As our Facebook and Instagram friends who were playing along from home already know, we have spent most of this week in New York visiting good friends and meeting their new baby. I wanted to post a quick roundup of some of the things I feel fortunate to have eaten over the last few days. Most of the time, I only had my phone with me, so please accept my apologies for the quality of some of these snaps. At least now you’ll understand why I will be busy Googling the phrases “kettle bell” and “juice fast” for the rest of the evening.
Lamb shoulder and lamb chop with cannelini beans, persimmon, and spicy Italian sausage from CookShop, a slickly “rustic” restaurant in West Chelsea specializing in all that is seasonal, local, and grass-fed. Buzzwords aside, dinner here was one of the highlights of the trip. Cookshop: 156 Tenth Ave., New York, NY 10011; (212) 924-4440
Lunch at Melt Shop, a small chain of grilled cheese sandwich shops, revealed something that I had almost forgotten about eating in big cities. For as many amazing meals as there are that will empty your wallet, there are just as many cheap, easy (and delicious) options. Case in point? “The Dirty,” a ($7.25) pepper jack and meunster grilled cheese with pickled jalapenos, caramelized onions, and crushed potato chips, served with a side of Parmesan tots. Melt Shop: 55 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10010; (212) 447 MELT
I hadn’t had a slider from White Castle in years and years. A sack of four was one of the first things I ate when I moved to the city in 2000, and I have had few since. It wasn’t until I found myself on a long walk in search of a bottle of wine, that led me to the location on 8th Avenue and 36th Street. I’m not sure I’ve ever sat in a fast food restaurant that seemed more on the verge of becoming the scene of an armed robbery at any moment. When I described it as “amazing” to the friend I was visiting via text message, he replied, “Yeah, an amazing place to have a gun pointed at you.” The new jalapeno sliders seemed like a reasonable tradeoff. White Castle: 525 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10018; (212) 736- 4746
One of the first items on my breakfast to-do list was to get a proper bagel. It actually became an item on my list that I revisited again several times over the course of a few days, but none were more satisfying than “The Traditional” at Murray’s Bagels, a NYC-style hand-rolled water-boiled bagel covered in salt and topped with plain cream cheese, Nova Scotia salmon, huge capers, lettuce, and tomato for $9.95. Murray’s Bagels: 242 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011; (646) 638-1336
After hearing that we were eating grimy Chinese takeout (kind of our favorite thing in the world), a reader sent us a tip demanding we visit Shanghai Deluxe Cafe in Chinatown. The soup dumplings, or Xiao Long Bao, completely delivered on the recommendation: pillows of soft steamed flour dumpling wrapper, that explode hot, pleasantly fatty soup broth and a nugget of pork down your throat with your very first bite. After we ate, we almost lost Violet, who was swooped up by the staff and paraded around the room (and kitchen, and coat check room, and cashier’s station) like the newly-elected Mayor of Mott Street. Shanghai Deluxe Cafe: 100 Mott Street, New York, NY 10013; (212) 966-3988
A trip to New York at Christmastime just didn’t seem complete without a stroll through the Union Square Christmas Craft Fair. I loved this merchant, with his rows of baskets filled with loose spices and teas.
Violet always brings plenty of reading material to keep herself occupied on the subway, so that no one will hassle her.
The slice culture of NYC is something that I miss; that ability to pop in almost anywhere and have a perfectly respectable slice for a buck or two, with plenty of red pepper flakes and orange grease running down your arm as you march down the street, clearly in the middle of some serious business. I almost ran into the glass when I saw the majestic beauty of Bravo Pizza stretch out before me, acres upon acres of gorgeous red-sauced beauties. Bravo Pizza: 146 5th Ave, New York, NY 10011; (212) 523-0300
Of course, that didn’t stop me from sampling the wares at Rosa’s Pizza. Rosa’s Pizza: 37 E 28th St, New York, NY 10016; (212) 679-4117
Or at New Town Pizza II, Bella Napoli, or at Pronto Pizza. See, quick story: I had stopped into the Blarney Stone for a quick pint and a glass of Jameson, when I got involved in a three hour conversation with a guy named Sharif who was all torn up about the fact that his parents didn’t show him the love he thought he deserved, because they used all of their emotional resources on his older brother, who was in jail. Then he showed me shockingly detailed iPhone photos of his wife taking a very soapy shower. Shaken to my core, I went on a slice bender that has never seen its equal.
New Town Pizza II: 360 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001; (212) 695-9229
Bella Napoli: 257 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001; (212) 675-4050
Pronto Pizza: 1333 Broadway, New York, NY 10018; (212) 244-1113
A day trip to Central Park yielded a bag of mixed sugared street nuts from one of the many Nuts 4 Nuts carts scattered throughout.
The senses-shattering din inside of Eataly was absolutely thrilling, featuring tables of diners enjoying fresh pasta scattered among the shop’s numerous cheese, salumi, cookware, pasta, and fresh vegetable subsections. Eataly: 200 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010; (646) 398-5100
A fit of stir-craziness that struck at around ten o’clock on our last night sent me wandering through Times Square, where I think I failed to accurately capture the chaos and the crazy scale of “The Crossroads of the World.” The tourist-heavy foot traffic was lit as though by daylight. I didn’t get my name spelled in Chinese characters, or have a portrait drawn, but I couldn’t resist taking at least a curious stroll by…
Guy’s American Kitchen Bar. No, I did not stop in for Fried Lasagna Noodle Nachos or a Watermelon Margarita just so that I could write a scathingly brilliant tear-down of both the place and the man. Because by now, what would be the point?
Not pictured, but also enjoyed immensely? The fresh mozzarella from Caputo’s in Carrol Gardens, made fresh in twenty pound batches every two hours and possessing not just the softness of typical fresh mozzarella, but an almost woven texture that was unlike any fresh cheese I have ever tasted. A bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich from a corner deli that bordered on a religious experience. A frisee “salad” from Guilty Goose, featuring a duck egg, duck confit, and lardons. And, just to polish myself off, a black and white cookie and a Red Velvet cupcake from Crumbs Bake Shop.
I need to rest now.