New York, New York Food Crawl

I couldn't help but note the irony of the fact that while this month has been flat out crazy for us and the first chance we get to take a vacation, our destination is arguably one of the most active places in the U.S., if not the world. After a long week of back-to-back holiday party catering, regular clients, classes and demos we packed up our appetites and headed to the Big Apple for the ultimate food crawl

Wanting to share all that we ate, I struggled with how to present it all and came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to tell the story of our food crawl via pictures and a couple of quick sentences to sum up my thoughts on each experience. Fair warning, this is going to be a longer post so get yourself comfortable :)

I'm leaving most of the burger talk for Burger Boy but Shake Shack deserves a mention. Worthy of the hype, I found the burgers to be loosely packed, seasoned well and nestled into a form-fitting soft bun. The fries were a surprise, they look rather plain-jane but were actually crispy. I'd be lying if I said we only had one of these throughout our stay..
We stopped by the tree at Rockefeller Center for a quick sweet snack and enjoyed some of Milk Bar's Crack Pie and Cereal Milk along with a Nutella Macaron from  Bouchon Bakery. The Crack Pie I found to be a bit to rich and sweet for my liking and the Macaron, while still good, didn't taste luxuriously light like and instead, it tasted like yesterday's Macaron. The cereal milk, however, was a fun little treat. Tasting of cornflakes, I was left wondering why no one thought of this before.
Les Halles, surprisingly enough, was one of my favorites. While the menu seems cliche and I was afraid it was only popular due to a certain somebody's celebrity status, the dishes we sampled were executed with perfection. We ordered a classic French Onion Soup and it was presented with a rich, meaty broth and plentiful quantities of sweet onions and cheese. The Rillettes were incredibly addicting - hearty flavors were elevated by tangy cornichons and spread easily over toasted rounds of bread. I also couldn't help falling in love with the restaurant's vibrant dining room. 
Eataly is somewhere that I felt I could be dropped off for hours and still not fully experience it. I loved how each nook and cranny of the massive space was a tribute to food and presented it as art. Rows and rows of beautifully packaged treats made hours of gazing seem like minutes. I left feeling inspired and, if at all possible, falling even deeper in love with food.
The simple Margarita pizza that I had at Eataly was one of the best pizzas I have ever had. A light yet crackly dough glazed in a tangy-sweet tomato sauce and dots of fresh mozzarella and basil, this pizza proved that when executed exceptionally well, even the simplest of foods can be set apart from the rest.
In comparison, the pizza at Motorino in the East Village was a very close second. With a thick, yet airy crust, the pizza was finished with Brussles Sprouts leaves, smoked Pancetta and a duo of Mozzarella and Pecorino cheeses - a delightful combination of salty, cheesy, crunchy and slightly bitter.
A little bit of a let down, the pork buns at Momofuku, while flavorful, lacked that punch that I was hoping for. The salty and overly greasy pork belly was tamed by the sweet Hoisin and cooling cucumber, which proved to be balanced enough but I wanted more. Maybe it's easy to blame the hype, but I expected to be blown away with flavors but instead found it to be average. 
Getting right to it, the pastrami on rye at Katz's was the best thing I ate on the trip. The ruby red pastrami was so thickly sliced, yet it instantly fell apart in my mouth, leaving behind the remnants of its flavors (and black bits in my teeth!). Peppery and salty the tangy mustard only helped to extend the flavors while the bread took on a sweet role of balancing it all out. At the risk of sounding too over the top, I will never look at a pastrami sandwich the same way again.
The Spotted Pig, was another one of my favorites. Currently raging with popularity, this cute, dimly lit restaurant is worth the hype. The menu is creative and before we dug into our burgers, we sampled the Prosciutto Fritters. Crispy and with a prosciutto and greens (spinach? swiss chard?) core, the fritters came accompanied by a buttery tomato sauce that provided a velvety contrast to the crispy exterior. 
Because a trip to New York isn't complete without a slice of classic cheesecake, we stopped at Junior's on our last night. Bobby must have made one hell of a cheesecake in his Throwdown against them because this one was one killer cake. Sweeter than most cheesecakes I've had, it almost had a delightful fluffy quality to it. 
New York always holds a special place in heart. I've always been fascinated with the hustle and bustle and the general excitement of the city, not to mention it's home to some of the best and most talked about dining destinations in the world. It's hard to be a food geek like me and leave without a renewed and strengthened sense of appreciation for the art of the food industry. While the vacation proved to be hours upon hours of walking and lots of eating, I left feeling rejuvenated and inspired with lots of ideas for the New Year and with a strong desire to get back to work, doing what I love to do best.


One Food Guy said...

Now that is how to eat your way through New York!

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

It was some serious business..

In and Around Town said...

Looks like you had an amazing trip! SO much good food, I cannot imagine how you fit anything else in!

Daisy said...

such a fun post, what an amazing trip!

Karen said...

looks like a fun trip!


Wow! What an incredible post. You two certainly made the rounds! I have always wanted to try Les Halles, glad you loved it. I too recently went to Eataly, my review is here: http://popbopshop.blogspot.com/2011/08/dining-out-eataly.html. Glad you had such a delicious time in NYC!

Michelle Collins said...

I'm heading to NY this weekend...I might just have to try a few of these places! ;)

Skinny Fat Kid said...

You had me at the pastrami! I work in NYC and live close by, but prefer the tiny little spots to the trendy tourist places. However, nothing beats a deli sandwich in NY!

Try the mussels at Les Halles...amazing!

And I agree with the cereal milk. They're making big bucks on such a simple idea!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

Awesome food crawl! I thought the pork buns at Momofuku weren't that great either, but the duck buns were much better! I spent Thanksgiving in NYC and also went to the Spotted Pig - really good food there. Happy New Year!

Kerstin said...

How fun, what a great recap! We were just in NYC too and went to some of the same places but didn't quite make it to Katz's, which is too bad. Next time!

Elina (Healthy and Sane) said...

I love New York. This looks like one amazing food crawl!!!

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