Day 36 – New York, NY

The division of labour on this blog has been me taking care of the words and Jane taking care of the photos.  She has been really enjoying experimenting with the camera (and getting me to pose for thousands of photos) throughout the trip.

Googling “things to do in New York”, a website for “New York Photo Safaris” popped up.  Normally they take groups of up to 6 people for two hour photo lessons at some landmark around New York City.  Jane got lucky and managed to score a one-on-one lesson at the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) with the owner of the business, an Asian American lady called Zim.  Jane has posted a number of photos from that session, and I think you should “Like” them in Facebook.

Whilst Jane was getting schooled in the art of indoor photography, I sought out Carnegie’s Deli.  I must plead guilty – I had seen this deli on the New York episode of last season’s Masterchef, and wanted to try the sandwiches Garry and George raved about.

To call them sandwiches is a complete misnomer.  More like an obscene amount of sliced meat with a couple of small slices of bread as a garnish.  I ordered the “Woody Allen”, which consisted of over half a pound of sliced corn beef, teamed with over half a pound of pastrami and a couple of slices of rye bread tacked on either side of the meat.

The menus describe the serving size as gargantuan.  I think they are better described as grotesque.

I ate more than felt comfortable and still only managed to get through less than half of the sandwich.  Most customers left with a doggy bag, which is not really an option when you’re on the road.  To be honest, after what I had just eaten, the thought of taking home even a single slice of corn beef or pastrami made me feel a bit queasy, so the leftovers that could have fed a small African village for a week were presumably scraped into the great food waste bucket that every America restaurant must have out the back.

I walked the streets of New York for a couple of hours, window shopping and people watching, but the bloated feeling only got worse, so I went back to the hotel to catch up on emails and wait for Jane.

In the evening, we went back to the Lower East Side to the Public Theatre to see Mike Daisey perform his monologue “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”.  Daisey is a self-styled story teller, who Jane had seen in last year in Sydney at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.

For the past 12 months, Daisey has been travelling the word performing his monologue, based mostly on the Steve Jobs / Apple story, but focussing on a trip Daisey took to the Foxconn factory in China.  Foxconn produce over 50% of all of the world’s electronics for many of the world’s major brands, especially Apple and their iPhone / iPod / iPad products.

By posing as an American businessman interested in having his product manufactured by Foxconn, he managed to get inside the factories and witness the human equivalent of battery hens, labouring away to produce the world’s consumer electronics.

Daisey’s talk was both entertaining and thought provoking, although as he is quite a “generously proportioned” chap who perspires profusely.  As he got more and more passionate about his subject matter, the rivers of sweat running down his face and his randomly projected spittle were more than a little distracting and, from where we were sitting in the front row, somewhat unnerving.

His content has proved to be quite topical, as over the past few weeks, we have been hearing snippets on the radio newswires that Apple is planning to investigate the work practices of the Foxconn factories.  If half of what he says is true, you can only hope that Apple take their review seriously.

Ironically, as we left the theatre, it seemed half of the audience couldn’t wait to turn their iPhones back on … we wondered if they were the same people who lined up at the Apple Store for each release of a new generation of Apple products, and will probably be lining up for the release of the next generation, which feeds the ever increasing demand for product out of the Foxconn factories.

As this was our last night of our trans-American adventure, an appropriately special final dining experience was called for.  Grabbing a cab back to the Upper East Side, tonight’s recommendation from the hotel concierge was Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant “Daniel“.

After the slight disappointment of the previous evening, the contrast could not of being more stark.  Everything about “Daniel” reeked with elegance and quality. Every course we ordered was stunning, and whilst thankfully steering clear of the “over innovation” of the previous evening, the food clearly represented some very clever cooking.

The restaurant prides itself on being only one of five in Manhattan that received the New York Times four star rating, and to our incredibly sophisticated palates, it deserves every one of them.

A great way to sign off on our many and varied American dining experiences.

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