Wednesday, February 19, 2014

NYC Eats: Part 2

As you can tell, I kind of enjoyed eating nonstop on my honeymoon. So, below are some more of my favorite meals and bites from the Big Apple.

Ethnic Eats

On our last night in New York, we wanted a really delicious but not too fancy meal that we could chase with a wonderful dessert eaten on the red steps in Times Square. After consulting Yelp, we decided on a hole-in-the-wall Mexican spot called El Centro with charming decor. My entrée, the vegetable chilaquiles, was ridiculously delicious. For those that haven’t eaten chilaquiles, they are tortilla chips smothered in sauce and topped with cheese, vegetables, and/or a protein. Mine were topped with grilled vegetables and fresh avocado slices. It was the perfect textural combination with the creamy avocado and sauce, smoky grilled vegetables, and a slightly sour drizzle of crema. These were hands down the best chilaquiles I have ever had. If only I hadn’t filled up so much on guacamole and chips beforehand….


We also chose ethnic food before we went to see the play Matilda. We ate at a French-Moroccan restaurant that I had heard was a nice sit-down restaurant, Marseille, which was very close to both our hotel and the theater and turned out to be a good choice overall. I could have easily filled up on the bread that was brought out to start the meal, a rustic multigrain and a French bread with olives, served with good quality olive oil. We restrained ourselves to only two baskets (we were trying to be refined to blend in with our surroundings). I ordered a seafood stew in a flavorful tomato broth served with a side of couscous. I was served so much seafood, including clams, mussels, squid, shrimp, and monkfish. No picture because like I said we were trying to keep it classy.

Also, while we were on our ethnic food kick, we had to eat Chinese. I have visited several Chinatowns and enjoyed taking in the sights and smells that are so exotic to me. Yet, I was determined on this trip to New York’s Chinatown to do more than gawk and smell, but to actually eat a meal there. So, we had a multicourse lunch that left me filling stuffed but blown away by how cheap our culinary tour of Chinatown was. First, we started at Vanessa’s Dumplings. We ordered fried pork dumplings and a red bean steamed bun. Both were delicious. The pork filling was flavored with chives and melted in your mouth with the fattiness of the pork and the crisp exterior. The steamed bun was delicious but very different from anything I had ever had; the filling of the steamed bun was sweet but was flavorful. Our tab at Vanessa’s was a whole $2.20. Next, we went to a noodle restaurant that at first looked pretty sketchy (we later learned was visited by Guy Fieri),  called Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles.  I had the pan fried duck noodles. The skin on the meat was rendered to become crispy and so rich. The noodles were unlike any other I have ever had; they were decidedly doughy but very fresh and coated with a light sauce. I hadn’t planned on having dessert because I was absolutely stuffed but I had never been in an Asian bakery and one of them called my name. I went inside with the most innocent intentions of “just looking” but of course came out with a steamed egg custard bun. At $.85 it was a cheap but delicious dessert.


The Best of Breakfast and Dessert (pretty much interchangeable here)

Our last morning in New York, I knew I had to try one of the famous waffles from Wafels and Dinges. Unfortunately, we were a long way from the actual waffle shop so walked to a cabana location in a small green space. Although eating waffles outside in 30-degree weather wasn’t the ideal situation, the waffles still proved worth the walk and cold weather. I ordered the Liege Waffle, which is known as the “other Belgian waffle”. It was light and soft, a perfect palate for dinges, or toppings. I ordered mine with Speculoos cookie spread and bananas. It was warm and not overly sweet, perfect for a light breakfast (soon to be followed by a bagel).


While in the Chelsea section of the city to visit the infamous foodie mecca, The Chelsea Market, we had to stop by a place we had seen on Unique Sweets, a show on Cooking Channel that I cannot get enough of, Doughnut Plant. There were two doughnuts in particular that I had seen on the show that just called my name, the Crème Brulee doughseed and the Carrot Cake doughnut. Normally, I do not go for cake doughnuts but I LOVE carrot cake, so I went for it. The doughseed was a small yeasted doughnut hole with a crisp, caramelized sugar exterior and a creamy interior. It was very good, but the carrot cake doughnut stole my heart with its cream cheese filling and fresh nuts and carrots on the outside.


Bouchon Bakery is that place that you see in the background on NBC’s Today Show. But, it is not just a bakery in the background, it is a magical little shop created by one of the French baking greats, Thomas Keller. We snuck in right before it closed and I am so glad we didn’t arrive fifteen minutes later. I have been an éclair fan for basically my whole life but I am admittedly picky about them. Don’t even think about putting whipped filling in the middle and calling it an éclair, there must be a perfectly creamy vanilla custard in there. But, when I saw a dulce de leche éclair, I knew that this matchup of two things I love could be delicious. Dulce de leche, a custardy cream, candied pecans, and then a caramel chocolate bar. It was very sweet but the different textures made it a truly unique éclair.


Last but not least, is Magnolia Bakery. Magnolia Bakery is well-known for their cupcakes; but, since I am not much of a cupcake person, I opted for a slice of one of the elegant layer cakes. First of all, I have never been handed a slice of cake that was so large. Although it was also one of the more expensive pieces of cake I have ever ingested, I literally could not eat the whole thing in one sitting and that is saying a lot because I have a well-known tolerance for all things sweet and rich. I ate a piece of gingerbread cake with meringue frosting. It was a delicious, airy cake with a very balanced pairing of flavors.


That’s all for now! I hope to bring you a recipe post soon!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

NYC: The Honeymoon Eats

It seems as if my honeymoon was eons away, especially as I am interning, substitute teaching, trailing behind our new puppy with a green “dog waste” bag, washing laundry, and in general getting back to the real world. Before I get to the food, I just have to share a picture of our  Boxer-Pointer mix puppy, Louie, from the Humane Society. He has the sweetest face and a personality to match. Jerry and I are so in love with him (except when he pukes in his cage, whines constantly, or tears his bed to shreds)! Now to the food!


We ate some amazing food in New York City. In fact, there were times that Jerry said he felt like we were always eating. But, I know that I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed it. I had been looking forward to honeymooning in New York for a long time; aside from the ice skating, exploring, and seeing Matilda on Broadway, the food was definitely one of the things I was most looking forward to. I called on the help of several friends familiar with the city and did my research on Serious Eats and Yelp. Overall, I was very happy with what we ate and glad that we walked miles around the city and exercised in the workout room every day to keep from gaining five pounds in our five days there.

There were a few things that were quintessential New York foods that we had to eat. These included bagels, pizza, cheesecake, and black and white cookies. We also hit up restaurants and bakeries I had heard about. We only had two negative experiences and those were at quintessential New York delis, no names but in my opinion those types of establishments aren’t worth it on a visit to the city. So, on to the good stuff!

New York Favorites

After some research about good pizza in New York, I chose Angelo’s Pizza. It wasn’t traditional New York style pizza but I daresay that I liked the coal-fired pizza served here better than I would have liked a super thin-crusted New York style slice. This was a Margherita style pizza with mozzarella, a not-too-sweet red sauce, and fresh basil leaves. The crust was crisp with a little bit of a char around the edges. It was simple but one of the freshest pizzas I have ever eaten. I was able to eat my whole half of the pizza, as a result of both the deliciousness and hunger from eating lunch at 2:00.


Half plain and half with added pepperoni, I think you can guess which side was mine.

Again, I did a lot of research about what bagels were the best; naturally, they had to be hand-rolled and freshly made. I decided that we would try Murray’s Bagels. The shop was cozy with so many different types of bagels to choose from. Jerry and I split this whole wheat bagel with cream cheese as a second breakfast before our flight out. The bagel was delicious, with a slightly tough exterior and a tender inside. There was a bit too much cream cheese for me, but I don’t really like plain cream cheese, I much prefer it in icing. We took home half a dozen bagels, including cinnamon raisin, multigrain, and a seed and nut bagel. I loved mine toasted with almond butter.


After seeing the magical, took-me-back-to-my-childhood play Matilda, Jerry and I knew that a dessert to take back to the room was a must. I suggested an old favorite, Junior’s cheesecake. I had eaten it on other trips to New York and knew that Junior’s rich cheesecake with a thin sponge cake crust was well worth the trip and the almost $7 a slice. I chose cherry because although I like to eat super fancy desserts, sometimes a simple but classic dessert hits the spot; this was one of those. I forgot to take a picture before I dug in so please forgive me.


In my next post, I will explore more of my favorite foods from the trip.