During our time off in July, Vicky and I visited NYC for the Fancy Food Show. We use this show to identify trends and hot new products to keep our market and catering business on the cutting edge. We also use this time to eat our way through the many boroughs of the city!
After landing, we hopped a cab for lower, Lower Manhattan and found ourselves in the teeth of Gay Pride Weekend. The sheer volume of people caused a major traffic snarl. Our cab driver’s erratic technique prompted us to de-cab in the middle of the parade route! Unfortunately we faced an epic walk to the restaurant we were meeting friends at – a restaurant specializing in sustainable and organic food. Our high hopes of culinary delights were dashed by food and preparation that was ordinary. We don’t even remember the name of the place (fortunately for everyone involved!).
The next day before the food show we ate at Macaroon Café in the garment district. They had heavenly flavors of peach, pear & blood orange macaroons which we quickly scarfed up after our sandwiches. The ham and gruyere on the French baguette was wonderful. It was a family operation, with one of the owners’ children, probably no more than 10 years-old, sitting in the corner snapping beans and the other son, even younger, was the family money changer! It was a small space, and the owner knew everyone who walked in.
We stayed at the Hudson Hotel, which is a rockin’ hotel located in mid-town, right off of Central Park west. The rooms are smaller than tiny, but the atmosphere more than makes up for it! They have a disco, a beautiful, brick-enclosed courtyard with beds to lounge on and they also serve over-priced drinks, but we don’t fault them for that.
After a glass of Prosecco in the courtyard bar of the Hudson, we walked to Tao, a Chinese restaurant, on recommendation by our Riedel glass rep. This was a showy place with a beautiful 16’ Buddha floating above a reflecting pool, complete with carp. It is one of those “It” restaurants, very touristy (Kanye West had his new CD release party there the evening before). We sat close to the Buddha and felt like we were part of the show, having flash bulbs going off in our face all the time from people snapping pics of the scenery. The food was exceptional – the jumbo shrimp tempura with garlic chili sauce and dragontail spareribs were outstanding. Our server was very likeable, very personable, but wanted to be an animal trainer more than a server a Tao! We skipped dessert and went on to Payard’s Patisserie for ice cream and after dinner drinks. And no surprise, our bartender was an actor and very entertaining.
On Tuesday we took the train to DUMBO in order to visit Jacques Torres Chocolates. We eyed the perfect chocolate chip cookies topped with fleur de sel but it was too early to indulge. The soaring temperatures that day didn’t allow for us to go back for those cookies or other chocolates as they would have melted within minutes. Too bad, because they would have fortified us for the walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.
After strolling to Soho and shopping for new eyeglass frames, we had need of refreshment. Luckily we came across Restaurant Boom where they make a thirst quenching white sangria. With a cool tin ceiling and a distressed map painted on the wall, this place had such local flavor. The TV was playing, what else, the Food Channel. I was smitten with part of the staff’s ‘uniform,’ a t-shirt with the saying “Make Food Not War” I had to have one! Lucky for me, they sold them and I now wear the t-shirt proudly in my kitchen.
That evening we ate at Insieme, an upscale Italian restaurant, where the modest menu is divided into traditional & contemporary. The food was good and the sommelier’s wine suggestions were spot on. So much so, Vicky over-indulged and carried on a wee bit!
The next morning was spent ambling through Central Park before our lunch reservation at Bar Boulud. Stylishly designed and gracious service which is what you would expect from Monsieur Daniel. We enjoyed the Croque Monsieur and a small salad sampler that included a fantastic beet salad with horseradish, a celery remoulade and a delicate carrot salad with tarragon. We got on with the waitstaff very well. Vicky spoke French with the sommelier and our young woman server was very charming. We asked her where she liked to go for meals and it turned into a group project with other servers and the sommelier giving us their advice as well.
After a long nap we headed to the East Village on advice of our waiters at lunch. First stop: Pata Negra. It is the kind of place you want for your neighborhood joint. It is a fashionable tapas bar with fantastic empanada with a red pepper sauce that I am diligently trying to recreate! They sent us to Death and Co for the most interesting cocktails in the city (although the food was not of the same standard). The entrance is non-descript, actually dark and a little foreboding. Once inside though it is definitely hip and the crowd young – Vicky and I were the oldest in the joint! It was very civilized, with soul music in the background and cozy seating. I had an absinthe martini that was well worth the destruction of a few brain cells! Check out their website, www.deathandcompany.com for a complete list of their cocktails.
A good time was had by all and our stomachs are looking forward to next year’s visit.