Top Tastes: New York 2015

Kirstin and I spent a glorious week in New York last summer eating, going to shows and ogling our favorite drag queens and snuggling up in our micro hotel, Yotel (which frankly, I highly recommend). It’s taken me almost a full year to share the highlights – but better late than never.

1. Teamonade at Veniero Pastry

The very last day of our trip we were IN VAIN hunting for a delicious, hot, soft pretzel (apparently that is not something you can find in New York on a Tuesday unless you buy a shitty one from a street vendor) and at the point that Kirstin was about to explode with frustration I managed to walk us into Veniero Pastry. Visiting Veniero’s is like going back in time partly because everyone working there is 60+ and partly because it is the type of pastry shop that no longer exists. There is nothing twee about this place, it is no-nonsense. After gaping at the to go counter which featured five yards of miniature cannoli and cream puffs, we seated ourselves in a gilded room with the giant menu. We ordered and ate a number of EXCELLENT items, but the standout was Teamonade. Lemon sorbet with iced tea. Get in my life. This combo is one I intend to replicate this summer and can’t believe I lived a whole thirty years without.

IMG_43762. Salty Pimp at Big Gay Ice Cream

This dipped cone is LEGENDARY and made for a truly profane experience on a muggy New York afternoon as little could contain the ice cream from oozing and squirting. This cone met and exceeded all my expectations and is an item that is worth eating on every visit. My waistline is grateful that there are 2,862 miles between me and the Salty Pimp on most days.

3. Sweet Corn Ravioli at Jean Georges

Kirstin and I splurged on one very fancy lunch at Jean Georges preceded by a long walk at Central Park. I was VERY unhappy with the table we were seated at (I presume due to our youthful joie de vivre) as it was located up against a wall and next to the kitchen entrance which meant there was a steady stream of servers hustling past throughout the dining experience. However, the food was excellent and ornate, if a little cold at times, all of which is to be expected. The standout dish I labeled as transcendent which tickled Kirstin to no end. The Sweet Corn Ravioli were light and bright in flavor, dressed in basil butter and a sweet tomato salad. Each bite was a little burst of summer flavor at its finest. It was the only thing we ate where we’d wished we’d ordered two.

IMG_44024. Gravlax at Russ & Daughters

In the category of foods on my must eat when in the vicinity list is Gravlax at Russ & Daughters. Kirstin and I ate bagels and lox at a different place on a different morning, and while far exceeding anything we could get on the west coast, they still did not measure up to Russ & Daughters. Part of what makes Russ & Daughters excellent is the experience of ordering in their tiny, packed shop and taking in the varieties of lox, smears, dried fruits and chocolates as well as breads, bagels and more. Russ & Daughters is a destination and a favorite of Tina Fey (per a shout out on Thirty Rock). Not to be missed.

Honorable Mention

1. Crudite with Boiled Peanut Hummus at Danny Meyer’s Porchlight Bar

My first introduction to boiled peanuts was in Texas when a friend of mine cracked open a can and sat on the couch eating them with her fingers. I could not get over the texture and added it to the list of things you only see in the South. This Hummus though was SO delicious (and provided a vehicle for much-needed vegetables) that I’ve bought two cans of boiled peanuts on Amazon since returning home to replicate the dish.

2. Creme Brulee with Sour Cherries and Marzipan at Jean Georges

I’ve eaten more creme brulee in my brief lifetime than I care to admit, but this one is among the top ten. The addition of marzipan and cherries at the bottom made this classic feel new and fun.

3. Cheesesteak with Broccoli Rabe

The very first night we arrived very late and went out around 12am or 1am for dinner. A block from our hotel we ducked into a bar serving philly cheesesteaks and my heart started to thump because this was a COMPLETELY UNRESEARCHED SELECTION! And as you know I hate to waste a meal. Much to my delight – the cheesesteaks were not only excellent but interesting to boot. I ate steak with broccoli rabe and it satisfied my need for vegetables and for delicious fare. I’d go back and eat it again.

Never Again

1. Lobster Roll at Red Hook Lobster Pound

The Lobster Roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound was on my list for TWO New York trip cycles. I was thrilled on this trip to finally be able to try their lauded Lobster Roll and I learned the following: a) it is nothing special and b) I don’t think lobster is worth the high price point. Maybe Lobster isn’t for me, or maybe one should just eat it in Maine. When I eat Lobster in Maine someday, I’ll let you know.

2. Fika

Fika is of course near and dear to my Scandilicious heart and I LOVED tucking into their cardamom scented pastries on a previous New York trip. You can imagine my delight on this visit to find that Fika locations had popped up all over the city including next to our hotel. We stopped into Fika on a number of mornings and I don’t think expansion has done them any good. Our food and pastries were sub par to say the least and even with a commitment to all Scandi foods everywhere, I don’t think I’ll go back to Fika.

3. Fancy Corndogs i.e. I hate Horseradish wd-50

Kirstin and I both eagerly anticipated our brunch reservation at wd-50. Wylee Dufresne is a veritable God of modern molecular gastronomy and we were PSYCHED to see how those influences played out. What we found was a restaurant that felt rather dated or common – waiters in striped french aprons, glass bottles of water on the table, wood and rot iron paneling bar features. Perhaps we’ve dined too much in Seattle or perhaps Seattle is a thief but nothing about the wd-50 dining experience felt special or unique. In addition, the dish I was MOST excited about, chinese sausage served as miniature corn dogs, came with horseradish sauce. I hate horseradish. I pride myself on liking and trying most things, but try as I might, I can’t get over horseradish – all it does is make me want to gag. So overall, wd-50, a disappointment. I did use this disappointment as a justification for a second trip to Shake Shack for a summer corn dog special. But are multiple trips to Shake Shack so wrong? SEATTLE Danny Meyer, SEATTLE. It’s a happening spot, just saying.




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