New York State of Mind

September 23, 2015

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GIC is headed to New York on September 29 for “Munis: Chicago, Detroit, Puerto Rico and More.” In this week’s blog, our director of operations, Jill Fornito, takes some time to share what she loves about the city. If it inspires you, we hope you will join us there. Register today.

While I am admittedly the last person to be dragged, kicking and screaming, out of the summer months, there is something unmistakably perfect about autumn, especially in New York.  GIC is heading back to the Big Apple next week and just in time for the beginning of the beautiful change in seasons.  While our guests will undoubtedly be paying close attention to our expert speakers, those who have attended previous programs at the New York Athletic Club will admit it’s tough not to sneak a glance from the floor-to-ceiling windows onto magnificent Central Park.  Since our event concludes just before lunch, allowing local attendees to head back to their offices, some visitors may wish to take the afternoon to explore Gotham.

I have a special fondness for Manhattan. Its impressive, energetic, and magnetic, personality pulls me in and I usually hang around just long enough to enjoy its boisterous character before hurrying back to the comforts of the much more manageable city I call home.   But, with the right timing, agenda, and footwear, you can make New York as intense or relaxed of an experience as you prefer.   It also helps if you have an appetite.

As some readers have probably learned through my previous entries, I am a profoundly food-oriented individual, so I will focus this entry on some of my all-time favorite places to get acquainted with New York’s dizzying food scene.   Starting close to the event venue, on Columbus Circle, is a special little spot called Grom – an Italian gelato shop with a small name and huge flavor. I first learned about Grom in 2011 while visiting Florence with my sister after GIC’s program abroad in Rome.  I have since made it a point to visit all Groms going forward and have done so (thanks to GIC) in Milan, Tokyo, and Paris and one of the only two locations in the US – New York (the other in California). My sister and I are ice cream enthusiasts to say the least. Whatever you choose to order at Grom, you win.  Their gelato and sorbet is hand-crafted with the highest-quality and most sustainable ingredients, which can be tasted in every spoonful.  My suggestion: the affogato. Italian for “drowned,” the affogato is a cupful of your favorite flavor of gelato (mine is crema de grom – a delightful combo of pastry cream, Colombian chocolate chips and their meliga cookies) which is then drenched in a shot of black espresso. Yes, you read that correctly; pastry cream gelato.  Now you are ready to start walking (or grab an MTA card and hit the subway – you’ll be surprised how quickly it grows on you).

If you get on the 1 train heading south to Greenwich Village and jump off at Christopher Street-Sheridan Square, you’ll be steps away from two more of my top picks: Murray’s Cheese Bar and Flex Mussels.  Located on Bleecker Street, Murray’s Cheese Bar is the brainchild of the folks behind the famous cheese shop – also on Bleecker – established in 1940. Their menus include, brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks, drafts and of course funky features yanked right from Murray’s own cheese caves in Long Island City (which I was fortunate enough to tour during one culinary-obsessed weekend visit last summer).  Stop in for snack or stay for a meal, either way you’ll leave happy, and may want to wander up the street to their storefront to pick up a treat to bring home.  And if you somehow skipped the Grom at Columbus Circle, luckily there is a second location also on Bleecker Street. Or just get yourself a second serving (I will not judge you)- and do some people-watching in nearby Father Demo Square park.

Let’s say it’s now dinnertime and you’re overwhelmed with a deluge of restaurant choices. Let me simplify things for you with two words: Flex Mussels.  With a location in Greenwich Village, on the perfectly residential W 13th Street and also one on the Upper East Side on 82nd Street, Flex Mussels offers PEI Mussels in 23 amazing preparations. Yes, there are menu options that don’t include mollusks, but with creative options such as mussels with lump crab meat, saffron, fennel, cream, and basil (Cleopatra style) or prosciutto, caramelized onions, white wine, and garlic (San Danile style), why on earth would you look elsewhere?  Flex also has a nice list of wines and cocktails and a dessert that involves deep-frying a whoopee pie.

Yes, I do believe New York is the concrete jungle where dreams are made of…

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