We *Heart* New York

By January 26, 2010 culture No Comments

FoodNetwork must get a good chunk of its TV viewership through our household. We have discussed planning trips around a food itinerary in order to sample some of the tasty-looking dishes we’ve seen over the years. (Is that weird? Probably, but it’s our kind of weird.)

Times Square buzz.

This weekend’s trip seems to qualify as our first in the series . . .

You see, it was my husband’s 40th birthday. With a bit of disjointed planning by yours truly, five of us made our way to New York City for a dinner at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and a cake by Duff Goldman’s troupe at Charm City Cakes to celebrate.

The Cake

Planning the perfect subject for a sculpted cake is no easy task. First, I considered something sentimental featuring a runner and a crowd of beloved spectators cheering him on (Hebrews 12:1 comes to mind). But that didn’t seem to have the right sort of spunk for a cake.

Mike (birthday boy), Katherine (from Charm City Cakes), Feathers McGraw (yummy cake)

That’s when my heart settled on Feathers McGraw, the villain from the Wallace and Gromit short film, The Wrong Trousers. Feathers is a penguin who rents a room from Wallace. Unbeknown to Wallace, Feathers is the thief featured on the wanted posters who dons a red-glove cap as a disguise for his criminal escapades. When the thief is caught and the disguise is removed, Wallace gasps, “It’s you!” . . . this phrase (with its comic tone, British inflection) has found its way into regular usage between us, applied to many situations. (It’s quite versatile.)

All in all, Feathers was the perfect choice for the cake, and how the delivery unfolded made it all the better. This was the one part of the trip that was a surprise for Mike.

Giving Feathers some love.

Here’s how it went: We were checking into the hotel when the Charm City Cakes van pulls up. It’s quite distinctive—an odd, customized shape, black with white scroll detailing all over it. Mike recognized it right away. He turns to me and says, “I think that’s the Charm City Cakes van.” Then Katherine (from Charm City Cakes) walks in, and Mike says, “That’s one of the cake designers from the show.”

That’s when I let him in on the surprise. They were here for him.

Katherine delivered the cake to us—she was so gracious, so warm, making the whole experience even better—and she let us know that Katie Rose and Ben worked on Feathers. They did an amazing job! The cake was phenomenal, in both design and taste. [It was so cute, in fact, we couldn’t bring ourselves to cut him the first day.]

Before the tasting . . .

and after.

Looks like a clip from a very strange scary movie.

{Check out our sweet little Feathers featured on the Charm City Cakes blog. Makes me happy they loved him as much as we did.}

The Dinner

Everything about this dinner was exceptional: the décor, the atmosphere, the food, the server. The food was not only deliciously flavorful but the presentation was lovely! This was a perfect fit for Mike’s birthday meal.

A fabulous b-day dinner!

My hubby and me.

Fellow celebrators: Erin, Aaron, and Krista.

Although we knew it wasn’t likely Bobby Flay would be at the restaurant on that night, we had to ask to make sure: He wasn’t there. [sigh.] No photos with the chef this time.

Side Notes

New York City taxi drivers make Chicago taxi drivers look wimpy. We will never be nervous in Chicago cabs again. [Thanks, NY cabbies!]

Mike at The Garden.

Our meal at Churrascaria Plataforma Rodizio is affectionately referred to as Meat Fest 2010. It’s overwhelming to have so much food coming at you in so little time. [But we highly recommend the experience, despite the potential for Meat Fest Revenge afterward.]

Madison Square Garden has to be the best place to see a game. Our seats were in the upper section but the view was still great. And it was a history making game! [for the worst Knicks home defeat ever . . . ] It really was a great afternoon though. We especially enjoyed the Player Karaoke/Name That Tune segment—could have watched that for hours.

Yes, there were three people on this trip with the same phonetic name (two Erins, one Aaron). The other two who share my phonetic name are married. Aaron is Mike’s business partner (they co-own Zdi), and now we count Aaron and Erin as dear friends as well. Was this confusing, to have three people with the same phonetic name together? Well, I think we’ve gotten used to it, but it is rather odd! Mike and I tend to refer to them in conversation as Mr. Aaron and Mrs. Erin or A&E . . . I’ve just recently thought of A&E as in the Arts & Entertainment TV channel. (Perhaps I’ll start to refer to them as such to clear any confusion: he’s Arts, she’s Entertainment.)

An Addendum: The last leg of our trip home, the flight from Chicago to Bloomington, was delayed by three hours. Mind you, it’s a 25-minute flight home or a 2.5 hour drive. The wonderful company, however, made the delay thoroughly enjoyable. We relaxed, read books, ate snacks, told more stories, laughed, reminisced about the trip . . . this is also a highlight for me!

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