USA Page 5
Columbus Circle by night, right on the South-West corner of Central Park. Immediately behind the column is the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
On the 26th I took a day-trip to Princeton University in nearby New Jersey. On the subject of Ivy League universities having too much money, here is a fine example. This is Princeton's Ice Hockey rink. MIT has an ice rink too, but it is only open during the winter months.
The architecture in Princeton is much more European-influenced and much nicer to look at than, say, MIT. Something I've noticed about American Universities, at least the ones I've been to, is that there is a great shortage of campus maps. It took me all of half an hour to find the building I was actually looking for.
And here it is - The Woodrow Wilson School of Government, housed in Robertson Hall. Quite possibly the ugliest building on campus, at least on the outside. I was able to sit in on a class during my visit. I sat in on "Course 542 International Economics", a master's level course, but one which I found surprisingly easy to follow, especially given the fact that I have no formal training whatsoever in economics. It was very interesting.
Now for the real reason that I bothered to take the one hour train trip to come to Princeton for only a day - Hans Blix. He gave a talk on the challenges and the great need for disarmament. He spoke much of the cold war as well as more recent events including, of course, the war on Iraq.
This very grand looking building is Grand Central Station.
Continuing my food adventures, I went to the Grand Hyatt (relax dad, I didn't order EVERYTHING). I couldn't decide whether I wanted seafood more, or just a good hearty steak. Luckily, they had this dish - "Surf and Turf", penne with chunks of crab meat on the left, kobe beef on the right.
Desert was equally special with cake, stawberries dipped in brandy and some very very rich dipping chocolate mmmmMMMmmmm. The meal was very nice, but not as nice as the casual dining (no jacket required) section of Jean Georges from the night before. After this meal, I had my first big scare of the trip - I lost my camera. Or so I thought. It had fallen out of my pocket when I got up after my meal and, luckily, it had found its way under my seat where it waited patiently for my return not twenty minutes later.
Downtown Manhattan is where the business district is at. If you don't find the above photo funny... that's probably a good thing.
Right in the heart of it - the NYSE, or New York Stock Excange for those of you who didn't grow up with an accountant for a father. Security around the area was super-tight with all vehicles being thoroughly searched before being allowed to enter.
The Brooklyn Bridge - an marvel of modern engineering. In its day, the world's largest suspension bridge and the worlds first ever steel wire suspension bridge. The towers were also, for a time, the tallest structures in the western hemisphere. Built in 1883, it was plagued by problems (like the guy who designed it dying) but it did eventually get built. It really is very impressive.
The United Nations Building. Again, security in the area was super-tight with many groups of police patrolling with automatic weapons.
The New York City subway is truly marvelous. Surprisingly, it is not the busiest underground system in the world (bested by Moscow and Tokyo) but it is certainly a very good one. An MTA ticket will get you anywhere on the subway or on the extensive bus system, above ground.
Now the tallest building in Manhattan, the Empire State Building towers above 34th Street.
86 Floors up, and one gets a great view of New York. Although Mexico City's greater metropolitan area is supposedly slightly more populated than New York's, I'm sure New York, or at the very least, Manhattan, is more densely populated.
Looking south, we can see the towering buildings in the business district surrounding Wall Street. If you look very carefully, you might be able to make out the Statue of Liberty on an island to the right of the main body of buildings.
An integral part of experiencing New York is, of course, to take a New York taxi. These turn out to not actually be too expensive, due mostly to the fact that distances aren't that great. Here we are, driving along broadway towards Columbus Circle.
That night, I dined in a quaint little establishment called "Per Se", by famous chef Thomas Keller of "French Laundry" fame. The restaurant is located in the spiffy new Time-Warner centre which overlooks Columbus Circle. Getting a table at this restaurant is notoriously difficult and my persistent checking-up on my status on the waitlist may have had something to with me getting a spot in the end (I called about once every hour all day). If you check out this list, you will find Per Se to be quite highly regarded.
Right from the start, I had the feeling that they might have mistaken me for a food reviewer or something similar, as I was given a complimentary glass of very fine champagne. Turns out that it was because it was my first visit. I also spoke with the floor manager for the night who asked if we could try something "a little different" tonight. I was delighted and honoured that such a restaurant as Per Se would experiment on such a person as myself, and I happily agreed. Above, one of the more "conventional" dishes - "Oysters and Pearls" : Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar.
In addition to the orgasmic food, I had non-alcoholic drinks matched to my meal... at my request. The sommelier obviously thought this was a fantastic idea and went along with it, trying some things which he had clearly tried before and some other things which he... hadn't. This dish is a strong contender for the coveted accolade of being "Daniel's favourite dish ever". White Truffle Oil-Infused Custard : with "Ragoût" of Périgord Truffles.