Holidays in NYC…Day 2

We woke up to bright sunshine on Saturday morning and were happy to start our day. Having one full day in NYC, we compromised and set out to explore, starting with our walk to Central Park. The wind let us know its presence as we followed the crowd to the skating rink, admiring the skyscrapers towering above us. We walked through a corner of the park, and realized how its 6.1 mile loop would be more than a breath of fresh air. Carriage rides, ice skating and a hot chocolate stand were a few of the sights that took the chill from the air, offering the city’s holiday spirit.

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As it neared lunch time, we tested our navigation skills and hopped onto the subway to head down and experience the culture of NYU and Union Square. We wandered the streets for a cozy eatery and stumbled across just what we needed, a Roman restaurant named Lupa Osteria Romana. While waiting for a table, we browsed the wine menu and chose an enticing Caraffina Di Vino Rosso.

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We didn’t mind waiting while we immersed ourselves in the savory aromas of the kitchen and were warmed by the friendliness of the staff. Once we were seated, appetizers such as Lingua (beef tongue), Prosciutto and marinated olives were ordered. We smiled and embraced the delicate textures and magnificent flavors of these fine hors d’oeuvres.

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For my main dish, I chose the Sabato special, the Heritage Pork Porterhouse.  This tender and juicy cut of meat was exactly what my palate desired. Topped with gorgeous, deep green kale and sweet butternut squash this meal was hands-down my favorite of the city. I would recommend anyone to seek out this warm and sustainable restaurant nestled in the heart of NYU.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening wandering the streets and holiday markets surrounding Union Square. It was soon time to enjoy our final meal in the big city. Friend of a Farmer in Gramercy Park was another spectacular find with a menu of local meat, seafood and veggies. This restaurant felt more like a home as its dark wood and wallpapered panels, candle lit tables and warm fireplaces surrounded us. Baskets with colorful vegetables greeted us at the top of the stairs while we settled in to enjoy yet another exceptional meal. The chef’s special of grilled grouper with steamed vegetables was my choice for the evening.

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To wrap up the night, we hailed a cab to take in the energy at Times Square. For most of us, it was our first experience to the notorious New Year’s Eve destination. We took a few minutes to embrace the sights and sounds of the enormous screens, bright lights, yellow taxis and tourists photographing this iconic attraction.

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On Sunday we packed up and made our way to Macy’s Herald’s Square just before claiming our seats on the train for our ride home.

Visiting New York City during the holidays was surely an experience to remember. I am thankful for good friends who I joined in sampling….ok, perhaps indulging, in the local cuisine. It is great to know that a city full of energy, phenomenal food and astounding sites is just a train ride away. Cheers to a spectacular weekend in the Big Apple!

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Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

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As we head into the winter months, making a pot of hearty, spicy soup may just do the trick to warm your body and please your palate. Creating a soup with odds and ends in your fridge along with some unfamiliar ingredients from your spice rack may give you that confidence that yes, you ARE a fabulous cook! It’s a great way to experiment with tastes and textures of foods you are longing to eat together in one spoonful. For me, the taste of carrot and sweet potato crossed my mind. I share with you the results. It will be sure to warm your body through.

Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

4 ¼ cups Free Range Chicken Broth Low Sodium, divided

1 yellow onion, chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped

1 bay leaf

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you aren’t a fan of ‘heat’ in your soup, I would reduce to a pinch)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

Optional garnish:

¼ cup raw pecans

1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

  1. Heat ¼ cup broth in a six quart pot over medium heat. Once heated, add in the onions and garlic. Stir the mixture occasionally until the onions are softened.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes, carrots, bay leaf and 3 cups broth. Cover and turn to medium high heat to start simmering. Once simmering, turn heat down to medium and simmer about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add remaining spices. Simmer another 5-7 minutes until potatoes and carrots are soft enough to pierce with a fork.
  4. Add last cup of broth, simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Take out bay leaf.
  6. Use a ladle to scoop soup into blender, filling one third of the way full.
  7. Use oven mitt to hold lid down and blend until smooth.
  8. Enjoy!

Optional garnish: Heat iron skillet, add olive oil and brown pecans 3-5 minutes.Top soup with pecans.