Friday, August 14, 2009

NYC Bites

To some New York is all about fashion. It is host to the hottest Fashion Week in the world and you will see stores there that aren’t at the local mall or shopping plaza. For me, however, the city is about food. It is a city that can boast there never seems to be anything bad (in the way of food). (Portland is pretty close to this too, I never had a bad meal there.)

Since I started going to NY 12 years ago, I have tried a plethora of restaurants and food joints that still stand out in my head. For marinara, I went to Bona Fides, an Italian joint run by Russians; stuffed cabbage, Odessa (which I missed this time); steak and creamed spinach, the Knickerbocker , which I would never had gone to if it wasn’t for Mich’s mom who took me there as payment for getting her around the city; pizza anywhere; coffee anywhere (and I mean anywhere since NYC is the only place where I have always gotten a great cup of coffee and never once went to a Starbucks to get it).

Plus cocktails, like watermelon margaritas at some cool place in the Village; pomegranate margaritas at Rosa Mexicana; vodka shots at Dick’s; martinis at Bar 86 with the co-ed bathroom and steamed up doors.

This time was no different. I had my sights set on two places, and only made it to one, but there is no disappointment in this piece. We didn’t make it to Odessa, but instead took a more Asian-inspired culinary trip.

Republic is a Vietnamese restaurant with other Asian goodies like Pad Thai. I was tempted to get the PT, since it is one of my favorite things to eat, but instead ventured into rice noodles with bbq pork and pickled radishes. I loved the radishes!!! It all was delightful and so full of flavor, but the radishes really got me. I could have eaten another plate of them and they complimented the pork perfectly. The bbq was more soy and sesame based not like southern bbq with all the honey and smoke. It was a lighter version of an old favorite.

The next day we continued on our tour of Vietnam as we met Voon for lunch at a place just a block from Republic. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name, but if you go south of Republic a block past Union Square to 13th it is on the left-hand corner. Here is where Guy and I went crazy ordering several dishes and splitting them which is what I love to do with other culinary deviants as myself.

We had Pad Thai, of course, since Guy swears this is the best in the city. (Now I am not a PT expert, but I have noticed people get really up in arms about the best PT so I am sticking to home and am going to eat my way through all the Thai places in this area to see who has the best – so far it is Thai Basil on East Bay.) Guy also ordered Vietnamese crepes (which are very large noodles folded over and slightly stuffed with dried shrimp and something else very lovely) and pork. The pork chops where the boney, cheap cuts and tasted divine. We also had shrimp clumps of some sort on skewers that were a bit bready for my tastes, but still a great treat.

Afterward, Voon took us to a cupcake place just across the street, Crumbs, and we eat got a huge delicious wonder with me choosing an apple and caramel cupcake and Guy getting the hostess kind. Mine was a spice cake with apple pie filling, cream cheese frosting and a caramel swirl. YUM!

But not to be outdone, Patrick and Guy surprised me with a trip to one of the most renowned Italian bakeries in NYC – Venieros. It was a dream land. I spied through the glass-covered windows all the treats you could imagine in a variety of sizes from long, thick cannolis that looked very sexual to little ones that seemed a bit less lusty. We chose a piece of Sicilian cheesecake with alcohol-drenched sponge cake, a layer of ricotta cheesecake dotted with cherries and so much more (I feel myself going into a sugar coma just thinking of it.) This took us 3 days to eat and we never finished it. The piece was about the size of two normal pieces, but the beauty of the richness satisfied in such a way like an old lover who knows all your buttons.

To break us free of this sugar fix, we also ventured to the market in Union Square. It was packed with my favorites; apples, tomatoes and berries. Summer apples were in season and I never even knew they existed. They are small and round and with a bright white interior and red outside. Their fragrance is undeniably fresh and the flesh was succulent. I had a few of them and felt healthier with each delicious bite.

Then there were the tomatoes. I love tomatoes, all kinds. I eat them every day and could eat more if they would grow more readily in my yard. At the market there were the most ugly beautiful varieties I had ever seen. Never to judge a book by its cover, I chose some of the most knotted up fruits and they did not disappoint. They were in all colors with stripes and specks and so luscious that all they needed was some salt and pepper and a splattering of mozzarella and I was in love. I am still craving these at this moment, but most of the tomatoes here, at least lately, are tasteless and dull.

Our last day there, I went to visit a place I had heard about on the Travel Channel – Peanut Butter and Co. Known for comfort food, like your mom used to make, this small restaurant is in the heart of NYU and was packed with the families of students returning to school. We found a table and picked our favorites with Patrick getting chicken salad, Guy bologna and cheese (which apparently inspired a new twist to his every day) and I got peanut butter and nutella. Now let me tell all you atheists, this sandwich proves there is a God and he is oh so good. It was heaven and I can even make it at home. Their list of treats was packed, but I got a menu so I can venture forth in new discoveries of peanut butter (plus it helps keep the food budget down.)

Along with all this culinary craziness, we ate at home a few times and at some places that were good, but never really inspired more than a satiated smile and a nighty night.

Where is your favorite place to eat in the city??

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