Turning the big 4-0 (Part II)

After arriving on Thursday, it was now on to our first full day back in New York City and on to the first planned activity for the weekend. Did I know where we were going? Of course not.

So it was to the subways and down into Greenwich Village. Whatever was planned wasn’t until 11:00 in the morning, so since we were a little early, we walked around a bit before stumbling across and passing most of the remaining time at Bleecker Street Records scrounging for used CDs. Then it was out the door, across the street, and down maybe a block before she announced that we were there. And there turned out to be on the sidewalk in front of Murray’s Cheese Shop. OK, I like cheese (no, I love cheese), but was it worth a train ride all the way down to the Village for? Well, yes, it was, but that’s not why we were there, it turned out. We were there awaiting the start of a walking tour of Greenwich Village, three hours of going shop to shop, door to door, hearing about (and sampling—yay!) a wide variety of local shops and restaurants. Pizza, olive oil, Thai food, cookies, more pizza, cheese (yes, at Murray’s), canoli… this was worth the train ride, and she knew I would be in foodie (read: foodie wannabe) heaven when she planned this tour for us. Does she know me or what?

Outside of Murray’s Cheese Shop in Greenwich Village.

[Oh goodness, the olive oil. On our way to Murray’s for the start of the tour, we passed this charming green facade along Bleecker that advertised olive oils and such and made a note to stop by there after the tour. No need, as it turned out, as O&Co. was one of the stops on the tour. And oh dear god, I don’t know that I’ll ever buy olive oil in a supermarket again—after hearing about and tasting the difference between that and the “good stuff” like at O&Co., I was sold. In fact, sold to the tune of a big wad of change to ship back multiple bottles of oil and balsamic vinegar (mmmmm… balsamic vinegar…) to ourselves back home. And yes, they can expect our mail order business in the future. Duh.]

Some of the goodies at O&Co., also in the Village.

After the tour, we still had some time to kill, so since we were in the neighborhood, we wandered over to the expansive foodie mecca that is Chelsea Market. And if it wasn’t for the fact that it was already mid-afternoon and that we apparently had dinner plans, I would have made a royal foodie pig of myself, I’m sure. But in the end, it was a very pleasant (and aromatic) way to kill some time before we started to head back uptown in order to get ready for dinner.

And then it happened. At the corner of 7th Ave and Greenwich Ave, we were waiting for the light to change before walking across the street, and who should walk by but… Julia Stiles. I tried my best to play it cool and not just stare at her. (Major effort on my part, let me tell you.) My sweetie nudged me and asked, “Do you know who that was? Julia Stiles!”. Oh, don’t worry, I noticed. And she added, “See, I did get her for your birthday!” (*) And no, I didn’t stop her and ask for her autograph—a part of me wanted to, believe me, but hey, everyone is entitled to a private life, and at that moment, walking (back home?) down a sidewalk on Greenwich Ave, she wasn’t Julia Stiles, actress, but rather Julia Stiles, resident of Greenwich Village (and, at least for today, Julia Stiles, my early birthday present), so along she went on her merry way without being stopped by a (or at least, this) drooling fanboy. Though I did fire off a quick IM to my friend Pedro, swooning over my passing encounter with the lovely Ms. Stiles.

[(*) Back story: Some weeks before this birthday weekend, my sweetie had asked me what I wanted for my birthday. To which I immediately responded “Lauren Graham jumping out of a cake”. When she told me she probably couldn’t swing that, I said, “Well, how about Julia Stiles?” Lauren and Julia, both of whom I totally have massive crushes on—and She knows it. So to actually see Julia Stiles on my birthday weekend… yeah, sweetie, that was a neat trick, I’ll admit.]

Now we were getting back to the hotel, and I asked her where she had booked us for dinner. She had earlier told me that one reason she had picked this particular hotel was its location, so along these lines, she asked, “Where do you think we’re going to dinner near Times Square?” (or something like that) Given that this would imply that it should be some place meaningful to me/us, I had to ponder this for a sec, but it finally dawned on me: Carmine’s, where we had our first “real” dinner together in New York City almost 8 years earlier. She really had thought of everything.

And boy, had she ever.

(Oh, have I mentioned that her phone had been going off all day with text messages from her sister? No? Well, it had. All. Day.)

(Really, all the text messaging—pretty important to note…)

Continue to Part III