We did a spur-of-the-moment trip up to New York yesterday.

It was Pride weekend, and with the passage of same-sex marriage in New York a couple of days earlier, it promised to be a bit of a raucous celebration.  We had to be a part of it.

We got into the city just in time for lunch – and experience parade-goers know one can never get raucous on an empty stomach – we headed to Eataly at 23rd and Broadway.  It just happened to be right on the parade route.

Eataly, for the uninitiated, is a huge food emporium put together by Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali.  It’s an unbelievable experience of food court, restaurants, and groceries.  And it ain’t cheap.  (But to put it in perspective, at Penn  Station on the way home we had an appetizer platter at TGI Fridays and two drinks that cost the same as our lunch.  And the service was surly and there wasn’t a pleasant employee in the place. The better deal – by far – was Eataly.)

We wandered the areas and settled on lunch at Le Verdure – the vegetarian eaterie.

I had peaches and portobello mushrooms with greens and balsamic vinegar.  The peaches were perfect.  The mushrooms meaty and flavorful.  The balsamic wasn’t the cheap stuff.  The sweet, the bitter, the sharp tang…  It worked perfectly.

Victor went for a caponatta.  Roasted eggplant and roasted red peppers with pinenuts.  It was stellar.  Both of these will be replicated at home.

Our dining companion two tables over was one of the latest cooking stars, Curtis Stone.  He just did an appearance on Good Morning America this morning.  He’s easy on the eyes…

Eataly is huge.  There are breads, cheeses, meats, dried pastas, fresh pastas, fabulous-looking desserts…

Dried pastas range from about $2.69/lb to $6.99 and more.  They looked great, but we didn’t buy.  We have a cabinet full of pastas right now.  Maybe next trip.

But they did have a great variety of sizes and shapes.  I had a lot of concepts and ideas running through my mind.

Fresh seafood.  Lots and lots of fish.

And the cheeses.  Oh.My.God.  The cheeses.

There aren’t enough hours in the day to consume the amount of cheeses I wanted to bring home.  It was breathtaking.  There’s just no end to my love of cheese.

And then we found the bakery counter.

A score of different cakes and even more individual desserts.  Calorie-laden gastronomic goodies.  I was in heaven.  Again.

Having been a baker, I just love the colors, textures, and flavors.  I also know just how difficult it is to try and replicate things like this at home.

I wanted two of everything.

If we lived in new York, this would not be my daily grocery store.  But I’d definitely be down here on a regular basis.  It was a lot of fun.  There were enough unique items at a reasonable-enough price to make it worthwhile.  They also had ridiculously over-priced items, as well.  Shop smart, as they say…

But our real reason for being up in the city was the Gay Pride Parade.  It was time to head back outside.

New York is wall-to-wall people on any given day.  Throw a parade into the mix and it really becomes crowded!  Fifth Avenue was jammed solid with the most wonderfully-diverse people imaginable.

Just a wondeful, fun-loving crowd.

And I do mean crowd.

There were the scantily-clad disco-boys showing off their wares to bare-breasted ladies

and everything in-between.

It was really a celebration of people.

From all walks of life.

It really was diverse.

With both fun and somber messages.

Of course we had to pay homage to The Stonewall, where the modern gay rights movement started 42 years ago.

I’ve had more than a couple of cocktails there in the past and I do have to say the place was pretty much a dive, but I haven’t been inside in 25 or so years.  It may have changed a bit.

The neighborhood has changed, too.

It was a great time in a great city with great people.  We had some really fun conversations with celebrants all over.  The young guy in the subway station who started taking off his veil – until we convinced him it was a good look on him!  The young girls on the subway, the guys across from the Stonewall.  And our sweet waitress at Eataly who couldn’t wait for her shift to be over at 4pm so she could join in the festivities.

I’ve always loved New York but have been a bit disillusioned recently because of just how much everything costs – from hotel rooms to theatre tickets to getting there in the first place.

But all of that was swept aside yesterday when I really saw New York at her finest.

I was proud to be a part of it…

New York,  New York.