Friday, May 29, 2015

Gramercy Tavern

When Patrick back at Chez Panisse heard that I was going to New York, he encouraged me to eat at Gramercy Tavern. He had cooked there a couple years ago and had me email Howard, the chef de cuisine, and Michael Anthony, the executive chef, to let them know in advance that I wanted to come in. Good advice.

When we arrived, they had two questions for us. The first was whether any of us had any dietary restrictions. The second was a harbinger of what was to come: “do you have any time constraints this evening?” 

We ordered a few things from the menu, but our first round of plates did not resemble anything we had expected. This was not a mistake. Just extra thanks to Patrick.

Here are pictures of just a few of the things we ate that evening. Everything was splendid.

Full to the gills, we ordered two desserts to share. We didn’t think we could each handle our own. We weren’t given a choice, though. Each of us got a dessert. We weren’t upset. They were all stunning. Here’s one of them:

I felt like my stomach was about to explode

Before I knew what was going on the entire kitchen staff crowded to the front and then I was shoved into the middle of them for a picture. I felt pretty silly.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Akshay, Bryant Park, Central Park

I had a lazy morning because I was waiting around to meet up later with Akshay. I say lazy, but I had a bunch of emails about my upcoming trip to deal with.

We spent time hanging out in Bryant Park. You’d almost think it were Paris:

Bryant Park, Le Pain Quotidien and real live Frenchmen playing pétanque
This is Akshay, fitting right in, drinking coffee:

After spending time with Akshay, I moseyed on to explore Central Park more thoroughly.

From there I walked back to Gabe’s to get ready for dinner at The Gramercy Tavern.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mà Pêche, Times Square and Graffiti

I did lots of things today. One thing I did not do, though, was eat breakfast.

This is very unusual for me, but I figured I should save room for lunch at David Chang’s Mà Pêche, which is one of the Momofuku restaurants.

This is what I ordered:

Lamb bacon salad with watercress, rhubarb, and goat cheese

And then this came out of nowhere:

Pork bun with hoisin, cucumber, and scallion

And then this came out, with a “this is from the chef”

Soft shell crab buns with ginger scallion mayo, Calabrian chili and cilantro  
This has been a theme all week. I ask if I can see the kitchen—I explain why I’m interested and what I’ve been doing this last year—and then magic happens for the rest of my meal. And then I get to see the kitchen!

After lunch, I checked out the nearby Argosy rare bookstore. Then I walked home via Times Square:

Times Square
Times Square is pretty much representative of what I consider the worst characteristics of New York and why I don’t think I could ever live here (as much as I have loved visiting).

That evening I walked to Jehangir Mehta’s Graffiti to meet Gabe and Emily for dinner. Mehta was born in Bombay, but cooked for years in French restaurants. Graffiti is his first restaurant and he describes it as French/American cuisine that uses Asian ingredients. It’s a menu of small plates meant to be shared, like this one: 

Braised pork buns with apricot chutney
Everything was tasty, but I think we were all a little underwhelmed. Gabe and I made guacamole later that evening. Small plates of food are fun because you get to taste many different things, but our hunger wasn’t really sated. I imagine my appetite is particularly enormous today because I did over 6 miles on foot today. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Les Halles, The High Line and The Spotted Pig

I’ve wanted to check out Les Halles Brasserie for a long time. Today I did.

Les Halles Park Avenue

Not especially hungry, I just had a couple appetizers:

snails roasted in garlic butter

Gratinée des Halles:
classic onion soup

Sated, I headed back to Gabe’s to plan out the rest of my day. He had suggested that I go see The High Line Park, which I did. It’s a 1.5 mile section of disused elevated railroad in Manhattan that has been repurposed into a walking path with verdure and some nifty (in my opinion) vaguely Japanese architectural features. It was started in 2006, opened in 2009, and completed in 2014.

The High Line

If I have two proven talents, it’s finding unused BART cards on the ground (seriously: I haven’t paid for a BART ticket in years) and running into people I know in the most unusual places all over the world. It happens often.

Today I ran into Debra, mother of Max, my beloved college roommate.

Debra’s friend, tickled by how surprised we both looked, immediately snapped a picture

Then she took a picture to send Max.
Max was pretty surprised too!

Then my stomach started to speak up. Fortunately I near The Spotted Pig. It’s April Bloomfield’s first restaurant and also considered New York’s first gastropub. Before coming here, and specializing in collecting Michelin stars and James Beard awards, she spent a summer cooking at Chez Panisse. Her restaurant is known for its hamburger:

Chargrilled Burger
with Roquefort Cheese and Shoestring Fries

The shoestring fries were especially yummy: they were garlicky and had fried rosemary sprinkled throughout them.

I’m not sure if I’m going to get my money’s worth worth out of my week-long Metro pass: I’ve been walking everywhere. I really hate public transportation and I really love walking. I walked about 11 miles today.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Chinatown, Central Park, and Shake Shack

Still full from our excessive eating yesterday, we skipped breakfast and had an early lunch of dim sum in Chinatown.

From there, we went to Central Park, napped on some grass for a while, and walked around. This is the only picture I shot today:

View from the steps of Kerbs Boathouse:
Conservatory Water in Central Park E.B. White’s boat scene in Stuart Little took place here

We checked out Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack for dinner. I was impressed.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

New York Arrival

I flew out of Oakland Saturday evening after a dinner with my parents, my cousins and their kids, and my grandmother.

I arrived at 6 in the morning on Sunday. Gabe and Emily knew exactly what to do with with me: we all napped for a bit and then we walked a couple miles to Prune for brunch.

I had the Monte Cristo:

The Monte Cristo:
a triple-decker ham, turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich, custard-style battered and deep fried

Then we went back to their place and lounged for a while on their roof:

Well rested, we walked to La Loteria for tacos.

Tacos de chicharrón de puerco:
Pan-fried pork belly in chile pasilla, cotija cheese, guacamole, mango pico de gallo pickled onions
From there we walked to Big Gay Ice Cream. It’s in a building next to this:

Frankly, I was so full that I found this more exciting than the idea of eating ice cream (which was, nevertheless, quite good)!

Well I never thought I’d be a blogger…

When they found out that I was moving to Italy, quite a few people asked me how I was going to keep them updated on what I was doing.

I never thought I’d be doing this, but here’s my very first blog!