Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ellen's Stardust Diner and Popeye Spinach Salad

Popeye Spinach Salad
from Ellen's Stardust Diner in NYC

I slept in this morning (all the way to 8:00 am!) after spending a great day in New York City with my friend Catherine Golden.  Catherine is a professor of English at Skidmore College and had invited me to join her and a bus-full of Honors Forum students on a day trip to the city to see the play Avenue Q.  Our bus left campus at 7 am and arrived in New York just before 11 am, so there was plenty of time to sight-see and shop before and after the play.  We were dropped off at Bryant Park, right behind the NewYork Public Library.  Catherine and I started off by window shopping (and actual shopping) at Bryant Park where vendors are set up all around the skating rink.  There's a wide variety of crafts and goods for sale there, with international food vendors as well.  I bought hand puppets for Henry and Peter, a pirate for Henry and Stuart Little for Pete (can't wait to give them to them this morning!).  Moving on to the New York Public Library, we were so excited to see a display of the actual toys that were the inspiration for A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories.  In addition, we saw pages from Virginia Woolf's last journal as well as her walking cane, and also a display of items belonging to Malcolm X, including pages from the journal of his trip to the mid-east, and his briefcase.  I took a photo of Catherine outside the library, as well as pictures of the stately lion sculptures guarding the entrance.  

New York Public Library

Before the play, we stopped for lunch at Ellen's Stardust Diner on 51st Street.  Though the line waiting to get in was wrapped around the building, we were happy to wait and were seated in about half-an-hour.  It was jam-packed, with tables butted right up against each other, but that just added to the fun.  Aspiring Broadway stars/waitstaff belt out tunes as they work, the epitome of multi-tasking!  Each and every "performance" is amazing, and last month alone nine of their staff were plucked away from the restaurant to perform in theaters on- and off-Broadway.  Having lunch at the Stardust is like a free pass to a wonderful show, and all you have to pay for is lunch (thank you, Catherine!), which for both Catherine and me was the Popeye Spinach Salad.  It was a plate full of the freshest spinach, candied walnuts, sliced pears, dried cranberries, the creamiest goat cheese, with a delicious sherry vinaigrette (I have to get that recipe!).  I had sliced chicken added to mine.  We were in and out in time to get to the play, the theater just two blocks from the diner.

Ellen's Stardust Diner!

Avenue Q was very entertaining.  It's a play set in a poorer neighborhood in the city, where most of the characters are puppets dealing with life's challenges (unemployment, relationships, personal identity, race, cultural differences) and it does so with incredible humor (sometimes raunchy to a PG-17 level!) and sharp and witty insight.  The actors/singers put on a wonderful show and interact with the audience, making it even more fun.  It was almost three hours long but it was so fast-paced that I never once looked at my watch.  Everyone left there smiling and singing!

When we left the theater, it was dark (at 5 pm!) and the perfect opportunity to catch New York's beautiful lighted landscapes with my little Canon camera.  We slowly walked the city blocks back to Bryant Park where we each grabbed a Turkish square pastry to go, made of filo dough, spinach, and cheese, and nibbled on those as we waited for our bus.

It was an easy, comfortable day enjoying one of the world's greatest cities, the place where both my parents were born over 90 years ago, and as our bus pulled away, I caught a glimpse of the illuminated skyline and said to myself, once again, "I love New York!"


  1. What a wonderful post on a marvelous day. I am so glad we could do this together!

  2. Oh Jeannie - you steal my heart w/NYC! How Brooke & I love it there! So wonderful you could do all that.

  3. Thanks to my two Catherines! NYC is indeed a great place to visit, especially around the holidays. Hope to go there again asap!!!

  4. Felt like I was right there with you and Catherine. You have a knack for writing, baking, caring, loving, laughing....Thanks for sharing your NYC adventure.
    Also, LOVE the new pic of you too ( is that from the summer at OBX? ! xoxoxo

  5. Lynn - thank you! Yes, that photo is from our last happy hour on the beach at Emerald Isle (lower OBX) in August. I feel so "at home" there, on the ocean...such a great time, every time.