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New York New York: Where we slept, where we ate

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent three days in New York with my mom and my sister last week. I had been there a few times before, my mom once, and little sister never, which meant we had slightly different interests - I, for instance, wasn't necessarily wanting to go the Empire State Building. But it worked out well anyway!

I took the bus from DC to NYC. The Chinatown buses used to be the only option but now there are many, and they are all pretty convenient: they stop downtown DC, they let you off somewhere around Penn Station, and they even have free wireless internet on the bus! I took the Bolt Bus and it was comfortable. It also helped that it was the middle of the day on a Monday; not much traffic at all.

I find lodging in New York to be just ridiculously expensive. It seems silly to spend a lot of money on a small room so we decided to stay at a hostel, but a hostel that had nice, private rooms with some extra amenities: private bathroom, fridge, microwave, kitchen sink, wireless internet... The place was called Central Park Hostel and it worked out really well. It is on 103rd Street West, not far from Central Park. I have been told that ten years ago, you would not want to stay in that area, but now it is fine. It was very close to a Subway stop and I think it was a great, economical choice.

My family is not exactly gourmets, but we tried to enjoy some of the abundance of food that New York City offers. The most memorable meal of our short stay was at Risotteria on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. The restaurant caters to people who can't eat gluten, like my mom, who has Celiac Disease. Italian food is very flour based (mainly wheat), making it a difficult choice for Celiacs. Risotteria is heaven for people who can't eat gluten, as they offer gluten free options for pizza, pasta, panini and other Italianfoods - even their bread sticks are gluten free! (They also have salads and risotto, which is made of rice and therefore a safe choice.)

In Norway, it is relatively easy to find gluten free pizza in restaurants, but I haven't seen that much in the US. My mom was thrilled to order a thin crust authentic Italian pizza and loved it! My sister and I loved our risotti and we all shared some gluten free tiramisu for dessert.

I have never seen a restaurant with so much communication between the tables (granted, they were very close) - people were constantly sharing experiences and expressing their delight in indulging in pizza. We heard a lot of "I haven't had pizza in forever!" There also seemed to be quite a few regulars who sat at the bar and ordered their pizza. They even have gluten free beer!

The funniest thing, though, was when the lady on the table next to ours started speaking to us in Norwegian! Turns out she is originally from Norway but lives in Brooklyn with her daughter and American husband. She had recently been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and was just thrilled to have pizza again! Very much of a small world kind of experience.

Click here to read a cool article about the place, "For the Gluten-Averse, a Menu That Works."

Comments (5)

I don't know what is more amazing, a gluten-free restaurant or the fact that you met another Norwegian there!

I'm going to make a note about that hostel for future reference. Another good budget-friendly place is the Larchmont Hotel in Greenwich Village. I stayed there once and loved it, esp. the fact that it was only a block north of Washington Square Park (I love that area). It's a European style hotel which means shared bathrooms but it wasn't a problem at all.

The Bolt Bus sounds very cool!

Jane:

You make me want another NYC trip--every once in a while that seems necessary--just like going to Maine (for lobster). Wonder how we would do at the hostel?

What a neat experience to have someone from Norway at the next table. Serendipity things like that are such fun!

I have never been to New York City and I grew up in Massachusetts!! For some reason I have always associated NYC with danger and crime. I know that it not true but it still is in my head.

How was the gluten free pizza? I do not do well with wheat and try to stay gluten free. Fortunately I do not have celiac disease so I can cheat sometimes. If I ever do get my butt to NYC, I am going to check out the Risotteria.

sandrac:

New York is painfully expensive, but that hostel sounds like a great deal for you, your Mom and your sister.

It sounds like you all had a wonderful time!

I find it interesting that it's relatively common to find gluten-free pizza in Norway, is celiac disease quite common in Norway? I know several people here (all women, curiously) with the disease but have never seen gluten-free pizza. Which is a shame, I'm sure demand exists.

Chiocciola:

Thanks for the hotel tip Annie!

Jane, I think you would do just fine at the hostel! It was clean and the location was fine and it was easy on the wallet.

Girasoli, the gluten free pizza was fantastic! No aftertaste or anything like that. The breadsticks were delicious too. According to the NYT article, it took them something like 40 dozen batches to get them right!

Sandra, I don't think Celiac Disase is any more common in Norway. But they have been pretty good about informing about it, so that the chain pizzerias have put gluten free stuff on the menu.

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