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Month: May 2019

The 3 Best Pizza Slices in NYC

Everybody has their favorite style of pizza and the best part of visiting New York City is you can try it all. There is a pizza place on every block. While visiting my daughter Nicole in Brooklyn we decided to give some a try.

Juliana’s Pizza, 10 Old Fulton St. Brooklyn, NY

Juliana’s Pizza

Our first stop was Juliana’s Pizza on Old Fulton Street in Brooklyn. Juliana’s is an old school pizzeria that opened in 2012. The proprietor is Patsy Grimaldi. Patsy owned Grimaldi’s under the Manhattan Bridge just a few doors down from Juliana’s. Grimaldi’s was a New York institution. Lines would snake down the street for blocks. About 10 years ago Patsy and his wife sold Grimaldi’s and settled into retirement. Much to the delight of Brooklyn after a few years of retirement, he opened Juliana’s Pizza named after his mother. We went for lunch on a rainy afternoon. There was a line outside, but we were a party of two and we agreed to sit at the bar so we were seated quickly. We had an amazing view of the coal pizza oven.

The coal pizza oven.

We split a salad and decided on the classic Margherita. It has a typical New York thin crust, with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil. We also tried the War Flag an American Pilsner brewed in Brooklyn. The salad was a nice start. It was fresh and tasty.

While we waited for our pizza we sipped our beer and watched the pizzas go in and out of the coal oven. Our pizza came out piping hot. The crust was thin and golden. The cheese tasted fresh and it was gooey. The pizza was basically perfection. Between the two of us, we ate a whole pizza, and that left no room to try dessert. Maybe next time. I paid in cash, but I did notice that you can use your credit card, unlike at Grimaldi’s which is cash only. The restaurant was very busy, but at no time did we feel rushed and the service was excellent. I believe Juliana’s is a must-try for an authentic New York City Pizza.

War Flag, an American Pilsner brewed in Brooklyn.
The classic Margherita Pizza.
Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Spumoni Gardens

The first Saturday in April was opening day for Luna Park at Coney Island. We took the train to Coney Island and rode the old wooden Cyclone. After the roller coaster ride and the walk along the boardwalk, we decided to go try some pizza at Spumoni Gardens. We took the train one stop and then walked to the restaurant. Spumoni Gardens is located in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

When we got there it was a lively Saturday afternoon on their patio. Spumoni Gardens is known for its Sicilian pizza. They sell their pizzas as whole pies or by the slice. Their Sicilian pizza is made in a rectangle. One slice is $3.00. It was a thick crust and the sauce is on top of the cheese. We ate on the patio and they serve it up on a paper plate. We each got a slice and sat on the patio with a lemonade. The crust is thick and the sauce is plentiful and it was easier to eat it with a fork. It was good and I’m glad we tried it.

Thick crust Sicilian Pizza with the sauce on top.

We both got a serving of Spumoni Ice Cream for dessert. Their Spumoni is a mix of Vanilla, Chocolate, and Pistachio. In my opinion, it was the star of the meal. We ate on the patio, but they have a full-service restaurant inside. The whole area had a down-home family vibe.

A serving of Spumoni Ice Cream.

Joe’s Pizza

Joe’s Pizza is a Greenwich Village institution. It was founded in 1975 and has been listed on NYC’s best pizzas over and over. They have a simple menu. Whole pies or by the slice. They also have Sicilian pizza on the menu, but I have never tried it.

Joe’s Pizza, 7 Carmine St.

Joe’s Pizza is a walk up and orders pizzeria. There are a few stools and stand up tables, but mostly you order to go. The day Nicole and I went she saved us seats on a bench in the square across the street. The square is officially Father Demo Square. It has a fountain and benches and is a good place to sit and people watch. I went and ordered our pizza.

We both chose a slice of cheese pizza. It is a huge slice and they serve it on a paper plate. They have cans of soda and bottled water for sale as well. They do not accept credit cards. Joe’s pizza is the quintessential New York slice of pizza. The crust is thin and if you look around you will see people folding their slice in half. This is what all walk-up pizza should taste like, flavorful and not greasy and a perfect not floppy crust. Joe’s Pizza serves both the local neighborhood and hungry tourists. Joe has become so popular they now have 4 other locations scattered throughout New York City.

A slice from Joe’s Pizza, Greenwich Village.

These 3 pizzas are just the tip of the iceberg. There are 100’s of other pizza places in New York City to try, but I would definitely make a return trip to all three of these locations.

A Walking Tour of Brooklyn Bushwick, Cobble Hill & Dumbo……

I landed at JFK on a gorgeous spring day in April. After dropping my suitcase at my daughter’s apartment in Brooklyn we set off on a walking tour of Bushwick. I wanted to see the graffiti and street art that is part of The Bushwick Collective.

Biggie Smalls

The Bushwick Collective

The Bushwick Collective is located off of Flushing Ave. in Bushwick. There are blocks and blocks of murals that you can visit by just walking around the neighborhood. There really is something for everyone. We saw both portraits and cartoon type murals. It appears that this area of Bushwick is up and coming. We walked past fancy new coffee shops that we were next to functioning machine shops. We were also able to peruse a couple of eclectic vintage shops.

Till Death Do us Part
My own super model.
A quilted wrap for the telephone pole.

Finding a Lunch Spot in Bushwick

After walking around we decided it was time to eat. I had heard about a restaurant in Bushwick Called Dock. We weren’t sure they would be open because we were there during the weird hours after lunch and before dinner, however, when we go there we found that they were still serving lunch specials for another 40 minutes. Dock is a busy restaurant and reservations are usually a must, but this was the perfect time to try it. Dock was started by three chefs that have different backgrounds. They have combined their talents into one fabulous restaurant. Dock has 3 different head chefs one for sushi, one for Thai cuisine and one for ramen.

Lunch At Dock Restaurant

Our lunch special was $10.95 and included a soup, egg roll, or salad and one entree. I had the Oyster Soup and Pad See Ew. Nicole had an egg roll and Ramen. We split a Kyoto Matcha IPA . I’ll start with the Matcha IPA. I’m not a fan of IPAs they are usually too bitter for me, however, this one was great. I could taste the bitter hops, but it was balanced out by the matcha. The color was fantastic. It was a deep grassy, green. My oyster soup was delicious. It had the perfect amount of heat and sourness mixed together. It lots of fresh oyster mushrooms and fresh vegetables. My Pad See Ew was also good. I had it with tofu. It wasn’t overly spiced and that allowed me to add my favorite chili oil to enhance the flavors. Nicole’s egg roll was ok. Probably not the star of our meal, however, she liked her Ramen. I give The Dock 5 stars out of 5 and I will be going back to try something else on their extensive menu next time I’m in the area.

Three types of Asian Food in one restaurant.
Kyoto Matcha IPA
Oyster Soup
Pad See Ew with Tofu
Ramen

Exploring Cobble Hill

After lunch, we headed to the subway and went to the Cobble Hill area of Brooklyn. I wanted to go to an independent bookstore that I follow online called Books Are Magic. Of course, I loved it. They have the cutest mural painted outside and inside is filled with books. Their staff has curated sections and titles that they recommend and they have an amazing section for children’s books. We spent a long time looking at books and I had to buy a Books Are Magic t-shirt before I left so that I can wear it at home in my library.

I think Books Are Magic!

Heading to Dumbo, Brooklyn

After the bookstore, we hopped back on the subway and head to Dumbo. For those not familiar with Dumbo it is an acronym for down under the Manhattan Bridge overpass. It is one of my favorite areas of Brooklyn because of the amazing views of Manhattan. We went to the Empire Store on the waterfront. We walked up the stairs to the top and had an amazing view of both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and the Manhattan skyline.

Dumbo

A view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Perfect Views in Brooklyn

Walking along the waterfront is always entertaining. The views are amazing. There are always lots of photoshoots going on. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops to stop at. Because it was April as soon as the sun went down it got very chilly. We decided that it was time to get back on the subway and head back to Nicole’s apartment. We had an amazing day wandering around Brooklyn.

The Perfect view.

An Overnight Backpacking Trip to Henniger Flats…..

On a Saturday in April Sally and I decided to go on an overnight backpacking trip to Henniger Flats. We are training for the Sierras and trying to get in lots of practice packing and carrying our backpacks. We started on Pinecrest in Altadena. There are strict parking rules on Pinecrest so we parked a few blocks away on a city street. The trail from Pinecrest to Henniger Flats follows a fire road. It’s a steady incline all the way up. It is about 3 miles from the start of the trail to the lower campground. I would rate this hike as moderate. Lots of casual day hikers passed us on the way up, but we were carrying heavy backpacks. I weighed my backpack before I left and it was 37 pounds. That is really heavy for overnight. The main source of weight was there is no water at Henniger. You have to bring everything all with you. This includes what you need to drink, cook and brush your teeth. I carried up 9 pounds of water plus my hammock and book. All things that I don’t usually have with me.

Almost to the campground.

Hauling My Backpack to The Top

We started up in the early afternoon knowing that Henniger gets crowded on the weekends. There are about 30 spots spread out over 3 levels and they are first come first serve. When we arrived there was only 1 tent set up at the lower campground and the coveted spot #1 was unoccupied. We decided that was where we were going to camp. Spot #1 is popular for its spectacular views of Los Angeles, the Pacific Ocean, and Catalina. It was a little cool and overcast so we could see Los Angeles and the ocean, but not Catalina. We were thankful for the cloud cover because there is no shade on the hike up. It would be a scorcher if the sun was out. Currently, you are allowed to have a fire at Henniger, but it has to be in their fire stove and not on the ground. In order to have a fire, you need to check in with a fireman that is on duty 24 hours a day. He will issue you a free permit to camp and make a fire. We found him inside the little museum that is at the top of the lower campground. There are bathrooms at the Henniger. I thought they would be vault toilets, but they’re flushing. Unfortunately, there was no toilet paper or running water.

Downtown Los Angeles is the little dot under the orange clouds.
Inside the Museum
An old fire look-out that has been relocated to Henniger Flats.

Setting Up Camp

After checking in we set up our tents and then tried to set up our hammocks. I might need to invest in some strap extenders. We had a hard time hanging our hammocks up, because the trees were either too close or too far away. I finally got mine up and enjoyed laying in it and reading a book.

The view from my hammock.
It was hard to concentrate on my book with this view.

Making Dinner in The Woods

We each made couscous for dinner. We’re trying out different backpacking meals for our longer trips this summer. After dinner, we noticed we only had a few pieces of wood by our stove. We had read that the Los Angeles Fire Department – Forestry Division provides firewood. We walked back over and talked to the fireman and yes, they do provide firewood. He was so nice that he offered to load some up in his truck and drive it over to our site. Sally had made some firestarters at home. She mixed vaseline and dryer lint together into little balls. It worked great and we had a fire going in no time. We sat around the firebox and enjoyed the warmth while we had shots of Patron. We stayed up long enough to see Los Angeles lit up at night. Eventually, we crawled into our tents. The temperature wasn’t bad, the low was 50 degrees. I woke up lots of time, mainly because of a crow flying above us screeching about “murder.” All in all, I slept better than I have on some of our trips.

Firewood that the fireman delivered for us.
A nightcap next to the fire.
The view of Los Angeles.

Good Morning

I woke up Sunday morning to three deers munching on the grass in camp. We watched them until they moved on. For breakfast I made coffee and I tried out making instant oatmeal by just adding the water to the little packet and it worked. No need to use a bowl, this is good information for our trip to the Sierras. After breakfast, we packed up our backpacks and headed down the hill. It took us less than an hour to get down and it was still early so it was cool outside. We didn’t see any snakes, but we talked to a man that saw a baby rattler. Again, we were thankful that it was cool outside. Overall, this is a perfect hike to test out your backpacking gear and practice packing and carry your backpack up an incline. Henniger Flats was pretty and I would go back again.

Two deer heading out of our camp.
Ready to hike down.

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