At the end of March, we spent a few days visiting New York City with Evan and Claire. I will be featuring our kid-friendly trip to NYC in a series of blog posts (so far I have published Chinatown/Little Italy, the Lower East Side, DUMBO in Brooklyn, and Xiao Long Bao and the American Museum of Natural History, Times Square, and Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies). Today I am sharing the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, East Village, and a recipe for Matcha Lava Cake.
Miss our NYC travels last year? Here are the links to those posts: Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Chelsea Market, Greenwich Village, and New York Style Pizza; 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Bagels; and Central Park, Chinatown, Flatiron District, and Black and White Cookies.
Disclosure: I was provided tickets to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
We spent our last full day in New York City at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. This educational and cultural non-profit institution is located in Hell’s Kitchen on Pier 86 at 46th Street. It is open daily (with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas). Check the website for seasonal hours and ticket prices. Free general admission is provided for members, children 4 and under, U.S. military (20% discount for spouses), and veterans. It took us around 2 hours to walk through the museum. Allow for 2-3 hours to see everything.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum was founded in 1982 following the acquisition of the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, a National Historic Landmark since 1986. Notable highlights along with the Intrepid include the USS Growler (only American diesel-powered strategic missile submarine open to the public- recommended for 10+, must be 40″), British Airways Concorde (fastest commercial aircraft to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean- only open for private tours), Lockheed A-12 (world’s fastest military jet and spy plane), and the space shuttle Enterprise.
As a note, bag and coat checks are not available. We were able to take the stroller along the flight deck to look at the planes, but set it to the side to check out the interior. There is an elevator available between the decks, but some areas such as the fo’c’sle, combat information center, submarine Growler, and Concorde are not wheelchair/stroller accessible. Open-toed sandals, high-heels, necklaces or other items that can get caught are discouraged. The flight deck and Space Shuttle Pavilion may close during inclement weather.
28 authentically restored aircraft are situated along the flight deck of the Intrepid with the Manhattan skyline in the background.
Aircraft from all five branches of the U.S. armed forces (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard) are represented along with others from around the world. Highlights include the Beech T-34A Mentor, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17, McDonnell (F3H-2N) F-3B Demon, Vought (F8U-1) F-8K Crusader, Sikorsky HH-52A Sea Guardian, Grumman A-6E Intruder, Lockheed A-12 Project Oxcart “Blackbird,” and more. Due to their exposure to the elements, the aircraft are constantly being restored and maintained by a small full-time staff along with a volunteer crew.
The British Airways Concorde “Alpha Delta” is located below on the pier and is “the very airplane that set a world’s speed record for passenger airliners on February 7, 1996, when it flew from New York to London in 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds.” Find a full guide to the aircraft here.
Aircraft Carrier Intrepid
The Intrepid first launched in 1943. During its career, the carrier served in World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and even as a NASA recovery vessel in the 1960s before being decommissioned in 1974. The Flight Deck, Gallery Deck, Hangar Deck, and Third Deck are open to the public. I appreciated so much the volunteers who took the time to talk with Evan and made our experience at the museum all the more memorable as we explored the different levels.
The Mess Deck (located in the Third Deck- photos above) was restored in 1969 to its original appearance. You can also see the Restored Berthing Areas; Medal of Honor Exhibit; Fo’c’sle (the forward-most part of the ship); Squadron Ready Room; Combat Information Center (CIC); Kamikaze: Day of Darkness, Day of Light; and an 8 minute film called The Story of the Intrepid which includes archival footage and personal interviews.
Space Shuttle Pavilion
The main feature in the Space Shuttle Pavilion is the massive space shuttle Enterprise- “the prototype NASA orbiter that paved the way for the space shuttle program.” You will also be able to learn about the Enterprise’s highly orchestrated journey to the museum in 2012 from Washington DC, view artifacts related to the space program, and hear recorded conversations between mission control and Enterprise pilots during flight tests.
Evan was particularly mesmerized by the intricate Lego displays of the Intrepid and Manhattan.
We ended up spending most of our time in the Exploreum. This interactive exhibit is designed for all ages with plenty of places to explore. The sea, air, and space activities were perfect for hands-on learning and the Bell 47 helicopter was a favorite.
Unfortunately we did not arrive in NYC in time for the sensory friendly Early Morning Opening (free but registration required), but Evan did benefit from the social narrative, sensory guide, and visual vocabularies. Sensory bags are available at the information desk with noise-reduction headphones and fidgets.
The museum also has an Aviator Grill, Intrepid Marketplace, and Museum Store. Guided tours are available daily, often before the museum opens. Overall, we had such a wonderful time and were so impressed with the level of detail at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum even outside of the actual exhibits with the staff, volunteers, and sensory-friendly guides.
There are a few places around the museum that we wanted to try, but didn’t have time including the Tom Otterness Playground, Ñaño Ecuadorian Kitchen, Sacco Pizza, and Gotham West Market.
Spot Dessert Bar
One of our favorite food stops in New York City was Spot Dessert Bar in East Village. I just loved the unique variety of desserts and how they were presented. We decided on the 3 Tapas Special with the signature Matcha Lava (dark chocolate cake filled with green tea ganache and served with green tea ice cream, chocolate crunchy pearls, and cookie crumbs), another signature- Golden Toast (honey buttered toast, condensed milk ice cream, fresh strawberries, cookie crumbs, and whipped cream), and Milky Puff (warm puff pastry, milk ice cream, corn flakes, brûlée bananas, whipped cream, and white chocolate honeycomb). There are also locations in Korea Town and Flushing.
Sunrise Mart was another fun stop. Located on the second floor, via an elevator, of 4 Stuyvesant Street (with additional shops in SoHo and Midtown), this Japanese market has a variety of groceries, prepared foods, household products, cooking supplies, and tableware packed in a fairly small space. I especially enjoyed browsing through all of the teapots, cups, bowls, and bento supplies.
Videogamesnewyork at 202 E 6th Street also packs a ton in a small space. The shelves are filled with games from the first home systems to present day along with books, apparel, decor, and other merchandise. Evan and Claire enjoyed the painted Mario-themed concrete along the outside of the building.
Toy Tokyo at 91 2nd Avenue was another favorite for Chad and Evan. They feature a variety of vintage toys, anime, collectibles, and Japanese imports. The downstairs section is filled with Funko Pop. Evan loved all the Star Wars items.
Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped by Yonekichi for a quick bite. Located on East 9th Street, Yonekichi features a variety of rice burgers and accompaniments. We tried the Ginger Mugifuji (thinly sliced pork with a ginger soy sauce and lettuce), Saikyo Salmon (Kyoto-style miso salmon with pickled daikon radish, shiso, and a sakura miso), and Potato Wedges tossed with a Yuzu Salt. There is also a location in Hell’s Kitchen with seating available.
Other notable locations
I had quite the list for the East Village, but unfortunately didn’t get the chance to see everything. Here were the other places we had down as possibilities: Ukrainian East Village, Miss Lily’s East Village 7A, Squish Marshmallows, La Newyorkina Astor Place, Pan Ya, and Hi-Collar.
Matcha Lava Cake
After trying the Matcha Lava Cake at Spot Dessert Bar, I wanted to attempt it at home. It took a couple of tries, but I finally came up with a great version of it! I made these cakes on my birthday, so it was also the perfect way to celebrate. I used my Molten Lava Cake base and filled it with a chilled Matcha White Chocolate Ganache. The crumbly, cake crust gives way to a molten, brownie batter-like center that mixes with the creamy matcha white chocolate ganache for quite the decadent dessert.
The trick for this Matcha Lava Cake is to make sure the ganache stays only in the center and is completely enclosed by the chocolate cake batter. If any of the ganache reaches the edge, then it will bubble out during baking and cause the cake to fall apart when removed from the ramekin. I had this happen on a couple of mine. To help keep the ganache in the center, make sure it is completely chilled. I placed mine in little chocolate molds and froze them for a bit, but probably could have kept them in the freezer longer. Another difficult part is getting the baking time just right. I consistently have a time of around 13 minutes. Start checking them after 10 minutes in the oven and it shouldn’t take longer than 15. The outside should be firm, but still show some moisture and be a little wobbly in the center of the top.
I served the Matcha Lava Cake with green tea ice cream (I used a store-bought version with mochi, but also have this recipe), whipped cream, strawberries, and Matcha Kit Kats.
Matcha is a powder created by grinding whole green tea leaves. There are various grades. The higher quality grades are made from the fine, new leaves from the very top of the Camellia sinensis tea bush. Use the premium grades for drinking, while the lower culinary grades are fine for baking. Be careful in the storing of matcha. It can become stale and brownish when exposed to oxygen. I have been able to find matcha at the local Asian food markets and more recently in larger supermarkets. It is also available on Amazon: Matcha Konomi and less expensive: Jade Leaf Matcha Green Tea Powder.
Matcha Lava Cake Recipe
Matcha Lava Cake
Matcha White Chocolate Ganache:
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon matcha (green tea powder)
- 6 ounces white chocolate chips
Chocolate Lava Cake
- 6 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate chips
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
To make the Matcha White Chocolate Ganache:
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the matcha and heavy cream over medium heat. Bring to a simmer.
- Place the white chocolate chips in a heat-safe bowl. Pour the matcha cream over the chips and allow to rest for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth.
- Transfer the ganache to ice cube trays or square chocolate molds. Refrigerate for a few hours or freeze 1-3 hours to thicken.
To make the Lava Cake:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 6 ramekins with butter and line the bottom of each with a buttered circle of parchment paper. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet.
- In a double boiler or microwave in 20 second increments, melt the chocolate chips and butter until smooth. Set aside and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until pale. Mix in the flour until smooth. Slowly fold in the cooled chocolate until combined.
- Pour enough of the batter into each prepared ramekin to just cover the bottom. Add about 1 tablespoon of the chilled Matcha White Chocolate Ganache to the center of each ramekin over the chocolate batter, being careful to not allow it to go along the edges or bottom. Top with additional chocolate batter until the ramekins are 3/4 full, making sure it fully encloses the ganache.
- Bake in preheated oven just until the tops are barely set but still wobbly in center, about 13 minutes- start checking at 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before inverting onto serving plates.
- Serve immediately with a dusting of additional matcha, matcha or vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and fresh berries.