Anticipating NYC – A re-cap of 36 hours(or so)

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I have a wonderful life, I know it and I’m grateful for it.  13 months after my first trip to NYC, I’m fortunate enough to return this week.  My first New York experience was filled with Michelin star restaurants, speakeasies and certain touristy must-do’s.  When I left, I felt that I got a great taste of the city and longed to return, quickly.  I had a “work” opportunity come up in New York and although I knew they were in the middle of a massive heat-wave, saying yes was a no-brainer.

I took a trip down memory lane to get myself excited about this trip, (like I needed this to get myself excited, it’s NYC!).  Here are some of my favorite moments from last year’s trip.

(New) Yankee stadium was a must. We were lucky my M’s were in town so the game had more meaning to us. Of all the new stadiums I’ve been to, this is probably my least favorite. It lacked the character I had imagined Yankee stadium should have and the food was just horrible!

Part of the magic of my first trip to NYC was that it took place over my birthday weekend which meant that we had an excuse to go BIG on the dining front.  This was before my TFL experience so I think I was more excited then at the prospect of 3 Michelin star dining than I am now, (Ben’s probably so happy to read that).  I put hours and hours of research into our dining choices and what you see below is where we ended up.

Le Bernardin – actually this was a no brainer for me.  I think Eric Ripert is the bomb!  What the room may have lacked in style, it was certainly made up for in amazing food.  I had 2 of my top plates of 2009 here, and also my biggest price vs. what you get disappointment.

Beautiful uni risotto – the uni flavour was completely infused into the risotto and the generous pieces on top made me go weak at the knees.

After seeing me swoon over the uni risotto, a couple next to us convinced me to get the uni spaghetti as an additional course.  Not on the menu, I was told that this dish would change my life forever.

Yes it was lovely, and if not for the uni risotto could have been my favorite dish of the night. But worth $95? Not really. Life-changing? Well, I’ll know better than to be peer-pressured into ordering a dish by a couple who mentioned only hyper-expensive resto’s as their favorites.

All was forgiven when my the next dish appeared.

Butter poached lobster on a bed of white asparagus. I don’t usually describe food as sexy, but that’s the only way to describe this one.

Still on our high from Le Bernadin, Ben & I gussied ourselves up for a lunch at Jean Georges.  At $28 for a 2 course lunch, this is the best “deal” in town, and the only repeat on our upcoming itinerary. You get to choose 2 items from the menu.  You can do a starter and main if you want, or do as Ben did and choose 2 main size dishes.  Going in to a restaurant with high expectations can often lead to disappointment, no problems here, tick the box for met/exceeded expectations!

All of our dishes were delicious, but a stand-out was the foie gras brule with a port reduction.I am starting to wonder though, can you really screw up foie gras?

We needed to do something to work off all the food we’d been eating and were lucky to be staying next to Central Park and were able to start our mornings off with a run.  It was also a great way to explore the park!

It was so hot so I used taking photos as my excuse for a break.

Although we’d been telling all the restaurants it was my birthday, (and getting comped desserts), my actual birthday was spent at Babbo.  I own the Babbo cookbook and have lusted after many of Batali’s dishes so it was hard to decide which to choose.  The pastas we had were amazing, but the stand-out dish was the octopus in lemoncello vinaigrette.

Mario Batali swears by putting a cork into the pot when boiling the octopus to help make it tender. I don’t know if there’s any truth to this, but this was some of the most tender octopus I’ve ever eaten.

After dinner we made our way over to one of the speakeasies that was recommended by a former New York bartender now living in Vancouver.  Angel Share can be found behind a hidden door at the back of a seedy AYCE Japanese restaurant in the East Village.

I am a big fan of craft cocktails. I want to walk into a bar and tell the bartender my laundry list (not too sweet, not too bitter, I like fruity and no rum) and let them take it from there. At Angel Share they get the concept of omakase* bartending, (maybe because they’re Japanese bartenders?). Problem with ordering this way is that it’s hard to remember what you’ve been served.  I think this was a lychee slushy.

One of my NYC must-do’s was to walk over the Brooklyn bridge.  I was pretty snap-happy the entire way across and got some nice photos.  Here’s my favorite.

I wonder how much better this photo would be if I had a wide-angle lens?

Although we tried to go to Grimaldi’s pizza in Brooklyn, (on recommendation) the line up was way too crazy.  Instead, we hopped on the train that took us to the legendary Katz’s Delicatessen.

My father-in-law has taught me how to order this sandwich properly. “Pastrami, not lean, hand shaven with half done pickles”.

There were so many places we enjoyed and this post could go on a lot longer.  One other place that’s worth mentioning that we had a great time at, (but no photos) was our evening at Blue Smoke/Jazz Standard.  Delicious bbq, fantastic live jazz, how can you go wrong with that combination?

Even before I leave for this trip I know that once again, my list is too long and there’s no way I’ll be able to conquer everything. People keep adding things to my list and now I’m in the process of at least mapping out all of my options, so I’ll never be in the situation of not being able to eat well.  Ha ha, a declaration of this sort, in a time I’m trying to convince others that I can lead an unplanned life.  We’ll see I guess, all I know is I can’t wait!  More NYC posts to follow soon…

*Japanese lesson for the day – OMAKASE: “It’s up to you” Used in Japanese restaurants to mean that you’re leaving it in the chef’s hands.

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