It has been many years since I flew anywhere – business or pleasure- so an impromptu invitation to New York was firstly, a complete surprise and secondly, a very welcome break from ‘life’. Being a grown up has been very trying recently – divorce, solicitors, finances – and an escape to a new destination was, literally, just the ticket.
Dont get me wrong, I have travelled quite a bit, my first plane journey was at the age of eight, all on my lonesome, visiting my father who lives very far away (I am the product of divorced parents). In those days your mum handed you over at check in, the nice air stewardess put an ID hanging from a piece of string around your neck and you amused yourself in Duty Free until they found you and put you on your flight.
But I digress. My point being that I love travelling but for some reason have never made it to New York. The only places in America I have visited are Miami – beautiful but expensive – and Las Vegas for my honeymoon (see reference above to divorce! Not that I’m blaming Vegas). I see a clear theme running through these detention choices; they are all locations for the CSI series but that really wasn’t why i chose them. (Ps. I adore CSI, Team Grissom).
So I had four nights and three days to make New York my own. My boyfriend was officially ‘working’ so I was left to my own devises on Friday and then we spent Saturday and Sunday together. For those of you who don’t know, I am a planner, not a “at 9am we are doing this and then we must be at place a. by 2pm’, I take a more ‘organised spontaneity’ approach.
Firstly, I found all the yummy restaurants and coffee places I wanted to try out and then I left the rest to chance. I marked them all very clearly on my map (goodness, am I overly organised?). The reason for this was two fold; I love love love food and I have Coeliacs disease (an intolerance to gluten – barley, wheats, oats and rye), it is a serious disease that is just miserable if you don’t adhere to a gluten free diet, and the long term consequences are grave. So I can’t just go with the flow and eat where ever the fancy takes me therefore I have to be organised.
From the research I did, and the recommendations from fellow gluten freers, New York had a great variety of paces to eat at, top of my list was Lilli and Loo on the Upper East Side, a Chinese restaurant with a gluten free menu. I tweeted with them to confirm they still catered for gluten freers and they sent me a copy of the dedicated gluten free menu which I kept drooling over. In fact, I was so excited about having Chinese food, usually impossible because of the wheat in soy sauce and wheat batter used in some dishes, (including cross contamination issues, ie frying gluten free food in a fryer in which gluten covered items were cooked renders every thing contaminated with gluten) that I planned dinner there twice.
The other big things on my list were pancakes and waffles and I was lucky enough to find two places, Blooms, an old skool diner, around the corner from my hotel, and Friedmans in Chelsea Market. They both had gluten free menus and I tortured myself for ages regarding what I’d choose and, as US portions are simply huge, I wasn’t sure i’d be able to get through more than one dish at each place. That’s where my boyfriend always comes in super handy, I get him to order something else that I’d like to try and then share his. He is a good man, he is not coeliac.