Category Archives: new york

Quick Trip to New York City

I grew up in the NYC area but hadn’t been back lately, so I was excited to take my in-laws on their first trip to the city the day after Thanksgiving.

Staying in the city with four people would have been pricey, so we decided to try the Hilton in Stamford, CT, which we snagged for only $90/night. It’s not too long a drive from Providence and it’s in walking distance from the train station, where you can catch a 50 minute express train to Grand Central Station.

We walked over 10 miles a day, all over Manhattan – the best way to sightsee.

Statue of Liberty in the Fog
The Statue of Liberty in the Fog, from Battery Park

Here are some of the places we went. It sounds like a lot of food for 2 days, but when it’s cold and you’re burning a thousand calories walking, you’d better stop for a snack or two.

Food & Drink

Sightseeing with First Time Visitors

Down the Coast

Before I launch into my weekend I wanted to point you to a new site addition – the “What’s Cooking” item on the right. This is pulling from a Twitter page which I can use to make quick updates without getting into a whole blog entry.

The Memorial Day weekend found me in New Jersey. We first shot over to New York City where we visited Loreley for beer and pretzels and Pasticceria Bruno for dessert and cannolis to go.

Berry tart from Pasticceria Bruno
Berry tart from Pasticceria Bruno. Photo by Jeremy May

Back in New Jersey we poked into an Indian grocery store in Parsippany called Subzi Mandi, where I picked up rosewater and some jars of spicy condiments and marveled at the unusual produce like Luffa (aka Chinese Okra).

Lobster
Lobster and corn, eaten outside at my parents’ house

Later my family made lobsters using my dad’s new method – a turkey fryer (filled with water, of course). It’s a great way to cook a lot of lobster while keeping the mess and smell out of the kitchen. I love eating steamed lobsters at home. Not only are they much more expensive in restaurants, but they definitely don’t taste as good if you can’t make a mess.  Hope you all had a great weekend too!

In Search of the Holey Grail

Millions of ex-New Yorkers are scattered across the globe. It seems that there is one thing they miss most about the city. It’s not the constant activity or multiculturalism, it’s not the skyscrapers or the theater. It’s the perfect bagel.

Growing up a short drive from “the city” in northern New Jersey, I mistakenly thought bagels were a luxury that everyone enjoyed. My trips elsewhere in the country were short enough that I didn’t notice their absence; during my college years in the central part of the state they were readily available. But when I moved up the coast to Rhode Island, I started missing my weekend ritual of driving home from the bagel store with a fresh bag, still hot from the oven, in my lap. I eventually found some stores that claimed to have bagels, but they were actually day-old, chalky and the consistency of sandwich bread.

A Bagel from Bagels4u in Short Hills, NJ
A delicious bagel from Bagels4u in Short Hills, NJ

Rhode Island’s lack of good bagels led me to wonder why they were so easy to find in the New York area.

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NYC Chocolate Show

In my two posts about my trip to New York last weekend, I somehow neglected to mention why I was there – the 10th annual Chocolate Show!

Chocolate Fashion at the Chocolate Show
Chocolate Fashion at the Chocolate Show

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a 40,000 square foot exhibition hall full of chocolate. Visitors shuffle through in a daze, tasting samples from international chocolate makers, buying bars and truffles, watching cooking demos and more.

Our favorite this year was Comptoir du Cacao from France. They served up chocolate in several forms – solid pieces, pralines, and “croustines” – little clusters. I was also pleasantly surprised by the new “Crave” bar from NewTree. The pairing of apricots and milk chocolate almost didn’t interest me, but it was great (I should have known – I love their milk chocolate lavender bar).

Before my chocolate high wore off, I picked up some retro bars from Chocolate Bar and the new Chili Cherry bar from Chocolove. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention my favorite purchase (and undoubtedly the one which will last the longest) – a chocolate-scented Chocolate Show hoodie!

The entrance fee is $28: a bargain for chocolate enthusiasts, and for everyone else, a good excuse to go at least once. But if you missed it, why not pick up $28 worth of chocolate and have a tasting at home?

Nonna in New York

Do you think eating in New York has to be expensive? Not at a hole-in-the-wall takeout place, but what about at a romantic restaurant with good service and food?

I thought so, but I was proven wrong last Friday night at Nonna (520 Columbus Ave.) They offer a $25 5-course tasting menu: arancini (fried rice balls), an antipasto platter, a pasta dish, a meat dish and dessert. This menu is only available for two or more, since the appetizers and desserts are served on shared plates. To accompany your reasonable meal, the menu lists quite a few decent wines under $30.

The pasta choices were wild mushroom tagliatelle and wild boar strozzipretti – we each tried one, and my tagliatelle almost made me wish I had ordered a whole plate. For meat we both chose the pork, which was stuffed with sausage and served with polenta. Dessert was tiramisu and delicious zeppole with honey dipping sauce. The chef was very thoughtful and sent out extra tastes for our friend who’d only ordered an entree.

Nonna
http://www.nonnarestaurant.com
Map Marker 520 Columbus Ave., New York NY
(Nearby attractions: The American Museum of Natural History and Central Park.)

Macarons

My introduction to macarons happened in college. I wasn’t on a trip to Paris – I was in suburban New Jersey at a Wegmans, where pastry chefs were trained by famous French pastry chef Pierre Hermé to replicate his famous macarons along with other dessert delights. (Macarons, for the uninitiated, are nothing like American macaroons. I’d describe them as melt-in-your-mouth almond meringue sandwiches).

Macarons from Madeleine Patisserie
Macarons from Madeleine Patisserie

Last summer I went back to Wegmans for a macaron and they were no longer on the shelves. I’ve been craving them ever since. So on last weekend’s trip to New York I had to pick up an assortment from Madeleine Patisserie (Map Marker128 West 23rd St.) on my way to the train. We enjoyed an assortment of flavors; my favorites were rose and caramel.

But now that I’m back in Rhode Island and the box is empty, I’ll just have to go back to making my own.

Loreley

I grew up near New York City, so when I visit, I’m not drawn to the usual tourist attractions. Instead, I look to fulfill some need Rhode Island isn’t able to meet – odd stores, exotic cuisine, out-there art.

Believe it or not, Rhode Island doesn’t have one German restaurant. So before my latest trip to the big apple, I made a Map Marker map of all the German restaurants in Manhattan, pining for good beer and a sausage plate. Unfortunately we only had time for one, and we chose Loreley.

Food and beer at Loreley

Loreley is modeled after the pubs of Cologne, where the owner once lived. The biergarten’s communal tables will look familiar to anyone who has downed a liter in Deutschland, and the restaurant’s interior has an upscale coziness. Their 12 taps hold old favorites as well as seasonal beers (like Oktoberfest brews). They also offer Cologne’s specialty, Kölsch.

We each worked our way through a liter – I had the Hofbräu Helles, my boyfriend opted for the Köstritzer Schwartz Bier, both were excellent. As for food (which was certainly needed to soak up the beer), we ordered freshly baked pretzels with mustard, currywurst, a plate of assorted sausages, and aged gouda-topped rye bread. We left satisfied, slightly tipsy and vowing to return.

Loreley, 7 Rivington St. (Lower East Side), http://www.loreleynyc.com