Back to the Big Apple
Newfoundland musical a highlight of a New York Weekend
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.
World Trade Center Footprint Memorial.
A Broadway Standing Ovation for Come From Away.
Lobster Hash at the Four Seasons brunch.
On Guard at Trump Tower.