I'm almost done here. In half an hour I'll step out for dinner, heading up to Gabriel's, a really lovely Italian place just off Columbus Circle. I ate there with Betsy my publisher the other night and was impressed enough to want to go back. That's always been my way when travelling. If I find a place I lke I will visit a few times to fix it in my memory for future reference.
Today was culture day on Planet Birmo. I walked up to Central Park for a bit a wander and some happy snaps, exiting near the New York Historical Society, which had a civil exhibition focusing on Grant and Lee. It was quite fascinating and gave me an idea for a column later this week. From there I cut back across the Park to the Met, where a I spent a couple of hours browsing the art. I particularly dug the Classical and the Medieval galleries.
The street in front of the Met was crowded with starving artists selling their wares so I picked up a hand painted piece for Anna's room. Thomas got a pencil sharpener fashioned in the shape of a cannon from the Historical Society. Jane got an Obama doll (she scored some Kate Spade shoes yesterday) and for me, an ice cube tray with Titanic and 'berg shaped cubes.
I meandered down Fifth Avenue for a while, occasionally stopping to shoot pics of any buildings that took my fancy. I'm kind of a fanboy for neoclassical architecture and this part of New York has plenty. Eventually the residential blocks gave way to the shopping district, where I'd been on Monday and where I thought I'd scored a bowl of split pea 'n ham from the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame. Turned out to be a franchise outlet, but the soup was still great and the staff were non frightening. For anyone passing through, this place was just across the street from the New York Public Library, where I was most impressed with the combo of Roman Grandeur and civic virtue.
We seem to be working backwards here, so I guess Sunday was all about touring around with Murph and Trinity before they flew out. I had some things I needed to do at Comicon but caught up with them for an early lunch at the Carnegie Deli. My driver had told me on arrival in NYC that I had no choice but go there for the pastrami on rye, and not being one to disobey a limo driver, I insisted that we did.
Here is the result.
Apart from the pastrami mountain I've eaten relatively modestly in New York. One curry feast with a former editor and two fine Italian meals at Gabriel's would constitute the extent of my calorific blowout. Apart from that, it was easier to just have fruit for breakfast and lunch. One of the very civilized things I have enjoyed about dining alone in the US is the unexpected friendliness of my fellow diners, especially when noshing away at the bar.
Indeed, I just got back from dinner at Gabriel's where I had a green leaf salad and beef ribs with polenta mash, which were all beautiful, but must enjoyable of all was the company of my fellow singeltons, in the first instance an African American freelance publicist for a bunch of off Broadway shows, in the second a German documentary maker who explained in great detail what she was shooting in New York, but I'm afraid it went in one ear and out the other. I do know she was off to see Placido Domingo sing at the Met, however. So good luck to her.
I started chatting with her because I was very much taken with the big bowl of gnocci and duck ragout she was eating. So much so I almost ordered it myself. But that sort of dish is very easy to score in Oz, whereas the thing with which I will credit premium American chefs is a reverence for the treatment of meat that is rare back home. Hence my choice of the beef rib tonight.
In the end though, I was here for Comicon, which was amazing simply because of the sheer mass of geekdom gathered in one place. It was almost oppressive. No, bugger that. It was oppressive. I have some great photos, both mine and Craig's,which I will publish when I can get wordpress and flickr to start talking again, but for now I'll just say that it felt at times there were more geeks and weirdos gathered together in the convetion hall than you could find in all of the antipodes.