mercredi 13 mai 2009

l'aventure culinaire à new york


mainly due to the most beautiful, loving, sincere, and just ridiculously fun wedding ever (i decided that even if i don't marry a jewish man, i want klezmer music and dancing at my wedding).  

i heart the mednicks.  

it's also just been a whirlwind of hilarious experiences- from karaoke to nail spas (yea, i went twice in one week - they are surprisingly very affordable in nyc), from the bolt bus to dc to one of matty's shows in a yoga studio, from skeeball at the crocodile lounge to brent the bartender at welcome to the johnsons shotgunning $2 PBRs in less than 3 seconds, from the impressively efficient checkout system at whole foods to sexy shops in the west village, from hanging out in the mount sinai hospital library with beth to being blown away by heather christian at the rockwood.  

only in new york.  and all that is nothing compared to what i'm about to talk about next: the food. 

my nyc culinary adventure kicked off with a 3-hour food tour in the west village (part of amy's bachelorette party).  the gastronomic personality of the west village, mainly due to its immigrant history, is predominantly italian, sprinkled with spices from other latin cultures including france, cuba, and mexico (they're all considered latin, right?).  some highlights were the fresh rice balls from Faicco's, the fusion mushroom and rice dish from Centro Vinoteca (where we met Leah from Top Chef, yoohoo!), the chorizo from Little Havana, and the warm cookies from Milk and Cookies.  i was in food heaven.  we also got to visit this amazing authentic barnhouse in the back of the restaurant Palma (and though we didn't do a tasting there, the food looked incredible).  if you want to do a fun activity in nyc and you love food, go here.  

the food tour was rich and euphoric but l'aventure culinaire did not end there.  something i crave a lot in paris is good, affordable mexican food.  so nothing could beat Burrito Loco at 1am on cinco de mayo where we feasted on scrumptious nachos and margaritas.  and then one night, in search of "salads" to appease our guilt of gluttony, sue and i along with with josh, stumbled upon at Galanga for some delicious mango and sticky rice (shall we say, the opposite of salads?).  

the free pizza with beer at Crocodile Lounge deserves a mention, because they do in fact make the pizza fresh on-site, creating a delicious complement to my magic hat, and ya know, it's free.  

we went to Bistro Jules (i was having a bit of paris nostalgia), where i got to speak french with the waiter and listen to fantastic music by this hot asian chick with hair down to her bum rocking it out on the violin- we only drank wine but the food looked pretty good too.  

i had a delicious lunch with shin-jung at Penelope's for a simple but incredibly tasty and healthy sandwich- brie, apple, honey, and fakin' bakin' on multigrain bread (though i recommend staying away from the "fakin' bacon" - just go for the real deal).  

and finally, upon a sudden burrito craving, erica and i found the Rocking Horse Cafe whose theme seemed to be 'conscious mexican eating' (ya know, brown rice, free-range chicken, ....) where not only was my burrito absolutely succulent (i'm running out of adjectives here...), but i also felt like i was doing something good to my body (and the food was really pretty too - see below!).  

the list goes on and on, but i can honestly say that i did not have one single culinary disappointment this past week. 

how is your palate doing?  wipe that drool off your shirt!!  are ready for more?

so in reverse order of my top 5 favorite food experiences of the past week (apart from the massive kick-off food tour).......

5. Bruno's - for anyone living in new york, this sandwich and salad joint will probably seem extremely mundane, but for me, it was so .. comforting?  one thing i've realized i've missed in paris is a good turkey sub, like the ones i used to eat at laverde's.  ok, now imagine laverde's, but with extremely fresh ingredients and twice the amount of scrumptious turkey cold-cut slices compressed into the sub.  i went to bruno's twice and my only regret is that the second time, i only got a half-sandwich instead of a whole one.  ** if you get a sandwich or sub, make sure to have it made fresh, instead of just asking for one that is pre-made.  

4. Vanessa's Dumplings - so this was a complete happenstance visit.  i admit it.  i was instantly drawn to the recession price sign (see below).  and man, that steamed bun way surpassed my expectations.  and it seems that if ever you are in new york and are experiencing the dumpling effect, vanessa's is the solution (confirmed by sue).  

3. The Kati Roll Company - i was pretty exhausted after the pbr shotgun challenges at welcome to the johnsons, but sue and thomas insisted that we make a kati roll run before heading home.  and boy am i glad that we did!  we got the unda aloo roll (spicy mix of egg and potato rolled into a flatbread) which was absolutely divine.  even better than pruthvi's cooking in india. hehe.  and ya know what?  the place ... HAD A BOUNCER!  yea, that's how intensely delicious it was.  if you are in new york, you definitely have to stop and have a kati roll.  

2. 16 Handles - after a somewhat disappointing frozen yogurt experience in the mount sinai hospital cafeteria, beth wanted to make it up to me and take me to one of the new generation frozen yogurt spots where they put together two enticing-looking words together (redberry, plumplime, purplejuicy, iwantyourmama....).  so we went to 16 handles (whose sign looks like 16 hindles - so yea, we didn't get it at first either).  which was possibly quite literally... A DREAM COME TRUE.  16 handles of different flavors of frozen yogurt (including "tart"- that sort of sour actimel flavor).  and then an extremely diverse and unlimited selection of toppings.  and basically, you pay by the pound so you can load on as many different toppings as you want.  

my advice to you: stay light on the yogurt so you can have more liberty with the toppings.  in the words of beth, "ice cream is just an excuse to eat oreos with a spoon".  

drumroll please..... and in first place for my top food experience in nyc over the past week........

1. the cocktail hour at amy and aron's wedding **

** technically New Jersey but ya know, i bet the caterer was from New York.  ;-)  just kidding i love new jersey

hands down no question whatsoever.  

the room was DECORATED with cocktails.  pretty red, green, and pink ones.  cocktails with apples in them.  cocktails with gummy bears in them.  cocktails ready at the bar. cocktails being passed around by servers.  and then there were the FOOD cocktails.  the mashed potato cocktails.  the steak-tinis.  there was a meat grill.  and a fish grill.  sushi boats.  a variety dumpling bar.  a middle eastern buffet section.  bellinis.  a fancy veggie buffet section.  people walking around with sweet potato pancakes.  and fancy and delicious hotdogs.  duck cigars.  chicken teriyaki.  i was blown. a. way. 

photos courtesy of Sue Young

oh yeah.  and then there was dinner.  which was delicious.  and beautiful.  but i was in a food coma at that point and didn't appreciate it as much as i should have.

so.  if we go back to the new york versus paris culinary challenge, there is no question that (for me), new york comes out on top.  and on top of new york is amy and aron's cocktail hour.  which is going to be damn hard to beat.  

now that i'm back in paris, it's back to soup and veggies.  ya know, so that my jeans can fit again. 

bon appetit.......