Monday, October 24, 2011

I went to the Big Apple, and I took a big bite.

A few weeks ago, the husband and I spent a long weekend in New York City with Ryan and Niki, some of our dearest friends.  Although our trip was booked months ago, we happened upon an insanely gorgeous weekend at the end of October. It was 80 degrees and sunny the entire time. It was like fall took a hiatus just for our trip. Holla, fall. Thanks for watching our backs on that one.

Although we enjoyed the Statue of Liberty, Cirque du Soleil, and plenty of shopping, one of our primary agenda items was exploring the culinary delights of NYC. And explore we did.

We totally dorked out and took pictures everywhere so I could share our food adventures with the you folks here at Hot Dinner Happy Home. Hope this inspires you to take your own culinary tour, even if it's just around your own town. Good food is there for the eating, people.

The Doughnut Plant
Check them out online:
Dear hipsters, thanks for taking one of my favorite breakfast foods and making it oh-so-cool. We couldn't even handle ourselves at The Doughnut Plant. I wanted to try absolutely everything on the menu, and, between the four of us, we almost did. Although I am admittedly a cake doughnut kind of gal, the Creme Brulee doughnut was something magical. It was creme brulee. And doughnut. At the same time.

Other recommended doughnuts: carrot cake, pistachio (ye gads), vanilla bean, peanut butter & jelly (holy cow), and coconut cream.

Dean and Deluca
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Dean & Deluca is fancy food. It is clean and beautiful and all the produce has been buffed to a high gloss. The people who work there are friendly. They offer you samples of their wares to make sure you're happy with the not-so-cheap cheese you're about to purchase. And you will be happy. Because it's Dean & Deluca.

This is my D & D challenge for you: Ask to sample the ugliest delicious cheese they offer. You will be afraid, your knees make buckle, but stay strong. Just taste it. Savor it. And swoon. Oh, Dean & Deluca.

Street Pizza
Don't pay more than $1.50. Eat it like a taco. 'Nuf said.

Schiller's Liquor Bar
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When you walk into Schiller's, you feel like you won a golden ticket to the coolest party in town. People are giving air kisses, and it's not looking the least bit contrived. They're wearing nerd glasses and party dresses. They're tall and gangly and beautiful and awesome. They can't help it; coolness is their natural state. Their fabulousness exudes from them. Whatever you do, try your best not to feel insecure. They are like dogs who smell fear. Just be cool. Just. Be. Cool.

Order a glass of "decent" red wine and something that comes with french fries.

Make sure your significant other orders the sliders so you can eat one. Share a round of deviled eggs. Didn't know deviled eggs were "in" again? Yeah. Me neither. But I'm so glad the people at Schiller's did.

Rue 57
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Well, hello, Paris! What are you doing in New York? Bustling waitstaff. White linens. Champagne cocktails made for day drinking. We were there for brunch and enjoyed the menu from the breakfast burrito to the omelette Lyon.

The homemade granola is served with Greek yogurt that's been strained to make it extra creamy and then delicately drizzled with honey. I know because I asked.

Molly's Cupcakes
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Say you're wandering the streets of New York, seeing what there is to see, and you stumble upon a little cupcake shop. Neat. Then you note that the cupcake shop has won a contest on the Food Network. You're interest is piqued. When you see that they sell filled cupcakes, you giggle and shimmy and press your nose to the glass separating you from your sugar high. Ladies and gentlemen of Hot Dinner Happy Home, may I present the Cake Batter Cupcake:

Check them out online:
Again with the French food. I have a thing for it that can't be helped. The French know their way around a kitchen. They have some kind of magic in their souls that seeps out with results like coq au vin. Pastis, oh, Pastis. You need to go there.

Meals at this gem are served with the finest people-watching in town. I don't think Niki and I said a word the entire meal; we were too busy savoring every crumb and admiring the beautiful people strolling past our table.

Order steak frites because it's perfectly French. Sop up the meat juices with crispy, salty french fries and wash it down with a cocktail. Then order the sticky toffee pudding for dessert. You're too full for dessert, you say? Order a coffee and wait a few minutes until you can force it down. It was the most unbelievable thing I've ever tasted. For serious. The clouds parted and angels sang. They sang, "Sticky Toffee Pudding!!" It sounded strangely like Rufus Wainwright.

Berkli Parc Cafe
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When you walk into Berkli Parc Cafe, you become a graphic designer who works out of his home. Or a grad student studying anthropology because her parents have enough money to pay her private school tuition and then support her when she can't get a job. Or maybe you're writing a novel with a heroine named Neve who wears opaque tights. Whatever you're doing, it needs to be done on a Macbook at Berkli Parc Cafe.

Now let me tell you about the Thanksgiving sandwich. In addition to turkey, it boasts cranberry chutney, and, get this, stuffing. It's Thanksgiving leftovers without the hard work. I love.

And if your husband isn't interested in a froo-froo sandwich, he can wander three doors down to a little eatery called Fried Dumplings. He should order...fried dumplings.

Thanks for being all I hoped, New York.

P.S. Thanks to my sister for many of the fabulous recommendations on this list. She is much more awesome than I and knows her way around cool-kid establishments everywhere.

P.P.S. Here's another NYC tip: Make reservations. You're not Jay-Z; there isn't going to be a table and a bottle of Cristal waiting when you walk in the door.

P.P.P.S. If you are Jay-Z...OMG. I have arrived.


  1. LOOOOOVE. The post, you and of course, the greatest city in the world :)

  2. I giggled and drooled at the same time. It was an ugly mess, dedicated, of course, to you!

  3. SISTER! I'm so glad you loved this fabulous city that everyone thinks we grew up going to every second because we live in Buffalo, which actually means we NEVER go until we live ten hours FARTHER than the ten hours away we already were! It was so fun for me to think of you loving the very places I loved! Perhaps a Giada-esque vacation will have to be done by us!

  4. You are definitely right about the reservations unless you want to dine at 11pm every night. Those are some fantastic picks. I must check out Molly's Cupcakes.

  5. I'm booking my flight to NYC now! Amazing little weekend you had there.

  6. Love, love, love Doughnut Plant! Haven't been there in awhile -- must go back. Our favorite flavors are the Dulce de Leche and the Valrhona Chocolate ones (always sell out early). I haven't been to those other cafes you mention -- thanks for posting. Glad you ate well while here!