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  • Writer's pictureNina Dudko

A Weekend in NYC

New York City is home—the city that never sleeps with so much to offer. It’s hard to be bored when you’re in NYC. If you are one of those people who find NYC boring, we need to talk. With all the museums and food options you have it sometimes becomes crippling to choose what to do. Lucky for me I had 4 days home to explore the greatness that is arguably the best city in the world.​


New York Philharmonic

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, the New York Philharmonic is performing a concert film series of the Star Wars saga. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite Star Wars film and also the best one (please feel free to discuss with me if you disagree) so my mom and I saw NYP’s Thursday performance. My mom and I took this as an opportunity to dress up because why not? I brought up a really pretty dress to wear (from my mom’s closet), but it was just too warm out still. So I ended up stealing another dress from my mom’s closet. What can I say—my mom’s closet is the best place to go shopping.

The show started at 7:30 and we had a reservation at The Smith at 6:15, but there is no harm in getting there earlier. Especially since the first 350 people would receive a free lightsaber. I’m all about the free lightsaber. We found a glorious free parking spot just a block away from Lincoln Center, and just walked around with plenty of time to kill. First, we enjoyed a glass of wine and a crispy pork belly appetizer at Bar Boulud on Broadway. My Clos de L’Abbaye was chilled, which was interesting since chilled red wine isn’t something you come across very often, but it’s hard to be disappointed by French wine. The pork belly appetizer was quite tasty, too. It was a bit difficult to cut with the butter knife, but on a piece of bread with a slight spread of Dijon mustard, the pork belly melts in your mouth.

Even though we just ate, we still honored our reservation at The Smith (an hour early but they still sat us). When I see oysters on the menu I usually try them. I just ordered three Cotuit Bay from Cape Cod for myself—very mild in salinity with a tinge of sweetness. We also shared a pot of mussels in a wine garlic broth and fries with a glass of Malbec. I love going out to dinner with my mom since we usually just share things and don’t feel overly full and we’re open to trying new foods.

We arrived at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center and waited in line to head to the concert hall. There was some gala event going on in the courtyard. Not too sure what exactly it was, but there were some gorgeous gowns and some interesting ones. Fellow Star Wars fans began to file into the lobby wearing all sorts of paraphernalia like Darth Vader shirts or a Stormtrooper suit jacket. About 45 minutes before the show they started allowing patrons upstairs. It was somewhat like a stampede trying to get up the escalator, but we gracefully nudged our way to the front (my mom and I both got our free lightsaber by the way).

Upstairs there were representatives from the 501st Legion dressed as Imperial Officers, Stormtroopers, and Darth Vader with photo booths set up for pictures. I darted to Darth Vader (in heels) to be the first one to take a picture with him. Glad I did because a long line quickly formed. There was also a pink astromech droid R2-KT rolling around the floor and everyone flocked around to take pictures.

The concert itself was incredible. Seeing the orchestra play the movie score while the audience watches the movie is something everyone should try to experience when granted the opportunity. I found myself watching the movie and the orchestra to see which sections were playing during certain parts—very fascinating. The performance was phenomenal and I’m so glad and fortunate to experience it.


A Friday Downtown

Eating my way through Manhattan is the best way to appreciate the city. With so many options of the latest Instagram trend or a classic meal, food is something NYC does best. I have been dying to try Madison Square Eats because of all the amazing Instagram posts about it. I needed to experience it for myself. I tried the Chicken Cone stand, which is a neater way to eat chicken and waffles. I ordered the Yella’ BBQ, which was fried chicken doused in a sweet mustard barbecue sauce. I love when foods come with an edible container like waffle cones—less mess.

I needed to walk around downtown on this beautiful fall Friday to work off the fried chicken I just ate even though calories don’t count on Fridays. Seeing NYC on a Friday during the work day is much different than visiting on a weekend. The crowd feels different.

Next stop was the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology on 27th and 7th Avenue. The museum is free and open to the public and is great opportunity to see both the work of the FIT students and collections of high end designers like Chanel and Alexander McQueen. There are currently two large exhibits on display. The first is the “Fashion From the Extreme,” a collection of items inspired by journeys to the frigid Antarctic, depths of the deep blue, and the unknown of space. Certainly an interesting subject of inspiration. The second exhibit is “Force of Nature,” a collection of clothing inspired by nature like flowers, birds, and ocean life. Even looking toward the future of fashion in environmentally friendly materials, there is a company using alginate from algae to make clothes that are eco-friendly.

Around 4:00 p.m. it was time for a much needed caffeine boost. Despite there being Starbucks on every corner, I ventured to Cha Cha Matcha to try their matcha latte. Another thing I’ve seen on Instagram, I ordered an iced latté with almond milk. I felt so healthy and it looks so pretty.

Feeling too healthy I needed some unhealthy foods to counterbalance the latté. What better way to be unhealthy than to eat raw cookie bar, which is just what you can find at Cookie DŌ in Greenwich Village. I got a scoop of the “Gimme S’more” cookie dough and jeez the dough is so sweet! Very rich and I could barely finish the one scoop. Watching people come in to order more than one gave me a cavity. At least I can say I tried it.

For evening shenanigans I grabbed drinks at Boulton & Watt in Noho. Their happy hour is pretty great--$7 wine by the glass with tons of variety. After a few glasses of wine, an ice cream craving kicked in and conveniently il laboratorio de gelato is right across the street. This ice cream place has all sorts of funky flavors like olive oil, vanilla saffron, peppercorn, and more. I loved their green tea and vanilla saffron flavors.


Rutgers Gameday

I personally think college football games are more fun than NFL games, even though I enjoy both tremendously. At college games you have the marching band, students cheering, and it’s always fun to revisit your alma mater. This past weekend Rutgers played Ohio State and even though the outcome of the game wasn’t ideal, the game itself was tons of fun!

I kidnapped Mallory to come to the game with me and she agreed to be kidnapped so it worked out wonderfully. There’s such great comradery at football games, especially during tailgates. Mallory and I just picked up some pizza and beer, but the tailgate next to ours invited us to join them—just so much food, beer, and happy bellies.

We got to our seats just in time for kickoff and noticed that we were surrounded by Ohio State fans. Not the most ideal situation, but their colors are also red and black, so they blended in with the Rutgers fans. Around halftime our friend Mike came by and brought us onto the field and gave us the full fan experience. He’s the true MVP of that game. At the beginning of every kickoff, a scarlet knight in scarlet armor rides onto the field on a white horse, and we met the horse. This is a big deal because horses are my favorite animals. And whenever Rutgers scores, a group of gentlemen dressed in revolutionary attire fire off a cannon—we got to see that up close.

Despite the outcome of the game, it was a great time spent with fabulous company and I can’t wait to see Mike and Mallory again in a few weeks when Rutgers plays Purdue!


Sunday Funday

The weekend escapes so quickly. Four days pass in a snap but I definitely made the most of it. To wrap up my trip, I enjoyed catching up with some high school friends over brunch at Blue Dog Kitchen Bar. The space is fairly small and its apparently very hard to make reservations here. I put my name down and we were seated within 20 minutes, so not too bad of a wait. This is a rare occasion where I opted for a non-alcoholic beverage with brunch. With a morning case of the sniffles, I chugged some genmaicha green tea to boost my immune system. I love green tea. I also enjoyed grilled avocado eggs benedict, which was zestful. One of my avocado halves was a bit unripe and difficult to slice, as were the English muffins, but the hollandaise was creamy and tangy and the yolks were perfectly poached.

Brunch wasn’t my last meal though. I officially closed out my trip with dumplings in Chinatown. I’m obsessed with Chinese soup dumplings called xiaolongbao. If you’ve ever had them, you know how good they are. There is broth inside the dumpling—it’s crazy! With so many places in Chinatown that serve them, it takes a bit of research to know where the best ones are, which brought me to Shanghai Asian Manor on Mott Street accompanied by my mom and Mallory.

We ordered four different types of dumplings: crab and pork soup dumplings, pork soup dumplings, shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings, and fried pork buns. Both soup dumpling versions were savory, meaty, and flavorful. The crab dumplings weren’t overly fishy tasting, which sometimes happens since the crab flavor can be very overwhelming, but these were just a slight flavor. Delicate in both wrapper and presentation, the shrimp and snow pea dumplings were filling yet refreshing. Our fourth dumpling variety was the fried pork buns with thick fluffy sweet dough. Our total dumpling count was about 22 dumplings and cost about $30. Pretty great bargain if you ask me.

Can’t leave without dessert, so my last NYC bite came from Smorg square, one of the Smorgasburg flea market eateries dotted around the city. Here you can find giant mozzarella sticks, ice cream cookie sandwiches, tacos, and more. Specifically for dessert I indulged in the Nutella s’mores ice cream cone with brûléed meringue marshmallow topping—the definition of decadence.

There’s much more left to do in NYC, so I’ll just add that to my list for next time. Time to hit the gym and work off all I ate. No regrets though. It was all worth it.


Have any suggestions for what I should do next time I’m in NYC? Let me know in the comments!

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