missmaggiepops

Eating my way around the world

Tag: NYC

Quick Bites in the West Village

  

I could see myself eating breakfast, lunch, & dinner at The Elk on Charles at Greenwich St, not to mention hanging out all day in their light-drenched space. Options such as yoghurt bowls with coconut crumble & lemon rind, market bowls filled with steamed brown rice & roasted veg drizzled with a sesame-tahini sauce, or peanutty granola bar cookies are the stuff Pinterest pictures are made of. New York is known for its fabulous dinner options: Momofuko, Per Se, The Spotted Pig, etc etc etc. But what if you wanted to grab something quick but still palatable? Not break the bank, but a bit more “special” than the $1.50 slice of pizza around the corner- where should you go? (And don’t get me wrong, I love $1.50 pizza just as much as the next person, but sometimes I want more….) 

  
 

If you find yourself hungry late at night but don’t feel like cooking (who does after a long day at work? Or a long day spent at La Guardia airport waiting for your delayed flight to finally cancel because of the weather….) I stumbled upon Ready to Eat on Hudson at Charles. It was like home cooked food your mom would make: large platters of salads, freshly made hummus, roasted branzino, chicken marsala, or roasted chicken. The list goes on.  

 

Le Pain Quotidian on the corner of Hudson & Charles is a chain. Yet it’s dependable for its selection & consistency. For breakfast I had cumin flecked avocado toast, with a side of soft-boiled egg, and an almond milk latte. It was the perfect, filling breakfast, even if my egg was more hard-boiled than runny. 

It’s places like these that really make NY for me; the little shops & local chains that serve great, affordable food, and keep its citizens & tourists fed round-the-clock. 

NY, NY, I love you; a few restaurants for review

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Like I’ve said before, NYC has been good to my belly and thighs. I have been in NY for work and found myself at the BlueFly.com studios. Our producer ordered the most amazing sandwiches & sides from Untamed Sandwiches on West 39th (between 5th and 6th Aves).
I have forgotten how satisfying a really good sandwich can be. I fell out-of-love with sandwiches when I stopped eating processed-anything because of my soy intolerance. And although I can eat bread, most shops don’t use freshly baked, processed-ingredient-free bread. Enter Untamed Sandwiches: their crusty ciabatta rolls hold the most creative fillings I’ve seen in awhile such as the Sheemakers Bounty: charred broccoli with fried almond butter & pickled raisin jam (pictured above). Or how about the Nettle Neck: braised lamb neck, gruyere, walnut-nettle pesto, and pickled and charred onions. Holy S**t, right? The sides are pretty fabulous themselves, such as the chermoula roasted carrots, the rye berry salad that’s actually not that spicey, and the broccoli rabe that is pleasantly spicey.
Did I mention they cater? Exactly, click that link above for tomorrow’s lunch.

A few more mentionables that I’ve eaten at, but the photos were too shitty dark to post:
Mary’s Fish Camp in the West Village gets 10 stars. Kiddo had fried oysters, we split a crab gratin, and dined on shrimp burgers accompanied by charred shishito peppers, and pozole with red snapper, avocados, and hominy. Delish.
Shake Shack is everything the hype says it is. The hubby & I found it at Grand Central Terminal’s food court. He ordered the burger, I had the chocolate milkshake, next time I want both with fries.
Gnocco Cucina & Tradizione on E 10th between A & B was a recommendation from a friend of a friend. That friend of a friend is from Naples, and he said this place is exactly like home to him. So we went, and it was like discovering a little gem in the city. First of all, the village on this part of the island is like a little, unpretentious oasis in the concrete jungle. You walk in and immediately pass the kitchen with it’s brick oven- awesome- and make your way to the back to either the bar or the dining room. We all shared burrata, then moved on to our own dishes. I had the special: moist salmon crusted in pistachio served alongside black rice. The service was friendly, but not Applebee’s-annoyingly-friendly, and the room was dark enough so that the candlelight made everybody look good.
Union Market. I know, it’s not a restaurant, but you can get cupcakes from Baked there. Oh, you don’t know of Baked? It’s a bakery in Red Hook, and I love love love following them on Instagram and Facebook. They also have gorgeous cookbooks. Get thee to Union Market if you can’t make it to Brooklyn (or Tribeca) for those cupcakes, and for other things too….
-I think the best time to go to Magnolia Bakery (the famed bakery after being shot in a Sex In The City episode) in the West Village is on a frigid, Tuesday night- no long lines. I had the truffle cupcake filled with chocolate ganache: it fired off all of my chocolate-addicted neurons, and I was left with a deep sense of fulfillment. Pretty powerful s**t, totally worth the calories.
-If you find yourself out in Stamford, CT, Lorca on the main drag has drip brew coffee and buttery pain au chocolat.

Prune

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I found out about this East Village neighbourhood joint through reading chef Gabrielle’s memoir “Blood, Bones, & Butter“. When my husband came into town for the week to visit me I thought it would be fitting we should go there for our “date-night”. After a few intoxicating cocktails at The Ludlow Hotel‘s bar, we stumbled into the tiny restaurant to a prime window seat. We quickly ordered more wine and the app special: seared duck liver, braised hearts, and fois gras drenched crackers, which were amazeballs.

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For the main, my husband wasn’t that impressed: he ordered the pigeon, which is apparently a classic dish of the restaurant. I thought it was cooked well, but then again I was pretty tipsy by that point, anything was going to taste great. We split a Pinterest-perfect looking watercress salad, and I ordered the black rice cooked risotto-style with duck meat and turnips. Although not as photogenic as my husband’s dish, it was damn good. He thought so too. I think black rice should be the next “big” ingredient. Forget kale or pork belly- give me black rice.

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I have a saying: if it’s not chocolate, it’s not dessert. And there wasn’t any chocolate on the menu, so we ordered the mascarpone ice cream with salted caramel brioche (and a glass of port to wash it down with- long live alcohol!). The brioche cracked as soon as my spoon hit it, like breaking the crust of crème brûlée. Delish. Trying to recreate mascarpone ice cream at home will be on my to-do list, albeit with chocolate.
So, this is a mixed review: I loved my experience, my husband felt “meh”. Maybe go there as wasted as I was and you’ll have a great time.

Yunan Kitchen

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My friend and I were on the hunt for Chinese one night. A Saturday night actually. I had the brilliant idea that we should check out Mission Chinese- they take no reservations, but it was a snowy night, I mean, how crowded could it be? 1hr 45min wait-time crowded to be exact. F*** that. So we walked up Clinton St in snowpocolypse and came upon Yunan Kitchen. “Looks nice, has an “A” rating by the health department, let’s check it out” I said to my friend. I am so glad we did, it was like discovering a little gem in the city without ever having read about it through other reviews. It felt like my little find.
We started off with the smashed cucumber salad: amazing. Super fresh with toasted peanuts. Peanuts are so underdog next to cheerleader-popular almonds.

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For our mains, we shared the special: tea smoked chicken served with pickled veg and more peanuts. The chicken was cooked Perfectly: brined in tea, braised, then quickly tossed into the deep fryer to crisp up the skin and let the fat ooze into your mouth. Ah-Maz-Ing. My only complaint is that the chicken is sliced, served with the bone on. As a diner, I assume that if my chicken has been cut into smaller portions, the bone will have been taken off, be warned.
We also ordered the braised pork fried rice. My friend thought it paled next to superstar tea-smoked chicken, I felt it was everything it said it was going to be: braised pork fried rice and nothing more. Slightly spicey, totally satisfying. Some issues I had with this dish: we were given plastic chopsticks. I just feel that plastic chopsticks are a little harder to manage than wooden, but that’s just me. I also feel rice is easier to eat out of a bowl than a plate with chopsticks. Since we were sharing the big bowl of fried rice, the plates we were given alongside for our own portions were a little useless.

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Another great thing about this place was that it wasn’t filled with obnoxious diners. There were families, and couples, you could hear your accompanying diner talk without having to raise voices, and it wasn’t ridiculously packed at 8pm when we got there. It did start to get busy around 9:30 by the bar where we sat, but we were leaving anyways.
Yunan Kitchen is on Clinton at Rivington.

Tiny NY Kitchens

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Who says you can’t cook in a generously-sized closet aka NY apt? With Whole Paycheck just down the street from me, I was able to whip up Bon Appetit’s Curried Ground Shrimp & Noodles for dinner. It’s amazing how creative you can get with a limited amount of counter space. I do recommend a food processor for the shrimp, and I just finely diced my onion instead of pulsing it into a paste as the recipe called for. I skipped the extra Korean hot chilies as my jalapeno was already super hot, and subbed cilantro for the basil because cilantro is Much cheaper in the winter than basil. Dinner for 1 just got elevated.
Click here for the recipe.

And for another great recipe to cook in a tiny kitchen, I also made Bon Appetite’s Oven Risotto with Kale Pesto. I had no idea you could cook risotto in the oven, what a great trick! You can use any sort of green in here, not just poster-child kale. Collards, spinach, Swiss chard, and even arugula would be great to use in place of the kale. I also used a mix of almonds & walnuts for the pesto.

Russ & Daughters

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I love a good deli just like the next person, and this definitely fits the bill. I know, I know, go to Katz’s, it’s a NY institution, but I’ve been there years ago and found it to be more tourist trap than an authentic dining experience (is there even such a thing?).
Russ & Daughters was great. I took the baby there (ok, well, he’s technically a toddler now, but he will Always be my baby….), and kiddo ate latkes with salmon roe on them. He Loved them:) I, meanwhile, ordered the most perfectly cooked sunny-side eggs with smoked salmon & latkes, while the hubby ordered sturgeon, eggs & onions. Delish. Baby & I washed our breakfasts down with a chocolate egg cream, and a cream soda that was flecked with vanilla bean seeds.

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Next time, I would love to order their caviar. Hopefully baby will be just as into that idea as he was with the salmon eggs.

Northern Spy Food Co: Finger Lickin’ Good

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I’ve spent February in NY, and the dining has been good to me so far. I recently went out to brunch with my good friend in the East Village at Northern Spy Food Co, and it was finger lickin’ good. I ordered the grapefruit and ginger seltzer, and we split the buttermilk biscuits with apple preserves. The seltzer was great: refreshing and not sickly-sweet, and those biscuits were so good my friend ordered another round for herself.

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The decor is exactly what you would expect out of a farm-to-table restaurant: disheveled wood, prop-styled perfect sugar bowls, and chalkboards describing their wares. All ingredients are locally sourced and seasonal (hence the name: Northern Spy is a variety of apple).

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For the main course, I ordered the pulled chicken sandwich with the most perfectly cooked poached egg. It was amazing. Definitely not first-date food; no, this sandwich is meant to be eaten with a significant other, or a really good friend, that is in it for the long-haul. It’s just too messy to be eaten around someone you’re trying to make a good impression on. But what’s messy, just like a bad boyfriend, is oh-so-damn-good going down.
My only complaint with this restaurant, and with dining in general lately, is seeing kale, and pork belly on the menu. I don’t know about you, but I’m kinda’ over kale. Kale has become the Justin Beiber of menus: obsessed over, everywhere to be found, and then all of a sudden, just like the Bieb’s, it won’t go away. Same goes with pork belly. Pork belly has become so common it’s like calamari: you’ll find it everywhere, no matter how fancy or not the joint is. I think the problem is the overuse of these ingredients; and for that matter, the availability. When ramps come into season, we all obsess over them, they’re on every single special, and then magically they’re gone when the clock strikes summer. Either restauranters find a new ingredient to obsess over, or chefs should think about using some other humble, yet nutritional-superstar veg, in place of kale- broccoli or cabbage anyone?
Even with my neurotic rant over kale, you should still definitely check out Northern Spy Food Co. You will not be disappointed.

Pain au Chocolat

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So I walked into Soho this morning for yoga, only to find there was no class. So I hopped over to Dean & Deluca for a fresh pressed juice & a small bite to eat. Although this place is ridiculously expensive (it makes Whole Foods look like a discount dollar store), the pastry was well worth it: buttery & super flakey, with dark chocolate. Sometimes you just need to treat yourself.

Blizzards are Fun: An Inspired Menu

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A snowstorm is about to slam into the East Coast. I don’t know about you, but blizzards always mean one thing to me: get cooking in the kitchen. Staring into the silence of a snowfall, your home gets all toasty-warm with the oven working in over-drive. Better yet, invite some friends over, have them bring the wine, and make this little menu tonight. It’s fairly easy to throw together at the last min as you rush home from work. And if you have people coming over, you’ll have some extra hands to help out. How is that blizzard sounding now?

  • Popcorn gets no love. It’s the best appetizer: it’s cheap, can feed a crowd, and is simple to make. My method: heat 2tbsp coconut oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over med-high heat; put a lid on it. Add 4 test kernels. Once they’ve popped, add in 2/3c popping corn kernels. Shake the pan vigorously as the popcorn pops. Once the popping begins to subside, turn off the heat and let it pop a bit more. Once it’s done popping, pour the popcorn into a large bowl. Add salt to taste, toss (I do 2 large pinches of salt). Pour 3tbsp of melted butter over the popcorn, toss, taste, repeat if necessary with more salt and/or butter. Makes a very large bowl.
  • The best roast chicken. It’s the lemon in the cavity of the bird that makes it super moist. A tip: blast your bird at a high temp for a 1/2hr when you just put it in to get the skin super crispy: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chicken-recipes/perfect-roast-chicken/#Y8uq3jzizkrRKdiy.97
  • Mashed potatoes with a twist: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/mashed-potatoes-clouds-recipe.html
  • Greens are so much more tastier as a gratin. You don’t have to use kale, you could use Swiss Chard, Collard Greens, Spinach, or a mix of all: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/winter-greens-gratin
  • Dessert should be simple and comforting. You really can’t go wrong with chocolate chip cookies. Grab some ice cream or gelato if you want to get fancy: http://www.marthastewart.com/344840/soft-and-chewy-chocolate-chip-cookies

Dirty French

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Was able to try Dirty French in the Lower East Side last night with a good friend. It was a great welcome meal to my second night in NYC. We split the chicken & crepes. It was amazeballs; you get an entire chicken to split with another person, although this could have easily fed 4. The white meat arrived on a wood cutting board in a cast iron pan with a simple dijon sauce. Delicious with the creme fraiche. The dark meat, complete with chicken feet, came separately & was served on the cutting board beside the pan. It was fragrant from the lemongrass & coconut, & the skin was melty-caramely in your mouth. You popped that into your crepe with the radish & mint accoutrement. Tast-y.
That was all we had. That was all we needed, save for the glass of red we each had with dinner.

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And if you get there between 3:30 & 5:30pm, waiting for the restaurant to open as we did, lounging at The Ludlow Hotel’s lobby with their wine list isn’t such a bad way to kill time.