Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tiffany and The Sopranos (New York Part IV)

We awoke groggily with Champagne hang overs and vague memories of making plans to go to a racetrack. Our friend called to arrange a time for us to meet them at the owner's boxes. We looked up Aqueduct online and found it located roughly between Queens and Brooklyn out near JFK in an area described as Jamaica, Queens. It looked like an adventure.
We were hungry to start the day and had heard many good things about Balthazar and decided to walk by and see if we could get in for breakfast. It was packed, people pouring out the door. We continued our walk through SoHo and then slowly north and ended up at a place called NoHo Star and it was great. Clean, great creative menu, hot tasty food, what's not to like? But it was getting close to lunch time by now and we needed to do a little shopping before hitting the track.
Bruce had promised me a little Tiffany gold for my 40th birthday gift. We also needed to pick up a sport jacket for him to appease the turf club's jacket-required dress code. So we hopped in a taxi up to the big Tiffany & Co. store on Fifth Ave. and speed shopped for some beautiful gold jewelry. We found what I wanted rather quickly and then wandered around the store diamond and people watching. We loved looking at the over the top super duper pieces and even asked one of the workers to hold up a piece (similar to this one) to let us see if it makes tinkling noises when the chains bump into each other (no real tinkling was detected). Finally, our pieces had been placed in cloth pouches and the pouches into hard hinged jewelry boxes and the boxes put into Tiffany blue cardboard boxes and wrapped with white satin ribbon and wrapped into tissue and put into a bright blue Tiffany & Co. shiny paper shopping bag. Whew, thank you, beautiful, let's get out of here. Over to...
Hugo Boss, speed shopping now, we only have 1 hour to get out to the track. We wander up and down through the store and eventually find something that will work fine. We go to pay and now our fine financial institution has decided that this isn't a normal day of shopping for B&V and wants us to jump through a few maiden name hoops before allowing us to pay for the jacket, remove the tags from it and put the Tiffany jewelry on before jumping into a cab and heading towards Queens.
There is traffic, tons of traffic. It takes forever. Our friend calls to make sure we are okay. We eventually get dropped off by the cab on the wrong side of the track. The entrance is closed, but Bruce uses the information we have and inquires through the cheap bourbon fumes wafting out of the booth "It's Bruce and Vickie, we were told you'd know us and that we shouldn't pay the $2.00 fee?" The guy looked at Bruce like he was nuts and pointed at the old yellow school bus turning around just in front of the booth in the parking lot. We got aboard and it took us around to the main entrance and we found the turf club entrance. They DID know who we were and didn't even ask for the fee, just rushed us upstairs to meet our friends, but not before asking if we were with the Soprano party. Baffled, we rushed upstairs and to the restroom before asking the host to seat us. He promptly asked if we were with the Sopranos. We said no and thought it a bit strange that now two people had asked this same mysterious question. We followed the host to our table... just past, oh my god, it's them, Tony, Paulie and the guys - the four tables behind us filled with the cast of the Sopranos show on HBO. They were there celebrating a birthday. We did our best not to stare but did manage to get a few pictures of each other with Tony in the background. The races whizzed by and neither Bruce nor I won much if any money. We did have the opportunity to meet and become acquainted with the trainer for our horse. He is from France and travels around the world with his horses, visiting some of the richest places on earth and flying on specially configured airplanes. When it was time for the big race of the day we moved down to the paddock so we could watch the race from ground level. We met the jockey and the horse. The Soprano's horse was running against ours and so the guys were all down at the track rubbing shoulders with us. I'm sure it gave them a thrill. Luckily our horse did NOT win, but neither did the Soprano's horse, so we all left the area without incident.
Bruce and I did our best to get out out of there fast in order to get back into the city for a dinner reservation at Daniel. But when we take the school bus to where we think a subway station should be, we are encouraged, by the policemen attending the exit, to return to the club house to call a cab. So we board the bus again and when we get to club house we run into our friends from the owners table. They board the bus with an adventurous attitude toward the subway station and we follow like good little tourists.
One of the friends is a NYC native. She calls the port authority to ask when we should expect a train and where would be a safe place to change trains on our way back to MidTown Manhattan. I remove my Tiffany jewelry and put it in my purse, but I'm still holding my bright blue bag which seems to at this point be glowing and pulsating. Our train arrives and the cast of characters couldn't have been better. All colors, all shapes, all sizes, hair nets, tattoos, piercings, but my favorite is a guy with a golden bicycle. Bruce offers up his seat to a few people and gets a few takers - what a nice guy!
We emerge, three trains and 50 minutes later, three blocks from our dinner reservation at Daniel. I stop outside the door to put my Tiffany gold back on, smooth down my hair. We enter a jewel box of calm sophistication. They bring us to a corner table which is in a beautifully colorful tent. It's luxe in every way. They bring a small plush seat for my purse and I try to remember where I have dined that has done this before (I still can't remember). They make Bruce keep his jacket on, house rules, even though he is over-heated from the quick walk to the restaurant. They treat us like kings and we indulge in a wonderful meal. The wait staff takes a liking to us and recommends a place called Lexington Bar and Books for an after dinner drink and a cigar. Ah, what a great suggestion.
We waddle out of the restaurant and up to the bar. We are buzzed in and seated at a cozy table. We indulge in cognac, single-malt Scotch and a cigar each. Wow, what a day. Wow, New York City!

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