13 April 2012

Bright lights, big food.

The good news is that the plague cleared up and I had my appetite back for my trip to NYC (the bad news is that I am now sick AGAIN), so I have lots of yummy food tales to relate! No matter your opinion of NYC, there is much delicious food to be eaten - I kept telling Birgit, I wished we could just eat ALL day. Even then, you still couldn't squeeze everything in... But you could sure try!

First things first, our hotel (I love me a good boutique hotel!) - which, even though he wasn't invited on our girls trip, Brad found for us. I was overwhelmed trying to determine area, price, unlikelihood-of-having-bedbugs-ness, so Brad just said "I'll do it!" He even found us a sweet deal, and we booked our room at Morgans NYC. On Madison at 37th, it was perfectly located and super cute. I mean, side by side twin beds? How much more adorable does it get?

I've never been one to publicly comment on business sites, but I am tempted to leave a post at Trip Advisor - I mean, these were some seriously comfy beds!!! They completely made up for the all-night/day-long door slammers next door and the weird freight train exhaust pipe that ran at 3 am, and I'm not even being sarcastic! (And they have an iPod doc for in-room Kelly Clarkson dance parties! [Yes, we did.])

Anyway, so after checking in to our awesome hotel, we had a quick lunch at a Greek diner, then headed over to MoMA. Pro - On Fridays from 4 to 8, it is free. Con - Five million people have the same idea. I think free outweighs the mass hordes, but it was still kind of a pain in the ass. That being said, we did see some sweet Dalis and Picassos (or a Garfunkel). Finally it was time for dinner - Grand Central Oyster Bar, in Grand Central Station.

This place was super neat. And not fancy and perfectly kitschy. And with a huge seafood menu. To start, we got oysters, of course. We had our server pick us out a variety, none of which I remember, except for the French Kiss oyster.

Kissy, kissy!

Not much to say except that they were yummy and oystery. For dinner, Birgit settled on the monkfish and I on the fried Ipswich clams.

These clearly were not frozen clams from the grocery store. So tender and delicious. I've been craving more clams ever since. With full bellies and tired heads, we headed back to our twin beds to rest up for fancy breakfast Saturday morning. At Iron Chef Zakarian's The National.


Silver Fox.

I'm not exaggerating when I say this is probably one of the best two or three breakfasts I've ever had.

Pancakes, obviously. But these were unlike any pancakes I've ever had... Light and fluffy... with crunchy edges! I love crunchy edges! I must figure out how to make this happen. On top of the pancakes, chopped hazelnuts and blueberries, and super creamy butter. We got cheddar grits to share. YUM. And Birgit got the chorizo omelet, and the eggs were beyond fluffy (I tried a meatless corner). We were just murmuring yum and oh and ah throughout the entire meal. Over pancakes!

We did lots of walking around post-breakfast, and by 3 or so, we were ready for a snack. Eataly was on our itinerary, so we headed there. I was really looking forward to going here, but I have to confess, it was TOO crowded to really enjoy. I could have spent hours perusing the oils and noodles and sauces, but there was no seeing anything around the mass of people. So we decided to grab a quick sandwich and run out, but a seat opened up and we got to sit down and soak it all in while we snacked on deeeeelicious paninis. Birgit got something with meat and I started drooling before I even took the first bite of my caprese - yellow tomatoes, fresh made mozzarella, basil oil, and sea salt. OMG I could eat one right now..... * sigh *

BTW, if you ever see an Italian citrus-ginger soda (see above) - STAY AWAY!!!!!! To get the horrendous taste out of our mouths, we had to get some gelato (also at Eataly). Birgit settled on pistachio, I decided on coconut. And it was coconutty delicious.

More walking, more resting, then it was back out for dinner with our lovely New York Lisa, who came in from Brooklyn to dine with us at Pure Food and Wine, which is 100% vegan and raw food. I can almost always find a few things on any menu that I can eat, so I don't think too much about it, but I can't tell you how much the little person inside my tummy jumped around and did a little dance when it occurred to me that I could eat every single ingredient on the menu (so thank you to the ladies for humoring me and agreeing to eat here). And to start, could we not order the "cheese" plate?

I found the "cheeses" more cheese-like than B & L did, but we all agreed that whatever they tasted like, they tasted tasty! Soft and spready, they went perfect with the rosemary crisps and huckleberry jam. For our main courses, Lisa ordered a special salad with "blue cheese" and avocado and edible flowers; Birgit ordered the tamales; and I settled on the pear ravioli with long pepper sauce (who knows?!) and lemon.

Vegan food scares people. Heck, it scares me. But anyone that ate here would walk away a believer. It's not about tricking you with fake meat - it's about making delicious food with vegetables and nuts and grains. You just have to give it a chance. And it is beyond beautiful - so many colors! And... it was delicious. Mine was definitely on the sweet side so I can see it not being for everyone, but it was tart and tangy and the filling tasted just like ricotta. I truly believe even the meatiest of meat eaters could be happy eating a meal like this. 

After dinner we went next door for a quick cocktail at Pete's Tavern, which is the oldest continuously operating bar in NYC (fancy!). Then back to the hotel to rest up for our field trip to Lisa's apartment and a tour of Brooklyn Sunday. I think it's fair to say Brooklyn is my favorite place in New York. I'm a neighborhood girl, what can I say?

When Birgit first invited me to join her in NYC, my one absolute must-do was sushi. So for our last night in the city, on Lisa's recommendation (thanks, Lisa!), we headed to Amber. It was a beautiful night - on the warm side, no wind, and the restaurant was in a super cute neighborhood. Plus, the front was pulled open, so we could sit practically outside (with a view of the Empire State Building). And, there was almost no one there but us... Relief from the hordes!

We decided to start with a salmon tartare, and its deliciousness made me giggle with delight. I love love love raw salmon. I would pick raw or smoked salmon over cooked salmon any day. And I could eat it every day.

For sushi, we decided on a California roll (you gotta!), the Pink Lady (crunchy spicy tuna, tempura shrimp, avocado... in a pink wrap!), and the ocean roll (rock shrimp tempura and avocado topped with spicy snow crab).


I love sushi. But almost every time I have it, I still wish it was Godaiko, in Ann Arbor. This might be one of the few times I haven't felt that way. The Cali was fresh and creamy, the Pink Lady was so crunchy and spicy, and the crunch in the ocean roll tasted faintly of Captain Crunch - in a good way. What else could we get for dessert but... another California roll?!

Did I mention the delicious pomtinis we also had with dinner?

Getting wild in the city!

What a great three days of food, drinks, sights, and, most importantly, time with very very special friends. Heart and tummy are bursting with happy memories of my weekend in the big city.


Sara said...

Yummy weekend! Looks really fun. :)

Lady Lisa said...

Such a lovely recap of what looks like a fabulous trip! The city can't wait for you to return. :-)