There is a reality show on some cable network or other here in the US called “Extreme Couponing”. Actually I don’t think that’s what it’s called at all but whatever.... Anyway, the show basically focuses on these people who are completely obsessed with clipping coupons – even for things they don’t need, want or could ever use. They get a rush from clipping coupons for 9 hours a day just so they can walk out of a store with 400 tubes of toothpaste, having paid nothing for them. It’s pretty compelling TV actually.
While I’m not an extreme coupon-clipper, I do like to save a dollar where I can. I had heard about the Chicago-based Groupon company a while back and since I moved to New York I’ve become quite a devotee. Unlike clipping coupons, the Groupon site doesn’t give me free stuff (so far anyway), but I do buy things at a discount – often a significant one – and giving me lots of opportunities to see and do interesting stuff in my new home town. Bonus!
Yesterday I had a long-overdue catch up with RS who I have known for a while and works upstairs. I had wanted to use two new Groupon certificates I had bought (henceforth referred to as G1 and G2), and RS and agreed to keep me company on the excursion.
So after work yesterday we caught a cab to Limelight Marketplace – a place I was convinced I’d never been to, until we got there and I realised I had walked past it about two weeks before. Originally a church, the interior was gutted years ago and the building transformed into a nightclub. Then some years later, the club closed down and developers turned it into a bright and ultra-modern market. The space is really beautiful, if not a little rabbit-warreny, but you could easily lose hours just wandering through the funky stores selling many unique pieces from independent retailers but with a flashy department-store feel.
Our first stop was Jezalin’s, a fancy gourmet food market nestled in a far corner of the Limelight Marketplace. G1 was good for two cups of coffee – but not your standard-issue, over the counter coffee either. Oh no, friends. This G1 gave me two cups of the Rolls Royce of coffee. Normal retail price? $30 per cup. Yes, you read that right – per cup. WTF?! We’re talking about rare kopi luwak arabica coffee that comes from Sumatra. The coffee is fancy all because a civet (or luwak, to the locals) eats the ripe coffee cherries, chemically treats & ferments them in its stomach and then poops out the beans. Yes, G1 was good for two cups of luwak poo-coffee. And I have to tell you, it was actually pretty good – if you can get past the notion that you’re drinking something that started its life as an excretion from a mammal’s furry buttocks. Reading the tasting notes online this morning, I don’t recall the coffee tasting like chocolate, but it was certainly smooth and easy to drink. RS and me agreed that it didn’t have that harsh, almost-burnt aftertaste that coffee can sometimes have. Even though I normally take milk in my coffee, I wouldn’t add milk to this one. I liked it, but I wouldn’t pay $30 a cup for it. Unless of course I could drink it in St Mark’s Square, while Venetian minstrels serenaded me; then it would probably be okay.
Having been somewhat revived by our Sumatran adventure, we headed upstairs to Cana Wine Bar, a cute little place on the Limelight Marketplace mezzanine level, to redeem G2 (for $20 worth of food/drink). Surrounded by stained-glass windows and overlooking the busy shops below, we enjoyed a bottle of Cava and a cheese plate. As boring as it sounds, I think the parmigiano reggiano was my favourite – and the raspberry (?) jam offered alongside was pretty delicious too. Bear in mind if you visit that the toilets at Cava are very tricky to find but if that is the only thing I can complain about, that’s quite good. Oh wait, the music there was pretty loud but I think that’s just because I’m an old lady and I’m aurally sensitive and crotchety when it comes to these things.
I think by this point we were feeling rather peckish, and so we figured we’d walk uptown and stop in at whatever restaurant took our fancy along the way. We didn’t get very far, because right next door to Limelight Marketplace – part of the tenancy, in fact, is a brand new restaurant called CrossBar. It opened about a month ago and while I didn’t remember it at the time, I now recall reading about it in my “New York” magazine. They have pig’s ears on the menu – not just for dogs anymore, guys! We didn’t have that though – we enjoyed a lovely bottle of Willamette Valley (Oregon) rose, some duck sliders and also some pulled pork tacos. So tasty! Despite the threat of rain, we sat at a table outside, under an exotic umbrella. It was definitely another success story of the evening.
At this point we finally decided to leave the vicinity of Limelight Marketplace and we walked up Fifth Avenue, through Madison Square Park and over to RS’s old watering hole, The Crooked Knife. Strangely enough, I’d actually been there before – but only for brunch. In the evenings the place comes alive and they have a fantastic collection of 80s tunes on their system – I was in heaven! As we chatted and people-watched, I had one too many ciders and at 1.30am, we removed ourselves from the venue and taxied home. But in typical New York fashion, the bar and even the city streets were still well and truly buzzing.