Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dining in NYC - Day 1

Back in May, I went on a little whirlwind our of the US. At the start of May, I spent a weekend in New York City with my girlfriend Sarah. Then two weeks later, I spent a weekend in Seattle for my friend Kasie's graduation. Then 2 weeks later I went with my friend Connie to Puerto Rico. Needless to say, by the end, I was quite happy to stay home and veg for a few months (but we won't mention the trip to Egypt I took in November). What can I say? I get bit by the travel bug from time to time.

I've been to New York a couple of times now on various weekend trips. Each time I go, though, I feel like I have a completely different type of vacation. You could go to New York City 100 times, and each time would be so unique and different. This time, when I went with my friend Sarah, we decided to do a complete tourist weekend. We went to a lot of the kitschy places we'd read about but hadn't manage to make it to on our previous New York excursions.

So what was the first thing we did in New York? Get a bagel! We decided each of the two mornings we were there, we'd do a bagel challenge between H and H Bagel and Ess-a Bagel. These are two of the most well known New York bagelries. The first morning we chose H and H Bagel. And what better way to enjoy an everything bagel than with Nova, onions and capers

The Nova was really fresh and delicious, but the bagel left a little to be desired. See how lacking in "everything" that everything bagel was? But the whole combination tasted delicious. And we got to take great photos of each other stuffing our faces (which I won't post for the sake of anonymity and to prevent future blackmail should I ever decide to run for Senate).

We spend the morning at the MET ogling beautiful works of art, and when decided we'd walk the 15 blocks down the side of Central Park to our pre-selected lunch destination. We did a lot of research beforehand to maximize the culinary awesomeness we could experience in a city such as NYC. I'd been hearing great things about it. Tons of celebrities are sighted eating there (I should know, I read US Weekly) and in the last year, it's gotten itself one shiny Michelin Star.

Rouge Tomate
10 E 60th St
New York, 10022
(646) 237-8977

For my lunch entree, I opted for something I can't get often in Austin, Duck Sous Vide! I love Austin cuisine, don't get my wrong, but the whole molecular gastronomy movement just hasn't caught on here. So when I always jump at the change to try it when I travel. For those of you who haven't heard of it, Sous Vide is a method of cooking where meat is vacuum sealed with some sort of marinade, then cooked in water at a constant temperature on an induction cooktop. Sealing the meat means that, unlike braising, roasting, or grilling, the flavors of the cooking method aren't imparted on the meat you're cooking.

And the Long Island Duck Sous Vide with farro piccolo, strawberry, endive, pistachio-rhubarb vinaigrette didn't disappoint. It was tender, and flavorful, and delicious. Not tough, rubbery, or fatty like so many of the duck dishes I've had at other places. And the strawberries were a delightfully playful addition to the normally dark, gamey duck.

My friend Sarah got the Alaskan Halibut a la Plancha, artichoke barigoule, cranberry beans, arugula pistou. She really loved it. I couldn't care less though, I was too busy making love to my duck.

After lunch, we decided to show our way down 5th Avenue. What better way to feel like chic New York bitches, than to lunch and shop? After a long afternoon of shopping (hey, shopping is hard work!), we decided to treat our hungry bodies to a little cupcake treat.

Magnolia Bakery
1240 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY
(212) 767-1123

We stood in the LONG line (even at 4pm) at the Rockefeller Center Magnolia Bakery. Everyone has told me how these are the greatest cupcakes in the world, so we had to try them. The shop is certainly adorable. I opted for a chocolate cupcake and Sarah for a vanilla. We both enjoyed them, but to be honest, we both felt like we'd had better cupcakes in Austin (like Sugar Mamma's or Delish). All New York chocolate cupcakes have this odd chocolate flavor that I just didn't care for. I could never quite put my finger on it, but it doesn't taste like the chocolate cupcakes we get here.

Our afternoon shopping turned into evening shopping. I was floored when I turned the corner onto 5th Avenue and saw a real Japanese Bakery. I LOVE mochi. It's one of my dessert weaknesses. I've even tried making it at home (to disastrous results, just buy it, trust me). So I grabbed Sarah by the arm, and dragged her in with me.

Minamoto Kitchoan
608 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10020-0028
(212) 489-3747

While Sarah rolled her eyes, I spend a good 20 minutes investigating the different Japanese dessert offerings. Everything was so nicely packages and so.. Japanese! Even the women working behind the counter were so hygienically Japanese.

I picked out 5 or 6 different desserts to nibble on for the next few days. I loved every single one, but Sarah tried a red bean paste wrapped mochi type dessert and immediately spit it out. To each his own I guess. Oh well, more for me!