Ashley's Birthday!!!

Ashley’s birthday has came and passed. We traveled up to Atlantic City and New York for a long birthday weekend.

We left Thursday morning and headed up through south Jersey to Atlantic City. Most of the trip is freeways, however about an hour stretch is on two-lane highways. These highways run through some smaller rural towns. About 5-10 minutes after exiting the New Jersey turnpike we ran into an old-school ice cream, hot dogs and burger shack. It’s called the Olympia Dairy Bar. The ice cream is local and it is rich. The hamburgers were excellent. The grind there own hamgburger meat and garnish the burgers with thick slices of famous Jersey tomatos.

We arrived in Atlantic City in the late afternoon and checked into the Madison House Hotel. It was still light out, so we took a walk on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. There was a major surfing competition that was wrapping up for the day. I never realized that New Jersey had qualitysurfing spots.

A couple of my friends met us later that night. We headed over to the newest casino called the Borgata. This place raises the bar for AC hotels/casinos. Later on we headed over to Harrah’s for some low-stakes Texas Hold’em. We play for a couple hours on what dinner and a movie would cost and it was a blast.

The next day we headed up to Long Island and our friend’s place. On the way we stopped in New Brunswick, NJ. Rutgers University is located there and so are the famous Grease Trucks that serve up the fat sandwiches. Maxim recently voted the “Fat Darrell” the #1 sandwich in the country.

We arrived in Garden City on Long Island around dinner time. Our friends took us to a local Italian restaurant called Amichi Ristorante that was excellent. I had a three mushroom risotto and a dish called the “Havana Cigar”. It consisted of asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, cheese, and veal. My friend had the waiters surprise Ashley with a chocolate mousse cake that was not on the menu.

After dinner, Ashley and I took the Long Island Rail Road into Manhattan and Penn Station. We headed up to Times Square to see the spectacle at night and have a photo op. Times Square has so much energy no matter what time of day. We hailed a cab and went to the East Village and the oldest pub in New York, McSorley’s.

It was getting late and we had to get up in the morning to do the tourist thing on Saturday, so we started to head back to Penn Station. We pasted and interesting bar on the way back called the Burp Castle. We didn’t go in but it is on our to do list for next trip. Before catching the train back, I had promised to take Ashley to Gray’s Papaya. Now these are pretty darn good hot dogs. The best part is that they are 75ยข a piece, and $2.75 for two dogs and a drink. The drinks are all made from fruit and are kinda of like a smoothie. That’s how the place got its name, by originally selling papaya drinks. After Gray’s Papaya, we were only 4-5 blocks away from the station. To our suprise, there was a White Castle a couple blocks down. Ashley and I love frozen White Castles, but it was the first time she had fresh ones. Excellent.

The next morning we awoke to the best hot bagels I’ve had in a long time. We hopped the train again and saw some sites. We headed down to the South Street Seaport where we bought a ticket for a ZEPHYR harbor cruise. It takes you up the East River, the Hudson River and over to the Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty area. After the cruise we had lunch at the Heartland Brewery across the street from the dock. The beers we polished. I had an apricot beer that was well balanced. The burgers had a nice char on the outside while the inside was moist. The suprising thing was that they might have the best mashed potatoes I’ve had in a long in time.

After a cab ride back to midtown, we started to hoof it north. We tried to go to the top of the Empire State Building. The weather was not cooperative and there was no visibility at the top, so we skipped it. A quick stop at Grand Central Station was followed by a short walk through the south end of Central Park. Heading back towards Penn Station, we stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockafeller Center, and Radio City Music Hall. The last stop before hopping the train back was at Macy’s. It is the largest department store in the world and can only really be appreciated by taking the escalator up all 9 massive floors. The store sure can market. The have a McDonald’s inside the kid’s department.

Saturday night we ate at a Belgian bistro in Garden City called Waterzooi. It was definitely upscale and had the beer selection to match. The beer list was the most complete selection of Belgium beers I’ve seen in my life. The had some excellent selections. For dinner, Ashley and I had lobster croquettes and a buffalo style fondue.

We headed home early Sunday morning with a stop off at for a cheesesteak in South Philly. We stayed true and went to Pat’s while giving Geno’s down the street the evil eye. To top off the trip, we did not hit traffic on 95!!!