Yesterday I met with rtb at Hudson Yards, where we visited The Vessel and ate at José Andrés’ Little Spain. I had not seen her since last September, so just getting to chat for hours was treat enough for me.
From Penn Station it was an easy walk across 31st Street to 10th Avenue and I walked through the shopping mall and right there is the The Vessel. It is a little dizzying to look at the Escher-like structure. After looking up, even the tiled ground was dizzying.
We met outside The Vessel at 3pm. The entire day had been cloudy, sometimes threatening rain, but it was a perfect day for walking around because it never got too hot or too cold. Because it was such a nice day, Hudson Yards was crowded. Not as crowded as it probably is on a summer weekend afternoon but crowded enough to be happy the NYC is back and wary about being around so many people after being isolated for so long.
They have signs with QR codes where you can purchase tickets. The line was not too long. My plan was to take the elevator up and then walk down but they were working on the elevator. I told rtb that if she needed to go up faster than me that was okay. I knew I would be going slowly up the stairs. It actually turned out to be better that I did not go up in the elevator. Once I saw how high and how seemingly non-anchored the top looked, I knew I did not want to be up there. Neither of us are comfortable with heights, so we walked slowly about halfway up, taking photos along the way, and then walked down.
Right outside The Vessel is the The Shed, where performances will be held.
Going up, we could see the West Side Railyards, the Hudson River, and New Jersey on one side.
And the other side.
And the pods set up for outside movie viewing.
And more inside.
The elevator started running again and watching it was fascinating. In order to keep the car straight, the mechanism has to tilt.
There is a circle in the center on the ground floor, where people stood on line to put their phones in the center and look down while the camera took a photo looking straight up.
Here is the center reflected in the copper.
Little Spain is similar to Eataly (Italian) in the Flatiron District or Westfield World Trade Center and Le District (French) in Brookfield Place with a market and small restaurants that each serve a different type of food. I think because of the COVID restrictions that had been in place, only a couple of the restaurants and the Mercado are open. We had a wait for a table, so we wandered around.
I met my buddy José.
At the Mercado we texted meli to see if there were any Spanish food she wanted. The one thing she did want, they did not have – Schweppes limón.
You could buy jamón sliced in envelopes or tubes or you could just buy a big hunk of pig in its own canvas carrying bag and slice it yourself.
The restaurants grow their own herbs.
We also walked outside. The Highline is right there and this cool fountain.
Our table was one row away from the tables that were next to the open glass garage doors. But we could see the soccer game on the big screen TVs. Ordering was also done by QR code. It took you to an online menu, you entered your credit card information and placed your order. To start, rtb had sangria and I had a Menade Verdejo-Rueda, a dry fruity white wine, which was not as dry as I prefer but was very good. We ordered three tapas to start and we immediately dug in and were talking and forgot take any photos.
The pan con tomate had lots of tomato flavor and the right touch of salt. The Paletilla Ibérica was a little disappointing. The flavor was almost too subtle and I looked up the difference when I got home. The Paletilla or Paleta Ibérica is taken from the forelegs or shoulder. Jamón Ibérica is taken from the hind legs. The shoulder has a shorter curing time and there is a bigger meat to fat ratio. Also, the meat is closer to the bone. Most references say the shoulder has a more intense flavor but I did not find that to be true compared to the jamón I have had in the past.
The third item was croqueta de cocido. Originally, I thought each croqueta would be different with each one containing either beef, chicken, jamón, and chorizo, which is how it was described. But I found out a cocido is a Spanish stew containing all those meats plus garbanzos and vegetables. There was definitely meat in there but both rtb and I were questioning what type of meat. If all those meats were in there, there had been cooked down to all taste the same.
For our second round, I remembered to take some photos.
The patatas bravas were somewhat disappointing. They had a good taste but were a little cold. I know we were talking and waited a bit to eat them but they should not have been that cold by the time we got to them. The Manchego cheese was good and served with what I think was a fig spread – it could have been guava. The best was the garbanzo salad, which had tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs that was lightly drizzled with olive oil and sherry vinegar and I think they may have forgotten the cumin. Both courses include a cup filled with little breadsticks.
For dessert, rtb had the churros served with a chocolate sauce on the side and I had the Basque burnt goat cheesecake with chocolate. Again, there was some disappointment. I liked the cheesecake. There was maybe a slight burnt flavor. But I wanted to taste a tanginess from the goat cheese and there was none. In fact, if it had not said goat cheese on the menu, I probably would have been happier with it.
Several of the restaurants are still closed and those that are open are not running at full capacity. I would try the Diner again but maybe go to the eggs, La cocina de la abuela (comfort food), or bocatas (sandwiches) on the menu to see if there is a difference to what I had.
By Carene Lydia Lopez