Day Two wasn’t quite as jam-packed as the first, but we still had a great time. Erica and I started out by walking through Chinatown. We didn’t eat there, since we already had lunch plans, but the food smelled great, the shops selling fresh vegetables, spices, seafood, meats, and so on were very cool, too. We were looking for a Buddhist Temple that Erica saw online, and we finally found it. It was very interesting, very impressive (except for the acoustical tile ceiling, which I was probably the only person there that day who’d notice it). We also stumbled across a beautiful old synagogue in Chinatown. We’d have toured it, but the ten dollar admission price seemed a bit steep, so we took a rain check. We were told that if we came back on a Monday, admission was free. Well, maybe next trip. After Chinatown, we walked through SoHo toward The Dutch, where we had an amazing lunch. While we were waiting for our table, someone called out “Hi, Erica!” It was Carlos, one of her coworkers at Sfoglia and who was one of the people who’d taken such great care of us the night before at dinner. She’d forgotten that he worked here also, and he ended up partially taking care of us there, too. The lunch was fantastic. Erica had a steak tartare appetizer, fried chicken with honey biscuits, and finished with a chocolate semifreddo for dessert. We’d just had the semifreddo the night before, but she wanted to see how this one compared with the one at her place. It was very good, but not as good as Sfoglia’s, in her opinion (plus, the one at Sfoglia was as big as my head; this one was a much more petite, Restaurant Week prix fixe size). I had an arugula/peach/gouda/pine nut salad; followed by rigatelli pasta with spicy duck sausage, fava beans and Parmesan cheese. For dessert, I had the cherry crisp, which would have been delicious if it were served hot, or even warm. Unfortunately, it wasn’t; it was barely room temperature, in fact. The cherry filling had thickened and hardened into a gel in places. Overall, it was better than a cherry Hostess lunch pie you’d impulse-buy when paying for your gas or lottery tickets, but the fact that the comparison even came to mind isn’t a good thing. That’s probably making it sound worse than it actually was. Hey, it’s Restaurant Week; the place was packed, the staff was slammed, these things happen. No big deal. The experience and meal here, overall, was still top-notch, and I’d definitely love to eat there again sometime.
After lunch – or maybe it was just before; I can’t remember – we bumped into the Shrine Church of St. Anthony of Padua, the first Roman Catholic church built in the U.S. to serve Italian immigrants, according to a plaque outside. Erica and I figured we’d already wandered into a Buddhist temple and a synagogue, and the door was open, so we took a peek inside. The architecture was impressive. I have to admit, though – and this is equal parts of my Reformed theology and just my personal aesthetic – I’ve never been a huge fan of all the statues of saints and various people that are so common in Catholic churches. I am not trying to diss Catholics; far from it. It’s just a personal thing here. I think that most of the statues are not very tastefully executed, are garishly or tackily (is that a word?) painted – and when people put actual fabric clothing on them, that’s even more bizarre to me. I’m sorry. As I said, I’m not anti-Catholic. I just think that the statues end up detracting from the primary purpose of the church structure, contrary to their intention, and in some cases, aesthetically they’re just kind of creepy. Having said that, the building itself was exquisite, and provided a welcome sense of shelter where one could feel the presence of God. I wasn’t aware of it when we were there, but browsing their website, it appears that St. Anthony’s has been the backdrop in a number of movies.
After that, we trekked up to see The High Line, a really neat linear urban park that’s reclaimed a vacated elevated rail line; a great urban oasis.
I have to admit, though, that by this time I was starting to drag. I’m not an old geezer yet, but by this point, I was realizing that I’m 53, not 23, so we started our way home. We ended up shopping for shorts for Erica at the Queens Center Mall before we got home, though. After a nap back at her place, we were kind of domestic – doing some laundry and some grocery shopping; then, instead of going to Coppelia for dinner as originally planned, we just stayed in, ordered some Chinese delivery, and watched episodes of Parks & Recreation and Archer on Netflix. That was about all I was good for, and at about midnight, I called it a night.