Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Brunch with Picasso & Sandy

this was originally posted the first week of November, but when I moved my blog over to Blogger, I couldn't back date the post . . . 

I had grand plans for this past weekend in NY. But a little lady named Sandy made us cut our trip short (emergency trip to the liquor store instead of the NY Botanical Garden. . . priorities!) before heading back up to Maine. But we did have a fun Saturday in the city with a little something for everyone.

Chocolate Decadence French Toast

Weeks ago I called Norma's, at the Parker Meridian Hotel, to get brunch reservations. It's the kind of place you need to go to with a group, just so you can sample as many delicious, decadent creations as possible. Grandma had seen it on a travel channel show months ago, and convinced us we needed to try it sometime. Nutella packed pancakes . . . French toast made from chocolate bread . . . Say no more! 

Donut Even Go There French Toast
Not many options were available for a table for 6 (us plus Grandma & Papa) a month out, so call ahead as soon as you can if you want a Saturday or Sunday. Our reservation was for 9:45, and already they were turning people away at the front desk. On our way out (11:45 ish) I heard them telling people the wait was 2 1/2 hours. Yikes. 

The menu is filled with breakfast classics, super sized and on steroids. French toast covered in coconut filled with cheesecake cream. Lobster frittata with 1 oz of caviar ($100!). Bagel piled to the ceiling with lox. It's saying a lot that the healthiest (and smallest) plate on the table was what Mr. C&G ordered, the potato pancakes. Fried potatoes healthy? 

For the kiddos they were happy to make a half portion of almost anything, except what my boys ordered of course!

From Norma's the original plan was to walk over a block to the MOMA, but that changed when I saw that Edvard Munch's "The Scream" made it's US debut the day before. Crowds are definitely not the way C&G likes to travel!

Plan B was to head up to the Guggenheim to view the black & white Picasso exhibit (through January 23, 2013). The Guggenheim is very family friendly, and kids 12 & under are always free. A guide approached us in the ticket line to hand some materials out to the boys about the museum and it's collection. They also have family activity packs you can pick up from a cart in the center of the lobby (just leave your ID to check materials out). It was filled with sketchbooks and pencils, puzzles, and a scavenger hunt for paintings in the permanent collection. On Sundays they have special programs just for families with guided tours and crafts after the tour. Sign up way in advance (on their website or by calling the main number) if you know you'll be in town on a Sunday. 

We took the elevator up to the top and worked our way down. It was much more impressive to start so high up (architecture being a key element to this museum) while the boys were fresh & full of energy. They did lose steam by the time we got to the 2nd floor. Many of the side wings were closed and would have been too much even if they had been opened. The Picasso exhibit started at the bottom (more realistic) and worked it's way up to the top (incredibly abstract). We did it backwards but I don't think the boys noticed. 

Black & white wacky Picasso drawings make for a perfect art adventure for kids. The lines are simple, facial features aren't to scale (or even in the right place), and the names of the paintings always made them laugh. The boys were happy to plop down in front of something, pull out their museum provided sketchbooks, and make their own version of what they saw. Only once did we lose a pencil over the edge of the railing, totally my fault and of course from the top floor! Thankfully no security guards noticed, we weren't thrown out, and little C&G thought it was a highlight of the day. A quick dash into the Kandinsky exhibit in a side gallery, followed by a visit to the gift shop and the boys were done with culture for the day. 

We headed down 5th to meet up with Grandma & Papa on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If we'd needed to run around, the Met has an excellent playground (on the uptown side) we could have stopped at. Plenty of things to jump on and climb over. But they were in danger of sensory overload, so some snacks & cocktails were just what we needed. We took the bus down 5th to 57th and from there you have many fine hotel bars to choose from. Hotel bars always seem to be family friendly, with plenty of space to spread out and they usually don't mind well behaved but slightly noisy children. 

Our choice was The Bar (formerly 5757) at the Four Seasons on 57th Street. The Garden restaurant is off the main lobby (and looked pretty but not open), so keep walking all the way to the back of the hotel for The Bar. Cocktails & snacks are expensive, but I justified it by the fact we hadn't had lunch (thank you Norma's!). The boys ordered fancy juice cocktails, served in their own martini shakers, to go with their french fries. The adults ordered martinis (generous, and with the shaker) to go with the free peanuts & olives. We got there shortly after they opened at 3:00 and we had our pick of tables (anything with a couch is a hit with the boys). 

After an hour of relaxing it was time to escort the boys & the grandparents back toward Grand Central. A walk down Park Ave (from 57-45th) was perfect for some fresh air and some fancy car browsing. On Park you'll pass the Mercedes dealer (with a Maybach in the window), and a little farther down is the Ferrari dealer. A HUGE attraction for the boys. There's a store filled with Ferrari branded items (sneakers with the prancing horse, anyone?), along with 3 cars to check out up close and personal. Little C&G fell for the most expensive of the group, and we all enjoyed petting the fine leather interiors. Back into reality for the walk down to the train station and an end to our family NYC adventure. 

Sunday was supposed to be a trip to the New York Botanical Garden to check out their special Halloween pumpkin exhibit, but with Sandy headed our way we thought it was time to head back to Maine. With a stop for provisions at Zachy's, an excellent wine store in Scarsdale. A case later, some ice cream at the nearby Hagen Daz, and we were on the road headed for home. 

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