Despite the fact I went to bed at 3 a.m., I was up early for church with Neil and Nate. After a quick call to Mom to give her the scoop on the absolutely fabulous wedding, I rode the subway to 28th street and stopped at Starbucks on Sixth Avenue. A very friendly gentleman started chatting with me as I walked out the door, and I had to walk two cross-town blocks making small talk with him. This was a good example of my well-documented tendency to be all too friendly to strangers (ask Leigh Ann about the "Marshall, you're barking up the wrong tree" incident sometime). But get this: the dude was from Lebanon!
"Where in Lebanon?" I asked.
He hesitated, trying to decide how much detail to give me. I'm sure he doesn't often encounter people who know Byblos from Tyre.
"No, really, I've been to Lebanon!" I pushed. "Where are you from?"
Turns out he's from Sidon, which I happen to know from last year is the home of a famous Crusader castle, renowned souks (markets) and a rather fascinating museum about the history of soap. And,also, might I add, the site where this truly attractive photo was taken.
I met my dates on the steps of Marble Collegiate Church, one of their favorite places to worship in the city. It was a lovely service with a fantastic choir and a very engaging message about Simon Peter's denial of Christ and "being caught between a rock and a hard place." We even got to sing "Here I Am, Lord." I pulled out my trusty notebook to jot down some key points in the sermon, which is always a good sign.
Spiritually fed, it was time to tend to our tummies. (Warning: the lunch site was a subject of some debate, as Nate's affinity for Marble Church is increased by the church's proximity to Houston's. I managed to dodge the chain restaurant bullet this week, but we'll let Nate get his way soon.)
A few blocks south on Fifth Avenue is Eataly, the Italian market opened by Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and other power players of Italian cuisine. I'd heard about it from my Quincy friend K.C., but I was a bit frightened by some of the online reviews, which focused on crowds and confusion.
We played it like pros, putting our name on the list at the pizza and pasta station and then snagging a table in the antipasto area. (Standing-height tables only...maybe this is their way of preventing you from lingering too long? With separate areas for every sort of food and lots of lines, I think you've got to be a pretty serious foodie to love this place.)
We ordered a margherita pizza with proscuitto and a pasta special: pappardalle with chicken, arugula and a wine sauce. Scrumptious!
Despite the waiter's insistence we should order one item for each of us, this was the perfect amount of food to share. After a few bites of cannoli, we left delighted with the experience--and glad we'd missed the worst of the crowds.
I headed south and stopped at Bed Bath and Beyond to buy a few necessities before my mid-afternoon nap. Big mistake. The BB&B is fortunately (or unfortunately) located beside a Marshall's and TJ Maxx. Given that I am my mother's daughter, I am apparently incapable of walking by these establishments without taking a peek inside. I spent too much time wandering around and was feeling like quite a crankypants by the time I waited in the interminable line with my hangers, Woolite and reading lamp.
Since it was too late to nap, I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with friends and family until Kurt and I decided it was time for another NY first: delivery! He went on Seamless, which lets you order from all sorts of restaurants online. I was craving pad Thai, so I got that and a papaya salad, and Kurt had tamarind chicken and some dumplings. We shared everything while watching 60 Minutes. A perfect end to the weekend!