Monday, October 27, 2008

a friday in New York or snack like you mean it! part 1.

I hope it is taking you as long to read these as it is for me to write them. Sorry for the break in the story - but you've had plenty of time to eat, run to the restroom, and freshen up. Now we return to the great New York adventure of 2008.

Friday's first stop? The Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. It's an upscale version of a Utah mall. The picture above is the view from each floor - looking out on Central Park. Nice.

Normally, I would have no desire to visit a mall on a vacation. I'm not much for shopping. But it houses food from Thomas Keller. I need to give you a bit of a background to help you understand just what this means.

Clin and I enjoy reading books about food, chefs, food critics, and food. The first time I heard about Thomas Keller was when I read Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl. Good book. A bunch of food writers mention Thomas Keller in the same sentence as four star, best food, amazing, gastronomical feat, and every other positive adjective you can imagine. They often talk about his restaurant, The French Laundry which is in California.

Then I read Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter, the true story of a waitress working at Per Se, Thomas Keller's restaurant in New York City. Fascinating book. Read it and you will begin to understand our interest.

See the blue behind this tree? It is the door to Per Se. At the Time Warner Center. Not a door that Clin and I will be able to enter. Any. Time. Soon. But I felt privileged to be in its presence.

Thomas Keller views eating, cooking,and food as an artistic, whole body experience. So much so that the meals at Per Se are $275.00 for one dinner. Yep. They offer a different menu every day. It always consists of a 9 course tasting menu, either vegetarian or the chef's choice. Reservations can be made two months from the day, and fill up quickly.

So I stared at the door, lovingly. Stared at the menu. And moved on to Bouchon Bakery, the bakery for Thomas Keller's restaurants. Hoping to get a taste of what hides behind the blue doors, we ordered the following.

From top, clockwise: cherry cream cheese danish for Clin, cherry pistachio brioche for me, macarons for later, and a chocolate almond croissant to share.

Heaven. Heaven. Heaven. Even Clin's danish (of which I am usually not a fan) was wonderful. And if you have never had a Parisian macaron, fix that now. If you see one, just buy. Don't think. Just buy. I always do.

Enough with food, and on to shopping! We are such shoppers. Clothes are all we think about. (Ha! right!) But we made an exception to see what the big brouha-ha was regarding Century 21.

This store is insanity. It is a huge maze of racks and shelves of clothing. And it is crowded. See the image above for our Where's Waldo moment. Can you spot Clin?

Evidently you can get name brand items on the cheap here. I wouldn't know. I had a panic attack. I had many, many panic attacks. There were so many people here. So many floors, racks, small spaces, lines, and people. One would have to search deep to really find what they are looking for. So that means time. And I panicked because we did not have time. And Clin does not have patience for my style of shopping - which entails a lengthy look until I find something worthwhile and cheap. (Cheap for me is probably really, really cheap for you. Or free.)

So we left. My panic left. And on to my most anticipated moment of the trip!!!

Clin arranged for us to participate in the Original Multi-Ethnic Eating Tour of the Lower Eastside from Big Onion Walking Tours.

History. Food. My two favorite things about NY. I love the buildings. I love that within such a small area, one can find where so many important (or unimportant) events in history occurred. All of our travel guides have highly recommended Big Onion Walking Tours. I have always wanted to go on one - but with the high school students in tow, this was never possible.

In a group of 20, we were led by a PhD student from Columbia. Our first nosh was fried plantains. As we ate, our guide pointed out the spot where Boss Tweed died. There is a high school on the spot now that is the most ethnically diverse in New York. And, interesting fact, Walter Mathau graduated from it.

Next stop, The Pickle Guys. See this picture? It's barrels and barrels of pickled goods. Olives, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, celery, carrots, kraut, horseradish, herring, lox, EVERYTHING PICKLED.

A complete dream. I have discovered my future. I should completely open a pickling shop in Utah; using a seasoned mixture of brine, and making the most amazing food. And then my family will live off of pickled delights. I'm giddy with the thought.

We ate complete sour pickles. Mmmm. The best pickles I have ever had in my life.

Halva - we then sampled this sweet Middle Eastern treat. Made from sesame seeds and honey, it was really nice.

Lychee - we headed into part of China town, which is expanding (in case you didn't know). My mission dream was always to come home and open a greenhouse in which I could grow lychees. I have not yet realized this dream, but this little moment was a nice reminder from the past.

Here is Clin eating a dried rose petal. It is the red piece in his hand. It tasted nothing like a rose. We also had dried plums. Ymmmm. I wanted to bring some home - but the store name was in Japanese, and I cannot remember it at all.

On to Little Italy. Parmesan, fresh mozzarella and salami. I'm in love with cheese. I'm in love with Parmesan. I'm in love with Italy.

We ended our walk in the heart of Little Italy, eating small Cannolis. These were better than large cannolis. Why? More crust to the cream. A better percentage overall. And the taste lingered in my mouth the rest of the afternoon. Delightful.

This was the experience of experiences. The next time Clin and I go alone, I plan on booking every single Big Onion Walking tour. Every. One. #1 on my list? Greenwich Village.

Stay tuned for part 2: Will the snacking continue? Will it ever end?

1 comment:

Liz said...

Very fun! Soooo glad you had a good time! It looks like a blast!!! :)