New York, New York
NB: Prepare for a good deal of reading, I knew that if I didn't get it all down at once, parts would never see the light of the internet.
After spending a week in NYC, life seem much less interesting in pokey old SB, which is probably why it took me so dang long to put this up here. Throughout our week, I had to keep on telling myself how this is just our first trip here and we will return someday to see more. This was especially hard in the Met, where at every corner was a fantastic piece of art that I didn't expect to ever actually see in person. Not only am I a food and book geek, I am also a hardcore museum junkie. Now you know all my secrets.
We did a good number of touristy things; saw the ice rink and tree at Rockefeller Center, went to the top of the Empire State Building, took the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, spent hours drooling at MOMA and the Met, etc. I'm just going to focus on the really good bits.
Herring Flight L-R with horse radish and pickled red onion, curried with apple, cured in vodka with *shudder* salmon roe and red wined with sour cream
Dessert was my favorite course. The Arctic Circle was a tube of icy goat cheese filled with passion fruit curd. It was crowned with a lozenge of blueberry sorbet and a little crisp. I am normally not a blueberry person but the sorbet converted me. It was intensely flavored and a seriously deep shade of purple. The hidden passion fruit was a pleasant surprise and all though I thought that I couldn't eat one more bite, I managed to get it all down. I'm pretty certain that I won't reach that level of gastronomy, but it is awfully pleasant to visit.
Our first full day there, our fantastic hostess led us around the city and we somewhat astonishingly ended up at Aquavit for dinner. Maybe its because I am easily star struck but it was one of the top five meals I've had (# 1 being my one and only time at Chez Panisse and #2 at Cesar's). I ordered a flight of herring bites, hot smoked salmon and a stupendous dessert. My herring was good at first but after a while, it became too much. There was a lot of vinegar involved and my palate couldn't handle it all. It was presented beautifully though. While my main was pretty tasty, I seriously coveted the partner's crispy skin striped bass. I loved the texture of the skin with the barely set flesh of the fish and the sweetness of the broth.Dessert or architectural wonder?
One evening, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge on a mission to visit Grimaldi's, based on a friend's recommendation. The place seemed like it was straight of the archetypical pizza joint and that we fell into a scene out of a movie. The tables were covered in red and white checkered tablecloths and were so crammed in that you were literally elbow to elbow with your neighbor. I didn't think places like that really existed. They only take cash and they only serve pizza, not even an iceberg salad. The pizza, of course, is perfect. Thin crust with just a swipe of sauce and few rounds of melted cheese. We got oil-cured olives, anchovies and mushrooms on ours. Before we realized it, all of our pie was gone and we were outside in the cold again.
Our final day in the city was brilliant. We went to the farmers' market in Union Square first off. As soon as we got there, it felt familiar, even though it was more than 2,000 miles away from home. I love the feeling of going to the market, how people seem friendlier toward each other and we're all part of this community no matter how temporary. I wish that I could have bought more to bring home, but I didn't think I could fit much more into my suitcase. We did procure a bottle of cider for our friends from Eve's Cidery and looking back on it, I wish that we had got one for ourselves too. My favorite booth at the market sold lambswool, sheep's milk and cheese and... lamb. I love how everything was used and accounted for. It was bitterly cold out and some of the stands were selling hot drinks. For $1, a hot cup of green tea flavored with honey, lemon and cinnamon was in my cold hands. All of the flavors went well together and I plan on making this again soon. I think it might be just as cold inside our house as it was in NYC outside in December.
We were getting quite chilled so we left the market to go to Once Upon a Tart. I've had their book for a while and it was a treat to see the real deal. For lunch, I had a delicious grilled radicchio and portobello sandwich with goat cheese and then indulged in my very first madeline. While the partner and I swapped bites of the cakelet, his parents insisted that we get a tart too, pear-almond, which I plan on making from the book. I really enjoyed how the food was displayed and presented. There was a good attention to detail but not so much that it would be out of the realm of possibility to re-create the products. I whispered that this would be the kind of place I would like to have one day. From there, we went on to wander Central Park and visit the Met. This day ranks as one of my favorites that I have had the good fortune to spend.