A New York Twist to Valentine’s Day

This year, I spent my first Valentine’s Day in NYC. Even though *technically* I was living in NYC last year on V-Day, I took the occasion to escape my psychotic roommate and hopped on a Greyhound to Boston to visit my best friend. We cozied up in her apartment drinking peppermint vodka martinis by the fireplace on a record-setting coldest day of the year, exchanging gifts, dancing to terrible early-2000s hip-hop, eating way too much food, and watching How to Be Single.  It was a perfect weekend and an an amazing way to spend Galentine’s Day:

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This year was a little different. For the first time, I abandoned Galentine’s Day to celebrate the day of love with MY love! And he certainly spoiled me rotten. Amore mio made sure that I woke up to mini doughnuts from one of my favorite places – Greenwich Village’s The Doughnut Project!  I could probably make a whole post devoted to the best donuts in NYC; it would no doubt be in theme with the Louis CK tour of New York that my brother and I made up, the one where we discovered Ben’s pizza and the Comedy Cellar, because as chance (or an obsession with Louis CK) would have it my favorite donut place is also frequented by the comedian: The Donut Pub on 14th Street, open 24 hours and home to the best black-and-white cookies EVER. But I digress.

The Doughnut Project is another top choice, a lovely little spot tucked away on Morton Street with interesting flavors like Beet & Ricotta, Olive Oil & Black Pepper (our surprising underdog favorite!), Raspberry Lemon, and Hazelnut Crunch.  How could you not fall in love over a box of these baby beauties and a big cup of coffee?!

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The rest of the day was just as magical, with flowers and heart-shaped boxes of candy and a wonderful Italian dinner in the East Village at Il Cantinori. I am so picky when it comes to Italian food that I always get slightly nervous when someone suggests Italian. Given my long history with the country, I’m afraid that I’ll offend someone if I’m NOT overly-enthusiastic about a dish, or if I’m highly critical of something and its “lack” of authenticity, like chicken pesto rigatoni or fettucine alfredo (which don’t exist on any authentic Italian restaurant menu in Italy).

But my boyfriend is the best and chose an absolutely LOVELY location. We walked in and the dimly lit wood-beamed restaurant was full of flickering candles and pink and red balloons. It couldn’t have been more romantic. The icing on the cake (the parmesan on the pasta)? The food was soooo delicious! It was hard to decide my favorite: the creamy burrata dolloped on top of prosciutto crudo and drizzled with olive oil and pesto; the wide pappardelle noodles in a creamy red sauce with sausage and peas; or the perfectly sweetened cocoa-dusted tiramisu and macchiato. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the most delicious pearly-pink cosmopolitan. It was probably the strongest cosmo/cocktail I’ve ever had. It’s a good thing *that* was not my first post-Whole30 drink or the BF would’ve had to Lyft me home! But in my LBD and red heels, sipping a cosmo with my love, I couldn’t imagine a more magical Valentine’s Day.

What I also couldn’t envision were the subtle ways in which the spirit of New York City would infiltrate V-Day in ways unlike any other city. Here are just a few of the ways I noticed a “New York Twist” on the classic celebration of love:

1. The subway ride home was choc-full of choc-olate.
Now, I know a lot of people, especially men, are last minute planners. People all over the country were probably coming home from work, arms full of Valentine goodies. But in a mostly pedestrian city where the majority of us 8 million take mass transit to get home, the last-minute arrangements were more noticeable. Leaving my office I emerged at dusk to a bustling city of suits scurrying underground with their wrapped flowers, boxes of Jacques Torres and Godiva, and red-bowed stuffed animals; everywhere I looked I saw pink, red, balloons, gift bags. As I ran down the subway stairs a half-hour early to go home and get ready for my own date, I squeezed my way between two bouquets to get a spot on the crowded N train, only to find the ubiquitous gifts and flowers there too, so many flowers one would think (but know better than to hope) that it would almost mask the smell of the underground. Across from me was a man carrying a bag of French macaroons. Next to him, another suited-up fellow carrying a bright orange bag of expensive artisanal chocolates.  Off to the corner, a somewhat desperate-looking man cradling his bouquet of red roses, trying not to bump into the frazzled-looking guy clutching the arm of the stuffed teddy bear seen in all of the Duane Reade display windows. It was kind of cute.

2. When in doubt, Uber/Lyft/car service of your choice.
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I am probably getting into a bad habit with this one. It’s not a very nice trait, but I’ll admit it: I’m habitually 10-15 minutes late anymore (Italy holdover or New York norm?), and unfortunately, despite leaving work early, V-Day was no exception. In most other cities in the US you would either drive yourself (speed/avoid cops) or walk (curse and ruin your hair and makeup via wind/sweat), but I opted to take a Lyft from Astoria to the East Village, thus shaving 20 off of my travel time AND bank account!

3. The Empire State building was lit up in bright red in honor of the occasion.
They always change the color based on sporting events or national holidays, but I like that yesterday it was lit up for love!

4. Life in New York really is like a movie sometimes.

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You know, the one where Anne Hathaway runs around doing all sorts of chores for her extremely wealthy employers, whose wives/girlfriends would probably not be happy that said husband/boyfriend’s assistant was the one running around Manhattan picking out the flowers, candlesticks, chocolates, rose petals, and table cloths for their romantic Valentine’s date. Okay so maybe that last part wasn’t in the movie, but it could’ve been. Side Note: at least this was my excuse to pop into Bloomingdale’s to shop the Clinique sale and grab a Starbucks, and take a cab back from the Upper East Side on someone else’s (approved, don’t worry) credit card.

5. There really is nothing more beautiful than crossing the Queensboro bridge or emerging from the tunnel to see the glittering Manhattan skyline before you, knowing that, though you’ll have managed to somehow make the city smaller, more manageable, more bite-sized with each friend met and neighborhood explored, that in just a matter of a few minutes you’ll soon be a great big part of the moving metropolis that never sleeps. 

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