Gentle readers, I now begin the process of recapping the weekend’s happenings, which were bounteous and joyful.
Friday was for sleeping in, as Fridays without work are (I took the day off to play tour guide). After finally getting up Jon and I walked across the park, stopping at the little boat pond to see the Alice in Wonderland Statue, the overlook of the Bethesda Fountain, and cutting through Strawberry Fields to reach the West Side and the American Museum of Natural History.
I hadn’t been to the museum since I was fourteen. My little Whitney badge got us in for free, and we bought tickets to the planetarium show, because I like astronomy and Robert Redford. We headed upstairs to view a chronological journey of the evolution of life via fossils. Translation: dinosaur bones, baby. The fourth floor is a progression of rooms starting with the development of vertebrate species, leading to dinosaurs and other related creatures, followed by extinct mammals, and finally ending with mammals that walk the earth. Clearly the dinosaur fossils were the best. Dinosaurs are awesome, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Jon and I made a brief detour from the museum to meet my sister and Phil at the Upper West Side location of Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack. There was a line, but it moved quickly–probably far more quickly than the Madison Park line. Jon had a burger and a vanilla milkshake, Phil had some apple-chicken-brat thing, Jessica had a plain hotdog, and I had a Shroomburger, which is one of the most delicious fast food items I have ever eaten. A Shroomburger is a deep-fried portabello mushroom stuffed with cheddar and munster cheeses and it is amazing. The fries were also awesome: I don’t typically like crinkle-cut fries, but these were crispy and well salted.
Because Jessica and I are gluttons and because we love custard we decided to go back upstairs and go to the C-Line (the separate line for custard) to get some dessert. I got a fudge sundae with vanilla custard and Jessica had a concrete (like a blizzard) with caramel and really dense chocolate chocolate-chip cookie dough. Both were excellent, and both were impossible to finish.
After stuffing ourselves full of delicious fast food Jon, Phil (who loves the Natural History museum) and I returned to the museum, and Jessica (who loathes all museums) headed to the Central Park Zoo. We were headed to Phil’s favorite display, the rocks, but passed through a bizarre room that demonstrated the vast diversity of life through a sort of cabinet of wonders display.
We also stopped in the room with the marine dioramas (I love the museum’s old 1960s eras dioramas that are ridiculous) and tried to take a picture in front of the gigantic blue whale. That didn’t work, because the room was too dark, but what can you do.
The three of us then ventured down into the basement to see the rocks, which are awesome. Nature can do amazing things y’all, and some material that is mineral looks completely amazing and organic. Also, there was a meteorite, and radioactive materials. Win.
Jon and I left Phil around 3:30 to catch our planetarium show at the Rose Center, Cosmic Collisions. It was all about how when things collide in the cosmos amazing things happen, like the moon or, like, galaxies and universes, and stuff. The show malfunctioned midway through, but that didn’t reduce the show’s impact. Also, Robert Redford was the narrator, and he makes all things better. Anyhow, the presentation basically reminded me that the universe is vast and infinite and I am smaller than the smallest molecure of sand and, yeah, that is a difficult concept to grasp. The show spits you into the main part of the Rose Center, where you can watch a mini-presentation on the Big Bang theory (narrated by Maya Angelou) which in turn spirts you onto a spiral ramp that charts the history of the universe. The ramp is long, each foot is like…millions of years, and the entire span of human history is at the last section of the ramp, in a space no larger than a human hair. I am not kidding, we are miniscule, y’all. My favorite science has always been astronomy (I took classes in high school and college) because it has so much possibility for discovery and because it is so indefinite, so I love planetariums and space centers.
After our cosmic journey we were tired and footsore, so we ventured back across Central Park and to my apartment to rest up/clean up a bit before our dinner reservation. We got back just in time, because it stormed about fifteen minutes after we returned indoors.
Luckily the storm quieted before Jon and I headed to dinner at Flex Mussels, a Prince Edward Island transplant that specializes in, what else, mussels. At 7:30 on a Friday night the restaurant was packed, and fragrant with the smell of garlic and yumminess. Fresh oysters were being cleaned and opened at the bar. Jon and I were sat a little too close to the kitchen but it smelled so fantastic that we didn’t really care. Next to us, however, was an incredibly surly family (mom, dad, two girls under the age of eight) who had evidently been waiting for their food for forty minutes. Not a good sign. They eventually received their food but their displeasure at the service was so palpable that Jon and I were incredibly relieved when they left.
The service is really the only poor factor about the restaurant. Our food came out quickly–too quickly, we hadn’t even received any bread, and we were both still waiting for glasses of wine. Wine was too slow, food was too quick, and we never heard the specials–but what can you do, the food was fantastic. We both ordered mussels, I ordered the Funghi (mushrooms, garlic, cream, double-smoked bacon), and Jon ordered the Spaniard (chorizo, sweet peppers, spanish olives, red wine, tomatoes). We split an order of fries, which were great: skin on, well-seasoned, perfectly crispy. And the bread was perfectly suitable for soaking up the awesome delicious mussels broth. I have never met a bowl of mussels I could not defeat, but these mussels were so rich I could not finish them. Not for lack of trying, mind you!
Our sever, luckily, told us about the dessert special: some sort of peach crumble with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. It was fantastic. See the photos for ridiculous food porn.
The dessert was a major win.
After dinner we headed down to the West Village and Bleeker Street to Bleeker Height’s Tavern, where we joined Brad, Santosh, and their friends for an evening of revelry, beer/shots, and impromptu belting of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and Michael Jackson songs. Brad and Santosh’s friends are fantastic, and a fun and late evening was had by all. I look forward to rejoining those boys for Brad’s Quarter Century Celebration on Thursday.
That covers Friday! Check back soon for recaps of the rest of the weekend!