Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I ate my way through New York and survived...barely.

I'm baaaack!  It's hard to believe that my two week trip (via boring Dallas for two nights) is already over.  Sigh.

We packed so much into every moment that's it hard to remember what we got up to each day. I managed to tick quite a few places off my "To Eat List", but a gal only has so much stomach room and about 7 days into the trip I was full to bursting point. Not that I stopped eating mind you - I just undid the button on my jeans and soldiered on.  When my stomach got too big for jeans I ditched them and donned my faithful eating dress - no pesky waistband to get in the way.

I think that you'd have to be pretty unlucky to have a bad meal in New York and nearly everything we stuffed into our already bulging tummies was a winner.  That said the cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery were a MAJOR disappointment - barely cooked so they were uber soggy and WAY to much sickly icing. This really surprised me as I'd be there before and fell in love with their Red Velvet Cupcake (of which they had none of in this bakery this trip - like huh)?  To satisfy my Red Velvet Cupcake craving I grabbed one from a Starbucks at the Staten Island Ferry terminal - OMG, it was AMAZING!

Not so good cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery...blergh
Seriously good Red Velvet from Starbucks
We also visited Gray's Papaya - you know the legendary hot dog joint in Greenwich Village where Carrie Bradshaw stops and has a dog after her book launch party. I have to tell you, the hotdogs from the street vendors blew Gray's Papaya out of the water...Gray's Papaya is so old and dingy I was dubious about eating from their store.

Damn good hot dog from the street vendor at Battery Park
Not so good hotdog from Gray's Papaya
We started off most mornings in (what I think is) a typical NYC fashion...a good old bagel with cream cheese. I LOVE onion bagels and you can get them everywhere in New York so I was one happy camper I can tell you.

I had quite a few foodie highlights on my trip...a lot of highlights actually.  It's a bit sad that the first time I got really excited about being in The Big Apple ...really excited...was when we headed to Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.  OMG the cheeseburger from Shake Shack was probably the best burger of my life...really. Juicy meat patty, soft bread roll. Amazing!  I'm not going to think too much about this burger now that I'm home as it's just going to make me sad that I'm a 20 hour flight away.

One morning we had breakfast at Balthazar. I hadn't actually put this place on my wishlist as I just though there was no way we'd get a table at this legendary NY French Bistro, so why bother. We literally stumbled across the restaurant whilst out wandering one morning and scored a table in the corner of this vast and beautifully shabby dining room.

My egg with toast soldiers at Balthazar...simple but good.
The iconic Balthazar...love!

 Inside the dinning room - love again.
Of course a trip to NYC wouldn't be a trip to NYC without a trip to one of the Momofuku eateries. We had lunch at SSAM one day followed by a stroll across the road to dessert at the Momofuku Milk Bar where I got to try their legendary Crack Pie and their Compost Cookie (filled with chips, pretzels, coffee grounds and stuff - better than it sounds, trust me). Both were delectable though the Crack Pie was uber sweet and nearly defeated me...nearly.  The BBQ Pork Buns at SSAM were as good as all the hype makes them out to be, but what they do with duck at SSAM will blow your mind (and your waistline)! This was not a day to be wearing jeans like I stupidly did.

Pulled Duck Bun with crispy duck skin - enough said really.

Broccoli Salad...with crispy duck skin crumble. OMG - totally genius.
Rotisserie Duck over rice with pancakes, lettuce etc - wrap it all up and nom it down.
BBQ Pork Bun from Momofuku...get in my belly!
Crack Pie from Momofuku Milk Bar - this was so sweet I'm getting a toothache just looking at the photo.
Our hotel was quite near Korea Town - a teeny tiny area of Korean Restaurants. One night we ventured off for KFC (that's Korean Fried Chicken folks) at KyoChon.  When I read about this place on another blog I actually thought it would be some dingy hole in the wall place serving buckets of fried Koren chook - how wrong I was. KyoChon is sleek and modern, fitted out with shinny white furniture and bank of TV screens playing K-Pop, or J-Pop, or some type of Pop that I didn't understand a word of, but who cares as the chook was FABULOUS! 

Hello lover!
KyoChon - eat your chook and have a boogie while you do it.
Of course it goes without saying that we ate quite a bit of "pie" (aka Pizza) whilst we in New York.  

I started off my pizza eating frenzy with a piece of Pepperoni from a random little place in Brooklyn - the pie was as big as my head, floppy, cheesy, oily (from the Pepperoni) and oh so good! Next was a Neapolitan pie from the legendary Grimaldis in Brooklyn - one of the few remaining stores that cooks their pizza using the traditional coal oven method.  I also tried Sicilian pizza from another random pizza shop over near Coney Island somewhere...not my favourite style of pizza as the base is quite thick like a Foccacia.  And last but not least was a visit to Artichokes in Chelsea for a piece of their (now) famous Artichoke Pizza - this was so good (super cheesy and creamy topping), but we could barely eat one piece each as we'd just finished a picnic on the Highline Park. This was one occasion where my lazy tummy really let me down!

Pepperoni Pizza - drool
Neapolitan Pizza from Grimaldi's in Brooklyn
Sicilian Pizza = meh.
Artichoke Pizza from...Artichokes
Another random find was a place I'd read about on someones blog months ago - Tacombi in NoLiTa...two dudes cooking AWESOME tacos.  In a kombi van inside an old mechanic's garage.  Not only was this place awesome for the pure novelty factor that my food was being cooking inside a Kombi, but the tacos were FREAKING amazing. I'm sad I only ate two tacos - I was saving myself for a bagel down the road at Russ and Daughters (which was SO crowded we could barely get in the door, let alone order food).

Only in New York...unfortunately for us.
Pork taco (front) and Crispy Fish Taco (back) - seriously good. Seriously!
Good luck getting served at Russ and Daughters. We gave up after about 20 minutes...shame.
After our failed attempt at getting a bagel from Russ and Daughters we ducked down the road to the famous Katz Deli and thought we'd try our bagel luck there.  When we saw that the price of their smoked salmon with cream cheese bagel was $12.00!!!! we aborted mission. The place looked a little...dirty too so no great loss I think.

So attempt number three at getting something to eat in the Lower East Side was met with jubilant success as the quirky - yet delicious - The Pickle Guys. This shop has VATS of pickles...pickled everything really - olives, cucumbers, turnips (like you get at El Jannahs), capsicum etc.  We bought some giant sour pickles - mind blowingly good!

Lucky for us there was some GREAT Jewish Food at the 2nd Street Deli which was right near our hotel. We went there one night (another totally random find) for a light dinner after our epic Momofuku pig out. I tried a Knish (something you see everywhere in NYC - in delis and sold in hotdog carts) which is a fried (and totally delicious) potato cake. As I was suffering from the most epic cold I've ever had I decided to indulge in a bowl of Matzo Ball Soup (also know as "Jewish penicillin"). It didn't cure me but it was lovely.  At the end of the meal we were brought a Chocolate Soda - totally weird, but kinda nice too.

Matzo Ball Soup - nice, but I think my sister's is better!
Chocolate Soda - as Matt Preston would say "yum yuck"...but mostly yum
New York also has some great "green markets" - what we'd call Farmer's Markets here. We stumbled across one at Union Square that was HUGE and totally fabulous.  If I lived in NYC I'd definitely be coming here for my weekly shop. We also visited the market at Grand Central Station to stock up on goodies for our picnic on The Highline Park.  This market felt quite "posh" and reminded me a bit of the David Jones food hall.

Outdoor "green market" at Union Square - this was GREAT!
Fancy indoor market at Grand Central Station - if only our Central Station had something like this

On our last night in New York we ventured to a local restaurant, Penelope's that is a big hit in the area.  It serves "homestyle" food in a cute little dinner/bakery/milkbar setting. The food was SO great, and I loved the atmosphere so much that we went back the next day for brunch - it was a great place for "our last meal" in NYC.

Spinach Pie - damn good.
We also went to a few GREAT places that were just too dark to take photos in - Ruby Foo's at Time Square is a great modern Asian restaurant - it's a bit fancy in its decor, but the food is really good. We also went to Buddakan in Chelsea - similar to Ruby Foo's in the food it serves (and also a bit similar to Momofuku too) but WAY more cool and hip.  Buddakan had an amazing dining room that reminded me a bit of Rockpool Bar and Grill - but we were sat in one of the darker rooms surrounding the main area (lucky it was so dark as I felt so daggy compared to all the other trendy people there). One of last dinners in NYC was at Gordon Ramsay at The London - a Michelin Star restaurant. The food was great, but the Petit Fours trolley (yes an entire trolley of petit fours) blew my mind - I wanted to wheel that baby right back to my hotel with me.

So there you have it - around New York in ten days with Miss Piggy and her tummy. Burp.

Tacombi at Fonda Nolita on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Shake Shack (Madison Square Park) on Urbanspoon

Magnolia Bakery on Urbanspoon

Gray's Papaya (Greenwich Village) on Urbanspoon

KyoChon on Urbanspoon

2nd Ave Deli on Urbanspoon

Balthazar on Urbanspoon

Artichoke Basille's Pizza & Bar on Urbanspoon

Grimaldi's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Russ & Daughters on Urbanspoon

Katz's Deli on Urbanspoon

The Pickle Guys on Urbanspoon

Penelope on Urbanspoon


  1. *sigh* i miss NY! i really need to get my arse there again. u should have eaten at Katz Deli! one of my fav in NY.

    you did some serious eating in 10 days!! and that momofuku pork bun... man... i could have eaten at least half a dozen on my own!

  2. omg...so much food! and another zomg for momofuku!

  3. holy shoot, that is fcuking AMAZING. how'd you go with mr nikon?

  4. welcome back! been missing the oinks.

    everything looks so good but im gonna say im feenin for pizza now.
    make it an artichoke one!

  5. i must must visit ny some day! im sure u enjoyed urself thoroughly! the cupcake from starbucks looks good! too bad singapore doesn't have it :(

  6. That looks amazing Mel ;) I am sure you were sad coming home but we've missed you! Great shots!

  7. Welcome back! and give me a slice of crack pie now!!

  8. Sorry to hear Magnolia Bakery wasn't up to it's usual game but very glad you had the Shake Shack experience. My Shake Shack burger also rates as the best I've ever had so *snap*!

  9. That sounds like some amazing food adventure!

  10. wow welcome back dear!! Loving your summaries trip post! I am thinking about going here for my honey moon yayy..and that pull duck bun is freaking amazing !!

  11. The peanut galleryOctober 11, 2011 at 9:33 PM

    I'm feeling full just from reading this! Sounds like a fantastic trip!

  12. What a dream come true! You went to the best places, by the sound of it, well done on successfully eating you way thru NYC. And LOL at the 'dirty' places, I'd be the same :P

  13. WOW!!! That is some eating trip!!! Love it all!

    Well done ditching the jeans! All the food looked so seriously delicious, you have inspired me to visit.

    I understand that sad feeling when you realise that you are hours (and a flight) away from a food you are craving :( I am doing the same after my Bali holiday.

  14. Welcome home!

    Oh man, what fun. I love your photos. Matzso ball soup, cup cakes, tacos. I love New York City for so many reasons and the food is one of them.

    Come on Sydney, I know you can do it. You're nearly there, we just need more of the good stuff in the train station food areas....

    SSG xxx

    Sydney Shop Girl blog

  15. Wow! Sounds like you've had an amazing time!!! For me new York is all about the street vendor hot dogs - agree they are the best! Although I often go for their chicken kabobs - charry flavours, yum!
    That duck bun - just looking at it I can safely say I could eat that everyday for the rest of my life!!!
    And pickles? Love them! Great spot! Have you tried chocolate dipped ones?? Seriously, they sell them in the us. Again yum yuck, but this time mostly yuck I think!
    PS Glad to see you back safely and looking forward to more reads from you!

  16. So very jealous! And hungrey now too... Momofuku duck and NY pizza will fill me up just fine ;)

  17. OMG jealous! ;) Glad you had such an wesome trip! Everything looks pretty damn good!
    Naww you make me wanna go...now!

  18. Welcome back :) A shame about the Magnolia cupcakes, but the pulled Duck Bun with crispy duck skin look great.

  19. wow! great pictures mel! well done... it takes alot of effort and dedication to write this... *hats off*...if it was me, i'd start all excited at the beginning with lots of descriptions and come to the end, it will just be "yep, it was good..." welcome back! sorry to hear about the slacko cab driver! but hey, dun let that taint your wonderful holiday!

  20. Glad you had such a wonderful time :) Everything makes me so jealous! I feel like hoping on the next flight to get some US street food & fine dining!
    Don't mind me, will now proceed to lick the screen :9

  21. welcome back! man im dying in jealousy at your post esp the pulled duck and the pork bun!

  22. I want Momofuku pork bun for dinner now! and a hotdog and an artichoke pizza...etc etc. So many of my friends are going to NYC at the moment, it makes me crave another visit. I see you got a NYC manicure too :)

  23. OMG! looks like you really did eat your way through new york! LOOKS SO GOOD. I wish sydney had hot dog and pizza carts like NY. So glad you're back :) And you're just in time for the rest of the crave sydney festival

  24. What a holiday! Looks like you definitely had a delicious one. One of the things I miss about American food is the mexican food, I want fish tacos!

  25. What a fabulous round up of NY! Pleased that you stumbled across some good local places near your hotel.

    Shake Shack - definitely worth the trip alone.

    Katz - it does feel a bit dirty with the saw dust on the floor and their pickles aren't great, but the pastrami sandwich is goooood. It's big enough to share between two.

    Balthazar - what did you think? I went there as it was being hyped as one of NYCs best brunches and I thought it was pretty average.

    Buddakan - another fabulous place. Was the last restaurant I visited in NYC I think. Was this one of my tips?

    Penelope - glad you liked it!

  26. Great recap! Although looking at the photos make me feel a bit sluggish, heavy and bloated... haha! Time to update your wishlist!

  27. So excited to be going to NY soon, your pics are just making me more excited! Glad you had a good time :)

  28. *gasp* No love for Katz?! But their pastrami on rye is legendary and, as Richard Elliott said above, is large enough to share between two. Not familiar with their bagels though, I'm afraid.

    And I am seriously impressed with the duck-iness of Momofuku Ssam!

  29. omg you killed me with the sicilian i NEED some of that. cant get any where i am. ty :-)

  30. OMG the neapolitan pizza looks amazing! I wont those pork buns in my belly too! Sounds like you had an amazing trip :)

  31. Wow that's one big write up. Looks like we went to a few of the same places. I looked into the window of Magnolia Bakery and took one look at the cupcakes and kept walking. Wasn't all that thrilled with Katz's Deli. Didn't think it was dirty like you did, just pretty average

  32. oh wow! i'm absolutely jealous and salivating on everything. i can tell that it was a good fun eating trip!


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