Saturday, August 28, 2010

Vacation part 1 - NYC

I never tire of New York. Actually, the reason I'm in Paris is because I thought I was tired of New York. I was mistaken. I love being in NYC. I shop, I eat, I people watch...Last time I was there in June, I was drooling over what I saw people in midtown wearing (to the office I assume); this time was no different. People there just have really nice clothes. I get bored watching people in Paris - there's rarely anything (or anyone) interesting to look at. And while Paris is fantastic for food, they really only do their own stuff well and after a while, my palate gets tired of it and craves something with tons of flavor and heat. And so, as always, I made sure to visit some old favorites, some places I have meant to go but never got around to them, as well as what would become new favorites.

Lets start with one of my favorite stand-bys where JP and I used to go to brunch a lot and my dish of choice was chilaquiles. Dos Caminos. I don't think anyone would argue that of course its not the best mexican food, but I like it well enough and the flavors, at least for me, are there. Plus, after getting off the plane I just wanted something tasty, familiar and not far from the apartment.

Unfortunately they forgot to salt the guacamole but the carnitas tacos were juicy and the salmon ceviche with mango was nice and fatty. Not a bad choice to come home to at all.

And I also came home to my twin's birthday! I have no idea how this twin thing happened. SK and I don't look anything alike. We're probably have a height difference of 4 inches, a weight difference of 15 - 20lbs and I'm Russian and she's Korean. Yea, I don't know. Twin, twin's roommate from Spain who was visiting and I ate at Maialino for lunch where the three of us all got the bombolotti all’Amatriciana. It was delicious with a hint of spicy-ness and the guanciale providing a little bit of porky chew to the sauce. I went back for dinner another night with JP, JL and her bf. I got the same dish again, although this time they used bucatini instead of bombolotti and I also tried the malfatti which came with suckling pig ragu. Delicious but I think I prefer the lunch menu. The portion of pasta for lunch is perfect but for dinner it leaves you hungry. Oh, and they give you Sullivan Street Bakery pizza bianca in the bread basket. I could eat it every day with olive oil. So good.

I went down to visit mama in Jersey and of course JP and I stopped by Taco Bell (don't hate, the Taco Bell in East Windsor is the best Taco Bell ever and I'm a sucker for their fresco tacos). And I also got my fill of Bent Spoon ice cream in Princeton. It still remains my favorite (FYI they come up to NYC for the New Amsterdam Market near the Seaport whenever they have it). Mama also came up to visit us and I took her and JP to Jean-Georges for lunch. It was good but it wasn't that good. I understand the 3 michelin stars for the service (they would synchronize the setting of plates on our table) but the food was meh compared to what we had at Daniel last year (you'll notice that I now compare every fancy place to Daniel). And Johnny Iuzzini, you were a disappointment with your dessert...I was so looking forward to it! Now I don't know if I'll be watching Top Chef Just Desserts; you underwhelmed. Le sigh.

JP's entire (immediate) family was in town one day too. The older brother was back from London for a little bit, so JP's parents and youngest brother drove up from Jersey and we went to Papatzul for some Mexican food (JP - we need to diversify your parent's palates! At least to Latin cuisine...). Older brother's gf came too and so that JP's younger brother didn't feel too left out, she brought her sister along. Three "couples" + parents. Aw. But that's not the point. The point is the food. I ordered agua de tamarindo which had zero tamarind and a lot of lime for some reason. Fail. But the red sangria was a success (although I'm not particularly opinionated about sangrias). I also had elotes which we split (I can't say no to corn) and sopes with mushrooms, zucchini and goat cheese. They were good.

It was ok overall but I wouldn't go there again nor recommend it. You know which place I would go to again though (we went twice) and would highly recommend? Num Pang. If you haven't been and you're around Union Square, go. Actually, run. They might be out of some seriously delicious vietnamese-inspired sandwiches (both times they were out of the five spiced pork belly). Here is my pulled pork sandwich:

They look a little on the small side but trust me that thing is jam packed with flavor and will leave you happily stuffed, maybe with some sriracha you forget to wipe from the corner of your mouth. The pulled pork nicely soaked the bread and the cool crisp veggies provided a welcome respite from the heat of the spiced honey (I don't like honey but you don't taste the honey taste in there). I also tried JP's catfish sandwich which he loved (I'm not a fan of catfish) and had a mackrel sandwich with roasted leeks the next time which was good too but I think I'll stick to the pulled pork. They also have vegetarian options which I wanted to try but didn't have time to. Anyhow, if you're in NYC, PLEASE GO NOW and if you've never heard of it and are in NYC, don't wait over a year (like I did) after reading about it. May I suggest the blood orange lemonade as a drink?

There were other places we went to - revisited our beloved Las Ramblas which is as good as ever (best patatas bravas in NYC) and luckily for us, had paella that night as a special. Blockheads for drinks with my friends, then a boozy sangria brunch at Calle Ocho. Twin's and her former roomates' joint bday dinner (17 ppl!) at B Bar and Grill, and some Magnolia cupcakes instead of cake. Also lunch with JP's older brother at Gyu-Kaku and dinner with some friends at Oliva (after which we went to Whole Foods on Bowery and I got something called Juju Stars at the chocolate/candy counter). It ended with an unimpressive brunch the day I flew out at The Standard Grill but I had wanted to try it out and I finally got to walk the Highline! That park is amazing, even in dreary weather. And, a trip isn't a trip without at stop at Trader Joe's where I stocked up on some goodies that I brought back. In between all that - a week in Miami and Las Vegas, entries to come. Until next time, New York.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:00 PM

    Several comments

    -Really?? Parisians are not fashion gawkable? No!!
    -I just had lunch at jean georges too and I was disappointed as well. I had dinner a long long time ago, like 3 years ago, and the food was to die for so I don't know what happened or if their lunch is significantly subpar... I had their frog legs that time at dinner, and I still remember the dish to this day.
    -I ate at Daniel fairly recently and all I can remember is that they had a disgusting amount of desserts. Like five carts rolled by, and I was like only if you doggy bag that, son!! I feel the concept of petit fours is cruel, I can never stuff it in my bulging stomach at the end but it looks so pretty.
    -I did dig the tableside presentation at Jean Georges with their cutting of the marshmellows. So pretty! I want to replicate.
    -I tried to make your banana pudding recipe since I miss you, but mine came out subpar. Maybe it was because I couldn't whisk the cream to stiff peaks? I don't have any electric mixers.

    Miss you and love checking in on your blog!
    <3 alice