Back from NYC and other distractions! Our base in NYC is always the Historic South Seaport District – cobble stones, a view of Brooklyn Bridge from our room, close to pleasant walks by the East River, or along Battery Park. Typical in our trips to NYC is to take the #6 subway and emerge at Union Square. It is always on our ‘to do’ list since it features a farmer’s market teaming with interesting offerings from local / upstate farmers. Eye candy and educational. Wandering through the market is an assault on cravings, exciting salivary glands.
This year, wandering through the market and continuing to circle around the square, I was struck by the overwhelming number of eating options in such a small space. True, Union Square is a hub of humans – many being students as the Square sits among New School and NYU buildings. Nonetheless, there are a lot of options - though I am not saying they are all good... Check out some of the reviews. Not necessarily in this order – the second floor of Whole Foods is a café, Barnes and Noble has a large coffee room, there is a Dunkin' Donuts, a Starbucks, Panera Bread, TGI Friday, au bon Pain, pret a manger; even the Walgreens drug store has a coffee/snack counter. The Coffee Shop with its winding bar/counter and booths is open 23 hours a day. Once it’s past breakfast there’s The Republic, Blue Water Grill, the Union Square Café. Not to be overlooked are the food carts near street corners offering fare not unlike Tim’s in Canada. This year, I noticed two additions to the Square itself – Mighty Pie and the Pavilion Market Café – an almost al fresco space under a gorgeous old bandshell, aiming to use fresh produce from the market. If all that is not enough, the side streets puts one steps away from ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina (where we had a fabulous meal), Gramercy Tavern, Eataly. (Eataly may soon be coming to Toronto - yay!)
Enough already! This is such a tiny pocket of the city and not even what some experts would consider “restaurant central”. Clearly enough people eat at each of these places to pay the rent. NYC may be more deserving of the moniker “The city that never stops eating”!
It is, indeed, a challenge to stop eating at another “foodie must see/do”. Saturday is the day to hop on the East River Ferry, disembark at 6th Street and relish the sights and tastes at Smorgasburg – (no typo – smorgasbord + Williamsburg = Smorgasburg). In just a few years this has grown to 100 vendors. It is supposed to begin at 11, but this may also be the city that sleeps in! (Noteworthy that a lot of things don't open until 11.) On the dot of eleven, not all vendors were ready for commerce – some arriving almost an hour later. But most - like the porchetta guys - are worth waiting for, and easily forgiven. It’s advisable to wander before deciding what to eat, and best to opt for sharing, thus leaving optimal tummy room. A couple of “firsts” this year – artisanal beer battered cheese curds (with spicy mayo dips) and Ramen Burgers. I was expecting buns pressing on noodles. Instead the noodles formed the “buns” enfolding a meat patty and all the trimmings. Doughnuts from Dough - deadly.
Another memorable meal was at Lafayette. The celebrated chef and cookbook author, Andrew Carmellini, offers up an entirely different ambiance and experience from The Dutch - where we ate last year - with French rather than Italian influences. At the newly (re)opened Whitney Museum, the talents of Chef Michael Anthony (of Gramercy Tavern fame) make eating “artful” – both at the Studio Café and the restaurant, cleverly name “Untitled”. For a good part of the Spring, “toast” ideas were trending on Twitter, but I had not anticipated they’d show up on a menu. Various toppings on thin, dense, brown crusted, toasted, crispy bread were gorgeous to behold and even better to devour.
I’m betting that Ramen Burgers and “toasts” will be appearing on menus near here soon!
Also noteworthy is the amazing Zaitzeff Burgers – sirloin burgers, caramelized onions, cheese on a Portuguese bun! There once was a resto in Burlington that used Portuguese buns for all their sandwiches. I need to dust off my quest to discover where one can buy these. [Update: I figured out how to make these!! Check out my recipe!]
Adding to an already long blog post, will mention the Gansevoort Market near the Whitney. (The Chelsea Market is also nearby – though they are a bit more like “emporiums" than farmers’ markets.) Steps away is the southern end of the High Line – a great NYC concept offering a lovely walk – best on a weekday.
I end every post with a recipe and the one that seems most fitting is the sweet treat that is quintessentially NYC – Black and White Cookies. They became known to most of us from Seinfeld. They can be good or bad and the best bet is home-made. I used to use a Martha Stewart recipe, but for this occasion decided to try the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. A great recipe, with one problem – they can vanish in 24 hours!
(Having traveled often to NYC, I have tons of travel and foodie tips – most already typed up since I share them so often. Let me know if you have specific questions or would like the KB Tip sheet! I will also add resto, markets and foodie shopping info to other parts of this site. As I do, I will come back here and post links.)
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