My annual pilgrimage to New York has devolved into a food fest. My mother wanted to be a part of the eating and when my Board meeting moved from the month of February to the month of October she signed up. (She is allergic to snow and cold, and those four-letter words.)
As a good and extremely trusting daughter would do, I told my mom to pick ALL the restaurants with the exception of my two favorites that I do NOT miss.
People asked us both if we were seeing any theater while we were in NY. Both of us, independent of each other (me in Ohio and my mother in Florida) replied identically. “NO, the food is our theater!” We discovered that we answered identically when we were in NY. We talked about theater and then told the story. And we laughed and laughed about how important the food is to both of us.”
The trip was off to a bumpy start. We sadly discovered that we flew into different airports. We had flights 15 minutes apart. We opted to meet at the hotel. We both made record time from the airport to the city limits and then our cabs crawled like tortoises to our hotel.
Mine arrived first. The closest I could get to my hotel was a three block uphill walk. $48 and I have to huff the last three blocks because the barricades around my hotel were so fierce that NO ONE except for diplomats could get near it.
Oh yes, let me explain. The UN was in fall session. The President of the United States was speaking as I drove into town. Every black SUV from coast to coast was in Manhattan. When the Presidents come to NY at any given time, season, year the traffic comes to a standstill. When 130 countries congregate in Manhattan, well how do I put this subtly. Everyone should get the hell out of town, because there is no movement. Bad enough for our President to be here, but everyone else’s?
Let me set the stage for you. I arrive to the back door of the Waldorf Astoria. There are secret service men, TSA and an x-ray machine comparable to the one in the airport. I went through security. I take the escalator upstairs casually walking by BONO the singer/humanitarian from U2 talking with some Indian diplomats that were extremely sophisticated. Unlike some of the other ones that were in full Indian garb sitting in the lobby with their socks and shoes off slouching in overstuffed chairs and talking on their cell phones.
The lobby of my hotel was a melting pot of foreign countries. It was so flipping cool! Lots of men walking around talking into their shirtsleeves with ear buds in their ears.
I made my way to the front door to wait for my mother and a secret service guy spoke to me. I asked him why the hotel was so crazy. He said there are 130 countries attending the UN and 33 countries are in this hotel.
THIS is why I love New York! The Pope was there the week before and now this.
Women walking by me in full-length dresses from a multitude of different cultures, Indian, African and exquisite garments.
My mom arrives. We get checked in and my CT friend calls to tell me parking on the Upper Eastside is a parking lot. We agree to meet at the restaurant down in the East Village. Our first stop on the food trail.
The restaurant closes at 4:30. We thought we would be down there by 3. We hop a subway. We come out at Astor Place and I tell my mom the street coordinates and point her in a direction and I run like hell.
I walk into David Chang’s MOMOFUKU, which my CT friend used to say it sounds like MOTHER FU…..er! They tell me I can’t order for other people. So, I order a BUNCH of food!
Thankfully, CT gal who likes to remain nameless and my mom arrive shortly after.
I had ordered the following:
Shrimp bun with spicy mayo, pickled red onion and iceberg
Shiitake bun with hoisin, scallion and cucumber
Brisket bun with horseradish, pickled red onion and cucumber
Momofuku Ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder and a poached egg
Then my mom ordered:
Soy Sauce Egg
It was delicious! I have been to Momofuku a handful of times and he is the one chef that got me hooked on pork belly. I see it on a menu, and I order it. However, Chang has a way with pork belly that very few others do!
After, we gorged ourselves on food, we decided that before Joaquin (hurricane) made landfall or his rains arrived in NY, we wanted to go to THE HIGH LINE in Chelsea and walk it before the rain showers arrived.
The three of us walked the entire length of the HIGH LINE from the bottom to the top. It is an elevated no longer used train track that the city turned into a functional park. I do mean functional. It is 1.45 miles long. We began at Gansevoort Street and it ended on 33rd Street. When Eric and I did it, we went the opposite direction. It does make a difference on what you see!
My friend Eric and I had walked it one extremely cold winter day years ago, but to see it in bloom and see all the development around it, and the architectural gems was fun and fascinating. Chelsea was not the best place to be when I moved to NY, but it sure has changed.
Below are pics of the high line, from the high line….
We saw some people building a Lego statue and stopped to see random people were welcome to add to it. Here goes my mom.
Look at this thing!!!
Look at my mom and me.
I saw a full size pic of the POPE from his visit to NY!
Even a funny pic of Obama and the Pope.
After the long walk, we parted with CT gal and returned to the x-ray machine line at our hotel. We did a quick clothing change and went off to our first dinner.
They specialize in Fried Chicken and Champagne, so it would make perfect sense that a restaurant with Southern fare and flare would be called Birds and Bubbles.
My mom tried a flight of Champagne.
I had to try the Fried Chicken and a seasonal slaw that consisted of kohlrabi, jalapeno, benne (Benne are sesame seeds. No worries, I had to look it up too.) in a lime vinaigrette.
My mom tried the BBQ Shrimp, Grits and Tasso. It was delicious. She worried about the BBQ being too sweet, but it wasn’t.
The next morning we woke up and went to Clinton Street Bakery. I had their world famous blueberry pancakes, which were better than I remembered.
Look at the back side of the waiter’s shirts. Do you love it????
My mom had a special, which was an eggs benedict with chorizo, tomato, avocado and bacon and I can’t recall if it was an sriracha or a chipotle hollandaise.
We stopped in Laduree. It was my absolute favorite haunt in Paris. Best hot chocolate. I bought one while my mom befriended the manager, who took us on a tour of the restaurant. Great garden in the back. Now, I can come to NY to go to Paris!
I skipped out the door (so incredibly happy with my fav. Hot chocolate) and then we wandered through SOHO in the rain. We went to MUJI and bought $19.95 raincoats. We went to Desigual, which I saw in Italy and had no idea it was in the States. We went to stores here and there and landed at EATALY. We parked ourselves outside the store at a table directly across from the Flatiron Building and shared a mango flavored RONNYBROOK yogurt drink. Another NY favorite of mine.
Then we went inside EATALY. I do not think my mom was wowed the way I was….
We went into a Lego shop. Everything is made of legos.
We saw this cool exhibit in the first floor of the Flatiron Building. Paper cutouts of various NY neighborhoods.
We went to meet my friend Eric at the Lamb’s Club on 44th for cocktails.
We shared an Italian Burrata with Dandelion Green Pesto, Jamon Serrano and Fig. It was very good. Then we also split Arancini di Riso, which consisted of rice in Taleggio and Parm cheese. Basically, it was a deep fried rice ball. It was good as well.
My mom and Eric had cocktails and I tried a Raspberry Bog, which I loved that consisted of Muddled Raspberry, Demerara Spiced Syrup, Lemon Juice, Ginger, and Apple Cider.
Eric told us if we had the time to check out Le District it is supposed to be the French version of EATALY. Also, there is a place called Urbanspace that he heard was interesting. My mom went to Le District when she went to see the 9.11 Memorial. She said it was very French and neat, but not as impressive as EATALY.
When we left Eric we went to NOBU Next Door. I saw Lee who waits on me and then another fella who has waited on me before and he waited on us. Sexy Asian man. His name escapes me. My mom wasn’t as knocked about dinner as I was, but then she ate apps so it probably killed “One Lettuce Leaf” Ruthi’s appetite.
We started with the Black Cod Miso. The year I moved to New York that won the best entrée in a Tribeca Food Fest. And let me tell you, Nobu has some really hard competition. (i.e. my fav chef, Bouley).
Then we shared the Rock Shrimp Tempura with Ponzu and Creamy Spicy Sauce. Then we split a couple of sushi rolls.
The next morning, I woke up early. The night before I planned my walking journey to Dean & Deluca’s for an iced Capp @ 85th & Madison, and to H & H (@ 81st and 2nd) for an everything bagel with lox and cream cheese, onions, tomato, and capers. HEAVEN!!! I walked out the front door at 48th & Park. I walked up to Madison and 61st. I took a left at The Regency, which was barricaded as well. A man stood next to a black SUV with a very long gun pointed eye level and ready to shoot. I assumed that was where Putin was staying. I later learned it was Netanyahu was staying there. (Just in case you were wondering the Prez was at the Palace Hotel and the Chinese President was at my hotel.) I walked up Madison looking to see the old and the new shops and take a trip down memory lane. When I lived in NY, after dinner I loved to walk over to Madison at 83rd and walk down to 59th Street and back. I loved window shopping at night. I love a walk after dinner. But I digress. I went to Dean and Deluca (or as the locals call it, D & D) and I bought my iced cappuchino. I was on schedule. I walked down to 83rd and crossed over passing my old apartment and missing it! Why did I ever leave there. I went over to 2nd and down to 81st. I got my bagel. Then I walked from there down to 77th and Lex and took the subway back to the hotel.
I was in heaven. My two favorite things to do in NY.
And thank goodness for that, because one allows for the other.
I then went to my Board meeting. Then I left to meet my mom for lunch. We went to Boulud Café. We sat down looked at the menu and left. I love the joint on the Westside called BAR BOULUS, but this menu left me running out the door.
I don’t even remember where we ate lunch! ????? Yes, I do….we went to the Shake Shack up on 86th! My mom had to try a Danny Meyer hamburger. I wish I could have taken her to the original in Madison Park, but it was raining and we were heading to the Neue Gallery to see the Lady in Gold.
That evening we went to SPICE MARKET and met up with my dear friend Kristen. The ambiance and the décor were over the top incredible.
The food was good, but not great! The service was lousy!
We split the following food.
We started with the following dishes.
Lobster Summer Roll, which consisted of citrus-dill gelee, sriracha emulsion
Tempura Bass Steamed Buns with crispy herbs and peanuts. That was my favorite.
Hamachi Crispy Sushi with Chipotle Mayo
Crispy Mushroom Dumplings with Galangal emulsion
Red Curried Duck with Pineapple Sambal
We walked through the Meatpacking District a little bit and then we cabbed back to SPRINKLES.
We went to the ATM window and as we were getting ready to use the cupcake ATM, they closed it.
We went inside and bought a red velvet cupcake. We took it home and divided it in two. It was yummy.
Friday morning we went to Cookshop for breakfast down in Chelsea. There was the most beautiful, sexy, hot man. My mom stared at him. She took his picture. I tried to tell her he was gay, but she could not take her eyes off him, and let me tell you. I didn’t blame her.
We ate a lot of food in Chelsea this trip. Last year, I was on the Upper Westside a lot. It all changes from visit to visit depending on what is hot and what is not.
I had a pretty ordinary breakfast and it tasted and looked like something I have cooked. It was called the Sautéed Spinach and Cheddar Scramble, which contained caramelized onions, crème fraiche, mixed lettuces and I told them to not even bring me the biscuit.
My mom’s breakfast was delicious! She had Huevos Racheros, which is baked eggs, black beans, ranchero sauce, crème fraiche, Monterey Jack cheese, pickled jalapeno and red onions.
After breakfast, we walked to a flea market called Artists and Fleas!
It backed into Chelsea Market. We went through Chelsea Market. I bought FAT WITCH brownies. They were my fav brownies when I lived there.
Trina Turk was having a sample sale so I bought a few things SO reasonably. Nothing like trying clothes on in a big room with a bunch of women. It echoed back to the days of Lohmann’s. (Heavy sigh!)
Then we went to the Whitney Museum. The new one in Chelsea. We walked into a room where my mom personally knew or one-degree of separation with 5 artists in that particular room. Impressive soul.
The views from the Museum were great! Too bad the weather wasn’t better!
Then we went to meet Kristen at Gansevoort Market. It is a market of local Manhattan foods. Cute idea and space, but I doubt it will make it.
Kristen ordered pork belly buns and my mom bought a piece of pizza that was to die for! It tasted like it swam over from Italy. It was that good!
After the market, Kristen, my mom and I went up to LeVain’s. My mom walked in the tiny, crowded shop and said, “SMELL IT!!!” She was a newbie. It was her first time in the place. It smells like warm cookies fresh from the oven. It is always love at first sniff.
I bought two Chocolate Brioches and about five dark chocolate cookies. (My mom asked for one too!) We left there and went to Jacques Torres for hot chocolate. We sat in the window drinking hot chocolate, talking and listening to the rain.
We said goodbye to Kristen. I hated saying bye to my friends that I miss so much!!!
We went back to the hotel to veg out until we went to dinner at my mom’s boyfriend’s restaurant. That is what we call him. My mother is in love with Tom Colicchio’s food.
When we were in Venice years ago, and for me, recently. We ate pasta with Squid Ink. We had to try Craftbar’s Squid Ink Linguine with cockle clams, squid, piquillo pepper, chili paste and pancetta. It was good. It was not Venice’s Madonna. I ordered the Salmon Belly Tartare with tzatziki sauce, cucumber, faro za’ atar.
It was good. Again, not great! Then we had two different people tell us that the Smoked Duck breast was their favorite. I would go back for it. It comes with Farro Risotta, Sweet Potato, Cocoa Nib Mole, and Husk Cherry. I don’t know what some of those ingredients are, but what I do know is when you combine them it is magical.
I loved the play on words and the art that hung in his restaurant.
The next morning we got up and went to meet my dear friend Michael at 9:30 at NOHO Star. It was closed!!! They didn’t open till later and we were on a tight schedule. (I left NY without my favorite bloody Mary! SIN!)
Instead, we went to a restaurant in my old neighborhood, Nolita. It was the very first restaurant I ate in when I moved to Spring Street. It is called Café Habana. Totally hip and adorable.
We all ordered the same dish. We ordered Huevos Divorciados, which is two eggs sunny side up topped with green and read salsa.
They drank coffee and I ordered an iced Café Con Leche, again, no idea.
It was a coffee drink and it was yummy.
After breakfast, I took my mother back to the Waldorf and put her in a cab to the airport. I checked out of the room and placed my luggage in storage. My Connecticut pal blew me off for her running group. I decided to go to Carnegie Deli to get a piece of my favorite cheesecake on the PLANET and then called Kristen to meet me at my favorite place for Corned Beef and Pastrami sandwiches. EISENBERG’s.
I went to Carnegie and it was closed. I called a friend that lived in NY and told him. He told me to go to STAGE Deli and they would have good cheesecake too. I looked for Stage Deli and it was closed. My heart began to race. Times Square began to spin before my eyes. The one thing I have craved more than ANYTHING since I started the WHOLE 30 diet in January is cheesecake. I have NO idea why! So, I wait. I long for my favorite cheesecake and it is NOT there! Then, I heard that both famous NY delis went out of business. Not sure how that is possible.
I went to Eisenberg’s for a pastrami and corned beef sandwich. I told her if I come back next year and she is gone, I’m gonna be super, duper mad. Kristen and I ended up eating lunch there. It is every bit as good as I remembered.
Loved the note on the cash register.
Then we went to City Bakery and had hot chocolate.
Then she walked me to the 23rd Street subway and I went back to the Waldorf and to the airport. I sipped the last of my hot chocolate.
I always look out the window at my favorite city as it fades into the distance and wonder why did I ever leave a place that I love so much!
Here are other random shots of my trip to NY!!!
Until we meet again…
Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….