Many people ask me, why New York or Chicago? My trips almost always revolve around food. Like many cities in North America (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Vancouver), they are made up of people from all over the world. A melting pot of cuisines. For me, nothing connects a person to another better than sharing a meal. I am truly my happiest enjoying a meal, you gain a sense of the society that immediately surrounds you, and an appreciation of all that is good in this world – our diversity. These cities provide all of this, in abundance.
This past weekend I spent my time in New York. In preparation for my trip I had reduced my ever growing food and wine notebook to a short list.
Food & Wine:
Bar Boulud (UWS): I had pre-arranged to attend Michael Madrigale’s (Chef Sommelier, Bar Boulud) first Tasting Table of the year; Bordeaux Wines. We had the pleasure of tastings from 6 different estates (both red and white, all ‘08’s): Château Grand Mayne, Château Fortet, Château Poujeaux, Château Prieure-Lichine, Château L’Arrivet Haut-Brion, and Château de Fieuzal. I had some favorites, I was surprised by a few, and some perhaps I need to try again. A very enjoyable experience all around.
BXL East (Midtown): I have a small love for this place; Belgium at heart, with a fantastic yet manageable list of European beers, mussels in abundance, and pommes frites with mayonnaise.
Ciano (Flatiron District): This restaurant caught my eye early on as the owners had acquired the services of John Slover, the Sommelier once at Bar Henry and one of the first in town (to my knowledge) that started the new trend of half bottle service. He is also great to work with as a client; I can ask questions about the wine and not feel pressured or confused. He suggested two Italian wines that he had half bottles or glasses of that night. The half bottle and BTG programs are great for someone like me: either dining alone and/or would like to try varieties that perhaps a bottle price is more than the wallet can provide. I knew I would not be able to finish everything I ordered, however, there were many things I wanted to taste: mixed olives (I love olives and really would make a meal out of them if allowed), crostini topped with Dungeness crab (suggested by one of the bartenders), veal meatballs with polenta, and ricotta cavatelli with duck sausage and swiss chard. Planning ahead in my mind, knowing that the following morning, I would be at LGA waiting for my flight drinking Au Bon Pain “coffee”, I ordered the biscotti for the morning. In all of this I had several interesting conversations with other patrons, and staff. It was truly a very pleasant and stimulating night for me.
Ess A Bagel (Midtown): I love this place for breakfast, perfect everything bagel (sometimes I do just cream cheese, other days it’s the egg and cheese sandwich). For me, this is my favorite bagel place.
John Dory Oyster Bar (Chelsea): This is a very “hip” place to be (it’s located inside the Ace Hotel), however, you will see all sorts eating here. I sat next to two gentlemen, (I am estimating) one in his late 70’s early 80’s, and one in his late 40’s early 50’s. They too had read Sam Sifton’s NYT review, and in fact had it with them for reference while ordering. Over our late lunch that we shared at the bar, we had several interesting conversations; including some interesting facts about 100lb+ fish tanks that flank over head the bar. The oyster pan roast is divine, however I recommend sharing it. I had no trouble finding a spot at the bar; however, it was well past the lunch crowd. The bartender was also kind enough to bring me a cappuccino from Stumptown, which was excellent.
Surround these meals (along with a few from the vast selection of food trucks), with time at the Met, and walking the snow lined streets of Manhattan and you have a very pleasant, very rewarding time amongst an immense collection of cultures. I have also added to my notebook for next time.