New York City Eats

A Double Life

nyc_2013 photos taken with instagram by iLuvpotato © 2013

I had the privilege to talk to second grade students for career day at a public school about my profession earlier this week.  My friend, a teacher at the school who invited me thought I was a full time foodblooger and did not know that I actually have a full time job ( here ) Foodblogging is my side gig or more of a portfolio of my dining adventures.  It would be difficult to sustain on one post a year and to be self-employed.  I don’t think I have that kind of discipline yet and occasionally need a push and someone to motivate me, so thank you to everyone who has been following me and for reading my posts over the last several years!  Also to those who shared their appetites with me.

Since I’ve been back from the West Coast in March, I have been contemplating on moving out there for a different pace and scenery. Being New York City is my hometown where friends, family and work is all here, it’s difficult to make that move.  Also the dining scene has never tasted or looked better than it does now.  Here is what I am currently obsessed with:

M. Wells Dinette /// I regret never having the chance to eat at the original M. Wells in Long Island City, closed due to increasingly high rent in the lease renewal, a common New York City story these days which is a pity.  But Chef Hugue Dufour remain unstoppable and collaborated with PS1 MoMA with a comeback, M.Wells Dinette which is a perfect pairing.  The interior of M.Wells Dinette resembles a classroom as a homage to PS1 MoMA former existence as a public school and similarly it is reflected on the menu, innovative and whimsical. The best dish was the guanciale salad with layers of unexpected flavors, textures and colors.  It’s beyond an average salad but a thought out work of art.

Fort Defiance /// Red Hook was one of the many hard hit neighborhoods during Super Storm Sandy.  For my friend’s birthday, we decided to support a local business in the area.  Fort Defiance is a bit off the beaten path but an insider tip is on the weekend, take the free Ikea water taxi from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn and walk from there.  It will save you the metrocard fee and the weekend train suspension headache while absorbing in the New York City scape with a bit of escape.  The menu is heavily Southern influenced with careful sourcing of ingredients where farms are identified.  I had the Huevos Rancheros and it came with two sunny side eggs with a dollop of sour cream – oh my!  The chili base with pork jowl was hearty and decadent.  It was spot on for a March snow day.

Buvette /// One of my favorite dishes is a cassoulet, which is a Southern French traditional one pot dish with beans, meats, sausages and duck confit. Buvette located in a charming part of New York City tucked in the West Village operates practically 24 hours from 8am breakfast to noon lunch and from early supper to 2am midnight snack.  It’s how all restaurants, cafes and bars should open until the wee hours as those are the most magical in New York City.  What I admire is the decor and the aesthetic of the restaurant / cafe and how much a little restaurant can do as seen on their instagram.  The tartines and coffee is superb.

Peels /// Voted for the best bloody mary’s is what drew my friend and I here for celebratory reasons.  Not sure who awarded Peels for that title instead I vote Peels for the best shrimp and grits!  Bowery Street in the last decade has transformed drastically with hotels, museum, galleries and a future home to Anthropologie.  I certainly do not miss the tumbleweed, mobbed with drug addicts/ homeless days on the Bowery.  Peels is a nice addition to the Bowery’s restaurant scene and with a Southern themed menu with their signature biscuits.  The shrimp and grits melts in your mouth with the right seasoning and flavors. It’s also very photogenic.

The Hungarian Pastry Shop /// There are the iconic dining scenes when visiting a city or a neighborhood and for the Upper West Side, near Columbia University would have to be The Hungarian Pastry Shop.  It’s a bustling cafe with tourists, students from C.U, bikers and people like me who is catching up with a friend in the area who recommended the place.  I love the energy of this cafe where the waitstaff yells out your name. Though, up by the counter is where heaven is calling with assortment of pastries.  A no fuss hot brewed coffee with an apple strudel and flaky napoleon dusted with confectionery sugar… O-M-G!  I’m positive I will be back again.

Momofuku Noodle Bar Fried Chicken /// My guests from out of town asked, “so what do people do in New York City during Memorial day weekend?”  Well, we dine out!  Momofuku Noodle Bar the very first of Chef David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant empire started a group dining experience for 4-8 people for the fried chicken dinner.  With very odd hours available, I manage to make reservations for the Saturday of Memorial weekend.  People treated the restaurant as if an amusement park, waiting patiently in line for the restaurant to open at noon.  The fried chicken meal is created to feel very exclusive as we were the only ones who had a butcher paper covering our table.  It is two whole chickens made two ways, one Southern fried chicken and the second Korean fried chicken.  I have to admit I was a little disappointed by the fried chicken …yes, disappointed.  But what made Momofuku Noodle Bar Fried Chicken stand apart is the condiments from hoisin / plum sauce, jalapeno, gochujang and my favorite ginger green onions in oil…mmm.  Also a bowl of greenmarket bib lettuce, radishes, carrots, mints and an insulated plate of mooshu pancakes.  What I liked about it was it encouraged diner to play with the food and to be creative with multiple combination in eating the fried chicken and there is no wrong way.

“Why do you love your job?”  One of the students asked.  A very simple answer: food!  Everyone has to eat regardless of the economy and it’s an exciting time for those in the industry and as diners, especially in New York City.

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