Wanted to give the readers a look into vacationing “White style”. Warning, we pretty much eat like pigs and walk a 1000 miles. For our 10th anniversary, Jennifer and I took a trip to Manhattan. As “luck” would have it, we were staying right across the street from Eataly. I can’t even describe how cool this place truly is…check out the link, drop in if you are ever in Manhattan for a quick snack and to take in the scenery. We dropped in thrice for charcuterie, cheeses, wines etc over our 3 1/2 day stay.
Second stop, Day one: Even better than that was the surprise wine tasting that some friends had arranged at a winery in all places but Brooklyn…Red Hook Winery. They are doing some really cool stuff with local grapes. The coolest thing they have going is skin-fermented whites. These are also known as “orange wines”. These are white wines that are treated like reds. These are nothing like any wines you will typically encounter they are white wines with tannins…so they are very floral and have the mouth feel of a Cabernet. Truly wonderful! Unfortunately, hurricane Sandy decimated the winery! Aaarggh! They are asking folks to order as much of their wine in stock so they might have a chance to rebuild.
Later that evening, had an over the top meal at Casa Mono. This is the terrific Spanish restaurant created by Andy Nusser. If you’ve read Bill Buford’s book “Heat“, which I highly recommend, the opening of Casa Mono is detailed. Afterwards, the bloated couple retired to their hotel room to suffer.
Day 2: Morning coffee at Starbucks (sorry, but they are on every corner in Manhattan and the coffee is superb). Then off to Chelsea Market. Cool place, would go there if I lived there, but not really anything I would recommend as a “tourist attraction”.
Lunch was at ABC Kitchen. Didn’t know much about the place other than it is one of many in the Jean-Georges empire. Later found it was the 2011 James Beard Best New Restaurant. It’s a place that touts local/organic etc and was really fantastic. Currently, it is a real hot spot from brunch. We had tuna sashimi marinated in ginger and mint, roasted beets with housemade yogurt, and a “veggie burger”. The beets were otherworldly. Simple roasted beets (3 to 4 varieties), served over Greek style yogurt, adorned with toasted pine nuts, some sort of greens (?dandelion), chervil, and a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar. I’ve replicated this dish with considerable success at least 4 times since returning from this trip…mouth watering now.
Next, trotted down to the WTC memorial. Place was packed, but the on-line ticketing with appointment times made for a surprisingly quick entry. The experience? Sobering (probably needed that anyways). Tears shed. Should visit next time in Manhattan. Once the museum opens, will probably have to take a Prozac before going.
Next stop, back to Eataly for more of the same.
Dinner was picked by our pals and was at “Forge“. Chef Marc Forgione’s place in lower Manhattan. Yes Forgione is the mohawk having iron-chef, but the man can cook! We had the tasting menu and everything was just phenomenal. Highlights were the Kampachi Tartare where we were instructed to eat a Sechuan “Button” (peppercorn) at the beginning of the meal. The peppercorn wasn’t particularly spicy, but was floral and left an indescribable “tingling” sensation throughout the mouth. Was wonderful, need-to-track-some-of-these-guys-down. Other highlight that will be replicated as soon as I find some reasonable lobsters was the chili lobster with Texas toast. If you aren’t feeling it, check a load of this video.
Afterwards, the bloated couple went home to crash…
Final day: Starbucks, followed by walk through Central Park (a truly amazing place); lunch at Bouchon Bakery in the Time-Warner Center. Went light with Keller’s chicken soup. Tastiest broth/stock you can imagine. So dark that it looks like veal stock. Just great with the herbed dumplings. (Made this twice since I got home as well).
Next we ambled down to Little Italy where we stumbled upon the Feast of San Gennaro. This was an all out Italian street festival/blowout. Entire Little Italy was shut down, all streets packed with food carts, singers, musicians, and WAY TOO MANY PEOPLE. Luckily we were able to duck into Lombardi’s which claims to be the first pizzeria in the US. We had a Margerita from their wonderfully old coal oven.
Finally, we creeped our way to along the East Village to Momofuku noodle bar. It is exactly what it says it is. Not fine dining, but worth the trip. Wouldn’t make it a destination restaurant, would try from Ssam Bar or Ko for that, but you definitely get David Chang’s fascination and love of Ramen. Of course we had the pork buns, some Ramen, and too much Saki.
By that point in the day (mind you it was only at 7PM and we were in Manhattan). We had eaten, drank, and walked ourselves almost to death. We crept back to the hotel with plans to go out for a nightcap (perhaps at Eataly), but were asleep by 745. 🙂
Other lessons learned: 1) wear comfortable shoes; I tossed the Nike’s I was wearing and bought some Adidas which seem to fit my flat feet better b/c I was in immense pain. Jen and I are tireless walkers when we go on vacation. We estimated that we walked between 25 and 30 miles over the 3 days and that crushed our nightlife, so 2) try and avoid over-walking, take the subway when possible or get a private car (as our friends were doing) using Uber. Using an iphone app, the cars will find you using GPS and your credit card is charged automatically. I have non idea how much this costs, but came in handy when we all got “lost” in lower Manhattan after the Forge dinner.