We can’t believe it. No? Is it really possible we haven’t set not one pair of pointy reddened high heeled soles or vintage blacken leather Doc Martens onto a NYC pavement in over twelve pandemic-filled months? No? Sadly, yes! We, and like so many other NYC lovin’ individuals, took a bit of an unexpected break. Social distancing, masks, and everything else that came along with trying to stay health-safe forced us to leave behind our sweet complete and totally inspiring love. But as luck would have it, our self-imposed “time out” was about to change. A city-filled invitation landed on team HVH’s lap like a big oversized sweet, we-missed-you-delighted-to-see-you-again cherry bomb! The much talked about pinky-pink nearly bubblegum colored cherry blossoms were about to snap to peak in Brooklyn and we were ready to return for it!
As you can imagine, a lot has changed over the year. Hanging out in the city was no longer our norm or many others…would we even recognize the black topped, sometimes potholed streets and cemented sidewalks we once knew like the back of our hands? Could we navigate the complexities of it all? Not sure, but we were willing to take a whirl at it. In the spirit of our beloved and a we-can’t-resist invitation from teams Metro North and Grand Central, we decided this would be no ordinary commute in…we were going to put our skills to the test and embark on a true NYC experience; train into the city from the Hudson Valley via Metro North, land in Grand Central, subway finally to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for the awe-inspiring mother nature happening…the bloom-tastic pop of cherry flowered goodness!
What you might not know about us is that even though we spent decades traveling in and out of Manhattan, we were never ones to do it often by railcars. Curious about the current commute through all of this, we took a leap of faith and trained in just like most dedicated “bridge and tunnels” would do. We jumped on from within the Valley and headed on the 90-minute ride into Grand Central – and what a glorious ride it was! We had no idea. Peering through our crystal clean windows (for sure unexpected!), we watched a part of the HV landscape we had never seen or paid much attention to before unfold: multiple gingerbreaded houses near Garrison, a weathered Bannerman Castle as we whizzed by Cold Springs, and multiple palatial-sized sailboats docked at the river’s edge from Sleepy Hollow on down…all while the day’s sunshine danced across the Hudson River like shiny diamonds…to finally the grand dame of NYC railway – Grand Central Terminal.
Grand Central Terminal is one of many great NYC historical landmarks. The place where millions shuffled in and about connecting from island out skirt places and far away parts. As we exited the nearly empty Metro North train car, we couldn’t help but contemplate what we were about to experience. Would this once hurried, crowded meeting point lack the energic-make-our-hearts-pound vibe that we once recall from past walk-throughs or corporate night dinners? Feeling quite sentimental, we headed towards the great center hall to take it all in. HVH was back!
As you can imagine, the hundreds less commuters and travelers gave way to incredible sights that were otherwise a bit invisible years back: enormous sphere-shaped chandeliers all in a row, antique creamy-eques ceiling tiles lined the halls, bright mirror-shined brass mail slots dotted various walls, and multiple levels of wide Cinderella-like staircases waterfalled the center interior – it was a stunning distraction as we passed through on our way towards Brooklyn. We couldn’t help but also notice throngs of absent restaurants…no power lunches or sex-in-the-city quartets (don’t judge, we still watch reruns) enjoying their any-hour cocktails. Yet, one…the Grand Central Market was alive and buzzing. The sights, the smells, and the activity of the born-in…only-made-in-NYC specialties spot was humming and the perfect stop for some grab-and-go’s to nosh on later.
Anxious for the main event, we neatly shoved our delectable locally produced purchases
into an oversized tote gifted by one of the happy-to-see-you vendors and we were on our way to the garden via Line 4 subway. Clickety clack, clickety clack, sqeeeeeaaaaak, swoooosh, and in minutes the subway car plopped us off in Brooklyn. We were like little girls and boys…our feet couldn’t go fast enough as we walked together towards our destination. We had never been to the garden before, so the large chalk white sculpture-like gates made for a grand welcome. A few steps forward towards the ticket counter and there they were…a full bloomed vividly pinked walkway grove of pompom-shaped cherry blossoms…we could feel our faces flush cherry with excitement for so many New York reasons – and it was cherry-iffic!
For those of you ready to reconnect with your beloved NYC, here’s just a taste of how Hudson Valley Happenings cherry-filled the day with some of New York’s greatest from Grand Central Station to Brooklyn…some longtime friends and others new!
Café Grumpy…is a Brooklyn started, an independently owned, and certified woman-owned coffee café with multiple locations including Grand Central Terminal. Just their logo alone made us giggle.
Oh, so NYC: Hey grumpelstiltskins. It’s ok if you come in grumpy, they and their in-house roasted are sure to make you leave happier!
Da’ cherry twist: Most of us grabbed some much needed (on the grump scale…we were low level) cups of their Hunapu drip (with hints of dark cherry notes) and others settled on some very skillfully poured lattes. Definitely joyiness in our cups!
Bien Cuit…is a piece of crispy, caramelized well-baked heaven. The incredible smells permeated from its tiny corner as we approached them from Grand Central on the Lexington Ave. side. Esthetically, their assortment of breads were small works of art. Could this all be why they are “James Beard” awardees?
Oh, so NYC: Made by hand. Born in Brooklyn. Their crunchy outside makes you soft on the inside.
Da’ cherry twist: One Sour Cream Cherry Danish for our founder and Sour Cherry Pane Dulce split between the rest of us…aside from the signature crunch, we loved the sweet tartness of it all. We’d sum it up as trés cherry-iffic!
is a small batch chocolate wonder. We knew we were in the right place
when we came upon the iconic purple wrapping and the intense semi-sweet aroma.
Oh, so NYC: Founded by a Greek immigrant and first opened in Greenwich Village. Imagine all they’ve seen since 1923.
Da’ cherry twist: “Wendy” at the Li-Lac stand assured us that there was but only one must-have choice for our blossom themed day…the delicately handmade chocolate covered Cherry Cordial – and boy she was so right – these are ones to cherry-ish!
Magnolia’s Bakery…is one mouth full you can have over and over again. There’s nothing more divine than the hand decorated and made-fresh-daily classic Magnolia cupcake. One bite and you are hooked for a lifetime!
Oh, so NYC: Magnolia’s birthplace is the corner location on Bleecker in the West Village. Their vintage inspired storefront is a sight to behold…long lines and all.
Da’ cherry twist: Whipped up in just seconds, a petal soft pink cupcake of the most adorable interpretation of a cherry blossom branch was made exclusively for team HVH. Don’t try to order it, it’s not on the menu but trust us…it was so super cute!
Dinner - Bar Crudo…was an accidental encounter of greatness! Ready for a touch of hour happy as we departed from the garden and said goodbye to this year’s blooms - we happened upon Bar Crudo. We are not food critiques nor foodies, but this place rendered us speechless…the atmosphere, the food, the drink, and more importantly the incredible owner and staff – this was a 5-star experience all the way and a great ending to our cherry jammed-packed city-filled day.
Oh, so NYC: Nearly shut down by covid, this local wonder stuck it out and is now the proud recipient of “Best Seafood” from Best in Brooklyn – we say, “Bravo Ronny and team!”
Da’ cherry twist: On site mixologist extraordinaire, Diego, wooed us by whipping up (in just minutes) a new concoction just for us …inspired by our cherry-ified adventures and perfectly named, “Hudson Cherry Blossom.” Next time you are in the area of 412 5th Ave. Brooklyn NY. 11215, be sure to ask for this cherry-iffic cocktail!
Indeed, it was a quintessential day back in NYC and what a better way to mark this day than with some pretty cherry-iffic moments!