Cheesus and Jesus

The city is full of random surprises and we were treated to a whirlwind cheese tour in the West Village branch of Murray’s Cheese by cheese guru Michael Krempasky, complete with chocolate pairings and stories about his past life as a fire patrolman.

Michael Krempasky
Michael Krempasky

Then a couple of days ago in SoHo, we heard someone shouting, “Hey, check it out, it’s Jesus on Jesus!”, and we turned the corner and saw someone posing in front of a billboard:

Random Jesus lookalike posing in front of an artist's depiction of the real McCoy
Random Jesus lookalike posing in front of an artist’s depiction of the real McCoy

Ich Bin Ein Hamburger

We didn’t plan on doing this, but I’ve been told it’s quite characteristic of a trip to New York to entail many distractions, random and sudden new objectives, and a lot of it having to do with food.

On our first night in Manhattan, our local friends took us out to a burger speakeasy, simply called The Burger Joint, and simply hidden behind a velvet curtain in the lobby of the Parker Meridien hotel in mid-town Manhattan.

The following day, we made a plan to walk from 59th Street southward to Eataly, and stopped at Madison Square Park for Kai to get a little play time. There we saw our first Shake Shack, then we saw our first crazy Shake Shack queue and decided to come back some time after lunch hour. It still took over 20 minutes to get our burger, but thankfully, it was a 20 minutes worth waiting. It was also the first burger Kai has ever finished on his own.

Then the next day, we happened to be walking past Minetta Tavern at close to opening time and our local friends decided it was worth our giving the famed Black Label Burger a shot even though the tavern was kinda small, and a little noisy with post-work people hanging out having drinks. Custom-made from dry-aged ribeye, skirt steak and brisket, the patty is sublime, and at the moment, the Black Label stands as the best burger I have ever tasted.

(As we were leaving the tavern, Bono – yes, the Bono of the U2 – was just walking in, and nearly got hit in the head by Kai’s stroller, which was being passed to me overhead – so crowded was the tavern.)

There are other burgers to be had – we have lists, but the first three made for a really good trifecta.

The Smoke Shack from Shake Shack
The Smoke Shack from Shake Shack

The Mean Meat-Eating Squirrels Of New York

This is the first time I’ve been to New York, and it’s been more than what I expected. As with many people, I’ve known New York from books, television, film and every other type of media.

I’ve heard people say New York City is the centre of the universe. I now know it’s true.

I’ve also heard friends who’ve said “New York toughens you up”, and “it’s a brash place”, which I misinterpreted to mean that people here are rude and cold. It couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Bar one stressed out transient investment banker type cyclist in Lower Manhattan screaming profanities at a homeless man, everyone has been pleasant and polite. While pushing Kai’s pram around the city, I’ve had people holding doors for me, giving way, and at one time, letting Kai jump queue at the gents’. Then again, Kai was shouting, “my poo poo is coming out, my poo poo is coming out”.

The squirrels though, are another matter. They are bold. Singapore squirrels scurry up trees and lampposts when you approach. NYC squirrels eyeball you and approach you with impunity when they see you eating a sandwich, especially a meat sandwich. On our first day in the city, we took a walk in Central Park, and witnessed a man having to leave his park bench because a squirrel looked like it was about to pounce on the pastrami and rye that he was holding.

While we’re not the usual tourists – we don’t have to see the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building up close – we’ve got a show to catch and a meal (we’ll have what she’s having) to have at Katz’s in the coming days, and maybe return to some of the magnificent museums which we’ve only explored a touch of.

Kung Fu Squirrel of Central Park
Kung Fu Squirrel of Central Park