Friday, 17 July 2009

On the Road Again...

So here we are, sitting in the British Airways executive lounge, about to embark on our summer vacation. We are headed to New York City first, followed by a visit to Boston, and then on to Niagara Falls, Canada. From there we are heading back to my hometown of Kitchener for a day, and then on to Sarnia to visit family. Then it is back to Niagara Falls, New York en route to New York City for another few days enjoying the Big Apple. I’m really excited about having some uninterrupted time together with my family, and all the things we will be able to see and do. But most of all, I’m excited about what and where we are going to eat.

Considering I write about food and lifestyles, I suppose it is not very surprising that I feel this way. But I wonder if we are the only family who actually plans its visits to major cities around where we are going to eat. Part of the reason for this is of course that it gives me something to write about, but to be honest, even before I started writing about food and lifestyles, planning where we were going to eat was a big part of any journey. I’ve even been known to visit a city just to go to a particular restaurant.

It was January of this year when we last visited New York City. It was a celebration of our son’s sixteen birthday, but it was also a very good excuse to celebrate the New Year at the iconic Waldorf Astoria Hotel. We also planned our trip round visits to the Russian Tea Rooms and the famous Rainbow Room. We had a marvellous time. I’m so glad we visited the Rainbow Room as I had wanted to go there ever since I was a little girl, and it closed its doors just a few days after we visited. I heard a rumor it may have reopened - we'll have to see. We were very disappointed in our meal on New Year’s Eve at the Waldorf Astoria though. It was at their Bull and Bear restaurant, about which I had heard good things. Readers of my blog might remember that it did not go very well at all. When I raised this with a member of staff the next day, we were immediately referred to the General Manager of the Bull and Bear. He came back to me straight away, apologised profusely and refunded a good portion of what we had paid towards our meal (more than half the cost), which really impressed me. What impressed me more though, was his offer of dinner for the three of us the next time we came to New York. When I realised in May we would be visiting again, I got in touch, wondering if he would even remember an event from five months previous. Well, he did, and he has booked us a table for Saturday evening. I am really looking forward to it. I’m sure our experience will be an entirely different one from that of New Year’s Eve. Either way, I’m extremely pleased by the way my complaint was handled. It’s a real example of customer service at its very best.

We are looking forward to going back to the Russian Tea Rooms as well. I thought it was a magical place, and the fact the food and service were so good just made it a delight. As we head off to Boston, a place I have never been before, I’ll be looking forward to sampling some culinary delights there as well. I’ve been told that Legal’s is the place to go for seafood, and Stephanie’s on Newbury is the place to go for steak.

Knowing as I do that Niagara Falls Canada is a very commercial place (it reminds me of many seaside towns in England), I imagine we will wander a bit further afield to Niagara-on-the-Lake in search of fine dining. I know we will be spoiled for choice there. Whatever happens I know my visit to Sarnia will involve lots of good food. We are visiting my cousin, who is an amazing cook!

And then we will have a few more days in New York to sample even more restaurants. I’m hoping to get to the famous Boathouse in Central Park, among others. It’s going to be fun planning things out over the next couple of days.

Of course, there is a price to be paid for all this good food, and it isn’t just a financial one. Luckily all our hotels have great gyms (hopefully I’ll actually use them!) and I’ve already booked appointments with my personal trainer, Pilates and yoga teacher for when I get back. But all the hard work will be worth it in return for all the wonderful food. As always a holiday for us is about way more than just the sights and sounds. It’s also very much about the tastes!

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