Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NYC - Food and Drink, Part 1

As the time between my trip to New York and the present passes, it's nice to have so many pictures to remind me of the great time I had. And one of the strongest memory inducers is taste. As I look back on so many pictures of food, it transports me right back to that seat in front of my plate, seeing, smelling, tasting the dish for the first time.

These are some of my culinary adventures from my first day in NYC.

Fiat Cafe
Fiat Cafe on Urbanspoon

Literally the first place I went in NYC. I got off the redeye at 6 a.m. and worked my way through the subway system and to my hostel early that morning. After a brief respite in my room, I tapped in "breakfast" into my phone and Foursquare suggested Fiat Cafe. I recognized it from some of previous research so I went for it.

I found it down on Mott Street, which was undergoing some construction. It was a short walk from the hostel but I wasn't used to the heat and I was already dripping with sweat when I got inside. The super sweet and very European hostess offered to sit me down right underneath a fan to help me cool me down. I couldn't have been more appreciative.

The whole place had European flair and was decked out with plenty of Fiat memorabilia. Reading some of the lunch and dinner options and the wine list almost made me regret coming in for breakfast. But my plate of Eggs Benedict totally made up for it.

Wo Hop
Wo Hop on Urbanspoon

The descriptions I've heard about Wo Hop would make me compare it to a local place like Frontier. Not for its similarity in food options, but for it's reputation as a late-night dive. It's a place to go fill up at 3 or 4 a.m. after a night on the town.

Instead a late-night adventure, I chose to go for lunch on my first day in NYC. Like Fiat Cafe, Wo Hop is also on Mott Street but further south, as Little Italy gives way to Chinatown.

Even though I went in the middle of the day, there's no telling what time it is as you head downstairs into the dining area. The walls are plastered with decorations and the place was packed. Since it's so small and seating is limited, sharing tables is encouraged. I ended up seated with a NYPD officer.

I glanced over the menu. I'm still trying to learn the ropes when it comes to Asian cuisine. I spotted something I knew I've enjoyed before and ordered the Roast Pork Chow Fun.

What I received was a heaping portion of yum. It may have been a ton of noodles, but I cleaned off my entire plate.

Pearl & Ash
Pearl & Ash on Urbanspoon

One of the deciding factors in my choice to stay the The Bowery House was the restaurant housed on the first floor. The pictures online made Pearl & Ash look fun and sophisticated and the menu verged on the exotic. Lucky for me, the in-person experienced matched up with what I had seen online.

I started off with a couple of pre-dinner drinks. P&A doesn't have a liquor license so they serve an interesting assortment of beer and wine cocktail creations. If memory serves me right, I ordered a "News for Lulu" with a Lillet Rose base. I also had a rather tasty apple-based beer. To help soften the alcohol's effect, I ordered a simple pairing of bread and chicken butter.

I know chicken butter sounds like the oddest thing but on bread it is a thing of beauty.

At this point I took a break to take advantage of the free admission at the New Museum. But after, I returned to P&A for a proper dinner.

The menu at P&A features small plates, allowing you to choose a couple or a few depending on your appetite. I opted for two savory plates and dessert.

To start, I went for the octopus plate. I had seen it online and had been thinking about it ever since. It came with a sunflower seed paste and shiso. Some may think it looks strange but I think it makes a pretty plating and even tastier eats.

The second dish I tried was the lamb plate. It came with lamb belly and heart, kohlrabi, and a bit of hazelnut crumble. I'll admit that I was intentionally ordering food outside of my comfort zone but this one really surprised me with just how dang good it was. The texture of the meat was soft and buttery which made pairing it with the slightest crunch of hazelnut perfection in my mouth.

For dessert I opted for the Coffee Parfait and Cake. Before you go on assuming that I was ordering a boring slice of cake, think again.

The round donut shapes are actually rings of sweet coffee parfait and the small rounds of dense lemon cake remind me of donut holes. With this dish, as with the others, the two items play perfectly together. The soft sweet parfait makes a perfect bite when shared with a tart piece of cake. Again, perfection.

P&A really might go down as my favorite meal in NYC. But don't worry, I have other culinary tales to tell, including my experience with NYC food trucks.

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