I knew I liked the Upper West Side, but making the move uptown has made me realize that actually, I love the UWS (yeah, that's what the cool kids call it). The place is freaking amazing, so amazing I'm having trouble formulating my thoughts into anything even resembling coherence. Apologies in advance if this post just breaks down into me spurting random words. River! Park! Food!
I'm going to have to break the UWS PDA down into several posts to avoid this, I think, and seeing as it's almost constantly on my mind, food seems as good a place as any to start. If I had any concerns about the new place prior to moving, they were to do with the kitchen (obviously, they should have been about the movers breaking my stuff, or the dodgy oven blowing up my house, but hey, that's why they call it hindsight). In the old place, we had a pretty sweet kitchen - not perfect, but it was open to the living room, had enough counter and cupboard space, a really good (and large) oven, a really good (and large) fridge, and a dishwasher. My new kitchen...well, a picture is the best way to explain it:
You're not missing anything. There's not secretly more kitchen on the right hand side of the image, just out of frame, or anything. On the left is the bathroom, and on the right is the kitchen (and on the door is New Zealand. Represent). This is it - one minuscule (but thankfully new and non-gassy) oven, one minuscule fridge, a few cupboards, and about two square foot of counter space, total. Sometimes, to entertain myself, I like to imagine how the floor plan might have originally looked:
(In my mind, the architect is obviously so crap he can't be bothered marking doors, stairs, power points, or any of the other stuff one would rightly expect to find in a dwelling).
So, long story short, it's a small kitchen. It's a clever kitchen - the space inside the cupboards is very well utilized - but it's small. And I like to cook, like, a LOT. My concerns were fair.
Fair, but unnecessary. Now that the trauma of moving is over, and the scary gassy stove has been replaced, I'm cooking up quite the storm, and it is fine. I have even entertained twice, and that was fine too, although I won't be volunteering to cook a 15 pound turkey any time soon (or even not so soon - Thanksgiving fare will be rethought). And you know what is better than fine? The shops. The shops are so much better than fine.
Murray Hill (my former 'hood) was kind of a culinary desert. There was plenty that was accessible enough - Eataly, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods were all a pleasant walk away - but popping out to quickly grab anything was an exercise in futility, inevitably culminating in a mini-breakdown in D'Agostino as I paid well over the odds for a decidedly average looking head of broccoli. It just wasn't a foodie sort of place, probably because it was a fratty kind of place, and from what I know of frat boys*, cooking and eating well are not top priorities.
Thankfully, the UWS does not have this problem. I knew (head tilt, nose in the air, snooty voice) that H1 and I would probably find more of 'our kind of people**' uptown, but I didn't realize just how much I would enjoy it. Within ten blocks of our place, there is a Trader Joes and no fewer than four*** different markets, which are rapidly earning nicknames from me (Carb Heaven, the colorful one, the cheap one, the organic one). There's a farmer's market on Saturdays in one place, and one on Sundays in another place. There are multiple bakeries. There is a place just for desserts. And I haven't even got to the restaurants...
People up here care about food the way I care about food, and that matters. It's definitely up there on the list of things that make me love my new home. And it definitely outweighs a small kitchen, because when you can stop on the way home, grab some beautiful, fresh, organic (!) veges, pay a reasonable amount, then cook a delicious dinner in said kitchen, you don't even notice the size.
*All information gleaned from American movies and two years of observing them in the wild.
**Over the age of 25, for a start.
***Actually, there are definitely more than four - but so far I have only checked four out.