Thursday, January 31, 2019

Come From Away

So, there we were, my beloved and myself, sitting in the lobby of our favorite New York City hotel, each of us reading a section of the Times while we waited to be hungry enough for lunch. And suddenly, there's this fellow kneeling on the floor to my left, and saying, "Excuse me." Well, you know, it is always wonderful when a fellow kneels at one's feet, and this one was young and handsome, and I thought it best to indulge him. "Yesterday was my birthday," he said. "And the hotel gave me this bottle of wine. But we are flying home today and we can't take it with us. I wonder if you would like to have it." In fact, I would. And I accepted with pleasure, wishing him and his wife safe travels.

And that was how I knew our mini-vacation was going to be even better than I'd imagined.

Himself and I had decided to buy only token gifts for each other for Christmas and to go up to New York to see Come From Away. Ever since we'd read the book The Day the World Came to Town and heard that there was a show based on it, we thought we'd like to check it out. So we bought matinee tickets and booked a room for the night and thought that was that.

But, of course, it wasn't. Because once our offspring got wind of our plan, nothing would do but that we have an elegant dinner on them! Their Christmas gift to us was a card for a wonderful, wonderful restaurant not far from the hotel, not far from the theater.

We've liked The Algonquin Hotel ever since we discovered it via The New Yorker magazine many, many years ago. We've stayed there just a handful of times, but always have felt comfortable and at home. We like the restaurant with the famous Round Table and the excellent Caesar Salad. We like the wallpaper of Thurber cartoons on some of the floors. We like the resident cat (used to be Matilda, now Hamlet). We just like it there.

We lunched on the salad (preceded in Himself's case by some truly delicious corn chowder) and soon it was time to make our way over to The Schoenfeld.

The show was superb. The cast was brilliant, the music exciting, the choreography fascinating, and the story -- well, as Marsha would say, "what can I tell you?" I laughed, I cried, I loved every single minute of it. The 90 minutes of performance passed in a flash. Especially today, when there is so much ugliness in the world, so much me-ness, it was inspiring to watch how a small town responded to an international tragedy thrust upon them. There are touring companies -- if one comes your way, please don't miss this show.

Oceana, the restaurant Andrew had chosen for us, was a nine-minute walk from The Algonquin. It is spacious and not too noisy. We were seated promptly and handed menus. In addition to the regular wonderful offerings, there was a pre fixe menu for early diners, which we were. So with glasses of pinot noir and chardonnay respectively, we perused the options.

He started with oysters. I went with the calamari. Usually our experience has been that pre fixe selections provide smaller portions than the regular menu. Not this time! Take a look at that calamari! Even with Joe's help, I was unable to eat more than half of it. The trout with the spinach salad was the same situation; I was able to eat about half. I thought about taking my uneaten fish back to Hamlet, but then had second thoughts. The lemon meringue parfait was a delicious finale.

This morning, after indulging in The Algonquin's french toast and Eggs Benedict respectively, we checked out. It seemed that the right thing to do after having seen Come From Away would be to go down to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. But the temperature was 4 degrees and we hadn't had the foresight to buy tickets ahead of time, so we decided to save that for another time and just drove down to the area on our way to the Holland Tunnel.

And now Christmas comes to an end.