Monday, November 12, 2007

BRR it's cold in here!

So I've been away from the interweb because I've been in NY. It was like SF on the coldest night of the year, except every day = bearable, but this California girl is very happy to be home! The trip consisted of lots of eating, shopping, walking (to pseudo-counter the eating, kind of but not really), and time with good friends. =) WARNING: this is a long-ass post.

L: whole wheat bagel @ Murray's, M: hazelnut latte @ Joe the Art of Coffee, R: pastrami @ Katz

I try to go to NY once a year, yet I still hadn't tried some of the city's staples. I'd only heard of Murray's Bagels from the Amateur Gourmet, and I must say that it was very eh. Honestly, the bagel I had was no better than Noah's.

I also made it a point to go to Joe: the Art of Coffee, but when I walked over to the Waverly location, I realized that I had been here before over two years ago. Random. My NY friends seem to live by this chain, but I thought their coffee was ok. Their chai, however, was incredible. I visited Joe maybe 5+ times during my trip, and all but one time got the chai. I need to find out what they use! Stupid work has their site blocked =P

I also headed over to Katz deli on the LES, and it was way bigger than I thought it would be (it was huge!). The pastrami was, indeed, very tasty when fresh and hot. Definitely not as big as Cyn made it out to be - I could totally eat the entire thing, but then again, I have a freakishly large appetite. But $15 for that sandwich? Are you kidding me?? They're lucky they're famous and can get away with charging that much!

L: Eggs Norwegian @ Balthazar, M: Grimaldi's, R: view from the promenade @ Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

I've passed by Balthazar many a time, but had never eaten breakfast there (pastries, yes). Mike's waffles were whatever, but my eggs were pretty sublime. They had pretty good coffee too. To work off that decadent breakfast, we took a very nice walk downtown and across the Brooklyn bridge, arriving at Grimaldi's. They have a lot of history, but their pizza was just OK (Mike and his sister Joyce later spent an entire day driving around Brooklyn after Donut Plant, going to like 5 different pizza joints to hunt down the best NY pizza. I didn't go, but Mike's favorite was Di Fara's). Since it was just down the street, we stopped over at the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory despite the already icy weather. It was whatever, but I'm sure we would've enjoyed it much more had the visit been weather appropriate.

We also stopped by the Bryant Park/Times Square area to visit Joyce at Conde Nast (she's an editor at Cookie) and got to relive parts of The Devil Wears Prada except in baby-size. We visited, but didn't eat at, their cafeteria which was designed by Frank Gehry. Too bad we didn't run into Anna Wintour =P We also got granola (so much gluttony!) at 'wichcraft since there are booths everywhere in Bryant Park, and it was pretty money.

To kill some time before dinner, I went to Bouchon over at the Time-Warner Center since I had never eaten there (none of the locations). I really just wanted one brioche, but since they only sell them by the dozen, I settled on a pesto croissant which I had for breakfast the next day. Very tasty when toasted, and spicy! But really, who doesn't like a pastry that's 75% butter. Ah, if only I were kidding....

That same day, I met up with friends at Basso 56, which was decided almost solely by location since we wanted somewhere in that area so we could have an easy trek to Kyotofu afterwards. Basso 56 was whatever, and unfortunately Kyotofu was the same. This dessert bar seemed to be as widely praised as Chikalicious (where I went last year - cute concept, but I'm not dying to go back), and had enough buzz that reached SF (or me at least). But... it just didn't work for me. Their niche is in Asian-inspired desserts, using bases like soy/tofu, mochi, etc, but there was just too much going on. We had a chocolate mochi cake that was hardly reminiscent of mochi in texture, a tofu cheesecake that was kind of weird (not in a good way), and an Asian pear galette that people seemed to like the most. It was good to try, but I don't think I'd go back.

Another day I ate at Google. Why? Because it was free. Plus, I was getting tired of all the eating! But mostly because it was free. Later on after walking from Midtown to Chelsea and getting free goods from Joyce's OXO connection, we stopped by Three Tarts in Chelsea on our way back to Greenwich. Joyce loves their homemade marshmallows (with such flavors as yuzu, mango, and the like), and they were indeed pretty good. The plain vanilla ones would've gone nicely with a big cup of hot chocolate mmm. We also stopped by Murray's Cheese (pretty sure it isn't affiliated with the bagel chain) where they know Joyce as a regular. We also stopped by Porto Rico next door to Joyce's apt in Greenwich since Mike is an addict.

That night we had dinner at Tailor, which I had been long awaiting after reading a ton of NYTimes press over the past year. I feel really self-conscious taking flash pictures in dimly lit restaurants, so that's why pictures aren't so great (click to enlarge). The menu isn't listed on their website, but I took a copy home with me to remember. We ordered the entire menu, both savory and sweet (except for the dishes that were on the cocoa tasting that didn't overlap). Don't worry, it was small and we were able to eat everything and not feel disgusting. As for the savory dishes, the peanut butter foie that got a lot of hype was... almost just like peanut butter. There was WAY too much and I could hardly taste the foie. The pork belly was pretty amazing, but everything else was not fabulous, save for their really interesting potato granola.

Sam Mason, the chef-owner and former WD-50 pastry chef, should really just focus on his sweets, because that was really where our meal shined. The Manchego cheesecake was squirted onto the plate like toothpaste, the sassafras cake tasted like a root beer float, and I really enjoyed the smoked vanilla ice cream that accompanied one of the dishes. The restaurant is also surprisingly large, maybe to a fault since it's so new, and the toilets were super cute. The dining area was pretty empty, but the downstairs bar/lounge seemed to be pretty happening. If I were to visit NY again, I wouldn't mind coming back for dessert. That's really what this place should be - a dessert bar/lounge. Afterwards, we thought about going to Bar Fry but our stomachs just couldn't hang.

My last day was a Saturday, and the streets were definitely packed. I met up with a friend at Spotted Pig for brunch, got there before 11:30am to be seated right away (it was picking up as we were leaving though). The burger really was divine. Dripping with Rockford and fat, this juicy burger was pretty freaking amazing. Unfortunately, I didn't really get to see what Spotted Pig had to offer since their weekend brunch menu (as opposed to the lunch and dinner menus) was very limited, and didn't even list the gnudi they're famous for! Oh well, another time. It was definitely less trendy and more down-to-earth kitschy Irish pub than I had imagined since it's such a hot spot.

After getting yet another chai from Joe, I walked down to SoHo to Vosges because my former anti-chocolate friend said she was converted there. I, on the other hand, was not converted. I'll have to give it a few more tries, but $2.75 for ONE piece of chocolate? I'll try that conversion when I'm a little closer to baller status.

I took a walk down to Chinatown (which was not a good idea since weekends are always packed with old Chinese people elbowing their way through the streets), but I just really wanted to try Joe's Shanghai. Their xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, were, according to Tinwin, the best (i.e. better than in Taiwan, Shanghai, SF, etc). This I HAD to try. Even after my lard-laden burger at Spotted Pig.

So I got my one order of crab-pork XLB to go and was looking for a place to just sit and eat before they got cold. The thing about NY that I don't like is that... there's NOWHERE to just stop and sit. There are parks, but aside from that, there just aren't any benches or anything. I wandered around for a good 10 minutes before finding myself in the middle of Confucius Plaza. Screw it, I'm eating was all I was thinking. Since I was already so full, I was planning to just eat one. Oh, how naive I was. In the next 10 minutes, all 8 were gone. Compared to Shanghai Dumpling King, Joe's XLB were much bigger, and the soup was pretty effing amazing. There I was, standing alone in the biting cold in an empty courtyard with old Chinese people walking by, too indifferent to care about that crazy girl stuffing her face with XLB. In my defense, it wasn't all just gluttony. The soup was so hot and I was so cold! But it was mostly gluttony. The only thing I didn't like was that the skin was thick and on the sticky side, as opposed to SDK's thinner and more delicate skin. But that soup was pretty yummy.

I ended my day with dinner at Bao 111 which I don't need to talk about, and at MJ Armstrong's to watch a depressing defeat. But, it was a great trip, and after my burrito and pizza today, I will go on detox. =P

Aside: if your first thought upon seeing the post title was "there must be some Toros in the atmosphere" you are super cool.

1 comment:

Liang :0) said...

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