Monday, July 4, 2011

new york trip

Our recent trip to New York was planned around the James Beard Awards and fell around our anniversary. But here is the meal-by-meal breakdown:

-- We arrived on Sunday morning, with Jeremy in tow, and went to Momofuku Noodle Bar for lunch. Variations on pickles and bowls of noodles, all great. New thing was smoked brisket buns with horseradish mayo (above). Seemed unfair. Also, for dessert, we had cake balls. Make your own joke.

-- Sunday night we met with old pal Wayne and went to Casa Mono, which is the Batali empire's Spanish tapas place. The place was tiny, but we got the choice table in the front corner, possibly because we know someone. We had an embarrassing amount of great food, my fave being the videos with chorizo and clams.

-- Monday afternoon we went to Kin Shop for lunch, where we were blown away. I figured it would be good, but it turned out that I now have another place that I'm going to want to go to every time I go to New York. It is Thai food as interpreted by an American chef, Harold Dieterle, who won the first season of Top Chef. While we were there, Stephanie Izard, who won the fourth season, and Lee Ann Wong, who was also on the first season, were having lunch. But we were too busy tearing into duck laab and beef madtarbark to stargaze. Ok, we stargazed a little. But only after we were done eating. I later found the recipe for the laab online, and I think I'll be making it often. Bonus: In the photo on that link, Harold is sitting where Jeremy was when we were there.

-- We said goodbye to Jeremy, who had to go back to DC to work or something, and I went to the James Beard Awards. What I learned at the James Beard Awards: I am every bit as awkward in a tux as I presumed I might be.

-- Tuesday we had coffee at Bouchon, then walked around and had ok dim sum in Chinatown. Will study the dim sum options and do better next time. Then for dinner we went to Torrisi Italian Specialties, which was one of the finalists for Best New Restaurant at the Beard Awards. Tiny dining room, and we were sitting at a table with a poster of Billy Joel, circa The Stranger, watching over us. Pretty freaking cool. Its one of those places where there is no menu, they just bring you what they are serving that night. Turns out, everything they were serving that night was awesome. So that worked out.

-- Wednesday we went to the Bronx to walk around a botanical gardens on the Hudson River, then had a slice of pizza while waiting for the train back into the city. Then dinner was Mexican near the hotel. it was all fine. It can't all be Torrisi and Momofuku and Kin Shop and Babbo, I guess.

-- Thursday we had planned to go to Ma Peche, the newest link in the Momofuku dynasty, but we got sidetracked and ended up at Lupa, which is Mario Batali's Roman osteria. We took it easy, because dinner was at Babbo, Mario Batali's flagship and mecca of culinary hedonism. But we tried the antipasto sampler (above, I loved the beets) and the bucatini alla Amatricana, because I knew I would be making that when I got home. Theirs was awesome. Would mine be?

Then at Babbo, we sort of devised our own tasting menu, and let the pros pair wines for us. Then we ordered one dessert. After a little commotion at the kitchen door, I knew something was going on. One by one, every waiter in the place walked past our table, and set down a dessert. They brought us the whole dessert menu. It was a scene. People were staring. It was hilarious. They didn't all fit on out table, so they pushed a little auxiliary table next to ours to hold the last plates. There were nine, including a plate with all the gelato flavors available that day. (There were seven of those.) "This is something Mario likes to do for his friends," the maitre d' told us. (I think he meant Pam.) Then I tried everything on the table. Didn't finish anything, but tried it all. The banana crostada was my favorite. That's it on the far left. Several of the desserts are things that are in the cookbook and I'll be making, so it was fun to have a baseline to compare it to. One is one I've already made, and I'll post that one next. (Hint: It is sitting right behind the wine glass, on the left side of the photo.)

-- Friday morning we went back to Eataly to stock up on provisions and get something to eat at the airport.

Up next: maple and mascarpone cheesecake

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