So, I already shared the things we saw during our trip to New York City, but I absolutely have to take some time to tell you about all the amazing FOOD Justin and I consumed in the Big Apple. Be prepared: this post is a doozy. I think I ate more food in the 6 days in the city than I usually do in two full weeks at home. Burp. Let’s get started (and keep in mind that these photos were all taken on my iPhone…and some in dim lighting…c’est la vie):
As soon as we checked in to our hotel, Justin and I were on a mission…for cookies at Levain on the Upper West Side. So, we put on our walking shoes and headed out. However, on the way we stumbled upon Grom: a gelateria! Since it was so hot outside, we decided it was worth it to stop in and split a cup. We sampled three flavors: Tiramisu, Almond, and Croccantino – the August flavor of the month featuring Venezuelan chocolate and hazelnut biscuits. All three flavors were amazing, and the texture of the gelato was fantastic. Yum!
Excuse me for a moment as I think about the amazingness that is a Levain cookie. Serena from Big Apple Nosh had informed me that these cookies were an absolute MUST, so we made sure to visit on our first day in the city. Oh my, were they ever worth the walk.
Levain offers classic cookie flavors, but there is nothing simple about them. These cookies blew my mind. They are seriously about an inch thick, weigh about half a pound, are crunchy on the outside, and are incredibly soft on the inside. On our first trip we sampled the chocolate chip walnut and the dark chocolate peanut butter chip cookies. I definitely had a “moment” when I took the first bite. Love. Oh so very much in love.
Fig & Olive
On our first night in New York, we dined at Fig & Olive. We were fortunate that during our trip NYC Restaurant Week was in full swing, so there were a lot of restaurant options that had prix fixe menus at a reasonable price! We started with a plate of bread with three different olive oils to dip:
Justin opted for the Restaurant Week menu, and I ordered a la carte. Justin started with the Fig, Gorgonzola, and Manchego salad. I definitely stuck my fork into his bowl a number of times; the dressing was light, and the contrasting flavors of cheese with the sweet figs was fresh and memorable!
Followed by the Branzino a la Plancha, which he reported was delicious!
My dinner selection was the Zucchini Blossom and Goat Cheese Ravioli. It was beautiful and absolutely scrumptious. There were thinly sliced ribbons of zucchini on top, as well as fried squash blossoms, which added a nice salty crunch in contrast to the creamy goat cheese ravioli. I practically licked my plate clean.
Dessert from the prix fixe menu were strawberry crostinis – pretty!
There are a number of Fig & Olive locations in New York City, so I definitely would recommend looking one up if you’re in town! Their Midtown location was close enough for us to walk to, so that was a big plus…considering the area around Times Square can be somewhat touristy!
When I was busy at the BlogHer conference, Justin was walking around New York City by himself. He was nice enough to pick up a few of Momofuku‘s famous Compost Cookies for us to sample.
If you aren’t familiar with a compost cookie’s contents, they have pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, butterscotch, and chocolate chips. What a combo! The cookie was definitely delicious, but I have to say that the Levain cookies were far superior. GASP! Yep. If you only have time for one cookie in NYC, you could maybe skip this one. They were a great combo of sweet and salty though!
Park Avenue Summer
On Friday night, we dined at Park Avenue Summer. This restaurant was also a part of the New York Restaurant Week, so we enjoyed a prix fixe menu again! They started us off with the most adorable bites of watermelon with a dollop of goat cheese…presented on sticks in a box of grass. SO CUTE!
The bread basket had a warm cheddar biscuit and a summer corn roll for us to split. Both were delectable, and it worked out well that I preferred the corn roll and Justin liked the biscuit. How convenient!
Our appetizer selections were the tomato and watermelon gazpacho, as well as the cured-lemon Caesar salad. Both were ok, but nothing to write home about, to be honest. I much preferred the bread we started with!
Things improved dramatically when our entrees arrived. I selected the potato gnocchi with sweet corn and summer truffles. It was incredibly rich yet simple. The gnocchi were just as they should be: fluffy pillows of goodness! I struggled to eat my entire bowl, so thankfully Justin was there to help me out!
We also received a side dish of grilled corn with herbed butter – yummy!
Justin chose the organic Scottish salmon with crispy taro and cucumber salad. He informed me that this was probably one of his favorite dishes of the entire NYC trip.
I was stuffed at this point, but we soldiered on to the dessert course! Justin had two scoops of ice cream: vanilla and toasted almond.
I opted for the chilled praline parfait with chocolate crumbs and caramel. It was presented beautifully, and the contrast in crunch, creamy, and gooey was a wonderful way to end the meal.
Saturday night was a more casual dinner out for me and Justin. We strolled over to a pizza joint suggested by Terri from Try Anything Once called Don Antonio. They serve classic Neapolitan pizza…one of my favorite things in the world! We kept it simple and ordered a salad and a pizza to split. First up: the Fresca salad. It included arugula, grape tomatoes, parmigiano, balsamic vinegar glaze, and extra virgin olive oil. Simple perfection on a plate.
It took us a bit of time to select the pizza we wanted to split, but we settled on the Capua:
It was topped with tomato sauce, imported buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, arugula, pecorino gran cru, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. Oh my goodness, was this pizza delicious! The crust was crispy and slightly charred, with a nice bit of chew to it as well. The toppings were balanced perfectly. The size of the pizza was not enormous, but it was perfect to split between two people (with the addition of an appetizer)!
If you’re in the Theater District in NYC, Don Antonio is great option for a reasonably priced casual meal!
On Sunday morning, Justin and I ventured to Magnolia Bakery for some breakfast food. Magnolia Bakery was right down the street from our hotel, so it seemed perfect. We split a cinnamon sugar muffin and a small cup of their banana pudding. Sugar rush, anyone?
Banana pudding isn’t exactly breakfast food, but it was creamy, flavorful, and decadant…and bananas are breakfast food, so it kind of worked, right???
Chelsea Market / Friedman’s Lunch
On Sunday, we met up with my friends L & C for brunch in Chelsea Market. We somehow managed to snag a table for 6 people at a cozy spot called Friedman’s Lunch, where Justin ordered the Southern Breakfast (eggs, cheddar grits, a biscuit, and fried green tomatoes), and I had the B.E.L.T (bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato) sandwich:
The eggs in my sandwich were cooked over easy, so as soon as you took a bite, the yolk oozed out…egg sandwiches are such a guilty pleasure!
Fun fact: until our trip to NYC, I had NEVER tried ramen before – not even the store bought brand that college students make! I’d been dying to try some authentic ramen, and with Serena‘s review of Ippudo, I knew that was where we needed to go!
We HAD to start with an appetizer serving of Hirata buns with pork. I mean, just look at these beauties! The buns themselves are steamed and doughy, and can we talk about the pork? It was so tender, and the sauce slathered on top was to die for. I want a jar of it to have at home: it was a wonderful combination of sweet and spicy. I could eat a few servings of the Hirata buns all on my own…darn you, sharing!
We ordered one bowl of ramen to split between us for lunch: the Akamaru Modern.
Hello, gorgeous. The Akamaru Modern contains the original silky “Tonkotsu” (pork) soup noodles, topped with Ippudo’s secret “Umami Dama” miso paste, pork chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, scallions, and fragrant garlic oil. We also added a soft boiled egg to our ramen.
I have a confession to make: I DON’T KNOW HOW TO USE CHOPSTICKS!!! I’ll say this – it was pretty tricky to scoop the noodles into my soup spoon, but the amazing taste of the ramen inspired me to figure it out in some way. I still don’t have any technique, but I managed to maneuver the noodles and broth from the bowl to my mouth. And boy, was it worth it. I’m crying over the fact that I don’t know of any places to get ramen like this in Tampa…it was amazing!
Our visit to Pommes Frites was by accident. As we were walking around on Monday afternoon, I spotted it across the street and urged Justin to go in with me. I’d seen it featured on Unique Eats, and french fries are definitely a guilty pleasure of mine that I don’t get to have often. Pommes Frites serves authentic Belgian fries with a multitude of sauces to pair with them. Justin and I ordered a small cone of fries to share (which, by the way, is NOT small!), and had a difficult time deciding on a sauce. Thankfully, it wasn’t busy at the time and we were allowed to sample a few different ones before making a decision. The parmesan garlic mayo was the winner for us, but we also loved the sundried tomato mayo, the pesto mayo, the smoked eggplant mayo…and the list goes on. Also – classic ketchup can never go wrong.
The fries are relatively thick cut, with skin still attached (I love a french fry this way). They were crispy on the outside, and pillowy soft on the inside. And the best part? They were fried to order! Pommes Frites only starts frying your french fries after you order, so you won’t get a cone filled with lukewarm potatoes. You’ve got to love that. It might take a few minutes to wait for your fries to cook, but it is worth it for the piping hot goodness! This could definitely be a tempting location to visit late at night…I am SO glad we stopped in!
Big Gay Ice Cream
Visiting the Big Gay Ice Cream shop was not even a question. I’ve been intrigued by this place for a while now, so when we were in the East Village it was a must.
Doesn’t this just make you happy? Justin and I both ordered one of their specialty cones to try. Mine was the American Globs: vanilla ice cream, pretzels, sea salt, and chocolate dip.
Justin ordered the Salty Pimp: vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt, and chocolate dip. I have to admit: Justin’s ice cream treat was the winner out of the two. Both were delicious, but there is just something SO wonderful about caramel, salt, and chocolate, mixed with incredibly smooth and creamy soft serve ice cream. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. And I have to say: the staff in the shop were some of the friendliest people we met in New York! It made me happy.
Friends – this is slightly unbelievable, but I did NOT take any pictures of our amazing dinner at Scarpetta. I decided, for once, to just enjoy everything and put my phone away for the night. Who…am…I?!?!?! However, I have to say that our meal was wonderful! Justin and I split a bottle of wine from their extensive wine list to begin. We were then presented with a bread basket containing three different types of bread (focaccia, stromboli, and a baguette/crusty roll) and three different spreads/dips (citrus olive oil, eggplant caponata, and mascarpone butter). We split an appetizer of the creamy polenta with fricassee of truffled mushrooms. So creamy, so flavorful, and so delicious! I haven’t eaten polenta a lot in my life, but if it was this good every time, I’d be serving it up a lot!
For our main course, I ordered the Spaghetti with tomato and basil. Yes – it seems simple, but sometime when things are done simply yet perfectly they can be the best! The pasta at Scarpetta is made in-house daily, so it was a treat to have something so fresh…you can taste it with each bite! Justin opted for the Rabbit Agnolotti with peas and a riesling mushroom reduction. This was my first time ever trying rabbit, and it was definitely a new flavor for me! The seasoning was perfect with the fresh peas and light sauce; I’d definitely recommend trying it out if you want something delicious but a little bit different than the norm. Scarpetta was definitely a highlight meal of our NYC trip!
I’m finishing up my food review of NYC with a sweet treat. On Tuesday before we returned to Florida, Justin earned the amazing husband prize by walking back to Levain to pick up a few boxes of cookies…and then he made a special trip to Bouchon to pick up some macarons!
He picked up two large sized maracons – one chocolate, and one vanilla. Aren’t they gorgeous? And do you know what is even better? Seeing the inside! The Bouchon macarons had a lovely crunch on the outside, but deliciously decadant and creamy insides! I was in love with the chocolate macaron – the inside reminded me of a rich, creamy brownie with frosting….drool!
Wow. These macarons were definitely worth the stop, and are a great little sweet treat for your sweet tooth. So worth it.
Are you hungry now? You should be. So now I have to ask:
Have you eaten at any of these NYC spots? What would you most like to try?