new york city in (mostly) photos

In October 2011, Sam and I were all set to take a trip to New York City over the weekend between our birthdays. About one week before we were to leave, my father fell and ended up being hospitalized. It was a complicated hospitalization, and one of a series of events that led to his rapid health decline. Needless to say, we cancelled that trip.

One year later, in 2012, we planned a make-up trip on a similar weekend in October. The goal this time was to celebrate my 40th birthday in the city, to really do it up. We bought tickets for a Broadway show, scored dinner reservations at Eleven Madison Park, and had dinners with good friends planned. And, just as the year before, another health issue  – my husband’s this time – prompted us to cancel the trip about a week before we were to leave.

I decided to try one last time. I booked airline tickets and made a hotel reservation. We would spend this year’s birthday – my 41st – in New York City. And if something happened to intervene, I knew that we would give up on ever trying to plan an October trip again, especially to New York.

The day before we were to leave, my son fell head first – face first, really – into the corner of the coffee table. His screams were awful to hear. I was certain that he’d fractured his skull. Once he calmed down, he seemed relatively okay, despite the immediate swelling around his nose and upper lip. We took him to the emergency room just in case. And selfishly, I thought, This is it. This is the event that will cause us to miss New York.

Because he is one lucky kid, though, he escaped without any broken bones or lost teeth. And because we are the luckiest of parents, we were able to leave Oliver and his sister with their Grammy for a glorious long weekend in Manhattan.

And this trip? It was a total splurge. Every bit of it.

(If you’re interested, I’ve listed the places we visited during the trip at the bottom of the post.)

empire state building

the nomad hotel

the nomad hotel

book of mormon

shake shack

central park, nyc

central park, nyc

central park, nyc

central park, nyc

tired feet

eleven madison park

trinity cemetery

The cemetery at Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, founded in 1842.

new york stock exchange

alexander hamilton us custom house

statue of liberty

pizza at lombardi's

birthday gelato

My birthday gelato at Barbuto.

*   *   *   *   *

The Details


The NoMad Hotel


Book of Mormon – Hysterical, just as everyone says. I’m not a fan of musicals, but this one was an exception. I still feel the tiniest bit guilty about laughing so loudly during certain parts.


The NoMad Bar – Appetizers and drinks. I highly recommend the brussels sprouts and the wonderful cocktail, Mother’s Little Helper.

The Breslin Bar & Dining Room – An impromptu breakfast with a dear friend.

Shake Shack – We had to try this, of course.

Eleven Madison Park – Complete splurge. Excellent meal. Sam nearly choked on a puntarella (an Italian bitter green). It was memorable, in so many ways.

Lombardi’s on Spring Street – Thin crust pizza cooked in a coal oven. It made for a fantastic lunch after walking all over downtown Manhattan.

Barbuto – Sam and I had the most wonderful dinner with Gail and Jackie and Olga and Andrew. The meal was perfect, but the conversation and company was even better.


Gotham Walking Tours – We took the Lower Manhattan tour, a three hour walking tour of the downtown area including NYC’s civic center, Wall Street, and the South Street Seaport. Lina was an excellent tour guide.

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29 Responses to “culinary institute of america – the bootcamp, day one”

  1. Velva — October 2, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

    This is so exciting! What a great opportunity to experience a professional kitchen and culinary school life. Awesome!!!

  2. Heather in SF @HeatherHAL — October 2, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

    I can’t wait to read your future posts, you did something I too have dreamed of doing. How exciting! Your pictures are wonderul, congratulations on doing this course!

  3. Macaroni Mama — October 2, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    Oh, my goodness! Can’t wait to hear all the minute details of your time at the Culinary Institute.

  4. Snippets of Thyme — October 2, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

    This sounds like an incredible experience. I’ve been seeing your tweets about it and it is so fun to take a peek inside what it was like. I would just love this!

  5. Winnie — October 2, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

    GREAT recap MJ! Loved having you and it’s so fun to see what you were up to at the CIA 🙂

  6. So interesting to read the other side. Me … I went to culinary school full-time (here, I wrote all about it: “Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood” – ). A different world. Indeed!

  7. Paula — October 2, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

    I have enough trouble preparing meals in my own kitchen…without anyone around me or watching me so I really commend you for taking this boot camp and preparing lunch (chicken and chips look great) in a kitchen that was new to you and with people you didn’t know. Enjoy reading about your first day and looking forward to hearing all about your second day.

  8. Irvin @ Eat the Love — October 2, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

    OMG. I love the idea of going to a book camp at CIA! What a great an experience. I’m impressed that you had time to actually take pictures in what I’m sure would be a super intense situation. I can’t wait to read the rest of your posts…

    Oh and the fried chicken looks better than finger lickin’ good!

  9. Gail — October 3, 2011 @ 7:51 am

    MJ, you took to this bootcamp like a duck to water (or should I say like duckfat to french fries?). Can’t wait to read part 2.
    Going to culinary school was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
    Great to see you this past weekend!!!

  10. So glad you had a great time!!! And Chef Bruno is fantastic! It was great getting to see you and I can’t wait to read part two!

  11. FUN!

  12. DessertForTwo — October 3, 2011 @ 9:47 am

    How fun! Thanks for sharing with us 🙂

  13. Maggie @ kitchie coo — October 3, 2011 @ 11:21 am

    Oh! This was so fun to read!! I have been dying to take one of these classes and so glad to hear it is well worth it. I found your blog from the CIA Facebook Page. Nice! Can’t wait to read more!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — October 3rd, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

      Stay tuned! Part 2 coming later this week…

  14. Jason — October 3, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

    I am signed up for the week long boot camp in San Antonio next month, Im getting very excited! It’s really cool that you had time to snap a new photos, did you use a point and shoot for an SLR? What did you guys do the second day?

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — October 3rd, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

      Jason, you’ll have a blast. I used a point-and-shoot since I could carry it in my jacket pocket. I asked Chef at the beginning of the course if it would be okay and he was great about letting me. Stay tuned for my wrap up of day 2, coming later this week!

  15. Kate Defrise — October 3, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    I love this. My family gave me a week-long bootcamp for my birthday and I’m planning on going in January. I am so excited! And a bit intimidated. Thanks for sharing your experience. Do tell about day 2

  16. sweetsugarbelle — October 3, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

    You are so lucky…this looks fun.

  17. Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — October 3, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

    I definitely looked into this program too! Sounded like a lot of fun and a great way to experience it in a short, more affordable time frame. Good for you!

    Looking forward to reading more about the experience…

  18. Brian @ A Thought For Food — October 4, 2011 @ 8:00 am

    And proud you should be! What a marvelous experience and the food looks divine!

  19. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — October 4, 2011 @ 8:06 am

    MJ – I’ve been to some culinary courses here at George Brown which is pretty amazing by my dream is the CIA. Even just for a bootcamp like this – I would give my eye teeth. Looks like it was everything you imagined and more – can’t wait to read Part II!

  20. Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — October 4, 2011 @ 11:02 am

    I LOVE this post. I feel like I was there with you. I would be so nervous too, I appreciate how honestly written this is. I would love to do one of these bootcamps but I would be so scared!

  21. Lemon — October 4, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

    This sounds so exciting, such a great experience you had. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Nutmeg Nanny — October 5, 2011 @ 11:45 am

    I love these bootcamps…I really need to take one!

  23. Oh man, this takes me back to my early days of culinary school. You captured the stress of working in an unfamiliar kitchen with strangers, looking for missing ingredients, cooking utensils, and delivering a meal on time perfectly plated. Good for you for doing this!!! It will be a great experience to look back on I’m sure!!!

  24. Pingback: culinary institute of america - the boot camp, day two | The Merry Gourmet

  25. Kim in TX — October 16, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    I’m so jealous! 🙂

  26. jenjenk — October 20, 2011 @ 10:31 am

    Your chicken looked BEAUTIFUL!! and oh so tasty!!!

  27. Jenna — October 21, 2011 @ 9:45 am

    I live near Hyde Park, and every time I drive by the CIA, I fantasize about going there. I didn’t realize they offered bootcamps, I will have to look into that!

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