12 Hours in New York (A Meme)

It all started with this bagel.

At Murray’s Bagels on 13th Street and 6th Ave., I consumed a bagel so good–an everything bagel with plain cream cheese, Scottish Salmon, tomato, onion and capers–I thought to myself: “If I were told I had only 12 hours left to spend in New York after which I would be exiled forever, I would definitely have to stop here for my favorite New York bagel.”

Then I wondered: where else would I go? What else would I do? With 12 final hours in New York, how would I spent my time?

Then I thought: wouldn’t this be an interesting meme for people to talk about their own cities? The meme could be called “12 Hours in…” (you pronounce the “dot dot dot”) and people around the world could tell how they’d spend 12 final hours in their own city.

So here’s how I’d spend a final 12 hours in mine….

12 Hours in New York

by The Amateur Gourmet

For starters, let’s say you get to pick the 12 hour range: which 12 hours would you want to spend out of the day. I’d like to choose 11 am to 11 pm. And I’d like it to be a Wednesday, please, because it’s less crowded and less touristy on Wednesdays.

At 11 AM, I’d begin at Murray’s bagels where I’d eat the bagel you see above along with a Tropicana orange juice. This would take 20 minutes and during those 20 minutes I’d flip through that week’s New Yorker: there’s nothing like reading The New Yorker while eating a bagel in New York. I’d focus on “Tables for Two,” the cartoons, anything by Anthony Lane, John Lahr, or Alex Ross and roll my eyes at the caption contest at the end because those things drive me crazy (especially since I’m really bad at coming up with anything to submit.)

I’d stroll down 6th Ave. over to my favorite coffee shop, Joe The Art of Coffee, where I’d have a cappuccino and read a little of whichever book I was reading at the moment. I know it seems like a gratuitous waste of time, but some of my happiest New York moments have been reading at Joe and I’d have to have one last visit to that bright, sunny space where I wrote my book and finished reading Anna Karenina.

After that, at 12 PM, I’d stroll over to my favorite book store in New York: Three Lives & Company and browse those shelves one last time.

Would I go to Batch or Birdbath for a pastry before heading to my next destination? No, I’d have to save the calories: I wouldn’t want to stuff myself too soon–I still have 10 more hours.

Now, I’d hop on the F train and take it down to 2nd Ave. where I’d get out and visit another New York institution, one that you’d have to visit before leaving New York forever. And that, of course, is Katz’s Deli.

Here’s Diana with a pastrami sandwich during a recent visit:


The real question is: which would be my last Katz’s sandwich–pastrami or corned beef? Diana convinced me that the pastrami at Katz’s is less fatty and ultimately more enjoyable; but would I want the less fatty option on my last meal in New York?

Solution! Order both and eat a little bit of each. And order coleslaw too and a Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda.

But don’t finish anything: you’ll be too full for your final 9.5 hours. Now it’s 1:30 PM.

Here’s where we get cultural. I chose a Wednesday so I could see a matinee. I’d hop in a cab and race uptown to see a final Broadway show. My two greatest New York loves are New York theater and New York food; so for a final Broadway show, which would I see?

Let me do some soul searching here. Assuming this happened tomorrow (with the shows currently running), I could see the latest phenomenon–Harry Potter in Eqqus–or I could support a beloved new favorite before it closes (that being [title of show] which you should all go see because it’s fantastic.)

But, as a guy who grew up on Broadway shows, I’d have to pick a classic done extraordinarily well; and that’s easy enough with the current production of “Gypsy” starring Patti LuPone. A legendary performer in a legendary show, what better pick for a final visit to the New York theater?

We leave “Gypsy” at 4:30, probably 5, and that only gives us 6 more hours before leaving New York forever.

You’d think I’d go for more food, but I’d need to hit a museum before leaving. A museum and then the park and then a big blow-out dinner.

Which museum? My favorite New York museum, by far, is the Guggenheim. The architecture, the layout, the eclecticism; I love it. But, unfortunately, the Guggenheim can be very hit-or-miss with its exhibits. I went Friday with Diana to see the latest, a Louise Bourgeois exhibit, that we both really enjoyed (except the penis on a hook which raised my voice two octaves). To me the choice comes down to: the MoMA (which has my favorite permanent collection, since I love modern art); the Met, which is ginormous and overwhelming and yet one of the most awe-inspiring places in the city, or–for sentimental reasons–The Museum of Natural History where my parents used to take me, growing up, and where nothing really changes so that squid and the whale, which inspired the movie The Squid and The Whale, still looks exactly the same as it did 20 years ago.

But I pick MoMA. It’d be my last chance to visit “Starry Night” and those famous Picassos (the one with the four women especially); I’d go to the contemporary gallery and I’d go to the photography exhibit and then I’d leave the museum, running, at 6 o’clock to get one last look at Central Park.

But won’t it be too dark? No, I control daylight too (in this hypothetical) and for me it stays bright until 8 PM.

I take one last stroll through the park–no horse and buggy, that’s cheesy. I may even do a quick tour of the Central Park Zoo.

You may be wondering: “Adam, you’re a food blogger, why aren’t you eating more?”

Sure, I could grab as many Levain bakery cookies as I could handle; I could gorge on gnudi at The Spotted Pig. But then I’d feel sick and food doesn’t taste good when you have so much of it all at once.

No, I’d let my day build up to a final blow-out dinner at one of the city’s bastions of fine dining. To me, the choice comes down to Jean-Georges vs. Le Bernardin. I rule out Per Se because, in this scenario, I could still visit The French Laundry which would have similar food. And I rule out Daniel because, although the food is always wonderful there, I find it to be the most stuffy of all the 4-star restaurants; it’s also filled with much older wealthier people which, admittedly, is also true of Jean-Georges and Le Bernardin, but I remember seeing more people my age at the latter two, not so much the former.

Anyway, the logic doesn’t really matter because any of these places will provide a stellar final New York meal.

I’d have to go with Jean-Georges just because the location is perfect–right there at the foot of Central Park–and because, of all the fancy restaurants I’ve been to in my life, Jean-Georges dazzles the most with its food. It’s always inventive, always surprising, and always lip-smackingly good.

If possible, I’d write a passionate letter to Jean-Georges first and explain that this was my last meal I’d ever eat in New York and to spare no expense (in this hypothetical, I have zillions of dollars) in representing New York at its finest, pairing each course with a notable wine–maybe even wines from Long Island, just to really make the point–and perhaps paying homage to some of the city’s favorite foods: a super gourmet hot dog? A highbrow knish? An actual slice of DiFara pizza, just to be witty?

Hopefully the meal would end with just enough time to go to one of the touristy spots–Empire State Building, Top of the Rock–just to soak in a final view of the city before leaving. And there, on the roof, I’d take a deep breath and bid my favorite city farewell.

And thusly I would end my final 12 hours in New York.

Now the part where this becomes a meme…

On your blog or in the comments here, tell us how you’d spend a final 12 hours in your city. Where would you go? What would you do? What would you eat? It doesn’t need to be all about food, it should just be a sincere account of what you’d do….

Can’t wait to read your “12 Hours” posts. In a strange way, they may provide very useful city guides for people who have short visits to your place of residence. Speaking of which: if you live in Baltimore, you are very much encouraged to write a 12 Hours post. I’ll be there next weekend!

38 thoughts on “12 Hours in New York (A Meme)”

  1. I live in London. I’m imagining it’s a day in winter. I’d wake up as early as possible (but not too early because I only have 12 hours), at 8am, and I’d walk through Hyde Park in the morning, so that I could see the smoggy city waking up around the edges of the park and the swans waking up too and the grass would be all crackly and white and the air would still be cold and clean. I’d walk as much as possible because that’s the only way to really see London – down to Hyde Park Corner, past Buckingham Palace and up the mall to see all the tourists crowded round, through Trafalgar Square, down to the Houses of Parliament and along the Embankment until I got to Borough Market. Then I would have the best breakfast ever, eating a little bit from each stall, but definitely not missing bubble & squeak at Maria’s or the fresh fruit or the raclette. I think I’d keep walking then until I got to the Tate Modern (I’d also want to go to the BFI and sit in the pods in the archive room and watch some movies for free if I could), and I’d walk around my favourite galleries and go have coffee upstairs just for the view. After that I’d cross the river to St. Paul’s Cathedral and walk down through the City. I’d have one of those walking books with me that tells you all the various gruesome things that happened where you are/all the places where Charles Dickens lived to escape his creditors/that you’re standing on a plague pit. The walking would take up most of my 12 hours but it would be worth it – nothing replaces walking through London with all its small curiosities and incoherently laid out streets and the strange mixture of buildings, from 600 years to 6 months old. I’d take a break in the Middle Temple gardens by the fountain where it’s nice and peaceful, and then catch a bus (sitting on the top level of course) to Konstam for lunch. The food is amazing and 85% of the ingredients are sourced from the actual city. I could’ve chosen a lot of ‘traditional’ British restaurants that are delicious, like St. John, but Konstam is particularly unique to London. After that what to do is a really difficult choice. I would visit the British Library for a final time before leaving King’s Cross, I might want to see a play (time permitting), and then go to Foyle’s and say goodbye to the tank of piranhas in the children’s section, but I’d definitely also not want to miss visiting the V&A for the last time or the Museum of London, so I’d have to choose between all of those. I’d have afternoon tea at the Ritz in between all that. It’s probably about 6pm at this time – only 2 hours left! So, although this is definitely not feasible in reality, I’d speed up time a bit and get to Parliament Hill, where I’d climb up and watch the sun set over London below me. There are plenty of fantastic restaurants in London, I should probably go somewhere owned by Gordon Ramsay, for example, but I’d want to go somewhere I can eat like a happy glutton and eat with my hands and eat food that’s really basically delicious and which represents what really makes London, which is all the different cultures and people you can find here, so I’d go to Tayyab’s and eat myself to joy. Then I’d hail a black cab and a few personal sights – the huge roundabout at Shepherd’s Bush where all the cranes building that giant mall made it look strangely like the end of the world and that used to really fascinate me when I was 19 and drunk – and then fall asleep in the back, full and happy.

  2. I probably will spend my last 12 hours in Città di Castello. I must think about how they should ideally be spent. I keep hoping that the last moment will not be me screaming “Nooooo” as a crazed Italian driver runs a red light, but I have my suspicions.

  3. I got a great milkshake at a place called Googli’s in NYC – I have no idea where it is though. But I would seek it out and get a milkshake. I would also visit MOMA, see a Broadway show (one with Bernadette Peters), and go see Strawberry Fields. :)

  4. I’d agree with you on almost everything.

    I’d have to stop off somewhere for a Grays Papaya special though.

    I agree with Jean-Georges as a final choice, and the accompanying letter as well!

    Also, start the morning with a deluxe shave from the “Art of Shaving” place.

  5. My last 12 hours in San Antonio–

    A lazy day brunch at the Guenther House; maybe quiche, but probably some quiche and some champagne chicken enchiladas.

    A stroll across the street to the Blue Star Brewery for a glass of their peach ale, and then a leisurely walk (or maybe drive) through the King William district and Southtown to see the lovely houses one last time.

    A drive through Alamo Heights, again for the houses, on our way to the McNay modern art museum. After perusing the exhibits and choosing our favorites of the day, we would end up in the courtyard of the Spanish Revival house, sitting and listening to the fountains.

    Then back to the Riverwalk. I would get a riverside table at Boudro’s Texas Bistro. It would be horribly difficult to choose food, because this wouldn’t be dinner, not to mention that I’d be distracted watching the ducklings swim by…but this is the world’s best guacamole, and I’d have to taste the black and white soup (black bean and white cheddar, that is) and the mesquite-grilled, mushroom, corn and apricot-stuffed Texas quail one last time. I’d also be snickering at the comments of the tour boat guides passing by, as each one gives an entirely different tour.

    I would find I’d have to take the boat tour one last time, even though it’s touristy and sometimes cheesy. I would snicker at the whatever tour guide we had the whole way through.

    Then I’d stroll along the Riverwalk, admiring the plants and people-watching, up to Acenar for one last Kahlua Colada. I might have to have two or three, but I’d try to be good because again, we wouldn’t have gotten to dinner yet.

    Then I’d have to go into the Majestic theater. If I had time I’d see a show or concert, but even if not, I’d have to just admire the building one last time. I would have a hard time not thinking about all the wonderful evenings spent there.

    Then I would walk over a couple of blocks to Le Reve, which I can say from experience beats anything in NYC (take that, Adam!). THIS would be dinner, and it would take a long, long time. The owner-chef would be watching over the dining room from his kitchen window as usual, and as usual, everything would arrive with impeccable timing. I would inwardly ooh and ahh once more at every dish, every presentation, every wine pairing, and every wait person’s service. I would think again that this kind of service, where the waitstaff are seen and not heard, should be standard everywhere. They would not take precious seconds from my last evening with small talk. I would wonder again why foie gras is not served at every meal everywhere.

    Then there would be a half-hour drive north from downtown out to the hill country. There would be one last slow walk up a steep and winding driveway, and one last long view across the wide valley of trees. Glass of champagne in hand, I would sit in a porch swing under a 100-year-old live oak tree and watch the clouds sweep past the twinkling stars overhead.

  6. In Portland, my last 12 hours would have to include the sticky chicken wings at Pok Pok and a beer sample at Rogue Distillery. Maybe the “whole pig plate” at Higgins to end the night.

    In New York, the choices are daunting. Clinton St Bakery pancakes? Coffee at Joe (good choice!) The homemade cavatelli with Faicco’s hot sausage at Frankies Spuntino. A long walk, then soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai…

  7. A final day in San Diego would have to start with breakfast at Kono’s in Pacific Beach. It’s not the best food in San Diego, in fact it is known more for being cheap, but the food is solid (bacon and eggs, pancakes, etc) and it is located right next to the Crystal Pier. It will be fun to watch the people go by and listen to the surf while waiting for a table to open up.

    Next I would stick with the ocean-view theme by heading to the Glider Port above Black’s Beach. I would admire the view of La Jolla while watching the hang gliders and para-sailers leap off the cliff into the air.

    Next I would drive over to Coronado Island (don’t worry, it’s just a name — it’s actually a peninsula). I would stroll through the Hotel Del building up an appetite, and then I would head back over the the mainland and either grab some fish tacos at Fins (better than Rubio’s, not as good as Wahoo’s but easier to find in San Diego) or maybe a nice bean and cheese burrito at Roberto’s (or Aliberto’s or any of the “toe’s”). I would ask them to put the hot sauce in the burrito so I wouldn’t have to add it with every bite.

    Since it’s my last day here I would break the 4:00 rule and start drinking beer, which is haute cuisine in this town. My designated driver would take me to Ballast Point for a taste of their bourbon-barrel-aged stout, and then to San Diego Brewing to sample a few more local brews from small places that don’t seem to make enough beer to ship out of San Diego (Green Flash, Lightning, Alpine). I would finish up at O’Brien’s and try some of the craziest experimental beers that they seem to be able to get from local brewers.

    Now I have an appetite. For dinner I don’t think I’ll choose from among the best food in San Diego (which is probably The Market in Del Mar, though some more established places like The Marine Room, George’s, Jake’s, The Prado would be perfectly acceptable last meals). I’ll pick something with San Diego atmosphere. I could head to Old Town for some superb Mexican (especially the mole at the unique El Agave restaurant – I’ll miss that). But I had Mexican for lunch, so I’m thinking about getting some seafood at Bertrand’s at Mister A’s. I would sit out on the balcony and watch the Southwest Airlines jets land, count the American flags on top of the San Diego skyline, and enjoy my last view of San Diego Bay at night.

  8. I posted this on my blog, and I’m getting a lot of feedback from the locals in Memphis. There’s also someone in the Baltimore/DC area that’s commented. Check it out.

  9. I live in Marquette, Michigan, a city of about 20,700 people in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. If I only had 12 more hours in Marquette,my first order of business would be to go to Lawry’s and get a traditional pasty (beef and potatoes only please, lots of ketchup) and eat it sitting on the beach of Lake Superior. For dessert I’d have to stop at Jeffrey’s Cafe and get a slice of their super moist carrot cake (the secret ingredient is baby food!). Next stop: Dead River coffee, where the beans are roasted in-house to relax with the Marquette Monthly or a good book from the Peter White Library. Peter White has a cafe that serves mostly Greek food. The baklava and avgolemono are tasty, but I’m not sure if I’d be up for it in my last 12 hours, considering I would’ve just eaten Jeffrey’s carrot cake. After Dead River, I’d be off to my last movie at the Delft which is an old school movie theater with the most comfortable seats on the planet. After the movie I’d only have a few hours left, so I’d have to go to the Vierling for the whitefish and their blueberry beer and then take a stroll through downtown Marquette (and maybe pick up a cone of Jilbert’s Mackinac Island Fudge if I wasn’t too full) and walk back up the lake shore to Presque Isle and go all the way out on the break wall for my last view of Marquette.

  10. I live in a small city in Idaho. I’d start the day with coffee at a place called Java, which is the best coffeehouse in town. I’d have a Bowl of Soul, which is a mocha made with Mexican hot chocolate and tastes like the nectar of the gods.

    This would probably take me about 35 minutes, and, frankly, I’d go ahead and leave after that because I assume the place I’d be heading would be more interesting than my hometown.

  11. My last day in NYC would definitely include a bagel (from Absolute, though) and lunch at Westville. I haven’t fully thought through the other meals, and to be fair, there’s an overwhelming variety of options.

    My last day in Toronto… let me get back to you in a few months. I’ve had some good meals, but I’m sure I can do better.

  12. Are you kidding me? First of all, you were worried about stuffing yourself but that didn’t stop you from having a bagel with cream cheese and fish followed by a 2 pound Katz’s sandwich an hour later. Then, you waited hours before you finally had dinner. There was no dessert in your day??? Not a slice?? Not a visit to any of New York’s ethnic onclaves? You had a bagel, a sandwich, and dinner at a place that has a sister restaurant in Las Vegas. Have you been to New York before????

  13. Adam, you have once again proved why you are the ultimate KING of all food blogs! Loved the post, keep it coming!

  14. Adam, you have once again proved why you are the ultimate KING of all food blogs! Loved the post, keep it coming!

    By the way, to Pathetic Day, obviously you don’t recognize the point of this post. It’s Adam’s day, not yours so chill out about dessert.

  15. I live in Arlington, Texas. We don’t have much of anything special but here goes. For breakfast I would start at Joe’s in Mansfield, TX, off of broad street. Homemade food that’s always good – I like their Eggs Benedict. For lunch, I would go back to the Fish Bone in Arlington, off of Collins Street across from the new Dallas Cowboys stadium that’s being built. The Fish Bone is a small hole-in-the-wall place that looks like a gnat next to the massive stadium. They serve fried seafood – massive quantities for a decent price. I would stroll around the water gardens in downtown Fort Worth and remember going there after my prom, still in prom clothes and feeling like a princess. I would have to say goodbye to the Fort Worth zoo. They have come such a long ways compared to my first disappointing visit after being used to the awesome San Diego zoo. I would have to visit the Botanical Gardens, including the Japanese gardens. I would feed the Koi for the last time, probably tossing the feed on a turtle’s back, watching the poor sucker try to stay afloat as Koi jump all over him. I would finish back in down town Fort Worth. It’s a nice place to stroll at night. Take pictures of the beautiful Bass Hall. Dinner at Del Friscos with a $48.95 bone-in ribeye.

  16. Here’s my last 12 hours in Madison, WI:

    I would start a Saturday morning off at Cafe Continental for a late breakfast. They have the best french toast in town, in my opinion, so I would go straight for the Frangelican Toast, made with Frangelico and topped with roasted hazelnuts. I would make one of my dining companions order the Pecan French Toast, my second favorite.

    After this leisurely breakfast, I would brave my way through the crowds at the farmer’s market around the capitol square and perhaps pick up some fresh strawberries or other ripe fruit to snack on. Before leaving the capitol, I would make sure to marvel at its architecture one last time and ascend the stairs to the observation deck to get a great view of downtown and the two lakes. Next would be a walk down state street, perhaps stopping at the Museum of Contemporary Art to see what interesting works were currently on exhibit.

    For lunch and the afternoon, I would head to the Washington Hotel Coffee Room, where I would drink some coffee and eat a summer sausage sandwich. All of their food is local and organic, and most importantly, simple and tasty. I would bring a book to read or perhaps the newspaper and spend a few hours relaxing and watching the knitters knit from the adjoining knitting shop.

    Before heading off to dinner, I would take a hike at one of the great natural areas in Madison. I might walk through the prairies at the Arboretum or head over to Cherokee Marsh.

    Dinner would definitely be spent at Eno Vino on the west side of town. Every time in the past that I have dined there, I have walked away with a high from experiencing all of the playful combinations of flavors and aromas. This time, I would bring a large group along, so we would be able to order several dishes and taste them all. Some wine would be in order to start, since it is a wine bar. We would follow that with some crab cakes and some tuna tartare with wasabi on crostini and endive. Later in the meal, we would have gnocchi with goat cheese and maybe a flatbread with fresh vegetables. A few desserts would complete this glorious meal, perhaps some strawberry profiteroles or whatever other tasty sounding special was on the menu. I would leave pleasantly full, but not overstuffed.

  17. I came back to read everyone else’s days and just saw the comment above me – thanks Paul! I think I might actually have to do my day one of these days.

  18. Aw, I came back here to read other people’s days, and I saw the comment above me. Thanks Paul! I might just actually have to do my day, one of these days.

  19. Milwaukee, WI

    As Wisconsin is the home of the best beers in the USA I think a tribute to this most interesting beverage would be given throughout my last 12 hours. The morning would start out at Cafe Hollander. This cool little pub/cafe serves up a 12 page .pdf list of beers, many of them Belgian. What’s breakfast without a brewski? I would order the Benelux pancakes and a pint of Tripel Karmeliet. Of course a cup of the best local coffee (Alterra) would be a must so the next stop would be Alterra on the Lake. Alterra is a great local roaster who is making a name for itself throughout the state. Their cafe on the shore of Lake Michigan is in an awesome old pump house that was used to move water from the lake up to a Monastary which isn’t there anymore. (The city sits high above the water.) After a cup of joe and a stroll along the lake I would make my way to Elsa’s on the Park. Elsa’s is a great upscale burger joint on Cathedral Square. Of course this meal would have to be washed down with a pint of Wisconsin’s own Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat. It’s a great wheat beer. A must try for any beer lover. For a mid afternoon snack I would have to stop at two places. First at Trocaderos. It’s a French themed cafe that has a good wine list and some great cheese plates. It is also on the corners of Milwaukees two busiest bar scene streets. Next stop would be for dinner at the Sanford. Sanford D’Amato has really put a nice touch on this place. It is high class all the way but you will pay for it. After dinner and some local Wisconsin wines (which are very good) I would have to make a stop at Cubanitas for Milwaukee’s best Mojito and the best empenadas I have ever had. Milwaukee has some great latin flair. What washes down a cheesy empenada better than another tall frosty pint of beer. I think a Spotted Cow from the award winning New Glarus brewery would be in order. The night would not be complete, however, without a stop at Leons for some frozen custard. If you don’t know what frozen custard is then you HAVE to come to Milwaukee to find out. Think about the best double-churned high fat ice cream you have ever eaten then imagine something even better and you might come close to frozen custard. Do NOT think pudding. It’s not frozen pudding.

  20. great meme Adam!

    if I had 12 hours left in Sydney, I’d hope it was a signature Sydney beautiful clear sunny day for starters! hhmmm.. breakfast at Gusto in Coogee (my hood) – bacon gusto roll (bacon, poached egg, spinach, cheese, tomato, garlic mayo) and a soy flat white, then a stroll down to Coogee Beach, probably a swim and soaking up some sun. Drive to Rozelle (a last trip over the Anzac Bridge), pick up picnic ingredients at AboutLife (www.aboutlife.com.au), and meet friends at Callan Park for a loungy picnic by the waterfront. My thesis (due in 4 weeks) is based on this park, so I’d need to visit one last time, plus it’s gorgeous! after that, have to head through the city, maybe just a drive through, and definitely over the Cahill Expressway, for the best view of the Opera house and Harbour Bridge. Then over the Harbour Bridge to the northside, to one of the harbourside beaches – Balmoral, or Chowder Bay, a few bottles of reisling and a bucketful of prawns to watch the sun set over the water. nothing cultural, I wouldn’t even bother to fit in visits to any big Sydney restaurants, just friends and scenery in the Emerald City!

  21. My last 12 hours in San Francisco.

    The day is Saturday and it is late September, just like now. The sky is clear blue and it is feeling warm already at 8:30 in the morning…but you know if is closer to fall than summer, just a feeling in the air. I take Bart from Oakland where I live to the Embarcadero and walk the couple of blocks to the Ferry Building, my empty sack slung over my shoulder and my cute, but comfortable shoes propelling me to the farmer’s market there. First stop, Green Gulch Farms – where I quickly snab several little gems, several handfuls of arugula and some radicchio. Then, I get in line at the Blue Bottle Coffee stand for the perfect latte. Next a walk through the market where I pick up a bagful of early girl tomatoes, a bunch of fragrant Italian Basil, some fresh goat feta and a loaf of Acme whole wheat levain. The stomach is starting to growl so I make my way to the Primavera stand where I order ceviche on corn tortillas with avocado, tomato salsa and fresh made mayonnaise. I feel like I have died and gone heaven…but also full, so I walk along the Embarcadero down to the ballpark and then back to the Ferry Building watching the shoppers, runners, tourists and locals enjoy the beautiful day, the gorgeous SF skyline on one side and the bay on the other. I then walk down to Bart, and make my way to the Civic Center station where I make my way out into the sunshine and walk the few blocks to Grove Street to hit my favorite clothing boutique, MAC (Modern Appeal Clothing), owned and managed by Chris and Ben Ospital, this boutique has gorgeous clothing from local and European designers…one of my favorite local designers, DEMA, sells her clothes here. In fact today I find a gorgeous tunic by DEMA which is made from a lovely purple printed fabric reminiscent of Africa, with an added DEMA touch, sleeves in an entirely different printed fabric that somehow goes perfectly. Score. I decide to wear the new piece now because it looks so good. But alas the shoes don’t go with, so I walk over to Hayes Steet/Gough to visit Gimme Shoes..I find the perfect pair of Chie Mihara flats that go great with my skinny jeans and my new DEMA top. It is about 1:00 now and I am ready for lunch! I hop back on Bart and head to the 16th/Mission station where I alight and walk a few blocks to the foodie mecca that is 18th& Guerrero. I face my usual dilemma, do I get a pastry at Tartine or a pizza at Delfino Pizzaria down the street. I opt for the pizza but decide to get a Vahlrona chocolate eclair to go(I just so happened to have a mini-insulated pack with me that I always bring to the market) to preserve the eclair for later consumption. I order the Pizza Magherita with Bufalo mozzarella cheese and a glass of a cool fizzy Italian red that the waitress assures me goes great with the pizza…yummm, one bite of the delicious thin crust and the burst of basil, tomato flavor is to die for….for the second time today, I have died and gone to heaven. I am feeling a bit woozy after the lunch, so I stroll over to 22nd and Valencia for a cup of perfectly brewed coffee at Ritual coffee, my second favorite coffee roaster in the city (Blue Bottle is first). After I finish my coffee while watching the interesting crowd click away at their computer keyboards at Ritual, I pop into DEMA’s own shop next store for a quick peek. I spy a sleeveless cotton dress made out of a bright green, blue and gold fabric with a batique pattern, it has a fitted bodice and a fuller skirt and it fits me perfectly…it needs a little something else so I find a fabric belt with a contrasting batique print in reds and golds to wrap around the waist..voila! A vision. I decide I will change into this for dinner later. For now, it is time to walk off the calories just consumed so I walk back to 16th & Mission, take Bart to the Embarcadero and decide to walk North from the Ferry Building to Fort Mason and the Marina. It is a long walk but beautiful (and I changed back into my comfy shoes). The walk takes me past the Piers on the Embaracadero, through Fisherman’s Wharf and then finally up to Fort Mason park with spectacular views of the Bay. Looking out at Alcatraz, I see hundreds of sailboats floating in the bay. At Fort Mason, I see the signs for the annual Friends of San Francisco Library Book sale, one of my very favorite book events of the year. Luckily for me, I have volunteered at this event in the past and know some of the organizers so I know I can stash any books I find for pick up later. There are thousands of books of every kind..I happen to love Food Lit, books on Fashion, Modern Art and good fiction and I find a stack of gems for reading pleasure later. Wow! as usual time flies while browsing books and it is already 5:30 pm. I plan to have dinner around 8:00, so I decide to walk to the Marina and sit on the grass and enjoy my chocolate eclair. The rich thick chocolate on top and the creamy custard inside and the perfect puffy dough make me want to run, jump and play, alas, I don’t feel up to that after eating the eclair, but I do walk all the way along the waterfront to just right under the Golden Gate Bridge..watching the hunky windsurfers conquer the waves and the locals walking their dogs. I have wiled away another couple of hours and it is time for my last meal of this perfect day, so many choices! But I decide on Perbacco on California Street in the heart of the Financial District. I love the authentic Northern Italian cuisine of chef Stefan Terje and I must have some on my last day in the city. I do a quick change into my new dress in a public bathhouse (they are clean on the Marina) and hail a cab. I am dropped off at 8 pm and in the bar is my sweet husband waiting to join me in our last SF feast. We order a plate of the housemade salumi with the house made breadsticks and a glass of persecco each. Then I order Pappardelle with braised short ribs, and Devil’s Gulch Rabbit with chanterelles, my hubby orders handcut tagliatelli with 5 hour pork sugo and porcini mushrooms and Liberty Farms Duck Breast..we share everything, all delicious with a 2001 Nebbiolo from Lombardia. We decide to skip sweet dessert and order two cheeses instead – a Robiola Tre Latte and a Toma Bielese. We finish off this perfect meal with a flight of Grappas: Torcolato, Traminer, Sarpa, and Barrique.

    I am satisfied that I made my last 12 hours in SF perfect in every way.

  22. 12 hours in Beijing. Spring or autumn. Friday. Noon to midnight. A blue sky.

    Noon-1 PM: Start the day w/ a bang–Peking Duck. A few locations to decide between. Let’s settle on Qianmen Quanjude, the oldest duck restaurant in the capital and one of the best. Certainly the best-located. Rhombus-shaped slices of the best parts of the skin first–the most decament part of the meal. The meat rich as well. This takes me to…

    1 PM-7 PM: A nice long bicycle ride, with stops:

    – near the duck restaurant, what was once the oldest neighborhood in Beijing, Dazhalan, is rapidly becoming a shell of its former self, thanks to the wrecking ball and local govt. Still, I take a look, trying to remember how it looked when I arrived in Beijing years ago, and leave for…

    – Tiananmen Square, not far off. And through it.

    – the street on the eastern side of the Forbidden City shaded by scholartrees

    – I certainly stop for snacks…certainly this must include a jian bing (Chinese savory crepe); see the following video


    – …candied haw fruit…

    – …duck neck, possibly

    – eventually, I make my way to the heart of the old city near the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, the lakes district (several connected lakes). Lots of old courtyard houses and hutongs. Bars. I stop for a beer or two. Teahouses. I get a cup of tea. I take out a book. I watch the locals doing their thing. I stay here until the sun starts to set, then head to my favorite restaurant in the city.

    7:30-9 PM: A meal at my favorite restaurant in the city, including my favorite eggplant dish in China, involving LOTS of finely chopped garlic and even more Sichuan (numbing) peppercorns…Lots of beer/other alcohol to drink.

    9 PM-10:30 PM: I ditch the bike. If there’s time, a taxi to the embassy district. One final walk through there.

    10:30 PM-midnight: Then a taxi to Beijing University and one last walk through there.

  23. This is brilliant! I’m doing one thing each day as if I’m living each day as my last. It gives me more time to fit everything in – but when I go back to NY in a month I just might actually devote 12 hours to doing my fave stuff!

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