Understandably so at this point I was beat. Thinking we could sleep in on Thursday we put up the do not disturb sign and had the uppermost intentions of not leaving the room until the afternoon on Thursday. Again the city beckoned to us and we were up pretty early. We hooked up with two more in our group and rode the green line subway to little Italy. We were eating cannolis by 10:30 or so. We wandered slowly through little Italy, stopping to eat, and enjoy the scenery. We walked into a small deli and bought bruschetta, soppressata, cheeses, and even an arancini (a ball of risotto that has been breaded and fried). I was so taken by all the things just this one small part of the city had to offer from a culinary standpoint. You could literally walk down the street and buy any sort of gelato, cured meats, aged cheese, and knock-off cologne. As we wandered we crossed into Chinatown and again were absolutely stunned by the options. We walked by a seafood market that had 9 different types of salmon for sale. NINE. From all over the world. Another market with geoduck clams and live Dungeness crab. Geoducks are a Washington coast specialty and if I called my best seafood purveyor I would struggle to get a few in the next four or five days and here they were. I never see live Dungeness crab unless I am cooking them for a friend who caged his limit. So many types of fish I have never seen, Chinese meat markets with duck feet and tongues, veal liver, fresh veal bones, and all other sorts of things I cant even begin to explain. 7 different types of prawns live and dead, all different sizes, wild and farmed, sitting on ice in the corner of this shop. I couldn't help but think of how much more I could push myself in my own kitchen at home, or even at work if I could stop and pick up a bag of cockscomb on my way home. With all this product available there would be no excuse to not push the boundaries. I struggle to find anything in my town. If I want a protein I usually have one choice, not nine. If I want fish I usually buy it from the restaurant and pack it home. To have this access is such a blessing to so many people that I am sure don't either realize or appreciate it. We decided to eat at small noodle shop, and had an authentic ramen style noodle dish that was really amazing. Not that we were hungry though, more because we needed to sit down for a few minutes. Melissa even found a small purse shop, that in hindsight I am sure was less then Kosher in some of it's dealings. We rode the subway back towards the hotel still in awe about the amazing size and hustle of the city, and the availability of anything, anytime of day or night. On a promise to the boys we marched back to Times Square and got pictures and souvenirs from the Lego store and Nintendo store in Times Square. It was getting late and we needed to pack. We snagged another "normal" pizza from a place just down from the hotel, and called it a night at a modest midnight or so.
We were up early on Friday as our flight was gone from JFK at 11am. We got our first really cliche ride in a horribly smelly cab, or rather with a horribly smelly Russian cabby, but it all added to the experience. With the time change were back on the ground at Sea-tac by 2pm, and I was in the kitchen at work by 6:30 pm that night.
All of it was amazing. It was awesome to spend that much time with Melissa, even if I worked and she fended for herself for a few days. It was great to have her there to share this with me. We saw maybe 1/10th of the things we wanted to see, and I feel almost guilty about not seeing the World Trade Center Memorial, or The Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, or even anything around Central Park. We stayed in motion the whole trip to return back to some sort of normalcy on little to no sleep, and still couldn't absorb everything that happened. Being able to make this trip was truly an honor, being able to make it with such a great group of friends and team of chefs with so much talent was awesome. Being able to take our food, and tell our story thousands of miles away from our restaurants was an inspiration beyond words. Coming home to our staff and family and telling the stories over and over, and the show of support the community offered up for us were in no way expected. The event, the city, the pace, was awe inspiring. I almost wanted to go apartment shopping..... I can't wait to go back.