This Thanksgiving we traveled to New York to visit my family. When Matt and I visit Long Island, we usually like to take a trip to the city. The city can really put me in the holiday spirit! I love the cool air that becomes filled with the smell of smokey sweet chestnuts. The streets are filled with busy people carrying large shopping bags. The decorations, bright lights, and of course the enormously massive Christmas tree can make even the biggest Scrooge feel a little anticipation for the season ahead.
Usually, when Matt and I propose a trip to the city, we can assemble a large group to go. My brother and sisters, dad, stepmom, and step dad usually are down for the excursion. My mom, on the other hand,… she’s not a big fan. She doesn’t like the crowds and I can’t blame her. It can get annoying, especially for someone who has a smaller frame.
Even though I grew up in New York, and have made many trips to the city, every time I go there I experience something new and exciting. This time when I threw the idea out there, not many people of the usual crowd wanted to come. I was a little surprised! 😦 Just when I thought the city idea was a wash my step dad, Mike told Matt and I he wanted to come and not only that, but my mom would come too! I was very surprised by this! 😀
We decided that we would visit the 9/11 Memorial and then eat lunch in Little Italy. I was glad we had a plan. It’s never good to explore the city without some idea of what you want to do, otherwise you’ll find yourself wandering Times Square, and getting swindled by a guy in an Elmo suit.
When we arrived at the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial, we were floored, and just about brought to tears by the magnitude, beauty, and gravity of it all. If you have not seen this memorial, I truly believe that it is worth the trip. The memorial is somber, and devastating. It literally represents the big hole that has been torn into the fabric of the city, and metaphorically in the hearts of all the people who lost loved ones that day. This memorial pays respectful homage to the people who lost their lives that day, due to a senseless act of terror.
After leaving the memorial, we visited the Winter Garden Atrium in the Financial District. The Winter Garden Atrium is a ten story high, glassed in dome, that houses a variety of plants, trees, flowers, and shops. It is beautiful, and awesome. Cascading down the middle of the atrium is a spectacular marble staircase that Mike actually helped build when he used to lay marble. He has spoke about this stair case before but I never realized how ginormous and impressive it was. I could see why he was proud to be apart of that project.
We were beginning to get hungry and I knew were we had to go next, Mulberry Street in Little Italy! We were an hour walk from the restaurant I wanted to go to. That was about 40 minutes too long. We were about to hail a cab when two women rode by on Citibikes. They stopped near us so we approached them and asked them a few questions about the process. They told us the bikes were free to borrow as long as they were returned within a half hour.
Hail a cab, or ride bikes for free? We chose the free bikes. It would be so much fun to ride bikes in the city. We found a Citi Bike terminal, and made sure there was another terminal within a half hour bike ride, that was also near the restaurant. We found one really close to the end of Mulberry Street we wanted to be on. We read the directions and it said on the screen ride free for thirty minutes. We were pumped! It asked us to swipe our credit card, but we thought it was charging us for a deposit, or just in case we went over the thirty minutes. It spoke to how it would release the funds back to us if the bikes we returned, otherwise the fine would be heavy. Since we didn’t plan on stealing the bikes, or even using them any longer than a half hour we decided to do it!
We arrived at Little Italy with plenty of time left on our bikes. Our first stop, La Mela. Our meal began with olive oil and fresh warm bread. The olive oil was so smooth, and silky. There was no bitterness to it at all. Perfection! Next we were served large plates of tortellini in a robust marinara sauce, creamy penne alla vodka, and thick slices of mozzarella cheese with ripe red tomatoes. My stomach was full but I couldn’t stop eating. The sauce was so good I wanted to drink it. That wouldn’t have been classy, so I asked for more bread to sop the sauce up with. Good thing we rode bikes…
Despite having to be rolled out of the restaurant, I had to check out this cute Italian bakery up the road. I fully intended on just walking in and taking a few deep breaths of the wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen, but let’s be realistic, my will power is not that strong. There were cookies, mini cakes and cheesecakes, cannolis, and other tasty looking treats. One in particular caught my eye, and it was a beautiful apple pastry. They looked like a snow-covered rose, and smelled like homemade apple pie.
I knew I had to try to make these as soon as I got home. We had a fabulous time in the city that day and spent quality time together visiting new site, old projects, and eating a ton of delicious food! I really couldn’t ask for anything more.
A few days later, I received a call from my mom. She told me how she was charged $40 for the Citi Bikes. It turns out that in order to use them, you have to purchase a day pass. This day pass allows you as many 30 minute free bike rides as you can fit in 24 hours. Hmm, that doesn’t sounds like free to me. We felt a little mislead… If you pay $10 for a 24 hour pass, then even the thirty minute rides are not free. If you plan on riding bikes all day in the city then I recommend taking advantage of the program because it is a fun experience, just don’t be fooled by the “free” word.
Inspired after leaving New York, I visited the local Harris Teeter and collected a bunch of ingredients to try to recreate those amazing apple pastries. I don’t know how the Apple Rose Pastries were made in Little Italy, but I will explain to you how I did it. The process was simple and fun. The results were FANTASTIC! Here is the recipe, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
- 1 Sheet of Puff Pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry)
- 3 Rome Apples
- 2 Tbsp. Butter
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 Sliced Almonds
- 3 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
- 2 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar
- 1/4 cup Raspberry Preserves
- 3 Tbsp. Water
If you are using frozen puff pastry as I did, a half hour before you would like to make the Apple Rose Pastries, remove the sheet from the freezer, place it on a clean cutting board, and cover it with a slightly damp paper towel.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Core the apples, and cut them into quarters. Using a mandolin, slice the apple quarters into thin slices.
In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples, 2 Tbsp. of the brown sugar, and 1 tsp. of the cinnamon. Saute the apples until they become tender and more flexible.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the rest of the brown sugar, the granulated sugar, the rest of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg, as well as the sliced almond.
Unfold the puff pastry sheet and sprinkle both sides of it with a pinch of all-purpose flour. Roll out the sheet just a little bit. Cut the puff pastry across its width into six, two-inch pieces. Spread a heaping spoonful of the sugar spice almond mixture down the center of each puff pastry strip. Next, layer the apple slices across the strip so that the overlap, as shown below.
Fold the puff pastry strip in half like a taco, and roll it up.
Place each pastry in a well-greased standard sized muffin tin and bake for 15 minutes.
When the pastries are done baking, the puff pastry will be golden brown and the apples will be sizzling. Remove them from the oven and run a butter knife around the edge of each pastry to prevent it from sticking. Using a fork, carefully pop each pastry out of the muffin tin and place them on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. in the mean time, combine the raspberry preserves, and water in a small sauce pan over low heat. Whisk to combine. When the glaze begins to simmer, remove the pan from the heat. Spoon the glaze over the tops of the Apple Rose Pastries, and dust them with powdered sugar. You are going to want to eat all 6 of them on your own, but in the spirit of the holiday season, try to share! Enjoy!
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