We finally got up on the roof at Eataly for a German-Italian- American-style lunch at Birreria.
Like most things at Eataly it did not disappoint. Birreria is a stunner — a wide open rooftop with views of the Flatiron Building to the Southwest and the Empire State Building looming over the campanile-style Metropolitan Life Building to the North.
The inner visuals satisfy as well — the eye gets stimulated as well as the appetite. There’s a retractable vaulted ceiling that gives you that German-beer-hall-we’re-all-going-to-get loaded-together feeling, but then there’s this red motif with the chairs and a lot of natural wood that makes you think you’re in … I don’t know … California? Anyway, it’s good. You want to be there.
They’re making their own beer, of course — that’s on one side behind a glass wall with serious-looking copper vats with pipes coming out of them. On the other side of the room they have wines coming out of spigots from big barrels. Mario, I love you.
The East Village is, was and always will be my hood in the big apple. Sure, I now stay on the Upper West Side and much to the dismay of my husband, I gravitate downtown. He will often say “downtown again?” My friend Peggy always lived on the Lower East Side and she was my friend-to-stay-with in New York. It was really seedy and exciting then, the 70’s. It’s been totally gentri-yuppie-fied in recent years. The Hells Angels owned the block – or maybe even blocks – around where Peg lived. And each day as I ventured out, one or another of them would ask me to fetch him something like matches perhaps from the corner store. So I did. Who wouldn’t? It was always more of a command – and I was to obey.
One hot summer night when Peggy and I were feeling playful and fearless, I actually hopped on the back of Mike the Bike’s Harley for a quick spin around Alphabet City. She was on the bike of another Hells Angel whose name I cannot recall; I only remember his toothless grin and his notoriety from the Altamont infamy of some years earlier. I am not the biggest adventurer – in fact, I’m not adventurous at all.
The weather turned yesterday.
The air was suddenly, blissfully free of the sodden end-of-summer heaviness and the scent of August — that heady perfume of sixteen million sweaty feet in sandals — receded in favor of the crisp promise of autumn. Hallelujah.
We’ve been dining out a bit — big surprise. We took the kids to Danji on West 52nd Street. I’ve written about Danji a few times before but it remains a standout. Their tofu with ginger-scallion dressing is hands down one of the best bites in town. Their deep-fried ginger chicken wings are no slouch, either.
We met some Upper West Side friends for a casual dinner at Saigon Grill and we were pleased to see that it has returned to its former glory. It slipped tragically there for a while — there was talk of labor problems, changed ownership — but their solid, fresh, tasty Vietnamese food is back in the Wasteland. Good for us. They also deliver — so quickly that it seems the food arrives before you’ve hung up the phone.
I've never been the type to have a candy drawer or crave chocolate. Growing up, I would rather have a savory snack than give myself a sugar rush. There was one sweet spoonful that sent me swooning, ice cream. But as my love for tea grew, the chilled scoop wasn't always the best companion to a hot cup.
A few months ago I stumbled on a very special petite treat, a macaron. It was love at first delicate bite. Whenever I'm craving a nibble, my Miss Macaron Mode guides me to the nearest bakery for a sweet fix and a steeped sip.
Although during a recent trip to NYC, my macaron moment was carefully planned as I followed my GPS to bisous ciao.
As soon as I stepped into the sweet shop, the glass case of jeweled sweets seemed to lure me over with its beautiful rainbow glow. Telling myself I would be back again soon, I restrained and ordered the two flavors that made my heart sing, Lavender & Honey and Jasmine & Green Tea. Each fragrant bite sent me on a floral journey as the petal parade marched about on my taste buds. Delicate and enchanting, I savored the macarons until I was only left with an empty wrapper and a few photos.
I had an experience the other night that was right out of Larry David’s universe or Seinfeld’s. A classic. I’ll try to describe it for you.
It was around 9:45 and I was at Danji, the wonderful Korean fusion restaurant on West 52nd Street, waiting for Jill after her show. Our friends Florence and Richard Fabricant were seeing the show that night and we were all going to have dinner. I know that mentioning Florence Fabricant is name- dropping – I apologize — but her position as a famous food writer for the NY Times is part of the story.
So, I’m sitting at the bar, sipping a nice white with a Japanese name from Alsace. Yeah, a Japanese wine from Alsace – or an Alsatian wine with a Japanese owner – whatever – it’s very good.
I get the manager’s eye and he comes over.
“I’m with the Fabricant party. I’m the first to arrive,” I say.
He looks into his book, shakes his head and says, “You know, we don’t normally take reservations.”
The Upper West Side just joined the world. Move over East Village; now us UWS Jews can sneak out of synagogue on the High Holy Days and chow down on steamed pork buns without leaving our own neighborhood.
A branch of Momofuko Milk Bar opened last week on Columbus Avenue and Eighty-Seventh Street and yes, your energetic reporter was ever ready on the spot to check it out. The menu features milk shakes, floats, cereals with milk, pies, cookies, candy, stuff like that. But then there’s a little section called Buns and that’s what I was after.
Eight bucks buys you a steamed pork bun; add a dollar and you get a fried egg on top, which I did. I carried it over to their little wooden bar and pulled up a box to sit on. They had napkins and plastic forks on the bar and big squeeze bottles of hot chili sauce everywhere you looked. The egg made it a little hard to approach. I didn’t quite know how to lift this ample-sized bun and bite into it while still keeping the egg – which had been fried over-medium, I’d say –from running down my chin.
Trips to New York City have become scarce over the years. Maybe non-existent is a better description.
I don't have family, friends or business in New York. All past trips have been purely hedonistic, with food always at the top of my list.
I visit all the tourist traps. I can't help it. I am a tourist when I'm there, a downtown poser in every sense of the word. Every trip has consisted of visits to the Empire State Building, Tavern on the Green, a carriage ride through Central Park and Serendipity 3.
Serendipity 3 reminds of a place you would celebrate your sweet sixteen. A glorified malt shop with faux Tiffany lamps, long lines, marginal service and so-so food. However, they won't let you make a reservation for just dessert...you have to eat a meal. So we would eat....just to get dessert.
There is only one reason I patronized Serendipity 3...for the Frozen Hot Chocolate. It's out of this world.
A friend of mine says that all the restaurants in New York City are good. Her belief is that is that with so many options, only quality survives. I’m not one to put her theory to the test as I have been to NYC only three times in my life and on two of the trips “fine dining” was definitely not an option. On this most recent visit, I was with my husband and 17-year-old daughter—showing her “the city” before dropping her off at college in Massachusetts. Our plan was to have one special dinner. If all the restaurants in NYC are so good, then how do you decide where to go?
I knew exactly where I wanted to go. I wanted to go to Blue Hill in Greenwich Village, and no, not because the Obama’s went there on their “NYC date night” (although how cool is that?). I wanted to go to Blue Hill not only because I love (obviously) the whole farm-to-table philosophy, but because I have had the opportunity to test Blue Hill Chef Dan Barber’s recipes in the Bon Appetit test kitchen. Dan Barber’s recipes are awesome—any one of these on Epicurious will please. After experiencing his creative treatment to vegetables—Cauliflower Steak and Kale Chips, I knew that if I ever had the chance to eat at Blue Hill, I would.
My father has a way of making everything unforgettable. He’s loud, temperamental, incredibly passionate, and a romantic to the core. So it seemed completely natural to me when he took me to Paris for my 14th birthday so that I “would see Paris for the first time with a man who truly loved me”. He showed me the sights, took me out to fantastic meals, and I left Paris with two promises to myself – that I would find pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant) as delicious as the ones we devoured for breakfast every morning in Paris and that I would one day return to Paris with the person I was madly in love with. My father was absolutely right about Paris being a city to only share with those you love.
It took me 16 years and many pain au chocolat experiences to finally discover what I’d encountered on my birthday trip to Paris. In the midst of Manhattan, in the Upper East Side at Payard’s, a charming French patisserie and bistro, was the perfect buttery flaky croissant filled with rich chocolate. Who was making such delectable pain au chocolat? Only a French man, of course!
It is the tail end of another Manhattan winter, and my boyfriend and I have started hunkering down on extravagant costs. Everyone, as we know, is in a bit of a financial panic, but for us, it’s just a fact that after the holidays and before the advent of spring, we have to reign in our budgets. When we forego seeing Broadway shows or buying concert tickets, one thought still remains supreme: The belly feeds the mind. Financial constraints cannot possibly mean a want for good food. For me, cheap eats is really all about more bang for your buck. Sometimes that means quantity can outweigh quality, but in a city like New York, that fortunately never has to be the case.
My perfect fix came by way of a suggestion from my Alex (the boyfriend), which turned into a ritual Sunday activity. Before we would hit up the Chelsea Cinema for a matinee show, we would grab two everything bagels with scallion cream cheese and tomatoes from Murray’s Bagels on Ninth Avenue. Now, we hit up Murray’s at least three times a week, but instead of purchasing a twelve dollar movie ticket all the time, we sometimes just watch pre-recorded movies on the IFC channel. The bagels, not the entertainment, really do the trick on their own.
by Nancy Ellison