern's Creekstone Farm beef tenderloin with oxtail bread pudding, wild mushrooms, and mustard jus.
My Colorado lamb saddle with lamb pancetta and roasted lemon chickpea coulis.
Grace digs into her succulent beef tenderloin.
Nadya prefers her beef medium well.
The sleek, elegant interior of The Modern.
Posing in front of the menu to commemorate our meal at The Modern.
Grace tries (and fails) to imitate the pose of Andy Warhol's Double Elvis.
Grace really liked this picture I took from a previous post, so we tried to somewhat re-create it.
Getting playful in front of Jackson Pollock's One: Number 31, 1950.
Grace poses in front of a painting in the Abstract Expressionism exhibit at the Modern Museum of Art.
Grace literally had me run all the way around the building to take this photo, but I kind of wanted to try out the shot anyway.
In the Museum of Modern Art stairwell.
Grace in front of René Magritte The False Mirror.
Grace in admires Pablo Picasso's famous Boy Leading A Horse.
The girls copy the pose of a leaning woman sculpture.
Taking the escalator to the sixth floor of the Museum of Modern Art.
We snuck one photo before the security guard informed us no photography.
In front of the Double O installation, which shows two rings of magnetic tape kept aloft by two fans blowing at each other.
The icy pond at Central Park. It was my first time seeing a naturally frozen body of water!
Silly Grace tried to test the ice, but we all cautioned strongly against it. Instead we just took a photo by the frozen rocks.
Pretty pictures of New York hotels and skyscrapers from the Gapstow Bridge.
Overlooking the pond from Gapstow Bridge.
Enjoying the view from the pond at Central Park.
Friends laughing together by the Gapstow Bridge at Central Park.
Indulging ourselves with cookies, pies, and truffles at Momofuku Milk Bar.
Grace doesn't even wait to sit down before starting to munch on her compost cookies.
We were still hungry after our desserts and stopped by across the street for crab and pork soup dumplings from Joe's Shanghai.
The disturbingly beautiful The Nutcracker-themed decorations at Henri Bendel on Fifth Avenue.
Grace browses through some cute keychains at Henri Bendel.
Grace adjusts her scarf and coat in the mirror at Henri Bendel.
Henri Bendel eerie take on Clara from The Nutcracker.
In front of Henri Bendel The Nutcraker-themed store window.
Stopping by the Rockefeller Center Plaza for pictures.
Grace tries her first cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery and deems them, as I did, undeniably tasty but also overrated.
Getting their hands washed with moisturizing hand scrubs and lotion at Sabon at The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park.
Washing away the scrub for fresh smooth skin.
Underneath the blue-lit Bryant Park Christmas Tree.
Me under the Bryant Park Christmas Tree.
The beautiful glow of blue lights illuminates and refracts off the crystal ornaments.
The blue lights and crystal snowflakes give the Bryant Park Christmas Tree an icy, frigid feel.
Enjoying a fancy dinner at Cipriani Dolci at Grand Central Station Terminal.
Grace peruses the Cipriani Dolci menu under the vast blue sky of the Grand Central Station Terminal.
Cell phones, cell phones, everywhere.
Ricotta and black truffle panzanotti at Cipriani Dolci.
I am just about ready to lick my plate clean of the decadent, creamy filling.
Grace orders Cipriani Dolci's filet mignon with green peppercorn sauce and peperonata.
My disappointing order of veal cheeks alla Cipriani.
Cipriani Dolci's complimentary dessert of assorted cookies. We were very unimpressed.

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