1 - My trip to New York last month was a writing conference trip - but I still managed to experience the joys that can only be found in the City That Never Sleeps.
Like discovering The Naked Cowgirl as we crossed Times Square on our way back to the hotel.
2 - My biggest delight while in New York was discovering that every bite of food I tasted was THE BEST (insert food item) EVER.
It all started with this seemingly innocuous order of angel hair pasta in a simple pomodoro sauce.
It came from the hotel restaurant - Encore - and I happily but unsuspectingly lifted a forkful of pasta to my mouth.
"Oh my God," I said. "Taste this," I said to my sister.
She took a bite.
"Oh my God," she said.
3 - It hadn't really sunk in yet that every meal we were to eat while in New York was going to be a symphony of delectability.
But during our second meal, eaten at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, the realization dawned that we had entered an alternate reality where every ingredient was imported from heaven.
4 - Granted, this looks pretty yummy. Jumbo shrimp wrapped around a crab filling, served over rice in a bed of garlic butter.
Now, keep in mind I come from Canada's east coast. I've eaten my fair share of seafood, fresh from the waters of the Atlantic, prepared by chefs with loving attention to detail.
And really - how tender and bursting with flavor can a jumbo shrimp be, anyway?
LOL! Exactly. Apparently, every other shrimp I'd eaten in my entire life were all fakes. I'd never eaten a real shrimp until this plate of captivating crustaceans were set before me.
5 - I thought our waitress was going to scoop me up and take me home when I ordered Huevos rancheros during the Nova Scotia / New Brunswick writers' breakfast.
Which brings me to one of the greatest joys of my trip to New York - the unparalleled level of service we received at every turn. Having worked in the service industry myself, I stood in awe of the incredible skill displayed by every staff member at every venue we attended. Every one of you made me feel like royalty. You made my dreamy trip even dreamier.
6 - After our stroll through Rockefeller Center, my cousin, my sister and I passed an Italian restaurant that caught our eye - so we went in.
7 - In the lobby was a rogue's gallery of famous diners at the historic establishment, including my favorite singer of all time - Frank Sinatra.
On the walls were huge caricatures by Al Hirschfeld, including A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum featuring Zero Mostel which was our view for the evening.
Once again, when our meals arrived, we were shocked by the exquisite delicacy contained within such vibrant taste. My cousin ordered the same trio as me - lobster ravioli (to DIE for,) eggplant lasagna (complex and incredibly fresh) and fettucine alfredo - the signature dish (*fall over thud*.)
8 - I wish I'd taken a picture of Alvin, our wonderful waiter. He was the epitome of charming but unobtrusive service. He truly raised our wonderful evening into one of the best dining experiences I've ever had.
9 - Of course, then we went to the unpretentious-looking Italian restaurant just across the street from the hotel. You would have thought we would have known by then to expect to be blown away - but we didn't.
10 - My cousin and sister both ordered the bowtie pasta in a cream sauce with the most savory salmon on Planet Earth. They are still talking about it. And I can vouch for them, because my sister shared a bite of hers.
Of course, I was ascending my own path to Nirvana with my seafood pasta in a simple tomato sauce. Plump shrimp, luscious crab, and my favorite of all, succulent scallops.
I may faint.
Accompanied by my absolute favorite celebratory drink - prosecco. I had a lot of prosecco while we were in New York.
11 - Non-food-related highlights of the trip included our walk through Central Park on the way to the ballet at Lincoln Centre.
I especially loved these bridges, as Hugh Jackman chased the mugger under one of these in one of my favorite films, Kate & Leopold:
"I warn you scoundrel, I was trained at the King's Academy and schooled in weaponry by the palace guard. You stand no chance. When you run, I shall ride. When you stop, the steel of this strap shall be lodged in your brain."
My cousin and sister on Bow Bridge.
12 - A definite highlight for me was the art work at almost every turn, on almost every building.
13 - But I think the best part of my trip to New York was having so much time together with my sister and cousin.
We grew up like siblings in one another's homes. Once university hit, however, our adult lives took over, and the most we've been able to enjoy lately have been the occasional overnights.
So having five whole days together was definitely the very best part of my New York trip. Thanks for making such wonderful memories.