Back to the Big Ap­ple

New­found­land mu­si­cal a high­light of a New York Weekend

Cape Breton Post - - Travel Destinations - BY JOHN AND SAN­DRA NOWLAN John and San­dra Nowlan are travel and food writ­ers based in Hal­i­fax.

It’s not of­ten you get staid New York­ers laugh­ing, cry­ing, cheer­ing and stomp­ing their feet about a Cana­dian event. But that’s ex­actly what hap­pened at the Schoen­feld Theatre on Broad­way as the packed au­di­ence re­acted to “Come From Away”, the new mu­si­cal about Gan­der, New­found­land, and its wel­come to 38 planes and 6,500 un­ex­pected guests when in­ter­na­tional flights were di­verted to At­lantic provinces air­ports on September 11, 2001.

Our favourite scene was when sev­eral guests, now warm­ing to New­found­land ways, put on yel­low souwest­ers, downed a shot of Screech and kissed a slip­pery cod right on the mouth. The New York Times gave the 100-minute show (no in­ter­mis­sion) a rave re­view and even lo­cal guide­books rec­om­mend it.

“A phe­nom­e­nal new mu­si­cal,” ac­cord­ing to City Guide NY, “… with no big stars, just a hu­mon­gous heart.”

“Come From Away” was a high­light of our weekend get­away to The Big Ap­ple, a city that con­stantly sur­prises us with its ex­tremes, its za­ni­ness and its in­cred­i­ble res­tau­rants and cultural rich­ness.

The key con­nec­tion to “Come From Away” is, of course, the 9-11 Me­mo­rial at the south end of Man­hat­tan (the Ful­ton Street sub­way stop is the most con­ve­nient way to reach it).

The foot­prints of the twin tow­ers are memo­ri­al­ized with two square, sub­ter­ranean re­flect­ing pools with cas­cad­ing wa­ter­falls and the names of all 2900 victims etched on the perime­ter. Next to it is the new 9/11 Me­mo­rial Mu­seum built into the bedrock that sup­ported the Twin Tow­ers.

Here vis­i­tors can see the last piece of steel re­moved from the site, a por­tion of the trans­mis­sion tower at the top of the north tower and a cou­ple of

heav­ily dam­aged fire en­gines from that in­fa­mous day.

On the way home we pass the Trump Tower on Fifth Av­enue and are star­tled by the in­tense se­cu­rity. A street is per­ma­nently blocked off by ce­ment bar­ri­cades while heav­ily armed of­fi­cers are posted at the front en­trance. It re­minds us of a po­lice state and the un­pop­u­lar­ity of the new pres­i­dent.

Thank­fully our ho­tel, the Four Sea­sons on 57th Street be­came an oa­sis from the hec­tic pace of New York streets.

The rooms are large, com­fort­able and well-equipped with an out­stand­ing level of ser­vice.

The huge, high def curved­screen TV was the best we’ve ever seen and even lit­tle de­tails like slip­pers (avail­able in XL, L, M and kid sizes) were im­pres­sive.

There was no cof­fee maker (odd for a top ho­tel) but one could be or­dered (at no ex­tra cost) from the front desk.

The lo­ca­tion of the Four Sea­sons was ideal for walk­ing to lo­cal at­trac­tions. The best is the nearby Mu­seum of Modern Art with some re­mark­able works by Pi­casso, Van Gough and Rousseau.

On a pleas­ant day (cherry blos­soms and tulips were at their peak when we were there) it’s also an easy half hour walk to Lin­coln Cen­ter and the amaz­ing Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera House. This huge, 3,800-seat au­di­to­rium hosts the world’s best opera singers and em­ploys props and stag­ing that are truly jaw-drop­ping.

We loved Verdi’s “Aida,” a re­mark­able story about war and ro­mance in an­cient Egypt fea­tur­ing scores of per­form­ers and even char­i­ots and four live horses.

As ex­pected, New York has a stag­ger­ing num­ber of fine res­tau­rants and we were for­tu­nate to en­joy some of the best on our long weekend. Just be­fore the opera we vis­ited Brasserie 8 ½, also on 57th Street in the Solow Build­ing. Guests en­ter by a grand stair­case with paint­ings by Matisse. The food is tra­di­tional French and we en­joyed grilled oc­to­pus and won­der­ful sea bass.

Prior to “Come From Away” on Broad­way, we dined at the nearby Stinger Cock­tail Bar and Kitchen on West 44th Street. The restau­rant uses honey from its rooftop bee­hives to in­fuse its cre­ative, hand crafted cock­tails (we had six de­light­ful sam­plers) and many of its in­no­va­tive tapas-style dishes.

Es­pe­cially tasty were the av­o­cado crab, shrimp dumplings and salmon poke.

At the Four Sea­sons we loved the Satur­day Brunch cre­ated by Chef John John­son. His sig­na­ture dish is le­mon ri­cotta pancakes used in a Piggy in a Blan­ket. His chicken waf­fles were also re­mark­ably good and we savoured smoked salmon pizette and lob­ster hash with poached egg.

Our fi­nal meal in New York was a grand af­fair at Vau­cluse, a 10-minute walk from our ho­tel. This bustling but com­fort­able restau­rant fea­tures fine French cui­sine and ex­cel­lent ser­vice. Our or­ders for Trout Al­mondine and beef filet with fois gras were per­fectly pre­pared and very tasty. A le­mon sor­bet dessert and mint leaf tea were the per­fect end­ing to a grand meal and an ideal New York long weekend.

New York with its huge crowds and of­ten fran­tic pace can be in­tim­i­dat­ing. But it’s also a per­fect weekend get­away for world-class din­ing, en­ter­tain­ment and at­trac­tions. It’s worth a splurge.

JOHN NOWLAN PHOTO

World Trade Cen­ter Foot­print Me­mo­rial.

JOHN NOWLAN PHOTO

A Broad­way Stand­ing Ova­tion for Come From Away.

SAN­DRA NOWLAN PHOTO

Lob­ster Hash at the Four Sea­sons brunch.

SAN­DRA NOWLAN PHOTO

On Guard at Trump Tower.

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