A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the over-the-top experience on the Highline in the Meatpacking District of New York City. It didn’t take much convincing for me to want to retrace my steps again on this visit. The clever landscaping over a derelict elevated railway track, sumptious architecture and brilliant urban planning make the short two-mile long path an essential destination for both tourists and locavores alike. New outdoor art installations have been added since the first visit, and Zaha Hadid, a world-famous architect, has a signature building under construction on the north end. (She recently passed away.)
We made another beeline in the afternoon for Brooklyn. In a posting last month, our Brooklyn buddy researched the Uzbeki-Korean Cafe Lily for us. The hour-long ride to and from Brooklyn was no sweat compared to flying back and forth to Uzbekistan for kimchee and kebabs in one fell swoop.
Thanks to the favorable review from the NY Times in February and an eyewitness account (see the special correspondent report from the February 2017 post), we were not disappointed. Okay, it was after 2pm when we descended on an empty restaurant, but hey–it was open for business.
After a deliciously simple cucumber and tomato salad, perfectly flavored and crisply fresh (exactly as I remembered the food in Uzbekistan), we slurped beef soup, prepared at the table with condiments, and tickled our palettes with a teeny lamb kebab. The highlight was an entire fried branzino for $15! The whole meal barely topped $50. This was the antidote to gourmet dining.
In Uzbeki food, simple cooking allows the inherent freshness of each ingredient to be sensed and savored with each bite. The Mediterranean emphasis is evident, but subtle. I noticed the care taken in preparing each slice or morsel of food when I visited Tashkent. Samarkand, and Bokhara (Oriental carpet namesakes) on my first world trip. Even though it is Eurasia’s version of California’s Central Valley, Uzbekistan does not seem to take food production lightly. Maybe it’s the depletion of nearby Lake Aral where the water was used inefficiently for cotton growing, or just historical frugality. Uzbekis seem to cherish each and every fruit and vegetable they grow with love and kindness.
Our day was topped off by a third and final beeline to a Billy Joel concert at the mighty Madison Square Garden. Going there was already an experience itself. Watching the living songwriter/master pianist/singer/quintessential entertainer deliver a straight two hour performance without an break was a phenomenon in itself! It doesn’t take the Metopera to be the pinnacle of civilization. Only the best of the best–like Billy Joel.
Here’s a short clip of the stunning performance with a birdseye view from the rafters:
The next day we visited the Han Dynasty exhibit at the Metropolitan. Here are a few of the many excellent pieces on display.
We’re off to Washington D.C. today, so more museums to come….