Friends in other cities who welcome you into their home for the weekend and even let you sleep in their bed while they take the couch are awesome. Even more awesome, however, are friends who welcome you into their home and have roommates who decide to have dinner parties where they make delicious homemade seafood paella. Now that’s hospitality.
Last weekend, Flaneur and I went to Boston and stayed with my friend Holly in Cambridge, where she lives with her lovely, paella making extraordinaire roommate, Tania. She made a huge pan full of delicious paella, brimming with clams and juicy pink shrimp. And because of Flaneur’s shelfish allergies, she even set aside a special shrimpless portion for him.
Holly and Tania, if you’re reading this, thanks again for a great weekend and for being the bests hosts. If you want to visit the Big Apple any time, come on over! I’ll even take the couch.
Boston Cream Puff
I’m not really sure how authentic Boston cream puffs are or if they’re even a very “Boston” thing to eat or if Mike’s Pastry, in the city’s North End (i.e. Little Italy), is more than just another touristy place to go for sweets like cream puffs and cannoli. But you know what? I don’t really care!
When a soft, doughy pastry is filled with custard and covered in chocolate, what else do you need to know aside from when can I have one?
During my recent and first-time visit to Boston, I made a stop at Mike’s Pastry and decided that a Boston cream puff in Boston just felt like the right thing to do. And you know what? I was right. That cream puff, whether it was traditional or not, touristy or local, was plain ol’ simple delicious. The pastry-custard-chocolate combo is always an easy choice for me, and at least for one afternoon, that’s all I needed to know.
One bite in and it hit me. Pure, unadulterated joy. My whole body tensed up, my eyes squeezed shut, and inside my boots, my toes curled. It took everything in me not to slam my open palm down on the table over and over, screaming “Yes! Yes! Yeeeesss!”
Dinner at The Spotted Pig was a series of foodgasms, one right after the other. One had barely subsided when oh, wait, maybe, ohmygodohmygodohmygod BAM! Another one.
Sage and anchovy crisps
Fraise Sauvage at Employees Only
I’d heard lots of good things about Employees Only, the Art Deco-ish, non-descript-from-the-outside bar in the West Village but it wasn’t until out-of-town guests came to stay with us that I decided we should check it out. (I like to impress visitors with cool stuff so they don’t dwell on the fact that I live in a glorified matchbox.)
The ambiance was cozy and intimate, with that cooler-than-thou hint of exclusivity that pervades so many places in this neighborhood, but it was the Fraise Sauvage, French or something for “delicious and best smelling cocktail in the world,” that really sold me on the place.
Like almost everything else in New York, the drink was about three times the price I’d pay in a normal city, but then again, no one moves to New York looking for normalcy, now do they? Plymouth Gin shaken with wild strawberries and Tahitian Vanilla, topped off with Zardetto prosecco di Conegliano Brut. Fizzy, sweet, tart and with a bold taste and bright aroma of juicy, fresh wild strawberries.
On top of everything, EO is literally two blocks from my apartment. Looks like this one’s getting added to the out-of-town-guests itinerary. (And to my personal delicious drinks itinerary.)
Have I mentioned before what a great boyfriend I have? Cause if not, you should know, he’s pretty fantastic. Sure, he leaves his dirty breakfast dishes in the sink and insists on keeping me up to date on his every bowel movement, but aside from that, he’s a pretty good catch.
Today, on the national day of red roses, heart shaped boxes of chocolate and bad poetry in overpriced greeting cards, he skipped all of that, knowing good and well that I didn’t want any of it, and instead got me something infinitely better and way more thoughtful: doughnuts.
You keep your heart shaped boxes. Let me have the doughnuts...
Not just any doughnuts, though. Oh no no! These were doughnuts from the just-opened-today Chelsea location of Doughnut Plant. But because the ol’ 9-to-5er (or should I say 6er?) stood in the way of me being there for their opening day, my darling beau went instead, braved the lines, and had doughnuts waiting for me when I got home.
He doesn’t remember what they were (hey, I didn’t say he was perfect) but based on what I’ve read about the shop’s first day in Chelsea, I think what we ate were the glazed passion fruit doughnut and the oatmeal doughnut. The passion fruit was tangy and sweet, like biting into a perfectly ripe, juicy fresh fruit, while the oatmeal one was spongy, soft and moist, with a creamy, brown sugar flavor and little toasted bits of oatmeal on top.
Sweet company and sweet eats, everything I ask for out of a good Valentine’s Day.
I can count the foods I don’t like on one hand: lentil soup, cow’s tongue, boiled peanuts and meatloaf. Try as I might, I just can’t come around to these. Their smell, texture, taste. Just none of it. Which is why yesterday when the beau and I stood in front of the menu at Fredi Sandwich Bar near Union Square and he ordered a meatloaf sandwich, I turned with a face of disgust, bordering on betrayal.
“Meatloaf?” I groaned. “Really? Ick. Why’d you order that?”
But when our sandwiches came out, my three cheese-bacon-and-plum-tomato-on-focaccia next to his fat meatloaf on ciabatta, I couldn’t help it. I had to try it. It just looked so good.
Seeing meatloaf in a whole new and delicious light
So putting my meatloaf prejudice aside, I bit into half off the warm bread and one of the most delicious sandwiches I’ve had in recent memory. Sensory overload in the best way. Meatloaf like I’d never experienced it before. Soft, flavorful meat, so juicy it had runaway drops streaking through my fingers and down my arms. This was not the grayish brown loaf of goopy, gravy covered, dry meat I’d seen in the past. This was something wholly different. Sure, the sharp tang of the cheddar, the slight bite of spicy mustard and roasted peppers and onions on that warm, doughy and slightly crunchy bread helped make this delicious, but really the star of the sandwich, was far and away the meatloaf. Continue reading
Birthdays always call for cakes!
Even though I’m neither Chinese nor due for a birthday for another seven or so months, I celebrated both the Chinese New Year and my birthday yesterday. Well, not technically just my birthday. I celebrated your birthday too. Mine and yours and the rest of humanity’s because yesterday was the Human Birthday, or the seventh day of the first month of the Chinese calendar (Chinese New Year having been last week), when according to Chinese customs, it’s everyone’s birthday!
In case you’re wondering how or why I know all of this, it’s because one of my coworkers is Chinese. When on the Chinese New Year he told us about our upcoming collective birthday, we decided the only logical thing to do was have an office birthday party, complete with a birthday cake, which one of our other coworkers was so awesome as to get from Momofuku Milk Bar. (My company takes birthdays pretty seriously, but birthday cakes even more so.) Continue reading
The end of NYC Restaurant Week is bittersweet for me. On the one hand, I’ve had lots of really great food over the past two weeks and tried lots of new dishes and new restaurants. On the other hand, all this eating out is making me feel like an absolute cow. I’ve been avoiding the scale at the gym like it’s an old boyfriend. I walk into the locker room and immediately look down, as if I make eye contact, I’ll be forced to go over and say hello. And then everything will get awkward and uncomfortable.
Spiced chicken samosas with cilantro yogurt
But of the different lunches and dinners I’ve had over the last couple of weeks, my favorite was at Spice Market, the massive Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant in the Meatpacking District. With two choices for each of the four courses offered, Flaneur and I successfully managed to get everything that was on the southeast asian inspired restaurant’s RW menu.
But instead of writing about everything and making this an obscenely long post, I’ll tell you this much: the chicken samosas were delicious, and probably my favorite savory item. The slaw was good but my least favorite, and Flaneur thought it was way too spicy (although he’s a weeny about spicy food so take that for what it’s worth). The desserts were both fantastic and if they sold the ginger ice cream by the gallons, I would totally keep my fridge stocked. Everything was beautifully presented, with each plate artfully designed to be just as appealing to the eye as it was to the tongue. The colors, like the flavors, were vibrant, bright and bold. Beautiful and delicious? A meal after my own heart. Continue reading
I crave sweets all. The. TIME. Always. Not kidding. You could wake me up in the middle of the night and stick a doughnut in my face, and I wouldn’t turn it down.
“Huh? What is this?” I woud say groggily, at least one of my eyes still closed. “Oh. A doughnut? Yea ok, gimme.” And then I would roll over.
But my boyfriend? He doesn’t have that same passion for sweets. He’s one of those people that is content with eating one Oreo. One of those that can actually stop after just a few M&Ms. One of those whose face puckers when he’s had too much ice cream or pie or frosting or sugar in general.
But if there’s one sweet treat I can count on to make his eyes sparkle, it’s sachertorte. (I know, right? Sachertorte. Way to be difficult… and European.) Sachertorte, FYI, is a Viennese chocolate cake layered with apricot jelly, and annoyingly enough, not found as easily as say, red velvet cake or fudge brownies. Continue reading
Yes, the hilly countrysides were pretty, and all the renaissance masterpieces were nice, but really, sometimes it’s the simplest things about living in Italy that I miss the most, like panini with just prosciutto and cheese. No condiments, no garnishes, no frills. Bread, meat, cheese. That’s it.
And as if the universe heard my internal longing (or perhaps my stomach growling) I found the place to get just that, bread, meat, and cheese, sandwiched together into blissful deliciousness.
Firenze: proscitto di Parma and mozzarella
Il Cantuccio, in the West Village and just a few blocks from my apartment, is like my boyfriend, a transplant from Tuscany, though not precisely Florence and instead nearby Prato. And what I found out when I went there this weekend, is that it’s the perfect place to get a neighborhood fix for the kind of panini I used to get in Florence. Continue reading