I've been a New Yorker for my whole life--except for brief sojourns here and there in cities that while admirable on their own, are by no stretch of the imagination New York. I lived in Chicago a couple of winters and a couple of summers in my early 20s after my old man had been transferred there. In my 40s, I took on the role of Wandering Jew and spent a year in San Francisco and two in Boston. But ever and always, I return to New York.
A little over a year ago, having not had a car for 30 years, I spent $1100 to buy a 1966 Simca 1000 and another $5000 making it safe to drive and ready to enjoy. My mechanic, a crotchety Croatian named Lothar, installed a powerful 3.0 liter in-line 6 he had taken from a BMW. He fixed every ding and dent, painted and reupholstered her and now I have a better than new 50-year-old sedan.
She's a tiny car, not much larger than a Mini-Cooper, really, but capacious on the inside with legitimate seating for four George-sized adults. Lothar even put in a decent stereo system and ran a jack to the center console so I can speak hands-free on my iPhone and play MP3s as well. In all, my Simca is a great car. Perfect for exploring the city I've called home for my entire life.
We headed up to Liebman's on W. 235th Street in the Bronx on Saturday, having read an article in "The New York Times" that trumpeted their superior nosheries. I selected a pastrami and brisket sandwich on seeded rye, a side order of kasha varniskas with brown gravy and a Dr. Brown's cream soda. My wife and younger daughter shared a platter of corned-beef and pastrami with an order of french fries and a fist-sized scoop of chopped chicken liver. My wife also had the requisite Dr. Brown's. My daughter, an apostate, somehow chose a Sprite. Of course the table was festooned with a variety of pickles, both sour and half sour as well as a heaping bowl of cole slaw.
Finished with our meal, we walked the small enclave from Johnson Avenue and 235th to Netherland, back around more than a couple closed-for-the-sabbath bakeries and the usual Jewish varieties of Chinese restaurants.
My wife, as you may or may not know, had had her hip replaced in late October and this fair bit of Bronxite traipsing was enough for a blustery Autumn afternoon.
On Sunday my younger and I fired up the Simca once again and headed downtown to Chinatown for what many consider the world's best soup-dumplings.
Soup dumplings are impossible to describe. Eating them is like trying to describe your first sexual escapade. You quickly lapse into superlatives unable, most certainly, to capture the effect. All I can say about the soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai is that if you're a reader of this space and you're visiting New York, I will gladly treat you to an order, just to watch your reaction as you taste Chinese ambrosia.
Take-out food in hand, we headed up the Bowery, the slowly gentrifying bleak avenue, merged onto third and made it home while everything Chinese was still steaming like Vesuvius.
I've lived a lifetime in New York.
I'm enjoying it even more having a car.