Saturday, September 19, 2009

New York 2009

New York. Ahhhh… the city I love. I just can’t get enough of this place. I went in college with my family (2002 or 2003): again in fall of 2007 with friends, and most recently in late August of this year. This trip was different because I was traveling there alone. I had about 24 hours in the city before I met up with The Boy and our two other guy friends. This might be scary to some people, but honestly, I LOVED traveling alone. I mentioned on twitter, and not one but TWO of my food blog friends offered to meet up with me! It was cool to put faces to these sweet ladies blogs. I’d like to share with you a few of the places I went. These are all places I will 100% recommend if you’re ever in NYC.

Think Coffee
1 Bleecker St.
(Northwest corner of Bowery and Bleecker)

Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of this place, because as I pulled out my camera to take some shots, I realized I didn’t have the battery! My latte here was exceptional (perhaps because it was my first caffeine of the day because I thought I might *actually* sleep on the plane, HA), as was my tomato zucchini soup. Oh, and I sat literally a foot and a half away from this guy. Once I realized I had forgotten my battery, I went back to the hotel, then I was off to the West Village.

Sweet Revenge
62 Carmine Street
(West Village)

Sweet Revenge was recommended to me by a super nice, and talented blogger, Kristina of the Chocolate & Peanut Butter Gallery. I have to say, out of all the places I went, this *might* be my favorite. (I actually am so indecisive I hate the word favorite) Sweet Revenge is a cupcake shop right after my own heart. What sets it apart from other cupcake shops is, it’s not just about cupcakes. It’s a cafe, where you can get a sandwich, and they have a very nice selection of beers & wine. It’s here I met up with Cathy of Cathy’s Kitchen Journey’s.

She was super duper sweet, and didn’t mind that I rambled on & on and talked her head off. We decided to take advantage of the Happy Hour specials. I got a glass of wine and a cupcake for $10, and she got a glass of sangria and a cupcake.

Cathy chose the Sweet Revenge cupcake, which is the shop’s namesake. It was a peanut butter cupcake with ganache filling, and peanut butter buttercream. I chose the Bird of Paradise which was a lime chiffon cake with mango buttercream, and lime zest. We cut them in half and shared! They were both super moist. Mine had the perfect citrus taste, and the mango buttercream was unlike anything I’ve ever had! I also was surprised that the peanut butter buttercream on hers used crunchy peanut butter. It was equally tasty! Yum! I’d love to go back next time I’m in New York!

1 5th Ave
(Greenwich Village)

After the cupcake at Sweet Revenge, I did a lot of walking and exploring. Then, I met up with Maris of In Good Taste. We walked around and decided where to eat (really I made her pick the place, because I didn’t have a CLUE about what was good in the area). We ended up at Otto where we stalked and scored a spot at the bar. Otto, I later found out, is a Mario Batali restaurant. It’s part wine bar, part restaurant. Our bartender/waiter kept making us pronounce what we wanted to order, and let’s just say a KY accent doesn’t do Italian so well. I ordered red wine (I honestly can’t for the life of me remember what I ordered and their wine list is HUGE) and the Fennel & Bottarga pizza that had tomato, raw fennel, bottarga, pecorino, and mozzarella. Double and triple yum. Maris and I are just months away from each other in age, and found we had a lot in common. We chatted for a couple hours. Unfortunately I didn’t get ANY photos of the restaurant, or any pictures of us. But, I’m not sure I would of LIKED a picture of us, because at that point I’d only had 1.5 hours of sleep in 32 hours, and it had rained on us a little as we were walking around. I did manage to take a iPhone photo though. The great thing was, I was only a couple blocks from the hotel. It was around 11pm and I made it back to the hotel just fine, the area felt really safe, and I literally CRASHED fast asleep.

Lovely iPhone photo isn’t it?

Murray’s Bagels
500 Ave of the Americas

I didn’t want to set an alarm because I wanted to let my body sleep. I don’t know if it was the loud neighbors that were just coming in for the night, or the fact that I had probably just finished a sleep cycle, but I woke up at 3am (most sleep cycles are around 4 hours, and now that I work this crazy work schedule, I often sleep in 4 hour shifts). Luckily I managed to go back to sleep, and woke up again at 7am. I decided rather than trying to sleep more, I should go out and explore the city that never sleeps! Last time I was in NYC, I specifically remembered I wanted to eat a “real” New York bagel. Supposedly there are two major kinds, an H&H bagel, and a bagel from Murray’s. Last time I know I ate an H&H bagel, so this time I decided to try one from Murray’s. Luckily it was nearby in the West Village/Greenwich Village area. I chose a whole wheat bagel and another fabulous latte. A real NY bagel isn’t toasted. Just the process of cooking it in the water boil makes the edges tough & have a “bite”, but just as promised the inside was softy & chewy. Mine was sandwiched with cream cheese. I enjoyed my breakfast and got to daydream a little what it would be like to live nearby, and be a real New Yorker, and this would be my Saturday routine. One day, maybe one day… Don’t ask me to compare H&H and Murray’s because, honestly it was nearly 2 years ago I had an H&H bagel, so I can’t remember that far back! But I will say I would recommend Murray’s any day.

I decided to take the subway up to Central Park and just walk around and do some exploring while I had a little more time alone. Though it was grey, and it sprinkled a bit here and there, it was still to me, a beautiful New York day. I walked for a couple more hours, just exploring different neighborhoods. I could literally eat this city up. After taking my time I made it back to the hotel to shower because the boys were going to be arriving in the city soon!

Baoguette Cafe
37 St. Mark’s Place (between 2nd Ave & 1st Ave)
(East Village)

After I showered I still had some time to grab a bite to eat for lunch. I did a quick web search, and discovered via Yelp, there was a great affordable spot on the very same block as my hotel. Baoguette Cafe had sandwiches, soup bowls, and salads, but most important COFFEE. I got a Vietnamese iced coffee. I think the secret is, they use sweetened condensed milk. Whatever it is, it was magically delicious. This just set me up for a wonderful lunch. I ordered the BBQ Chicken Vermicelli Noodle Bowl, with lettuce, herbs, & peanuts. Yet another NYC meal that didn’t disappoint, and wasn’t bad on the budget at all!

93 1/2 E 7th St
(East Village)

I met up with the boys, we did some shopping and exploring and decided to eat dinner at a place I discovered while searching the web. Caracas is an arepa bar within walking distance of our hotel, and gave us the chance to explore our area a little more. An arepa is a lot like a pita, but it’s made from cornmeal. We walked up, and there was quite a crowd outside. I thought, it was worth a shot to at least see what the wait was. For some reason, he seated us right away! It was a tiny restaurant, and packed to the brim. We ordered some guacamole; some Yoyos – fried sweet plantain balls stuffed with white cheese; and Tajadas – fried sweet plantains with aged cheese; and then we all ordered some arepas. I really enjoyed the appetizers, and I enjoyed the arepa, I just wasn’t a fan of the filling I chose to go inside my arepa. I got the Reina Pepiada – chunky chicken and avocado mix salad; but it felt too much like just straight up guacamole, which I’d ate a LOT of as an appetizer. I’d love the opportunity to go back, and get a different one. I still definitely recommend this restaurant.

Levain Bakery
167 W 74th St (between Amsterdam Ave & Columbus Ave)
(Upper West Side)

Sunday I made a point to make it up to the Upper West Side. I needed to bring a treat back to my friends. As much as I’d love to bring them a cupcake, I wasn’t going back into work until Tuesday, and I didn’t think a cupcake would taste good if I waited that long, so decided on the famed Levain Bakery. I’ll admit, I was like “What’s the big dang deal with this cookie? It’s huge, blah blah blah.”

Ok. Everything said about this cookie is true. It totally lives up to the hype. Holy cow this cookie was awesome! I got two chocolate walnut (the famous version), a dark chocolate with peanut butter chips, and an oatmeal raisin. The Boy & I spent TWO days eating the peanut dark chocolate with peanut butter chips, and I gave the other three away. Not to mention these cookies were FRESHER than fresh. WOW. I noticed they were pulling trays out of the oven as soon as I walked in. My cookies were STILL WARM when I got them!

I swear if I look at this photo and then close my eyes, I can ALMOST smell the cookies again!

24 East 12th Street
(Greenwich Village)

And finally, our last bite to eat in New York City, was a place I’ve been DREAMING of going to ever since the Amateur Gourmet posted about the Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake. This was located in Greenwich Village, and wasn’t far from our hotel either, and it was especially close to the Union Square shopping area. I think the guys weren’t so sure about another place I was dragging them to. They were expecting something weird. But once they got there and realized it was a BURGER AND FRIES joint they were actually kind of excited. I was excited when I discovered the sweet potatoes fries! Yum Yum Yum.

This place definitely lived up to the hype! I wanted to save room for the famed milkshake, so I ate half my burger and fries and got a box for the rest. I asked our waitress what she thought of the Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake, and she said that she didn’t like marshmallows (WTF?!?!) but everyone that orders it loves it. So I ordered it, requesting it in a to-go cup, because surely I couldn’t drink it all while sitting there. But I did. I drank it ALL while sitting there. And… I loved it. It was a-mazing. The waitress told me it was made with Toasted Marshmallow Gelato, but just today I discovered this Gourmet article that says otherwise. So perhaps there could be a homemade version in my future!

Alright… *WHEW* I can’t believe it’s taken me nearly a MONTH to write up this post about the city I love. As you can tell I definitely ate my way through it! ๐Ÿ˜€ One of the things I LOVE about New York City is, all the walking and exploring I can do on foot. I really let myself relax a little on worrying about calories. With all the walking I was doing, there’s not doubt I burned it all off! Perhaps my lattes were so delicious in while in New York because I didn’t order them with skim milk. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you’ve never been to New York, I highly suggest you go at least once in your life. And please, please, do me a favor, DON’T EAT AT OLIVE GARDEN IN TIMES SQUARE! Haha.. That’s always a running joke with me. I always ask why would you want to eat somewhere you can eat at home, when you are in the city with the greatest restaurants? You don’t have to spend a lot of money all the time to eat well. As you can tell we ate at some great places, that didn’t break the bank. If you’re lucky enough to have an iPhone, there’s a Yelp app that will help you find places to eat, (and a NYC Subway Map app, and Google Maps to help you get there, ;D). Or, just open your eyes and look around. *sigh* I’m already dreaming of my next trip there. Kalena Kay, you in?

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