I’m so grateful to God that my sister and brother-in-law could fly down from London and visit me and my husband here in the US! I thank God for the conveniences, the luxuries that he has bestowed upon me and all of my family. May seem trivial to many others, but I do not wish to take anything for granted..The fact that I can get to see all of my family at least once a year, even though we are miles apart, based in different continents, really humbles me and gives me assurance. One day, I hope my parents, my oldest sister and her family, my nephews, all come to visit me here in the States..I know, that would certainly make me so very happy.
So, my sister and brother-in-law flew to Jersey from London, and were going to stay with me and my husband for a week or so. Their POA for the next seven days was to firstly, explore the most famous locales around Manhattan and Brooklyn and to secondly, most importantly, eat at some of the most popular restaurants around Jersey and New York!!! Armed with a New York city guide and a printed, typed-out list of restaurants to visit, my sister and brother-in-law were sure on a mission to conquer ‘The Big Apple’!!
The weekend they flew in, all of us did a road trip together, to the lovely Hamptons in Long Island, New York. But not before we hit Tops Diner in Newark for some fantastic brunch!! The ultimate diner experience! The best diner food I’ve ever had!! From the past, I can only think of Brownstone Diner and Pancake Factory in Jersey City which served pretty good food. But Tops Diner was something else!! As soon as we got our table ready, I made sure to Yelp and scan what was good to eat here. My husband ordered the slow-roasted short ribs burger with cheddar cheese, bacon, mushrooms and caramelized onions, with fries on the side. My sister went for a Bourbon Street omelet with spicy Andouille sausage, peppers, mushrooms, tomato and cheddar cheese. My brother-in-law asked for a peanut butter frozen hot chocolate and the corned beef hash and eggs. That is shredded corned beef, peppers, onion and potato topped with two eggs cooked according to one’s choice, served with toast or silver dollar pancakes. And I, oh my, went for the two very famous items on the Tops menu – the so-very-soft red velvet pancakes, studded with dozens of chocolate chips…. AND…. the cooked-so-beautifully banana foster French toast, with ooey-gooey sautéed bananas, vanilla ice cream and dark rum sauce….Aaahhh!!! How dreamy!!! NOW, I need to make a very important statement before everyone thinks that I ordered both of them for myself!!! No, nuh-nuh, no!! I thought all four of us could taste the French toast and the pancakes, to experience what everyone was rampantly talking about! It was to share!! It was not all for me! Funny story – when I made the order, the waiter actually chuckled at me and gave me the ‘Are you going to eat all of that???’ look!! I even ordered a side of two turkey sausages. With the waiter looking at me questioningly, I was prompted to clarify with him that it was all to share. In response, he smirked and said “Yeah, right!!”
The Yelpers were right!! The pancakes and French toast were spot on!! The pancakes were so nice, soft and mushy! In a very good way of course! And the French toast with the syrupy bananas was heavenly!! Now, as I mentioned earlier, I had ordered both the items, just so that everyone could share… Eventually, everyone else was struggling to finish what they ordered, as the portions were that BIG!! And I was left with trying to finish both the pancakes and the French toast! Not that I was complaining! Me with my sweet tooth, that brunch was divine for me in all it’s sweet glory! But my husband, sister and brother-in-law made me stop eating because they thought I was trying to finish everything on my plate’s’!! Which yes, to a certain extent I was trying to do. I’m not fond of wasting any food! So normally one finds my plate as though licked clean by a kitten!! So out of the two toasts that came with the order, I sadly had to let go of one French toast and the remaining delicious bananas, just because everyone was asking me to stop eating!! Hmpff!! Now I’m left dreaming about that last piece of banana foster French Toast, forever….
On a brighter note, with our tummies full and satisfied, we head out to Long Island. Was my second time at the Hamptons. Something so quaint and pretty about this place…I don’t think I can ever get enough of the beaches here! Never-ending with beautiful light sand! We visited the Georgica beach in East Hampton and walked in the sand for a bit. It was a little chilly. Summer at its peak was yet to come! There were just about three or four others at the beach. Otherwise, it was pretty much isolated! Must go there again, perhaps for a picnic, or to witness what my husband has been wanting to see – a beach in the peak of winter, with sand on one side and snow on the other!
Another attraction of East Hampton is Sag Harbor. We visited the marina and saw a number of beautiful yachts – a sight my husband always enjoys! He is so fond of water, activities in water, especially the act of sailing, watching yachts go by with lovely sails…One day, I hope he fulfills his little secret dream…
Oh, walking by the marina, I even spotted a beauty of a car – a yellow Ferrari!! How cool does that look?!
Next, we head out to the the easternmost tip of Long Island, the Montauk Point Light, which is the first and oldest lighthouse in the state of New York. Once before, I had climbed up the lighthouse with my husband and a friend. But I was excited to climb the 137 steps again, to the top of the tower! This time with my husband, sister and brother-in-law. This was their first time climbing up a lighthouse. So they had no idea what was coming their way! They had no inkling about how many steps there were going to be, or how steep the stairway would be, how narrow the passage would be or the fact that there was no railing on one side of the stairway!! Keeping all of that a secret, was much fun I must say! Nevertheless, we all braved up and finally got to see the 360 degree view from the top. It’s beautiful to see the Atlantic ocean from up there. So vast and blue!
Phew!! After all that walking, we all needed just one thing and that’s – food!! So off we headed to the final destination of the day, BonChon Chicken at Fort Lee, New Jersey. Now a little intro about this Korean success. The wings at this place have had so much media following that in subsequent years, the BonChon wings have been voted as the best by some of the most renowned and leading media names, such as the Washington Post and Esquire. (How lucky am I to have a brother-in-law who aces in research on the must-eats of the city?!) And the wings sure did live up to all of that hype!! Mm-hmm!! Oh, those wings were delectable!! So the wings come in two flavors – hot and soy garlic. We ordered the half and half to experience both. And we also ordered fries on the side. Even the fries were cooked perfectly and tasted wonderful! But the best of the best for me were the moist and wonderfully-flavored soy garlic wings! Now that was lip-smackingly good! Truly, the words on the wall of BonChon were so apt – ‘Enjoy the crisp without the grease”!! I could easily rinse my fingers after the meal, with just plain tap water. Didn’t have to use a drop of soap! The best wings I’ve ever had, for sure! Need a bucket of wings for the next Super Bowl, must visit BonChon!!
And that was a wrap to day 1. Just the beginning of a truly gastronomic experience!
To be continued…