NYC day 21 – Bryant Park, Muse Games and Neon Lights

On Wednesday I cycled over to Bryant Park for the daily lunch break juggling meeting. Thousands of people work within a few blocks, and during the summer they can have up to 30 jugglers show up per day.
On Wednesday I cycled over to Bryant Park for the daily lunch break juggling meeting. Thousands of people work within a few blocks, and during the summer they can have up to 30 jugglers show up per day.

Of course, tourists take photos and camera crews interview the jugglers at every opportunity.
Of course, tourists take photos and camera crews interview the jugglers at every opportunity.

In the afternoon (after eating a burger)I cycled down to Chinatown. There I met up with a friend who works for a video game company called Muse Games. This company used to make sosauce.com, a travel website I still use now and then, but the games they made as a side project were so successful they now employ dozens of people to do that full time.
In the afternoon (after eating a burger)I cycled down to Chinatown. There I met up with a friend who works for a video game company called Muse Games. This company used to make sosauce.com, a travel website I still use now and then, but the games they made as a side project were so successful they now employ dozens of people to do that full time.

Every time a computer or program crashes, and they lose any work, someone draws them a “Crash Bunny” and sticks it to their monitor.
Every time a computer or program crashes, and they lose any work, someone draws them a

That evening I went to see my second full show at the New York Clown Theatre Festival. Neon Lights, also known as Chris and Jeff, presented a “post modern vaudeville show” which I found highly entertaining.
That evening I went to see my second full show at the New York Clown Theatre Festival. Neon Lights, also known as Chris and Jeff, presented a










I only saw two shows at the Clown Theatre Festival, and I would consider neither of them clowning. Sure, both had some physical comedy and clowning elements, but both were character and sketch comedy from beginning to end. Thankfully I have no problem with that.
I only saw two shows at the Clown Theatre Festival, and I would consider neither of them clowning. Sure, both had some physical comedy and clowning elements, but both were character and sketch comedy from beginning to end. Thankfully I have no problem with that.


The obligatory route map. My gps tracker packed up half way through, so my route down Manhattan is missing. On the way home I used my iPod and some software I downloaded months ago, and it draws a much smoother line on the map.
The obligatory route map. My gps tracker packed up half way through, so my route down Manhattan is missing. On the way home I used my iPod and some software I downloaded months ago, and it draws a much smoother line on the map.


NYC day 20 – On top of a high building.

No matter where I visit, I always want to climb to the top of a mountain or hill or building and get view from above. Why would this be any different in New York? The good thing is, it has plenty of tall building to chose from.

I presumed I’d go up the Empire State Building, but everyone else said “No, go up the Rockefeller Building, it has great views of Central Park, and if you go up the Empire State Building, you can’t see the Empire State Building!”

It turns out, they were right! Here’s my take on the classic Empire State Building postcard shot. Does it look “thirties” enough? With a bit of straightening in photoshop, I could see this hanging on my wall at home.
It turns out, they were right! Here's my take on the classic Empire State Building postcard shot. Does it look

I made sure I went up around sunset. It was a good decision.
I made sure I went up around sunset. It was a good decision.

Central Park, the Upper West Side, the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge, and New Jersey.
Central Park, the Upper West Side, the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge, and New Jersey.

The view north towards Central Park.
The view north towards Central Park.

I wasn’t the only one taking photos!
I wasn't the only one taking photos!

However, I was there alone, meaning I had to take photos of other couples enjoying the romantic sunset.
However, I was there alone, meaning I had to take photos of other couples enjoying the romantic sunset.

The lift… excuse me… the elevator inside 30 Rock, with projector and light display.
The lift...  excuse me...  the elevator inside 30 Rock, with projector and light display.

Earlier in the day I went to the Dube Juggling shop and factory. I bought 9 “factory second” silicone balls for way cheaper than those that get through quality control. These balls will probably explode due to defects, but I really need some for my Room project.
Earlier in the day I went to the Dube Juggling shop and factory. I bought 9

My route from home, around the city, to where I ate a burger, and to the Pratt Institute juggling meeting.
My route from home, around the city, to where I ate a burger, and to the Pratt Institute juggling meeting.


NYC – 8 bacon cheeseburgers in 8 days

You’ve been in New York for about three weeks. You’ve done loads interesting things, and completed most of your plans. You’ve eaten all kinds of foods in many good establishments. You’re looking for something to give your final week in the city some focus. What kind of things spring to mind?

How about “Eat a burger every day for a week, to find the best burger in New York, as suggested by New Yorkers”?

Yeah, that’ll do. Why not?

One reason why not is because it sounds really unhealthy. I hope the extra calories and fat and salt was offset by me cycling 15-30 miles every day.

The scientific method (kinda made up as I went along):

1. The aspects of the burgers will be rated on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, where 1 star is a MacDonalds Cheeseburger, and 5 stars is a Hot Dog World cheeseburger, as available in Berlin.

2. I’ll try to make all the burgers as similar as possible, with bacon and cheese and fried/grilled onions if available.

3. I’ll rate the burgers on appearance, bun, burger, other filling, overall taste, and “other factors”.

Let’s eat!

Day 1: Five Guys Burger
Day 1: Five Guys Burger

My first burger, recommended by a few people. I chose this as the first because it was the first burger place I found from my remembered list of recommended burgers. It cost about $7.50.

It looked a bit sorry coming out of the wrapper. A bit flat, but the bun had kept its shape quite well.

All burgers come with two patties with cheese between. Any number of toppings are free, and the range is pretty good. I got onions, pickles, and bacon.

It tasted… okay, I guess. Nothing special. Nothing as special as all the newspaper reviews on the walls around me. Looking closer, I noticed that none of the five star reviews on the walls were by New York food journalists in New York publications. This might very well have been the best burger in Nowheresville, Bumkin County, but not in a big city like New York or Berlin.

2 stars.

Day 2: Jackson Hole
Day 2: Jackson Hole

This is a sit-down restaurant, with a few branches around the city. I decided this was the right choice for day 2, mainly because I was starving, and also to have an opposite experience compared to the day before.

The whole meal cost about $17, but this included the burger, a platter of fries and a salad, coleslaw, sauces, a coke, and the tip. It was, by far, the most food per dollar of the whole week. Before the burger arrived I was given a small bowl of pickled cucumbers, with were quite sweet and refreshing.

The platter, when it arrived, was huge. I had to construct the burger myself, and then it was impossible to pick up. The bread under the burger soaked up the juices way too quick, and even flipping the burger over, so thicker top of the bun could do some work, didn’t stop it from disintegrating.

The burger itself tasted great, but couldn’t hold itself together. The meal became a knife and fork affair, rather than the pick up and bite style I want from a burger.

Overall, the meal was one of the best of the week, but this was due to many other factors, not just the burger. The burger, while tasting good, didn’t act like a burger.

4 stars.

Day 3: Schnipper’s Burger.
Day 3: Schnipper's Burger.

When meeting up with jugglers in Bryant Park, I mentioned I was off to get a burger for lunch. Someone said “You should try Schnippers!” I’d not heard of it before, but the people who work in that area of the city love it. Before I left the park, another two people had recommended it, so I rode my bike right there. It looked like a chain restaurant, but apparently this is the only one in the city.

I ordered the Schnipper Burger, with the special Schnipper Cheese Sauce. About 12 dollars for the burger and a coke. I was given a number card, and a few minutes later my burger arrived. I looked really good.

Bun: very good. Salad inside: fresh. Bacon: crispy. Cheese sauce: very, very tasty. The burger patty: delicious. It held together well as I picked it up, helped by a stick through the middle.

From the appearance of the restaurant, and the fact that they also served Sloppy Joes, I was surprised at just how good I found this burger. In my head I was comparing all the burgers to the Hot Dog World burger in Berlin, and this one was the most like it.

5 stars.

Day 4: Goodburger.
Day 4: Goodburger.

Conclusion: Badburger.

Backing up a bit, I chose this place because the burger I planned to try, at the Union Square Cafe, is only serves burgers at lunch times. Just up the street I found a Goodburger joint, and it had been mentioned by a few people. I can’t remember it being mentioned in a good way, just “Some people say this is a good burger.”

Flat, not that tasty, didn’t hold itself together. And, with all the toppings, it cost just as much as the Schnipper’s burger the day before.

1 star.

Day 5: Peter Luger’s Burger
Day 5: Peter Luger's Burger

Recommended by just one person, but they sold it to me well. Peter Luger’s is a steak restaurant next to the Williamsburg Bridge on the Brooklyn side. They only serve burgers at lunchtime, until 3:30pm, so I made sure I got there on time.

It’s a full service restaurant, and the meal was the most expensive of the week. $21 included fries, bacon, and a coke. That also includes a small tip, not as big as I expected because I didn’t know they only took cash (no credit cards). I was served bread buns before my burger turned up, which were nicer than most bread I get in restaurants, especially when dipped in the Special Peter Luger Steak Sauce.

So, my food arrives, and the burger is in bits. The bread looks great, but I couldn’t see how the bacon was meant to be part of the burger. The cheese was a bit too plastic-american-style for me, and the onion was a single raw slice, not fried or grilled, which means I wasn’t going to eat the onion at all.

The fries seemed to be the minimal amount they could get away with, and the coke was tiny.

And then I started eating, and all my complaints faded away.

The meat of the burger was fucking awesome. By far the best tasting burger I’ve eaten in a looooong time, which exactly how this burger was sold to me.

The fact that the bacon was a separate over-fatty feature? No problem. The cheese was okay in the end, and the fries were good too.

But let me just mention again that the burger meat was really, really good. The bun didn’t need to do any work soaking up fat and juices, as the burger itself kept them locked up perfectly. And putting the steak sauce on top really made it special.

5 stars.

Day 6: Brgr
Day 6: Brgr

Only two people recommended this to me, but it was sold as being all Organic-this, and Grass-fed-that. As Hot Dog World in Berlin is all organic, I thought this might make it special. It cost $14 dollars, which included fries and a coke.

Presentation… okay, I guess. I like to think a burger can stand up under its own weight, rather than being helped by a paper wrapper.

Like Goodburger, the bread on this one fell flat, but at least I could taste it. The onions were good too. And the bacon was the best bacon I had all week.

However, I was underwhelmed by the meat, even as all the posters on the wall said “Grass fed beef is WAAAAY cool, man!”

The fries were pretty good, but as I didn’t have fries at every place, I can’t let that sway my rating.

3 stars.

Day 7: Shakeshack.
Day 7: Shakeshack.

This was the most hyped burger in the city. No matter who I talked to, everyone mentioned the reputation of Shakeshack, if only to say they thought it was overhyped. I saved this one until last.

There was a long queue to order the burger. Is this a good sign or a bad sign? I ordered the Double Shakeburger, or something, which came with the special Shake cheese sauce and bacon. About $15 in total.

It arrived in a bag (bad) but held its shape pretty well (good). To be honest, it didn’t look amazing, and I was gearing myself for major disappointment after all the hype.

And you know what? It was pretty good!

But it paled in comparison to the Shakehack milkshake! I had a vanilla and chocolate fudge “frozen yogurt” which blew my mind.

4 stars.

So, that’s a week of burgers. But wait… there’s more! On day 8, while waiting for my delayed flight, my stomach was protesting its neglected state. I went to find some food, and found…

Day 8: New York Sports Bar
Day 8: New York Sports Bar

“What the hell,” thought I, and my empty belly cheered. I ordered the bacon cheese burger, fries and a coke ($14.25), expecting some terrible airport food.

It arrived suspiciously quickly, but nicely set out on a plate. The jacket potato fries were the tastiest fries I ate all week, which surprised me no end. This was also the only burger outlet to toast the inside of the bun, which set it apart too.

It was let down by the burger itself, and the american (not cheddar or swiss) cheese. The bacon was okay, but the burger meat didn’t really grab me.

3 stars.

Conclusion:

The best two burgers were the Peter Luger burger (for the meat) and Schnipper’s burger (for the taste of everything else). I’d also recommend Jackson Hole and Shakeshack burgers, but to different people for different occasions.

I’ll end this review by composing my Ultimate New York Burger, using elements from the above 8 establishments.

Setting: The service of Jackson Hole, the quiet of Peter Luger, nd in the Shakeshack park (but without so many people) as I like eating outside.

Before: I want the bread and steak sauce of Peter Luger’s served beforehand, with the pickled cucumber of Jackson Hole.

The burger served: On a Jackson Hole platter, with salad and coleslaw.

With: A Shakeshack Milkshake.

And: New York Sports Bar fries (I can’t believe the airport fries were the nicest).

The Burger Itself: The meat and steak sauce of Peter Luger, the bacon of Brgr, the toasted bun of New York Sports Bar, the cheese sauce and salad of Schnipper’s.

If someone could arrange all that, you’ll have the Ultimate New York Burger, the burger angels serve in heaven.

Sorry to 5 Guys and Goodburger, as no aspect of your burgers made it into the Ultimate New York Burger. Must try harder!


NYC day 19 – Walking in Manhattan at night.

Sooo… I’ve got to catch up with my blogging for my last week in New York. The reason I’ve not posted much isn’t because I didn’t do much, it’s because I did so much I didn’t have time to sort through the photos and to write about them. Now I’m on a cruise ship I have that time.

On Monday the 20th I recorded a podcast interview with a musician called Nat Osborn (see earlier blog posts) and then I finished off my walk down Manhattan. Here is the view at Battery Park, just beyond the end of Broadway.
On Monday the 20th I recorded a podcast interview with a musician called Nat Osborn (see earlier blog posts) and then I finished off my walk down Manhattan. Here is the view at Battery Park, just beyond the end of Broadway.

The Bull in the financial district. I think this has something to do with “Bull Markets”. Actually, I’ve no idea what it’s meant to represent, but it looks awesome. I waited a long time for a car to drive in both directions, to get more motion in the shot, but it was pretty late at night by then.
The Bull in the financial district. I think this has something to do with

I took the subway back up to Times Square to get some video of me juggling in front of the video screens and signs. I’ll share that video at some point. Here’s a stepped viewing platform, so tourists can get a better view of the advertising.
I took the subway back up to Times Square to get some video of me juggling in front of the video screens and signs. I'll share that video at some point. Here's a stepped viewing platform, so tourists can get a better view of the advertising.

After eating a burger (burger eating will be a blog post all of its own) I walked over to Grand Central Station. Here’s a corner, with another city landmark in the background.
After eating a burger (burger eating will be a blog post all of its own) I walked over to Grand Central Station. Here's a corner, with another city landmark in the background.

My bike route across Brooklyn, and the second part of my walk down Manhattan.
My bike route across Brooklyn, and the second part of my walk down Manhattan.


Down Manhattan on Broadway

On Sunday I finally got round to walking down the length on Manhattan on Broadway. As I did it, I took a photo at every crossing, and at every time a street joined on the opposite time of the road.

I didn’t know what to do with all the photos at first, but decided to combine them with a song I wrote and recorded back in August, but never shared on YouTube or this blog. It’s called “All Your Time”. It has nothing to do with New York, but I thought the changing images would look good linked up with the catchy melody.

Oh, here’s the normal blurb: In my list of 50 goals and plans for 2010 I wrote “6.1 Write an album’s-worth of new songs and record them by the end of the year” which I’m interpreting as one song per month.

Only 5 more songs to go!

Watched the video yet? Did you spot that I didn’t do this all on one day? Due to subway closures and annoyingness, I set off about an hour and a half later than planned. I got to 14th Street (Union Square) and had to catch the subway over to Brooklyn to watch a show. Someone asked “Will you time the rest of your walk so the photos pick up again without a gap?”

I said “Probably not, that would require too much planning for my vacation.”

But then, on Monday evening, my plans for the night fell through. I took the subway back to Union Square, and picked up the walk almost exactly 24 hours later. I was off by about 20 minutes, and the weather was slightly different. So far nobody has noticed the join until I point it out to them. It also explains why I ate so much! I had pizza and ice cream one day, and the hot dogs the following evening.

In total the walk took about five and a half hours, and works out to roughly 14 miles.