Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekend Wanderings - Day Trip to New Haven

We celebrated Roger's birthday with a day trip to New Haven. Roger's wanted to go to see the Yale University Art Gallery for years, and we finally made it up when Danielle suggested she'd like to go to the birthplace of the hamburger.

New Haven is about two hours outside of New York City, and easily accessible by MetroNorth. A round-trip off-peak ticket cost $32.50, and once we arrived, we found it easiest to take a cab into town, which cost about $8. We arrived in Union Station at around 11am, and it was just gorgeous. I ride the MNR in Westchester a lot, and I don't think I've ever seen such a lovely station outside of NYC.

Union Station

We took the cab to the free Yale University Art Gallery, which was more impressive than I could have expected for a university collection. The museum has four floors and such an incredible collection. My favorite section covered the modernists, but each section had really stunning pieces. My only disappointment was that the African and IndoPacific galleries were so crowded with art. The pieces were incredible, but they were practically stacked on top of one another. I understand wanting to show off a great collection, but the curator of the modernist galleries really understood that it's easier for the public to process a few very good examples than multitudes of them, and that was something that didn't come across in the other galleries as much. We wandered around the museum for about two hours, at which point I was incredibly hungry and getting a little cranky.

So, we walked down Sherman's Alley, which Danielle claims was named for her:

And arrived at Louis' Lunch, the birthplace of the hamburger! As the story goes, "One day in 1900, a gentleman hurriedly walked into Louis' Lunch and told proprietor Louis Lassen he was in a rush and wanted something he could eat on the run. In an instant, Louis placed his own blend of ground steak trimmings between two slices of toast and sent the gentleman on his way. And so, the most recognizable American sandwich was born."

We each ordered a cheeseburger sandwich with tomato and onion (served on the most delicious white bread toast!), a potato salad, and a birch beer. The wait was long, but we had a nice little corner seat, and the food was delicious. I'm not sure if it was because I was so hungry, but it felt like I'd never tasted something as wonderful as that white bread before!

Satiated, we headed on a bit of a walk through the city, stopping for a delicious honey brandy vanilla cake at Maison Mathis. It was pretty nice to rest for a bit, and the coffee shop was open, light, and beautiful. It was so easy to find a table, and we even had an outlet to charge Roger's phone! Basically, it was the opposite of all the coffee shops in NYC.

We tried to get into the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which has enormous panels of mother-of-pearl to let the sun shine into the building in the most beautiful way, but sadly it had closed just a few minutes before we arrived. Next time, New Haven!

We continued our walking tour, passing the original J. Press (closed for renovations) and a lovely church, and ended up walking through some of Yale's lovely quads. We took a rest outside this particularly beautiful residence hall:

I love this photo of us.

Our final stop was a little rushed. We ordered a pitcher and an apizza at Bar, but quickly realized we could make the 6:46 train back if we rushed a bit. I wasn't totally in love with the drinks or the food, but since apizza is apparently a New Haven tradition, I was glad to have tried if. If we'd had more time, I think we would have gone to Modern Apizza, which I've heard is one of the best places there.

Overall, it was a fantastic day trip, and a wonderful way to start the first really beautiful weekend of spring!

On Sunday, after my long run (finally, I got in a good long run!), Roger and I headed out to Astoria to meet Rob for Roger's birthday brunch at Queens Comfort. There was a wait, and I was pretty hungry after that run, but this little BYOB place was 110% worth it. Every dish we ordered was incredible. I tried a little of everyone's (of course), and the chicken and waffles Rob ordered were better than any chicken and waffles I've ever had in my life. Roger's "Hobbit salty pork" eggs benedict were also delicious. But, I think my dish, the biscuits and gravy, really took the cake. I've been a big fan of biscuits and gravy for years and years, but nothing has ever tasted this delicious before. The gravy was maple cheddar sausage gravy, and it puts all other sausage gravy to shame. We shared a bottle of cheap champagne and ordered one orange juice, and I swear it's one of the best brunches I've ever had in my life. Highly recommended!

After that, we wandered around Astoria and Long Island City. We stopped at the Socrates Sculpture Park, which seemed cool, but was between exhibitions at the moment:

View of the East River from Socrates Sculpture Park.

And then wandered and wandered for what felt like hours (okay, for what actually was hours) until we arrived at Dutch Kills an hour before it opened. Everything around that area is closed from 4pm to 5pm on Sundays, it seems, so we ended up sitting outside and enjoying the sunshine (and a really awkward view of a couple making out on a park bench across the way) until the bar opened. We enjoyed a few birthday cocktails, and then Roger and I headed home to have one final birthday surprise: Fudgy the Whale cake!

Overall, I can't think of any way I would rather have spent this weekend. It was just perfect.

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