Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Heart New York Food: Day Two

Saturday was our biggest day of the trip with approximately 16 hours of activity, the majority of it outside and in the freezing cold! We had lots of hearty food to keep us going though.

Breakfast: Sarabeth's

Sarabeth's is Darryl's favourite breakfast place in the city. There are several locations, but we went to the one on Central Park South. It is expensive and you will pay dinner-like prices for breakfast. They also add an automatic 18% gratuity even for a party of 3 with an line for "extra tip". But, the food is of excellent quality. I had the Pumpkin Waffle that came with raisins, pumpkins seeds, berries, and honey. It was good, but I think the best sweet breakfast is the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. They're feather light with just a touch of lemon. I also had a side of the best roast potatoes and Darryl shared his order of chicken apple sausage, also amazing.

Gyro Cart outside Grand Central Station

We didn't have a gyro or kebab while in NYC, but I was impressed by how fresh the ingredients looked and how great it smelled.

Union Square Farmers Market

This market was super crowded, but full of incredible produce, meats, and preserves. They had tonnes of vegetables that I'd never even heard of before. So many kinds of potatoes. There was a cute stand that sold lamb meat and lamb wool.

I took a paparazzi-type photo of a very cool-looking woman shopping at the market in an immaculate white coat with a white clutch purse, black heels, and sunglasses. She seemed very New York.

Lunch: Katz's Delicatessen

Lunch at Katz's in the Lower East Side was probably the most stressful yet delicious meal of my life. I'd read about it online and it's been around since the late 1800s, so I was dying to try it. Here is the thing. No matter when you go it will be very crowded. When you come in, a security guard will hand you a small ticket. It works like Marche so you need to get your food at various counters where the staff will write down the price of what you received on the ticket. When you leave, you give the ticket to the cashier and pay.

Table service is available only at the tables touching the walls. Everywhere else, you have to get your food yourself. There aren't any signs saying what is available from which guy. Sandwiches are from one guy, platters from another, fries, coleslaw, and drinks from another, potato pancakes from another. Water is at a self-serve stand at the back. Cutlery is next to the fries/coleslaw guy. It's pandemonium. Everyone moves fast and you'll always feel like you're in the way.

Diane and I both had pastrami sandwiches. The sandwich guy can cut a side of pastrami by hand in less than 5 seconds while serving you, the takeout orders coming from the right, and the waiters' orders from the left. He gives you a slice to try before he makes your sandwich. I'm not even really devoted to smoked meat-type sandwiches and I LOVED this one. It came on really fresh, soft rye bread and there is a slightly hot mustard at the table. I'm sorry to say this, but it kicks the ass of anything in Montreal. It really does.

With your sandwich, they give you a handful of Half Sour pickles. They're very lightly pickled pickles and retain a lot of their original cucumbery qualities. I'd never had these before and I loved them.

I went to the wrong counter three times, but I perservered and got potato pancakes. The guy told me "5 minutes" when I asked for them. I didn't know what that meant, so I sat down and started eating. In 5 minutes he yelled "POTATO PANCAKE" so loud that I knew it was mine. They came with applesauce and sour cream. Amazing.

Snack: Mini Chocolate Pudding Pie at Magnolia Bakery

We went to the original Magnolia Bakery on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village and there was a line-up out the door. The one close to Rockefeller Center seems to be much easier to get in. But, the wait wasn't too bad. One of the bakers acted as bouncer at the door, letting in a few people at a time. So you know, the cupcakes at this location are self-serve. You get your own cupcake and if you want something in the display case, you have to ask for it. By the time you get to the cashier, you must have everything you need. The cashier cannot get anything for you. He was annoyed with me because I asked him for my pudding pie.

I brought the pudding pie back to the room and it travelled very well. The picture makes it look huge, but it's actually very small. And delicious.

Dinner: Tapas at Meson Sevilla

We were so full from lunch that we waited until after seeing Avenue Q to have dinner. Fortunately, 10:30PM is a very reasonable hour to be having dinner in Manhattan. Meson Sevilla tapas restaurant was almost full.

We ordered ham and potato croquettes, chorizo in red wine sauce, artichokes in vinaigrette, white anchovies in vinaigrette, red peppers stuffed with crab, and a potato omelette. I think the best thing was the chorizo. I've had chorizo many times before and this is the first time I've been really impressed. They were small links of sausage with onions in dark red wine sauce. So good. The croquettes were excellent and the vinaigrette dishes were very sour, complimenting the fried items nicely.

We were asleep as soon as our heads hit our pillows. Full of food and fun.

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