It seems this long weekend turned into something of a stay-cation. Friends and family visiting NYC turned into a weekend of discovery and re-discovery. It's been a while since I have just walked around in the city or gone to new neighborhoods. Friday night the husband and I went further into Brooklyn to Park Slope to meet up with a friend, and ended up having dinner before-hand at Barrio on 7th Ave. I love this place because it has creative cocktails, nice ambiance and pretty solid upscale Mexican food. The menu is refreshingly vegetarian-friendly, however I couldn't resist the giant hanger steak with roasted potato hash. A college girlfriend was visiting for the weekend, and having lived here for a couple of years she wanted to re-unite with old friends and NYC life. We met her and some others at The Gate on 5th Ave, which has a nice outdoor patio area, pretty popular with 30-something Park Slopers. Honestly, I could take it or leave it - too many smokers and no food - but people bring their dogs there, which I love.

Saturday brought me into Manhattan early for brunch with the visiting friend (& company) at Cowgirl Hall of Fame on Hudson. Haven't been there in years, and then only for dinner. They had a pretty decent brunch featuring buttermilk biscuits, chicken apple sausage and a sweet waitstaff. Not cheap, though, if you like a cocktail with your eggs! We roved around Christopher and Bleeker, and made our way up Greenwich to the High Line. I visited the High Line when it first opened, but there are more food vendors and places to sit now. My favorite thing about the High Line, as a local, is the smell of all the plants they've placed up there. The wildflowers, grasses, and herbs in remind me of living in the country and happening upon some abandoned train tracks near a corn field. From there we walked through Chelsea Market to enjoy more delicious smells. Seeing all the fancy cupcakes spurred a conversation about where to find the best, and the consensus was Buttercup Bake Shop. My visiting friend also wanted to revisit Central Park and sit in the grass, like we used to spend the summer weekends. So we hit Buttercup on W. 72nd St. for cupcakes (I resisted the urge and got a smoothie) and sat in the grass in the park listening to a random string quartet play. I very rarely hang out on the Upper West side, but our friend knew a great wine bar where we could rest and decide a dinner plan, called Wine and Roses. Labor Day weekend is wonderful for scoring normally hard-to-get outdoor tables and hip spots, so we were lucky enough to kill a couple of bottles on the sidewalk and girl-talk. For dinner we went down to Tribeca, another neighborhood I love to explore but never know where to go once I'm there. The girls wanted Steak Frites, so we went to Odeon, which I'd never heard of. We shared a small plate of summer corn ravioli that was amazing, although it's the only thing vegetarian on the menu, I would bring my husband just for those. I had some standard quality french onion soup and a seared tuna steak over sweet tomatoes and eggplant puree. I would say the tuna was a little sub-par, not being seasoned quite enough, but the girls all had either hanger steak or strip steak frites and it was amazing melt-in-your mouth deliciousness.

And the journey continued 2 blocks up at Brandy Library for some swank drinks and complementary candies from the owner. My visiting friend was exhausted and left us, but my friend who lives here also decided to accompany me out for one more drink at Sin Sin in the East Village, since my husband's friend got us in for a party with a DJ friend. Normally I hate Sin Sin with a passion since it's so crowded and pushy, but the upstairs was chill with the husband's friend's friend spinning.

Sunday we discovered Fairway Market in Redhook. We happened to have the car here, so although we were tired we took the opportunity to check it out. That place is huge and crazy! It is so different here in Brooklyn, than Manhattan, in that you can drive 10 minutes and park in a parking lot, use a full size shopping cart, and even find Lobsters for $4.99/lb. Although the perfect stacks of produce and tempting smells were great, the place was quite an overwhelming maze of products. I think they really might have everything here, if you can find it! The best find was some cheese we picked up called Beemster Classic 2 year aged Gouda - excellent!

Some of the husband's family was visiting from Chicago, so I threw together a hot bean dip to tide all 11 of us over while we chatted. Later we decided to take the sister-in-law and cousin out to the Lower East Side for another late night. That neighborhood is always changed, but you can always depend on an endless row of bars and restaurants to hop in and out of. We hung out in Libation for a while, then Verlaine, and finally cabbed it over to MacDougal for a Falafel at Ali Baba's (only because Kati Roll Co. was closed!).

Finally today we got to sleep a little and hang out at home. We watched Baboons on NatGeo, and about 3 hours of Anthony Bourdain while we drank coffee and I experimented (unsuccessfully) with making banana nutella crepes. Just a few more loads of laundry, some packing and then off to Montreal tomorrow for work.
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