Last year the lady wife and I spent our birthdays foolishly over-feasting our way around splendiferous San Francisco. It was delicious and gluttonous and glorious and amazing. For the 2015 edition, a good friend's wedding beckoned us to the east coast, so we decided to spend the first 48 hours of our co-birthday week (our special days are a mere three Gemini days apart) in a little city you may have heard of, called New Amsterdam. More commonly known today as "New York City," it's a culinary metropolis with so many stellar culinary enticements I almost lost my goddamn mind (no lie) putting together a list of must-gos.
After too much research and too many sleepless nights, I was able to trim our agenda down to a reasonable size and we hopped on our JetBlue redeye heading to the Big Apple. Although we were unable to consume everything we had hoped -- for three reasons: 1) time, 2) lack of dinners, 3) not wanting to kill ourselves -- I'd say Lindsay and I did a pretty darn good job eating our way through NYC.
Ahem, eating our way through NYC... like idiots.
BREAKFAST - Wednesday, 8:07 a.m.
Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes w/ Warm Maple Butter and the Farmer's Plate at Clinton St Baking Company.
LUNCH - Wednesday, 11:22 a.m.
The Shack Burger, Crinkle Cut Fries, Hopscotch Concrete at Shake Shack.
I know they have LA plans for next year, but I just felt like my virginal Shack experience had to be in New York at the original location. Luckily after walking off breakfast and visiting with a few college buds in their office, we found ourselves directly across the street from the newly re-opened (it's seasonal) Madison Square Park location. And since it was still relatively early for lunch sake, we were greeted by a manageable line. Lindsay and I split the namesake burger, an order of fries and an incredible Concrete (vanilla custard, caramel sauce, chocolate toffee and Mast Brothers dark chocolate chunks!!!). Definitely enjoyed the burger and the cushy bun, but I would have to say my biggest surprise came from the fries. I'm not a krinkle fan, but these are not normal krinkles. Is Shake Shack better than In 'n Out? For one, it's not the same pricepoint. Also, I'm from California. Pretty sure I'd be burned at the stake if I didn't lean toward In 'N Out.
SNACK - Wednesday, 3:47 p.m.
Assorted cookies from LA's Milk Jar.
After not sleeping on the red eye, we were absolutely kaput, so we trekked back to the hotel (The Ludlow, which is the cat's pajamas btw) to take well-deserved naps. Before heading back out on the town we grew a little hungry and luckily had a few Milk Jar cookies/heavenly nuggets we had packed. Lindsay got an array at work for her birthday, but I'd say Mint Chocolate was the fave.
DINNER - Wednesday, 8:02 p.m.
Slices at Luigi's.
Post-local craft beers with the bride and groom-to-be at the nifty, very East Village coffeshop by day, local draft beer bar by night, The Roost, we commandeered an Uber and headed to Brooklyn. Unfortunately our 50-minute ride to Prospect Park for a free outdoor Chaka Khan concert (I did NOT make that up) proved fruitless due to capacity, so we hit Yelp in search of the best Brookyln slice shop within walking distance. We found Luigi's 1.1 miles away and started heading in that direction. Definitely an old school, no-frills South Slope slice shop, Luigi's delivered the floppy New York-style carb vessel and sweet sauce we craved.
Faces stuffed, we made the mile walk back to PP to meet one of Lindsay's friends post-Chaka Khan at Farrell's, a Prospect Park-adjacent watering hole that is older than you and me. We then hopped on the train (note: We didn't really "hop." Nobody hops anymore.) to the other end of BK to grab a drink with a college friend of mine at Livingston Manor, the complete opposite of Farrell's. A new'ish, "Catskills-like" bar, it was hipper than you and me.
On the train back to the LES, we had a little snack of Milk Bar Birthday Cake Truffles and Compost Cookie (that the future newlyweds gifted us for our special days). Great as always. Don't understand why there isn't a MB in LA yet. Get on that, Christina and David. When we got back to the hotel we were practically zombies - but NOT attractive cable television show zombies. Bed time.
BREAKFAST - Thursday, 9:10 a.m.
Yogurt parfait and Eggs and Potatoes at The Dirty French.
Ludlow guests are entitled to a complimentary breakfast in the restaurant's swanky eaterie. Well, not exactly. You're entitled to the top three menu items, the rest is extra. I was still sleeping at this point, but Lindsay ordered the complimentary Parfait (Granola Maison, Coconut Yogurt, Kaffir Lime) and the (non-gratis) Oeufs. I'm glad she did because they came with stellar Pommes Matin (cheesy, spicy breakfast potatoes) that we also ordered the next morning. Solid parfait, as well as free French pastries.
LUNCH - Thursday, 12:25 p.m.
Tuscan Lobster Roll (Red Hook Lobster Pound) and the Sweet Onion (Schnitz) at Smorgasburg at South Street Seaport.
Lindsay got her nails did in SoHo before we made the substantial trot to South Street Seaport. We didn't plan to eat lunch there particularly, but were intrigued to find the seasonal Smorgasburg pop-ups. Highlighting some of the best of the beloved Brooklyn Flea's Smorgasburg, it really was a solid selection of NYC's finest fancy foodstuffs. Lindsay indulged in the Tuscan from Red Hook Lobster Pound, which was substantial and lighter than your normal mayo-laden roll. I, of course, went with the Schnitz stand's Sweet Onion because I almost cannot say no to my kryptonite: a flamboyant chicken sammie. The pickled jiacama, radish, cilantro and roasted beet tzatziki schnitzel sandwich delighted.
SNACK - Thursday, 2:05 p.m.
Black and White Cookie at Amy's Bread.
When I go to New York City there is really only one thing on my mind: Black and Whites. That's really the only thing that matters. Sure we have like one good place in LA, but it's really not the same. And since my normal NYC B&W stop is not in an ideal location, I decided this Big Apple rendezvous I would... gulp... go somewhere different for Black and Whites. Holy shit! I was nervous. Many hours of internet research later and I decided to trust Serious Eats. We already wanted to walk the High Line any way and SE's suggestion of Amy's Bread was in the adjacent Chelsea Market. I will say this: Amy's makes a mean B&W. Very, very solid. The base nice and cakey and the frosting smooth and icey. My only complaint: it tasted a tad stale. Not horribly stale. Just sitting-there-all-day-stale. DO NOT FRET THOUGH. I ATE TWO OF THEM.
SIGHTSEEING, Thursday, 3:39 p.m.
There was a long ass line (and I had just ate TWO Black and Whites), so we didn't get anything at Dominique Ansel's Bakery, but it was fun to just poke around. The above Chocolate Chip Cookie Milk Shots were particularly fetching.
SECOND SNACK - Thursday, 3:30 p.m.
Square Slice at Prince St. Pizza.
A Twitter compadre recommended a Prince St's square slice, saying it was the slice to eat when you're in NYC. Honestly, that seemed bonkers to me - to go to New York and the best slice not be a floppy homeslice or even a Neapolitan pie, but... My thoughts post-Prince St. experience: DEFINITELY the slice to eat when you're in NYC, square or otherwise. I want it right now. This picture above is literally paralyzing my body. It is shutting down. It's so pissed this slice is across the freaking country right now.
DINNER - 10:01 p.m.
Mozz Sticks and Chicken Parm Platter at Parm.
Everybody should go see "Something Rotten." One of the funniest musicals I've ever seen. Very self-aware and perfect for the musical-hater-but-lover in all of us. When the show let out we jumped on the subway toward Mulberry Street to stop by Parm for Lindsay's birthday dinner. Why I selected Parm for our only formal dinner: Lindsay loves chicken parm and at past 10 pm on a Thursday, they were still serving. Owned by the same group as The Dirty French, Parm is pretty self-explanatory. Almost like a slightly more upscale Meatball Shop, Parm offers a simple, yet wondrous bill of fare chock full of all the good things from a Mom and Pop Italian-American restaurant. I'd recommend the chicken parm, but maybe not the Mozz Sticks only because they appear to be a victim of themselves. In that I mean I think Parm uses too high-grade mozzarella, which doesn't provide that thick Chili's-esque goopiness from the cheese you've come to expect. Picking hairs though. Overall, a very delicious meal.
DESSERT - 10:57 p.m.
Salted Pretzel Caramel Ice Cream w/ Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream at Morgenstern's.
The service at Parm was surprisingly hasty, thus enabling us to hit up the much ballyhooed ice cream shop, Morgenstern's right before they shut their doors for the eve. Funny enough we were the second to last customers of the night. Just ahead of... the groom-to-be with his extended family. Lindsay and I both ordered the same ice cream. And although I enjoyed the 'cream's airiness, I can't say I left overly impressed with what is widely considered the city's best. LA should really feel blessed to have Sweet Rose, Salt & Straw, Mother Moo and Carmela because, at least upon first blush, they are all superior in both creaminess and flavor.
From there we headed to a Ludlow-adjacent bar I can't remember the name of to grab a few drinks and watch the end of the Warriors playoff game (one of the wonders of the east coast: sports are on until the wee hours). Then hit the sack.
SECOND BREAKFAST/FIRST LUNCH, Friday, 9:30 a.m.
Bagels at Tompkins Square Bagel.
After partaking in another complimentary breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and walked our way to Tompkins Square for bagels. It would be sacrilege to go to New York City and not eat bagels. It honestly shouldn't be allowed. They should ask you at JFK's TSA and if you haven't had a bagel, they should tuck you back in a cab until you have. Nonetheless, per usual, TSB did not disappoint. In fact, they looked so good I got one with cream cheese and ANOTHER with chicken and pesto for a later meal. We took the breakfast bagels to Washington Square Park where, despite a little drizzle, a five-piece band played soothing jazz. Taking a seat, we enjoyed our final minutes in the city doing the most city thing possible: eating a New York-style hand-rolled, kettle-boiled bagel, in an expansive park, while listening to cool tunes, along with numerous fellow strangers. It was a fitting end to a wonderful two day eating jaunt.
Ahem, a two day idiotic eating jaunt.
((By the way, if these 48 hours were not enough, that night we drove to New Haven, CT for New Haven-style pizza... I'll save that for another post though.))