By Hannah Silverman
Quite unremarkably at first the rain began to fall, varnishing the Fifth Avenue sidewalk and saturating the many American flags that flapped against the luxury flagships it’s famous for. Shoppers and tourists alike darted inside buildings like Tiffany and Co, Gucci and Rockerfeller to seek refuge from the downpour, while the rest of us drew our umbrellas as armour against the elements and continued our journeys. My walk was brisk, my eyes all but closed. New York City wasn’t supposed to be like this. Then something magical happened.
Subtly, the heavy rain of moments past began to soften and eventually it morphed into the first snowflakes of the city’s holiday season. I was on the corner of Fifth and West 59th – The Plaza to my left and Park Ave to my right – and what looked like a frosted Alpine village stood in front of me. I was about to experience Central Park for the first time, and all of a sudden I was no longer fighting the freeze, I was embracing it. My walk slowed, my eyes were most definitely open.
We were headed to the Loeb Boathouse, which you may remember from such films as 27 Dresses, When Harry Met Sally and, well, just about every other Hollywood film with the Big Apple at its core. Our reservation was ticking closer and as I tightly grasped my shopping bag straps I wandered through the world’s most famous park. Ironically, no matter how many times I had seen it in cinema or magazines, it looked nothing like I imagined. It was better
I’m sure this was one of the few occasions Central Park becomes a relatively deserted paradise. Framed by a concrete jungle, dreamy Central Park is the juxtaposition of New York’s sweet and sour reality; a cosmopolitan sanctuary with a poetic beauty that feels so oddly random and delightfully unexpected. In many ways it looks like an environmental hybrid where man-made wonders of the corporate world collide with the soft serenity of pristine landscaping. It’s uniquely New York and I adore it.
For now though, it was lunch time.
The Loeb Boat House was the perfect sanctum. As the snow continued to fall beyond the floor to ceiling windows, a fire place crackled by the entrance and bar, creating an atmosphere not dissimilar to a ski lodge. No doubt in the sunshine the restaurant takes on a completely different ambiance – it just means we need to revisit it throughout the seasons.
The Loeb Boathouse’s impressive menu was reasonably priced considering its world-class location, and offers a creative menu with something for everyone. The wine selection, too, was expansive. Let’s be honest, you can’t have lunch in Central Park without a glass of something fabulous.
Check out my starter. A mouth watering procuitto, mozzarella, peppers and basil concoction that perfectly complimented my Chardonnay.
Next up, there I was with my main of spiced monkfish on a bed of cous cous, mangoes and scallions in a coconut-curry sauce. Healthy, and delicious. (Please ignore the rain-ruined hairstyle!).
And peering outside I was reminded of Christmas with a floating tree in the middle of the lake. The New York skyline was my backdrop, nestled conspicuously behind the frosted parklands.
When dusk fell the park becomes arguably even more beautiful, even though earlier that afternoon I doubted it could. The trees and shrubs become shadow-like while the branches create artwork against the contrast of the evening sky. Depending on your chosen route, eventually the skyline comes into view, but is no longer remiscent of a cosmopolitan business district, all you can see now is the constellation of illuminated windows in the distance flickering like stars.
The snow paused eventually and even after we ate lunch and walk back through the park, it’s magical impact was still very much in the air. There were no runners, but there were lovers and ambitious tourists, who, like, us wasn’t going to let a little thing like snow change our plans. I imagine this is quite a contrast to the hectic park population of the usual snow-less hours.
We returned to Central Park on our final day, coincidentally on the third day of snow which we were fortunate to experience. However, this day was much gentler and it made wandering throughout he leafy paths, a walk in the park (sorry, couldn’t help myself there).
New York transforms into a new city when it snows, quite unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. And if you can’t brave the frost, pop into nearby Tiffany’s and remerge when the snow stops. With a little blue box, of course. New York City, what don’t you have to offer?
Have you seen Central Park in the snow? Is it not the most amazingly beautiful utopia you’ve ever seen?