Today is the day of eating I have been waiting for all week. Ha Staying in midtown right off Times Square has its advantages, in that the 42nd Street port Authority Bus Terminal basically is the hub for almost every line of the subway in the city… and if you can’t get there from 42nd street, you walk south to 34th street and grab a train or subway from Penn Station, or you walk East and grab anything else at Grand Central. So, I wanted to get out of Manhattan and explore an area of “locals” so we took the 7 train as far out as we could take it, to Flushing.
Flushing is a very diverse melting-pot neighborhood with Chinese, Nepalese, Korean and other ethnicities all mixed in. The Main Street/Roosevelt Ave intersection in Flushing is the 3rd busiest intersection in New York! It’s a bustling place.
Flushing is one of the 5 original Queens towns from when Queens county was established when the British took over the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam in 1683. It has a bit of history.
Walking out from the subway station, you definitely had no doubt you had stepped into a very large Chinatown… but the pace was slower than Manhattan- people walked a little slower. It was busy and very “close” with awnings over the sidewalk, goods spread outside the store. But again, I’m drawn to this sort of community and network feel- not the modern sterile sort of shiny glass and elevators. Plus- the food in these places! You’d have to roll me down the sidewalk if I lived here. I might quite literally become one of those 600 lb women they have to knock the wall out to get her out of her apartment in a medical emergency! Lol
We were headed to Asian Jewels, a Chinese dim sum house where they serve you from carts of steaming baskets of dumplings and small plates. This has been consistently rated as one of the best places for dim sum in New York, so the day was quite literally planned around this meal! Ha
Dim Sum started as small plates served to farmers and travelers along the Silk Road in tea houses as a means of serving some sort of food with the tea. Tea houses were sort of the pubs of the time and place. People gathered here for conversation and relaxing in the evenings after work or before settling in for the night. Dim Sum now is just a style of Chinese cuisine typically served for breakfast or lunch. Most places even in the US don’t serve dim sum after 3 or 4pm.
All of the Chinese waitresses LOVED Norah and kept commenting on how beautiful she was. To the point she was super embarrassed and quietly told me she wished they would stop. haha She’s definitely growing up and getting more self-aware. She had to perform in her school’s talent show last week and she said her hands were shaking because she was nervous. I don’t think this child has ever gotten nervous before.
After eating, we had quite a bit of a walk across to Flushing Meadows- Corona Park. It was needed. I needed to digest all that food.
This park was created for the 1939 World’s Fair. It was an ash dump until the 1930’s (featured as the Valley of Ashes in the Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald). Robert Moses, the great urban planner/public works creator around New York responsible for parks, highways, the Verrazano Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn, the Battery Tunnel, the Bronx Expressway and a lot of other great and controversial projects, led the creation of this park.
The park contains the Billie Jean King Tennis Center-which hosts the US Open Tennis tournament annually.
It contains Citi Field- the new stadium home of the New York Mets, after Shea Stadium was demolished in 2009.
It also hosted the 1964/1965 World’s Fair… which actually had a lot of impact on the world as we know it today, but you probably don’t realize.
Walt Disney consulted on designs and exhibits. The Its a Small World ride and song that we know was actually conceived and designed for the World’s Fair here! It ran here for 2 years, and was then repurposed into a ride at Disneyland theme park in California. Eventually copied and installed for Disney World in Florida.
The same with The Carousel of Progress, designed for the General Electric pavilion- Disney’s “most boring ride” to most people and kids- but one of my favorites. haha The carousel with animatronic people and animals and a theme song of “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” was designed to showcase technology and innovations and was cutting edge for its time. Sidenote: we got stuck on this ride a few years ago. We were stuck in the 1920s over and over and over and over. haha It was only like 15 minutes, but we definitely played that scene quite a few times before they shut the ride down. ha
Also, the concept of the metal seats on a conveyer belt used to usher people through rides originated here as they were expecting 70 million guests to come through the fair over 2 seasons. Disney eventually would use this concept in his parks for tons of rides.
Initially, Walt Disney wanted to use the Flushing Meadows site for his east coast park to recreate what had been so successful in California…but eventually, he purchased the swampland in Florida and made it into what it is today. It recreated the landscape and altered the American family dream to include a trip to Florida to visit this park.
We visited the Queens museum which houses an amazingly huge miniature diorama of New York.
You walk all along the edge of the room to see various boroughs and buildings.
I really didn’t think there was much else to see here. There were a few artist exhibits and posters.. but it all felt a little over my head in terms of appreciating the art of it all since I’m not a real artsy person… but then I stumbled on this little room in the corner, dedicated to the design of Tiffany glass. It turns out, Louis Comfort Tiffany was disappointed at the quality of glass available and decided to open his own glasshouse furnace in 1893 in Corona Queens, just a mile or two from this museum. It was very rural at the time and allowed him to keep his glass recipes secret, well away from competitors in Manhattan. In 1901 he added a foundry, woodworking, metal working and other services to give him complete production control of all aspects of his business.
Charles Tiffany- his father- was the founder and owner of Tiffany & Co Jewelry…and Louis C Tiffany, started out as an interior designer and quickly found a passion for stained glass panels. This leaded Tiffany glass is what he became known for and what lives on today. A Tiffany lamp sold at auction for over 3 million dollars a few years ago! Supposedly you can find more common models for around $5,000. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen a real Tiffany lamp in anyone’s possession. I thought I had because there are so many of these style around, but it seems they may all be reproductions or rival designers made to look like Tiffany lamps. I don’t know all that much about them, I could be wrong. If anyone reading this does know- please let me know!
What I found the most interesting was this case exhibit showing that they were cut and then wrap each individual piece of glass with copper, to help the solder stick to the piece.
Then they were assemble the lamp over a metal dome pattern to ensure the design was correct and shaped correctly.
As we were leaving the Queens museum, a lady walking past us said “they are doing a puppet show up there… I wish my daughter was with me to see it… but I thought your daughter might like to see” – And she did!
It was a cute little modern rendition of Little Red Riding Hood put on by the City Parks department. The puppet mobile performs in a different park 5 days a week 6 months of the year. I think they said their schedule was on the parks website.
We walked a good few blocks to Corona which seemed to be a more Latino geared area where Flushing was more Asian. Kegan said he saw about 6 people that I looked like, so yep- must be in the Cuban and Puerto Rican area! Ha
When I lived in South Florida, people would walk right up to me without missing a beat and start talking to me in Spanish. And then if I didn’t understand or couldn’t answer them, they’d roll their eyes and walk off. At first I was like how rude! But after a while I realized it’s because I look very Cuban haha and these old ladies were super offended my young butt didn’t even know Spanish.
For the record, my DNA shows 0% Italian, Mexican, Cuban, Puerto Rica. or any other nationality people usually think I am. I’m a conundrum lol
I was so excited to see that Benforamo- The Ice King of Corona was open! I was afraid I just walked a mile for nothing. But if there is creamy Italian ice at the end, then it’s all worth it. This is the standard for Italian Ice. In business for over 60 years. They have like 50 different flavors and multiple sizes to choose from. It was busy with almost everyone walking by grabbing at least a small $2 cup.
If you’ve ever seen the intro to The King of Queens- you basically just hit the highlights of our day. Ha they are walking down the street in what appears to Jackson Heights (where we headed next) lounging in the Park, underneath the US Steel Unisphere globe, eating at Benfaramos… hilarious. I only found this intro after our visit while looking at the Benforamo website lol apparently, they live in Queens on the show. haha I thought the title was just a play on Queens, Kings, rooks, etc…never actually put it together! So now I feel stupid. lol
I had been seeking a bubble tea since breakfast Dim Sum so we had our Uber drop us off a few blocks early when I saw the stand.. and because I felt bad for the guy sitting in traffic trying to get the 3-4 blocks down that I had keyed in. I didn’t know it was SO busy there!
We walked on down under the 7 tracks seeking a Birria taco truck. But it turns out, the truck doesn’t show up and serve until 5 and it was only 3:30. Boo. I’ve never had birria tacos, but they are the new fad food showing up all over social media and my Indy foodie food group. I figured this would be a really good spot to try them. But I guess we’ll have to seek them out closer to home.
As we approached the Jackson Heights subway station, I spotted a place I had bookmarked to go and try Nepalese food. The photos people had taken of the dumplings and soup looked amazing as well as the rice dishes. We still weren’t super hungry and I felt guilty taking a table to only order a bit… but they weren’t super busy, plenty of seating open, so we went in.
Norah ordered French fries again. Don’t know what’s up with that… but whatever. She’s been good this whole trip- if French fries are her choice for lunch/dinner- so be it. Ha a little comfort of home I guess?
We didn’t know what to order so I started stalking their social media and ordered what someone else had that looked amazing.
I immediately googled and made sure I could make this again in the future because it was going to be a LONG flight and Uber out to this restaurant again haha and there were plenty of recipes for momo in jholi. Let me know if you want an invite when I recreate this masterpiece at home. Ha we were reading a recipe and tasting the broth, making sure we agreed that those ingredients were definitely present here. Oh my Lordy.. it was so good. It was so good that after we got to the hotel later in the evening, we tried to go order more dumplings in broth, knowing full well that Times Square Kung Fu kitchen would never live up to this, but the restaurant had just closed. Probably better. Ha
The rest of our evening was boring. We were in the hotel by 6pm and didn’t leave again. Norah got some iPad time, Kegan watched TV and I caught up on blogging.
Tomorrow we catch a train out of Penn Station to go upstate to Poughkeepsie to explore the countryside of New York along the Hudson River Valley.