Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Things that I like to do in NYC

 I hadn't been to my favorite City (big city, that is) in about 3 months when I finally went in last weekend.  You know, I bought a house and had to get it ready for residency, and  there were the holidays - so, when I received an invitation to a gingerbread party/Eden's 70th birthday celebration (Eden Ross Lipson, my late friend would have  turned 70 on February 2nd) given by her daughter, Margo, my first trip to NYC of 2013 was decided.
I packed the car with a few bags - some of them empty waiting to be filled with goodies that I only know how to find in the city, and the city-dog herself, Allegra.  ("she's a New York city-special" is the reply I give to whoever inquires about her breed.)
We stayed with friends in my old neighborhood, the East Village.   First thing, take the dogs for a walk - yes, dogs.  I like to bring my friends' dog, Frankie for walks with us.  She, as well as Allegra enjoy making stops at all our favorite shops - because they always have a treat waiting for visiting canines.

Dinner  - Perbacco  We just happened to show up on the little Italian restaurant's 10th anniversary.  It wasn't advertised and I would not have known this had I not asked our waiter how long they had been open.  I seem to remember walking by the spot for years - I just didn't know it was 10 years.   The menu - as it reads on line (and, in person)- is very seductive.  There's a nice choice of dishes in every category from antipasti through dolci.  We were hungry and ordered with abandon.  We were a bit disappointed.   A bit.  Well, if you were to know that my friends live almost across the street from the place, had never been there and vowed never to return.  I did not have as negative a reaction.  What they deemed too heavy-handed I knew was just the regional food of Emilia-Romagna which is - heavy.  Lots of butter and besciamella.  Fried things too.    I found one of Perbacco's signature dishes, Parmesan creme brulee with a balsamic vinegar brulee very tasty - and original.  That may be because we shared one order and I ate just a few spoonfuls.  The creme part was super silky and unexpectedly cheesy and salty, and the very hard, candy-like topping was slightly bitter - from overcaramelizing(?) and musty from the vinegar.   I would go back for that dish alone - and the spaghetti with bottarga, lemon and garlic.    Our waiter was very concerned that we were the oldest people in the very full - and noisy room.  I realized, in retrospect, that the occasion prepared me for the following evening's activity.  I'll get there.

Breakfast - Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria - I've barely eaten at all the restaurants that exist in NYC- but this one is my favorite restaurant.  Hands down.  I know it's a bit short-sighted of me.  But it's consistently good - at every meal.  And now I can add breakfast to the delicious lunches, dinners and take-out food that I've eaten there.   I had the ultimate breakfast sandwich: poached egg, rupert cheese from Consider Bardwell (found, here, in Hudson, NY as one of the cheese choices on a Grazin' Acres cheeseburgers) and house-made salame rosa on the restaurant's own spongy, olive oil bread.   Moutherwatering - I'm drooling as I write this (TMI?).  Too much sandwich for breakfast - so I took the other half home for dinner.   That other plate of breakfast food, in the background, is sliced porchetta on the same olive oily bread topped with eggs.

Lunch - 88 Palace Restaurant - dim sum - followed closely on the heels of that above mentioned sandwich. Why not.  I get very greedy when I'm in NYC.   Venture deep into the bowels of Chinatown - find the "Palace"  and enter through thoroughly unimpressive doors and Bong! Bong! you're in Hong Kong.  Walk past vendors selling everything from eyes of toad (can't really say for sure - but looked that way) to every style of sparkling red shoes that you'll need to get back home again, and take an escalator up one floor to the cavernous restaurant - dodge the dim sum carts to get seated and before your coat is removed a server will start offering you bamboo baskets filled with steamed dumplings, sweet rice wrapped in lotus leaves, shrimp shumai, and so on.  We drank copious amounts of tea and ate all that we desired, and more.   I loved the sweet rice with bits of pork, mushrooms and tiny shrimp, and was very fond of the pan-fried turnip cakes also studded with pork and shrimp.  Everything else was just fine.  Dim sum in a place this huge is definitely a worthwhile experience.  And very New York-on-the-weekend.

After lunch - Took a tour through the latest food emporium to set up in the East Village, The Union Market.   Will it give the nearby Whole Foods a run for its money?  Mah?  Both markets were packed when I visited them over the weekend.        Off to the main event - the gingerbread party.   Some of the guests made their own versions of gingerbread cookie dough which was brought to the party uncooked, rolled out, cut into a gazillion different shapes , baked and decorated in the most fanciful ways by the guests - many of them under 5 years old.  It was a real party - and the house was fragrant with spices.
Dinner, saturday night - home alone with the dogs and HBO.  I happily ate the other half of my breakfast sandwich and watched 6 episodes in a row of "Girls".  I don't get it - is it really only one note, or am I really old?   The waiter from the previous night's dinner seemed to be concerned about our age as we were surrounded by what I now understood to be characters straight out of "Girls".   Oh, geez.

Sunday breakfast with my friends and then off  on my East Village Sunday morning routine, one that I've followed for nearly three decades.   Met my friend, Roy at the Tompkins Square farmers' market and didn't buy anything because  - it all comes from where I live now.  It was nice to see the smiling face of the lady who sells the great dairy products from Ronnybrook and let her know that we were now living much closer to the source.  She didn't bat an eye.  

On from the market to:

 Holyland Market , an Israeli grocery store  at 122 St. Mark's Place, between 1st Avenue and Avenue A for my favorite tahini - organic and imported from Israel.  I also like the shop's pocketless pita bread which is grand when toasted.

Russo's,  an Italian deli at 344 east 11th street near 1st Avenue.   Russo's specializes in homemade mozzarella and pasta.  They also have a huge assortment of cheese, cured meats, dried pasta, olives (and other marinated vegetables), and imported canned tomatoes, tuna, capers, etc.    I always buy Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh mozzarella when I'm there.  The other day I bought some imported prosciutto as well.   So when I returned to Hudson I could make a makeshift pizza with the pita as the base, some reduced-to-jam cherry tomatoes, topped with mozzarella and prosciutto.  Not bad.

Dual, at 91 1st Avenue between 5th and 6th streets, is a store that specializes in mostly Indian, but some Middle-Eastern, and Asian groceries, spices, herbs, teas, nuts, grains and other curiosities such as a selection of soap and 400 varieties of beer.   I buy almost all my spices from them as well as mango chutney and some Indian sweet rusks.   When I lived nearby I'd get their frozen pakoras to keep on hand for a last minute cocktail party.

SUSANSIMONSAYS:   Here's another topping for the schiacciata dough from last week's post.
Make the dough per recipe.  Heat the oven, stretch out the dough, cover with thinly sliced red onions and bake for 12 - 14 minutes until nicely browned.   Cover with creme fraiche flavored with dill - or, if you can't find creme fraiche - and please don't stress about it - combine cream cheese and unsalted butter until smooth.  Cover the cream with smoked salmon.  I like Ducktrap brand that is always available at the local Hannaford's supermarket.


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