We will never forget

 

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NYC food post #4: Everything else

As much as I would like to write a post for each of the wonderful foods I’ve discovered in NYC, I can’t. I’m running out of ways to say “delicious”. Plus I always end up craving for something to eat after I write these posts, and I can’t afford five or six more unnecessary snacks. Not that all these awesome foods don’t deserve their own posts, they do. But I don’t want to gain more weight than I’ve already had eating them.

So here you go. All the other awesome things I’ve had in NYC:

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I read about City Bakery’s Pretzel Croissant on David Lebovitz’s blog, where he said he would haul back these babies to Paris if he could. The man is a pastry chef. Living in France. Land of Croissants. If he wants to bring these home to Paris, then they must be good. And they are. The contrast between that full-on saltiness of pretzels against the delicate buttery-ness of the croissant is fantastic.

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One of the reasons I love breakfast is that you could pass off what is essentially dessert as your main meal. When else can I justify having two doughnuts from Doughnut Plant as an actual meal? Well, ok, more like one and a quarter. I could only managed two bites out of the famous Tres Leches after eating an entire Blackout doughnut. The latter, cake based and filled with chocolate creme in the middle, was my favorite of the two. Somehow, DP managed to make something with four forms of chocolate on it (cake, cookie crumb, icing and creme) not to be overpoweringly sweet or chocolatey (although some might argue there’s not such thing as too chocolatey). In comparison, the Tres Leches was just a tad to sweet for me.

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And what’s NYC without brunch? For Labor Day, I had brunch with my cousin at the Tribeca outpost of Sarabeth’s. And true to my desserts-for-breakfast mantra, I skipped the Eggs Benedict and went for the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. They were perfectly light and fluffy, although I did wish that they were just a tiny bit more heavy-handed with the lemon. The side of blackberries was a nice touch to cut the richness from the combination of carbs, butter and maple syrup.

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Sandwiches are usually composed of bread, meat and some sort of condiment or vegetable. Bread and just meat sounds… lacking. But at Porchetta, that’s all there is to their Porchetta sandwich. Bread and pork. I don’t think they even buttered the bread. But in no way was the sandwich lacking. The pork was so flavorful, it tasted like the European cousin of Cebu lechon (and in my book, that’s high praise). And when the meat’s that good, you don’t need much else. Heck, you don’t even need the bread.
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I remember watching a special on Danny Meyer around the time the first Shake Shack first opened and thinking “I want to eat there.” I finally got to chance to do that this trip. Was it the best burger I’ve ever had? I will probably get killed for this, but I will still give the #1 spot to Manila’s very own Charlie’s (blasphemous, I kn0w). That being said, the Shake Shack burger was still VERY good, although the fries did seem like they were just an afterthought. Next time I go back, I’d skip the fries and replace the calories with the liquid kind and try one of their shakes.
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Meeting and surpassing all expectations, though, was Hill Country Barbecue Market, which I first read about on Man Eat Manila. I had a tough time choosing what to get (one of the cons of traveling and eating alone: you can’t order different things to share), but finally decided on the moist brisket. And, gaaaaah, I’m already salivating at the thought of it. The brisket, glistening with fat, was ridiculously flavorful. It’s amazing on its own, but you can also drizzle some of Hill Country’s “If You Gotta Have It” Barbecue Sauce, which is pretty awesome, too. I was trying to decide whether I liked it with or without sauce, but finished all the brisket before I could come to a decision.

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My cousin can’t understand how I can eat an entire slice of Momofuku Milk Bar’s Crack Pie in two minutes one sitting. What I don’t understand is how you can’t. It is called Crack Pie for a reason. Once you get your hands on it, you consume as much of it as you can. Which explains why I didn’t get a photo of the actual pie. By the time I remembered to take a photo, there was very little pie to take a photo of. It really is THAT good. It’s like a pecan pie, without the pecans. All you have is the crust and that sweet, creamy, sticky filling. It’s probably your dentist’s and your trainer’s worst nightmare, but it’s crack and you just have to have it.

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And there you have it, the last of my NYC food posts. It was partly fun, partly tortuous to remember all the good food that I had, and then be struck with the realization that I have to fly thousands of miles (not to mention spend all that money) to have a taste of them again. Boooooooo. So if you’re lucky enough to live in/be visiting NYC, eat up, okay? And then go and torture tell me all about it.

NYC Food Post #3: Pearl Oyster Bar

I asked my friend J what she wanted to eat during our time together in NYC and she said lobster rolls. I’ve never had one, and I was game to try. So I Googled “best lobster rolls in NYC” and narrowed down the options to the three places that always showed up on the lists “best of” lists I found. We didn’t want to go all the way to Brooklyn for Red Hook Lobster Pound, so it was down to Luke’s Lobster and Pearl Oyster Bar.

Since it’s considered by most as the city’s lobster roll pioneer, we decided to go for Greenwich Village’s Pearl Oyster Bar.

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Each order of the lobster roll comes with shoestring fries, which were great. I don’t know how they did it (and boy, I’d like to know), but they managed to make fries that thin still crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. These are nowhere near like the shoestring fries we’re familiar with, PicNic. Haha.

Like I said, this was my first ever lobster roll, so I have nothing to compare it against. But with just one bite, I could very well see how Pearl Oyster Bar’s version could be one of the best, if not THE best lobster roll in New York. The generous chunks of lobster were tender and slightly sweet. The dressing (although for me there was slightly too much of it) was creamy but not overwhelmingly so, with celery providing a counterpoint against all that mayo. And that bun was perfection. Normally, I don’t pay that much attention to the bread in a sandwich (bread on its own is a whole different matter) but the bun that Pearl uses is too yummy to ignore. It’s soft and excessively perfectly buttered with that wonderful nutty saltiness providing great contrast against the creaminess of the dressing.

Pearl Oyster Bar’s is one of the more expensive of the lobster rolls (our bill was $80++ for two lobster rolls and a glass of white wine) but I didn’t mind paying a premium for my first ever. It was definitely a great first try and it made me curious about the other (cheaper) contenders in that best of list.

So maybe I should do a lobster roll taste test for my next NYC trip?

NYC food post #2: Eataly!

You can’t really plan a trip to NYC without hearing about Eataly. Heck, I’ve been hearing rave reviews about even before I had my trip planned. When Chrissy Teigen hilariously wrote about it, that pretty much decided it for me. If and when I go to NYC, I was visiting Eataly.

And so I did.

First things, first. It’s chaotic in there. It’s a mess. It’s crowded. It’s noisy. You’re always at risk of running your cart into someone or, worse, a shelf full of glass jars filled with olives. Conversely, you’re always at risk of someone’s cart  or stroller (seriously, parents, leave the kids at home) ramming into your ankle. Eataly is cray, y’all.

But if you’re patient/brave/determined enough to face the crowds and risk possible ankle sprain, then you will be amply rewarded. Because Eataly is Italian food heaven.

It probably doesn’t have everything as in EVERYTHING, but I daresay it has enough to make you forget about that thing that they don’t have. A fishmonger, a beautiful produce section, a bakery, multiple aisles of dry pasta, a section for fresh pasta, and enough cheeses and cured meats to make you weep (or at the very least, stop and stare).

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It really was quite overwhelming, as I didn’t know what to look at, touch and smell first. And it’s not like I was looking to buy anything specific, but it was just thrilling to be around so much wonderful, glorious food.

Of course, I didn’t just ogle at the food. Naturally, I had to have some too. It wasn’t easy choosing between the loooong list of options in Eataly. My friend and I considered eating at La Piazza, but we wanted something more substantial than cheese and cured meats. Rosticceria was also an option but, really, sandwiches? You don’t go to Eataly for the first time for sandwiches. You come for the most Italian of foods: pizza and pasta. So La Pizza & Pasta it is.

After perusing the menu, we decided on the day’s special: pizza with tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil and prosciutto. Basically the best of Italy on a plate. And it tastes as mouthwatering as it looks. Drooooooool.

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We didn’t order a pasta dish because we wanted to save room for dessert. We bypassed the pastries and went for gelato. It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I went for the salted caramel:

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I guess it should come as no surprise as well that this was delicious.  The flavors may not be as bold as in a Pierre Hermé macaron, but that’s not necessarily bad thing. I was worried that it would be too sweet but it wasn’t at all. The saltiness isn’t as pronounced as well, so the flavors still balance each other out nicely. Definitely worth passing up on pasta.

I still want to try that pasta though. And the sandwiches from both I Panini and Rosticceria. And have some cheese and meats in La Piazza. And to buy and eat some burrata.

Yeah, I guess I’m going to have to go back to NYC and Eataly.

An NYC Food Post: Two Little Red Hens

Paris = macaron. New York = cupcake.

I seriously considered doing a cupcake taste test like I did for macarons during my Paris trip, but I was just too overwhelmed by the sheer size of the task. There were just too many bakeries (and too many subway rides to get to all of them) and too many flavors. Plus, while I can wolf down four macarons straight (the petit ones, of course), the same obviously can’t be said about cupcakes. I didn’t want to leave NYC 20lbs heavier, nor did I want to just throw out half-eaten cupcakes. So no cupcake taste test for me.

But I still had to have some cupcakes. It would be a shame to not try at least a few in the city that started the trend in the first place. So I marked a few of the best bakeries on my map and the plan was to drop by any one of them if I happened to be close by and up for a sugar rush (which is probably always).

And so I ended up at Two Little Red Hens in the UES after an afternoon at the Guggenheim.

I was so glad they offered mini-cupcakes as that meant I could try multiple flavors. With the help of the girls behind the counter and my previous research, I settled on the following flavors (clockwise from the top): Brooklyn Blackout, which was the Village Voice’s #1 cupcake in NYC; Red Velvet; Peanut Butter and Chocolate and Yellow Cake and Fudge.

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By a long shot, the standout among these four flavors for me was the Chocolate and Peanut Butter cupcake. While the Brooklyn Blackout and the fudge icing on the yellow cake needed a deeper, intenser chocolate flavor for me, the chocolate on this one was on point. The darker chocolate contrasted perfectly with the salty-sweet peanut butter in the frosting AND in the peanut butter mousse in the center. THIS was my favorite cupcake from Two Little Red Hens.

That all changed, though, as I was about to leave. I was desperate to try the Key Lime Pie cupcake, but they only had full-sized ones when I arrived. Naturally, when I saw a full tray of the mini versions come out of the kitchen as I was about to exit the store, I did a full 180.

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And it’s a good thing I did, because this was perfection. The subtly-flavored frosting was a hint of things to come. The sponge cake was light and airy (almost angel food-like). But what takes this cupcake to a whole new level is the lime custard (curd?) center. Oozy, creamy and wonderfully tart and lime-y, it was eyes-rolling-to-the-back-of-my-head good. It was full-on lime flavor (no watered down, sugared-up lemonade-like flavor here), and I loved it.

And writing this post makes me want one, NOW. Too bad I haven’t found anything locally that even comes close to this bright burst of citrus. Suggestions, anyone? Or do I have no choice but to make my own?