Friday, 8 January 2016

DRINKING NOTES FROM A BIG COUNTRY (PART 3) - NEW YORK AND BROOKLYN DECEMBER 2015




DRINKING NOTES FROM A BIG COUNTRY (PART 3)

 

A Morning at Meatpacking

On day two of the New York tour Laura and began in the morning by heading down to Chelsea Market, in the meatpacking district. This trendy indoor market has arisen in the bones of an old biscuit factory. With many remaining features of the original industrial interior still firmly in place, it gives the impression that some of the pipework and machinery was just more hassle than it was worth to remove. Strangely this gives the place a unique character and 'modern-post-industrial-retro' feel (if such a thing exists, if it didn't it does now).

We had breakfast amongst the scrap metal with some incredible pancakes from Sarabeth's bakery and felt set up for the day before heading off to explore the rest of the market.


A view into the bakery from the main corridor with redundant pipework adding a character I struggled to capture in just one photo.

 

The High Life

After a spot of Christmas shopping we continued the theme of rejuvenated industrial assets by heading off in search of The High Line Park. The High Line is a park built on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad. The park extends for a mile and a half and offers a great elevated view of the city. I loved the idea behind this park. As with the market it showed that new life can be brought to old, run down industrial eye sores without knocking them down and starting again. We walked the full length of the park on what felt more like a Spring day than Winter and loved every minute of it.

Mud not blood on the tracks - First elevated to avoid pedestrian collisions, now boot leather is the only way to travel this line.


The High Line offers some great views from above street level

A Bridge to Brooklyn

After the thirsty work of walking a mile and a half we made our way to Brooklyn to visit the Brooklyn Brewery and have a wander around the area. The North side of Brooklyn has supposedly undergone a rise in popularity. It seemed like a cool but sleepy place on a sunny Sunday afternoon and was we enjoyed some great street art and a fantastic view of Manhattan.

Manhattan from Brooklyn

A Piss Up in a Brewery

The main reason for heading to Brooklyn was to check out the Brooklyn Brewery. Their Brooklyn Lager is probably one of the most famously exported craft beers from the states and I was keen to see the brewery and taste some of their less widely available efforts. We were not disappointed! The brewery was open for tours and tastings and there was a busy tasting room with a great selection on draft and regular small group brewery tours.

The tasting room operated the usual token system with some of the rarer or stronger beers requiring two tokens to buy which made them a bit pricey by comparison but the whole experience was great. We went on a brewery tour and were shown around both the brewery itself and the bottling line by a very friendly but very hung-over member of staff. Apparently it had been the Brooklyn Brewery Christmas party the night before and if anyone knows how to organise a piss up I suspect it is this lot!

The tour was funny, informative and had a good balance of brewery history, science and some well rehearsed gags. The whole tour lasted about half an hour and I think the guys showing us round were glad they'd done it a number of times before as they managed to sail through it in auto-pilot. I'd say without breaking a sweat but the poor lad giving the tour was dripping by the end of it. Those post epic session beer sweats sure are a killer! After enjoying the tour we headed back to the tasting room to work on the following day's hangover.

Where the magic happens

Tasting room. We may have had more than just a taste.

Ooh Mammy!

After the brewery it was time for a bite to eat. Whilst wandering around we stumbled across Umami Burger. This place had craft beer and with a name like Umami, just cried out 'Gourmet Burgers'. The burgers were fantastic, the staff were the friendliest we met anywhere in New York and we had a couple of pints of Sculpin IPA by Ballast Point Brewery. This is a beer I've had a few times in tins and is an excellent  modern American IPA and the draft version did not disappoint.
 


Just off shot the maple bacon sweet potato fries... Ooh Mammy!


The saddest thing about Umami Burger was that we shared a burger between two as we really wanted to head to another place we'd heard about which turned out to have food which was nowhere near as good as Umami.

I won't mention the place we went to but we had slow roasted pork (service took so long I did wonder if they failed to prepare it in advance!) the rest of the dish was cold.

Not sure how it was possible to ruin such a great looking dish

Best thing about this spot was the communal benches which always makes me think of German Beer halls and allows for easy meeting of neighbours and encourages hearty quaffing of beer and slapping of leather clad thighs. In this case it didn't seem to boost the atmosphere and just as we were planning on leaving the bloke sat next to us actually apologised for making too much noise. I didn't have the heart to tell him that not only had we not even noticed his presence up until that point but that his general bar presence was about on par with the coat rack. We were, of course, polite but giggled about this on the way home.

Something else we giggled about on the way home

Blinded by the Lights

After our outing in Brooklyn we headed back to Manhattan and jumped off the subway at Times Square. This most famous of intersections is often referred to as 'The Cross Roads of the World' apparently... I must admit I just didn't get it.


Times Square 5th December 2015

We later went on to check off a few other touristy glitz by heading to the Rockerfeller Centre to see the tree, the Christmas glitz and the ice skaters. 

Giant balls at the Rockerfeller Centre

St. Patricks Cathedral

One For The Road

A final pint in Rattle and Hum, a great little rock bar with plenty of craft on tap, and we were ready for a stagger back to the hotel. I had a dogfish head 90 minute IPA. Not a local brew but a fantastic drop I'd been looking forward to trying ever since reading about the history of Dogfish Head Brewery which went some way to inspiring me to start this blog!

One more cup of IPA for the road

 

They Won't See us Waving from Such Great Heights

The last morning in New York was a bit of a rush but we swiftly rushed to see the 911 memorial and the relatively new One World building which now stands on the site. At 561m tall it is the tallest skyscraper in the western hemisphere and the 6th tallest in the world. The view from the top was stunning and after a very brief trot around the observation deck we rushed back to the hotel to pack and head to our separate airports (I flew on to Pittsburgh from Newark airport and Laura flew back tot he UK from JFK.) Both our taxi's got us there in time and, deservingly, got a nice tip.

I was actually in good time for my flight until the security decided they had detected explosives in my laptop and after a rather impolite interview with the police and explosives experts I persuaded them that despite the engineering background, the job in the chemical industry and having spent significant amounts of time in the middle east I was, in fact, not a terrorist! A fairly intimidating experience but one to laugh about afterwards. Thankfully they didn't resort to a cavity search! 


Couldn't stick around to finish watching the sunset. But it was a sublime sight from what we saw.

 

Next Up...

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Thanks for bearing with me! Christmas has meant that most of this blogging is catch up.