51st Street Station. Downtown 6 train. 7:00pm. I was running late, late to work, late from work, and now, late for dinner. I always seem to have the perfect timing – guaranteed to just miss the train when I need it most.
I swiped my monthly metro, briefcase in one hand, shoulder bag in another and eyed the train, which failed to close its doors as one commuter after another pushed through, leaving a slick of hope for the next late passenger. I’ve never been one of those people who tried to push the doors open. It’s mostly out of fear for having the glasses knocked off my face should the closing doors smash me on both sides, as if to ridicule my weak attempts to keep it open.
But this time, timing appeared to err on my side. I was but steps away from the train when a woman pushed through, once again reopening the doors. I mentally crossed my fingers and made a speedy run-hop into the train.
Or. Rather. It was more a quick…RUN! HOP! and then an even quicker…TRIP, SLIP, FALL…into the arms of a stranger. It happened so suddenly, I barely registered what occurred before I found him holding my two bags, a cell phone, and a second cell phone, a bottle of water, my right arm and left elbow. Thank goodness for the stranger and flat shoes. I was surprised my glasses didn’t slip off my face. As the train made way to 42nd St/Grand Central, he lifted me from the odd half crouching position I assumed, and directed me towards his seated friend, who stood up and motioned me to take the seat.
Shaken I was not, surprised I was. Surprised at my own negligence, and surprised of my own surprised reaction to the unexpected kindness of strangers. New York has got to be one of the friendliest cities I’ve lived in or visited. It’s right up there with Hawai’i…and on good days, perhaps even more so. I never found LA very friendly, though perhaps it was simply not for me.
I made it to dinner, only 15 minutes late to Mary’s Fish Camp with Robyn and Yvo. Food? The lobster roll (an absurd $33) was simply meh…pathetic, over mayonaised with a stale bun. A confused room temperature mélange of both over-fried and extra-underfried/soggy shoestrings.
Not much better could be said for the fried dishes as we sampled our way though dishes of greasy, lackluster oysters and clams…
…and then lifeless rubbery rings of calamari and jalapenos with cilantro sour cream. The dish sounded good on paper, though turned out to be less so on the tongue.
The crab dip was also a bore not worth words. I’ll stick with Pearl Oyster Bar, where I can dine on a superior lobster roll at a lower price, and close out the meal with blueberry pie.
However, that’s not to say it was a terrible dinner. For as poor as the food may be, when you’re in good company, all is well.
We passed on desserts at Mary’s, opting out of $12 ice cream sundaes, banana pudding and a peach cobbler. If the savouries were any indication of the sweet to come, we made a wise choice in heading out for gelato.
Now if there is one place I can rely on in the West Village (aside from Otto), it would be L’Arte Del Gelato. It is without a doubt my favourite gelato shop in the city, and apart from a slight price increase a few months past, I have yet to depart the 7th Avenue doors without the lightest feeling of eternal bliss. They say money can’t buy happiness, and I’m won’t argue there. But $5 allocated towards a cup of gelato has me swooning. It’s a simple formula composed of the owner himself, kind and proud of his products; the shop itself, with a rainbow siren of selection neatly tucked behind the gleaming glass case, and the employees, generous with samples and smiles.
I never quite know which flavour to try because I’ve had them all and love each one as much as the next. While picking a favourite among favourites is never easy, I typically gravitate towards Pistachio. However, the arrival of new flavours like Fig & Ricotta and a smooth autumn Pumpkin (soon to be speckled with dark chocolate shards!) has me thinking otherwise. But oh, we should never forget about the Zuppa Inglese, Hazelnut or Chocolate-Chili! Those are just as wonderful. And so is the Coffee! Coconut! Mascarpone! and Cinnamon! An endless party to say the least. Yesterday I veered straight into a cup of Mint-Chocolate, Blueberry, and a smidgen of Strawberry, for those were the flavours that attracted my eyes…
…Yvo did similar, replacing the Blueberry with an especially lush looking Panna Cotta…
…and Robyn combined my two current affairs of Pistachio and Pumpkin. Pure, unadulterated flavours frozen in the form of creamy wonders. What’s not to love, what’s not to love? :)
Mary’s Fish Camp
64 W 4th St
New York, NY 10012
L’Arte del Gelato
75 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10011