Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gigino Ristorante of Wagner Park, NYC

I had such a nice time taking a Zephyr Cruise of New York Harbor last week that my husband suggested we return to Battery Park on the weekend to have lunch in a restaurant where he recently dined with a business associate.  He knew I'd enjoy the view from Gigino Ristorante of Wagner Park, located at 20 Battery Place in lower Manhattan.

The wonderful attraction of this restaurant is its location in Wagner Park, which has a beautiful view of the harbor, and the fact that it has an outdoor patio area. 

Our table was on the inner edge of the park grass, with a view of......

.....the Stature of Liberty!

It was pleasant to relax and watch the harbor traffic go by as we gazed into the distance at Lady Liberty.

I had taken many close-up photos of the Statue of Liberty when I had gone on my cruise to the harbor. If you missed them you can see them on this link.  I've visited her many times over the years, but she never fails to make me be in awe whenever I see her.

We enjoyed a bottle of wine and nibbled on our crusty bread after dipping it in extra virgin olive oil and some aged balsamic vinegar....pure bliss!  A small bowl of cured olives was also provided and they were a nice salty addition.  Although we were very tempted by their descriptions, we decided to forgo appetizers and instead try a couple of luncheon specials.

My husband had rigatoni served with baccala (salt-cured codfish) and broccoli sauteed in olive oil, red pepper and garlic.  My husband is a native Italian and baccala is a fish he can rarely refuse.

I had gamberi (shrimp) sauteed in a light fresh tomato sauce served accompanied by julienned zucchini and yellow squash.  Both entrees were rich, full of flavor, and the perfect portions for an enjoyable lumch.

Gigino's chef, Luigi Celentano, is a native of the resort town of Positano on the Amalfi coast in Italy.  Dining al fresco, while enjoying his expertly crafted creations, made us feel as if we had taken a mini-vacation to an exotic port.

Giginos Ristorante is located in the beautifully manicured  Wagner Park, which is a wonderful mix of open lawns and intensively planted gardens, threaded through with paths and walkways. In my next blog post, I'll show you more photos of this magnificent park and the "green gardening" method used to maintain it.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Take a Cruise of New York Harbor With Me!

On a hot and hazy day in New York City last week I decided to cool off a little by taking a Zephyr Seaport Liberty Cruise of New York Harbor. The Zephyr Yacht features comfortable seating both inside and out and a knowledgeable tour guide provides live commentary throughout the cruise. It departs from South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan.  My husband works in one of these downtown buildings, so waved "hello" to him as I waited online to buy my ticket.
I hope you can come along with me for the hour long cruise as there is so much I'd like to show you! (all photos can be enlarged by clicking on them once and then again when they open)

Let's hurry on board and get a seat on top so we can see all the sights.

As we depart South Street Seaport we get a good view from the port (left) side of the yacht of the Brooklyn Bridge which crosses the East River and connects the borough of Brooklyn, where I live, to the borough of Manhattan.

On the starboard (right) side of the yacht we see the red Pier 17 seaport building getting smaller as we move along the river towards the harbor.  As you can see the sky was full of humid haze and clouds but we are getting a nice breeze on top of the yacht.

The seaport and Brooklyn Bridge fade into the distance.

We are now in the harbor and we can see the Verrazano Narrows Bridge that connects Brooklyn to the borough of Staten Island from the port side of the yacht. If you remember my blogs posts about the American Revolutionary War Battle of Brooklyn it was in the Narrows where the British warships all congregated, and where their army came to shore. It is a very busy entrance from New York Bay into New York Harbor.

From the starboard side we see the buildings of Battery Park City

Now we are passing the World Financial Center.  The glass Winter Garden pavilion can be seen in the middle and behind that the Freedom Tower being constructed at the former World Trade Center site at ground zero.

Another boat ride that I could have taken today is the Shark Speedboat.  My husband and I took this boat ride once and it was lots of fun, as they play music and go really fast!  I like the red color of this one!

The Zephyr cruises up the Hudson River as far as the northern end of Battery Park City so that we could see the Empire State building.

A close up of the Empire State building.

The Zephyr yacht turns and we begin to cruise back towards the harbor.

On our starboard side we pass some office buildings of Jersey City, in New Jersey.

Next we see the red brick building of Ellis Island National Park.  The Statue Cruises Ferry that brings visitors to the island from Battery Park or Liberty State park in New Jersey, can be seen docked on the left. I highly recommend a visit to Ellis island as part of a visit to the Statue of Liberty.  The ferry ticket usually includes passage to both islands. Opened on January 1, 1892, Ellis Island became the nation's premier federal immigration station. In operation until 1954, the station processed over 12 million immigrant steamship passengers. The building has been beautifully restored after 30 years of abandonment and opened as a museum on September 10, 1990.

We slowly sail past the beautiful Statue of Liberty.  Of course I took many photos of her, and if you look at my prior post you'll see quite a few of Lady Liberty.

We turn back towards lower Manhattan and seem to be following a Statue Cruises ship. Just look at the haze surrounding the city! I think the temperature was in the high nineties and the humidity was almost the same. This July was the hottest on record for NYC!

A Staten Island Ferry is passing us on the port side. New York Harbor is a busy place, full of boat traffic.

A round trip ride on the Staten Island ferry is NYC's best bargain as it is free!

We now pass an old fort being renovated on Governors IslandNotice the vintage cannon on top of the building.  Governors Island was once a military base and home to the US Army and Coast Guard. Today, the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation oversees 150 acres of the Island, while the National Park Service manages the balance, the 22-acre Governors Island National Monument which includes two 1812-era forts.  An interesting history timeline of the island can be seen on this link.

We cruise back into the East River.

If you look closely you can see the tree tops of the Elevated Acre I once blogged about.  It's a wonderful little "secret garden."  A helicopter just took off from New York Helicopter.  The narrow building with the red roof is the NYC Police Museum which I blogged about on this post.

If you look closely between the buildings in this photo you can see the spire of Trinity Church which is located near Wall Street.

We return back to the pier at South Street Seaport and I can see a crowd has formed waiting to board the next cruise.  I hope you enjoyed the ride!

I'm adding this post to Susan's "Outdoor Wednesday" on her blog A Southern Daydreamer, and also to "Thursday's Colors of the Rainbow" event going on at Jenny's blog Off On My Tangent. This week's color is RED, and Sue's "Rednesday" on her blog It's A Very Cherry World!

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lady Liberty

To escape the heat of one of the hottest and most humid summers that New York City has ever seen, I took a hour and a half Zephyr Cruise of New York Harbor last week.  We passed by the Statue of Liberty, standing on Liberty Island.  The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, which is her entire name, was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, designated as a National Monument in 1924 and restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986.

(All photos will enlarge for easier viewing when clicked once to open in a new window, and again to see at the largest size.)

Although I've seen her many times she never fails to take my breath away with her beauty. Her symbolism makes my heart swell with gratitude and pride.

The Statue of Liberty is made of copper that has naturally oxidized to form its familiar "patina" green coating.  She stands 305ft. 1in. from the ground to the tip of the flame. She is the equivalent height of a 22-story building.

If you'd like to take an "e-tour" of the statue you can go to this link on the National Park Services web site and chose your computer connection to see a slide show and video presentations about the statue.

A photo mosaic of Lady Liberty. Visitors are allowed to climb up to the head of the statue by an interior staircase, the torch has been closed to visitors since 1916. The Statue's current replacement torch was added in 1986, and is a copper flame covered in 24K gold. It reflects the sun's rays in daytime and lighted by 16 floodlights at night. The original torch was removed in 1984 and is currently inside the lobby of the monument. Notice that the tablet she holds in her left hand is inscribed with the date July 4, 1776, in Roman numerals, which is the date of of the reading of the America's Declaration of Independence.  The seven spikes of the Statue of Liberty represent the seven seas and continents of the world.

This is part of a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus called "The New Colossus." It was written in 1883 and, in 1903 was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the Statue of Liberty.

 May she forever hold her lamp high! May we never forget those that struggled to come to our shores, and those that still seek out freedom and refuge in this country.

I'm linking this post to the "Mosaic Monday" event on Mary's blog The Little Red House. Please visit Mary's blog today to see her beautiful photo mosaics and also to see links to other participating blogs.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Le Cirque in Manhattan - Summer Restaurant Week

My husband and I always look forward to the biannual "Restaurant Week" promotion held every Winter and Summer in New York City, as we enjoy dining in establishments we never tried before, or re-visiting favorite restaurants, in order to take advantage of the promotional price of $24.07 for a three course prixe fixe lunch, or $35.00 three course prixe fixe dinner.  A record 275 restaurants are participating in NYC Restaurant Week this summer, which runs from July 12 to the 25, excluding Saturdays, and Sundays optional.

We decided to try the new Le Cirque location at One Beacon Court (151 East 58th Street), between Lexington and Third Avenue, in the elliptical glass portion of the Bloomberg Tower building. Since 1974, the restaurant has been renowned as a super-upscale site for fine dining and celebrity sightings. This is the third location for Le Cirque. Its first stood for 22 years on East 65th Street where it built its reputation as one of new York's finest restaurants. In 2006 it reopened in this location so that, according to a HBO documentary about the restaurant, owner Sirio Maccioni’s three sons could continue to attract a younger generation of rich famous patrons with the fresh new look and menu when the senior Maccioni retires.

The new 16,000 square foot space is visually pleasing with a tall ceiling intended to evoke a circus tent.

We invited our daughter and her boyfriend to accompany us for dinner, and as it turned out we all decided to try different selections for appetizer and main course.  That was a plus for me as a blogger as I could photograph each selection of the beautiful entrees! All photos will enlarge when clicked on once, and then clicked on again when they open in a new window.


 Top left: Chicken and Ramp Tortelli with a hazelnut brodo
Top right: Sweet Corn Soup with wood ear mushrooms and basil
Bottom left: Country Style Pork Terrine with vegetable salad à la grecque
Bottom right: Watermelon and Tuna Bacon with mint and lime-scented yogurt

Main Entrees

Top right: Salmon Fillet with tomato and fennel chutney, tomato–horseradish broth
Top left: Pistachio Crusted Lamb Filet with peas, mint and goat cheese
Bottom left: Sauteed Beef Medallions with portabello ‘fine tart,’ and arugula–pecorino salad
Bottom left: Brook Trout with summer beans, pickled peach and almonds

The menu was wonderful! We enjoyed each and every selection. They were perfectly presented and the flavor combinations were superb. I thought the portions were generous considering this was a prixe fixe menu, and the wait staff was very attentive even though the dining room was full. 


This was the only course that we did not get all four selections. My daughter and her boyfriend chose the Chocolate Fondant, served with caramelized banana, and salted caramel ice cream, which can be seen in the upper left of this montage. My husband and I chose the Coconut Mint Pannacotta, served with summer berries, and strawberry foam, seen in the lower right.  The other dessert selections available were Crème Brûlée Le Cirque, and Rice Pudding with apricot marmalade and almond crunch.

Of course the regular Le Cirque menu was available if desired, and prixe fixe selections may vary.  Le Cirque has extended their participation in the Restaurant Week promotion until September 3rd, and they said on their web site that they will be rotating selectons to keep patrons entertained.

We were delighted with our dinner and the total experience of Le Circque and would not hesitate to return.  If you are looking for a gold standard restaurant experience in New York City the Executive Chef of Le Cirque, Craig Hopson adds a nouvelle cuisine flair to the classical French style that won't disappoint.

I'm adding this post to Michael's "Foodie Friday" event of her blog Designs By Gollum.  Please visit her today to see her wonderful post and the links to participating blogs with all their culinary delights!

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