Monday, March 26, 2012

New York

I just returned from the most fabulous Food Adventure.

 3 nights + 16 restaurants 
=  a truly memorable experience 

Here are some of my favorite highlights. 

Night One

The Standard Hotel - Meatpacking District
Checked in and promptly took a stroll down to the Standard Bar and ordered the first cocktails of our trip.My two favorites included "The Lift Ticket" (vodka, cucumber, lime juice, elderflower liquor, kaffir lime powder) and "El Gringo" (tequila, tarragon/jalapeno triple sec, fresh sour, smoked sea salt)

View from the room...

Schillers Liquor Bar - Lower East Side 
First meal of the trip. Casual Neighborhood Spot. 
Wine list has 3 catergories: decent, good, & great. 
The two executive chefs (Riad Nasr & Lee Hanson) are also the chefs of Minetta Tavern, Pastis, & Balthazaar.  Menu Highlights included Roast Pumpkin Salad, Oyster Bar, Charred Octopus Salad, Roasted Cauliflower with Fennel, Raisins, and Capers, Chicken Pot Pie, and Rotisserie Chicken with French Fries and Jus. 

Beauty & Essex - Lower East Side 
Ultra Glam. 4 dining rooms. 2 bars. 1 lounge. 
All hidden behind a door found at the rear of the pawn shop entry that faces the street. Loud, well-chosen music. Beautifully crafted cocktails. Dim lighting. We only had drinks here but
menu highlights included Jalapeno-Blood Orange Margaritas, Raw Bar, Braised Short Rib Tamales, Lobster Tacos, Bone-in Ribeye with Roasted Garlic & Bacon, and Heritage Baby Back Ribs with Guava Glaze. 

Tertulia - Greenwich Village 
Spanish Gastropub.  Cozy, Smokey-Scented Space ( a result of the large wood-fire grill back in the open kitchen).  Menu Highlights Included Pan con Tomato (toasted bread rubbed with tomato), Jamon Iberico (acorn-fed Iberico ham), Langostinos A La Brasa (grilled head-on prawns with garlic aioli), Nuestras Patatas (crispy-fried potatoes with garlic aioli), Boneless Chicken Wings fried in Duck Fat with Pomegranate, and Housemade Red Sangria. 

Day Two

James Beard House - Greenwich Village 
Head over first thing in the morning to check in on Chef David LeFevre and his team who are prepping for their dinner later in the evening. I got chills just walking into the building. Major bucket list moment. Helped them get organized (aka watched in awe) and then left shortly before lunchtime.

Momofuku Milk Bar - East Village 
I first read about Pastry Chef Christina Tosi a couple of years ago when she became known for her Cereal Milk Frozen Yogurt, Compost Cookies, and Crack Pie. I even blogged about the "chef crush" I had on her back in May 2010 (read it here).  Two years later, I got to actually try her treats. I was not disappointed. Everything was delicious. 

The Dutch - Soho
Bar. Restaurant. Oyster Room. 
Owned and Operated by the same fellas that run Locanda Verde. Menu highlights included Five Grain Salad with Beets, Cherries, & Blue Cheese, American Burrata with  Pine Nuts, and Organic Broccoli, Escarole with Shaved Mushrooms, Parmesan, and Hazelnuts, Crispy Shrimp Roll with Red Remoulade and Spicy Slaw, Green Label Burger with Pepper Jack, Hot Fried Chicken with Honey Biscuits, and Freshly Made Pies (Lemon Poppyseed Meringue and Banana Cream).

Magnolia Bakery - Greenwich Village 
This is the place that started the cupcake revolution. Had to drop in for a 6-pack. Walked out with an original Vanilla Buttercream, Devils Food, Pistachio, Red Velvet, and a Coconut. Notice the perfect frosting to cake ratio. 

James Beard House - Greenwich Village
Handcrafted. Artisanal. Soulful. 
Chef David LeFevre of MB Post "Performs" and Winemaker Greg Brewer pairs each course with a wine selection. A truly magical evening. Kicked off with a Champagne Reception (Delamotte Brut) and Tray-Passed Apps (Pomegranate Cous Cous with Lavendar Feta and Marcona Almonds, Veal & Pork Albondigas, and Shrimp, Chorizo, and Beluga Lentil Soup). Guests included JBF Members, NY Foodies, a couple of Hollywood's best (Stanley Tucci and Steve Buscemi), and even a bit of media (Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, and GQ Magazine).

Chef David started the meal off with his to-die-for  bacon cheddar biscuits served with whipped maple butter. 

1st Course: 
Hamachi Crudo with Thai Red Curry, Coconut, Cucumber, & Candied Cara Cara
Wine Pairing: 2010 Diatom Kazaoto Chardonnay

2nd Course:  
Seared Diver Scallop with Shrimp-Ginger Dumplings in a Yuzu Kosho Scented Katsuo Dashi Broth
Wine Pairing: 2006 Brewer-Clifton Courtney's Chardonnay

3rd Course: 
Moroccan BBQ Lamb Belly with Harissa Caramelized Onion, Japanese Eggplant, and Orange Curd
Wine Pairing: 2010 Brewer-Clifton 3-D Pinot Noir 

4th Course: 
Red Wine Braised Beef Cheeks with Potato Celery Root Puree, Parsnip, and Horseradish Cream
Wine Pairing: 2004 Melville Donna's Syrah

The "Elvis" - Peanut Butter Mousse, Caramelized Banana, Bacon Brittle, Chocolate Pudding
Wine Pairing: 1982 Bodegas Toro Albala Don PX Gran Reserva

The Spotted Pig - West Village 
Left the JB House and headed over for a 12:30am reservation to celebrate the dinner with Chef David and his team. According to Gwenyth Paltrow's "Goop" NY City Guide, The Spotted Pig "is and perhaps always be will be the place to be on a any given night in New York". It is a little two-story house and literally every square inch of the place is covered in pig-themed items. Menu Highlights included  Pot of Pickles, Sheep's Milk Ricotta Gnudi with Brown Butter & Sage, Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort and Shoestrings, and Warm Buffalo Burrata with Roasted Red Peppers and Arugula.

Day Three

Corner Bistro - West Village 
Landmark/Institution. Bohemian Bar. Dingy. Dim. Tiny. Cash Only. Some say its the best burger in New York. Others rant about it being overrated. Here's the facts: The Bistro Burger is about 3 inches thick and 4 inches wide. Its broiled and then topped with american cheese, bacon, a thick slice of onion and tomato, pickle chips, and a piece of iceberg lettuce. Tom Powanda ate 2 of them.  Thanks for taking us out to lunch was a real treat!

Num Pang Sandwich Shop - Greenwich Village 
Cambodian Sandwiches. Might be one of the top 5 sandwiches I've EVER had. So insanely tasty. Menu  highlights included blood orange lemonade, fresh watermelon juice, Five-spice glazed pork belly with pickled asian slaw and Ginger BBQ Brisket with pickled red cabbage served on a toasted semolina flour baguette with chili mayo, cucumber, pickled carrots, and fresh cilantro.

Momofuku Noodle Bar - East Village 
Another David Chang restaurant that I'd been waiting to try. It was fabulous. We sat up at the counter looking into the open kitchen. Menu highlights included Grilled Octopus with scallion kimchi, salsify, and cara cara orange foam, Shrimp Buns with spicy mayo, Pork and Shiitake Buns with hoisin, scallion, and cucumber, Momofuku Ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder, and poached egg, Chilled Spicy Noodles with spiced sausage, spinach, and cashews, and Beet-Lime soft serve frozen yogurt.

Amali - Upper East Side
Mediterranean Inspired. Cozy. Intimate. Huge Greek Wine List. Infused Spirits. Co-owner James Mallios provided us with a wonderful array of dishes including four delicious housemade pasta dishes. Menu highlights included Rosemary infused Limoncello, Diver Scallop Crudo with Cara Cara Oranges,  Yellow Foot Chanterelle and Primaluna Taleggio Crostini, Escarole Salad with Parmesan, Anchovy, and Pine Nuts, Eggplant with Calabrian Chili Honey Vinaigrette and Yogurt, Beet Tortelli with Pecorino and Poppyseed, Pappardelle with English Peas & Spring Onion, and Whole Roasted Fish with Meyer Lemon and Fennel Fronds.

The Standard Biergarten - Meatpacking District
Packed. German Beer & Brats. Giant Soft Pretzels. Communal Tables. You purchase tickets which allow you to trade for food and drinks. Ping Pong tables in the back. If you are staying at The Standard Hotel you can flash your room key and cut the line of people that are waiting to get in. fun.

Vin Sur Vingt - West Village 
Super Tiny French Wine Bar. Lovely French Wine List. Candlelight. We stopped in to enjoy a couple bottles of wine. Menu highlights included Terrine de Foie Gras with figs and toast and Les Fromages (a selection of 5 french cheeses) with crostini.

Gray's Papaya - West Village 
This place has been on my "must-eat" list since 1997 when Salma Hayek orders Gray's Papaya Hotdogs and has them shipped to Nevada for her baby daddy (Matthew Perry) in the romcom "Fools Rush In". Then again in a 2002 episode of "Sex and The City" and finally in 2010 on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations".  Serving high quality (and dirt cheap) hotdogs since 1973. Open 24 hours a day. The wieners "snap" when you bit into them. Topping options include:  sauerkraut, relish, onions, cheese sauce, ketchup, and mustard.

Hogs and Heifers Saloon - Meatpacking District
Dive Bar. Watering Hole. Complete mixed crowd. Bikers and Celebrities alike. There are more than 20,000 bras hanging from the walls (even Julia Roberts hung hers). It's the bar that the movie "Coyote Ugly" was based upon. Every hour or so the bartenders (clad in jeans and bikini tops/bras only) dance on the bar and then invite ladies from the crowd up for a dance while jumbo security stand below ready to catch anyone that falls off - even Sir Paul McCartney has danced on their bar!. It was close to 3am when we arrived - and by the end of the night, we too, had been dragged up onto the bar to dance. When in Rome....right?

What a trip!

An extremely special thanks to my Uncle Tom and Cousin Mike for inviting me along on their adventure!

Also, a shout out to Mr. Jake Sigmund - banker by day and our official NY tour guide by night - you were an endless source of information.

And as promised ...

1 comment:

  1. Unbelievable! So glad you took so many pics and remembered all the details of the menus! Looks like a nice mellow trip, more like a spa vacation. xo, LEH