eat. shop. love. nyc.

Downtown NYC walk, shop & eat circuit

[tweetmeme]Some girlfriends are coming in from out of town and they are staying with another mutual friend in Union Square. I have plans to ride my bike to Brooklyn with other friends after brunching with them, so I wrote up an e-mail with suggestions of where to go and what to eat given that their home base is Union Square. What emerged was what I think is a great rough itinerary for a weekend day when all you want to do is eat, shop, and fall in love with NYC. My perfect Saturday (or Sunday – or any day you don’t have to work, I guess):

I’ve taken the liberty of drawing a walkable downtown Manhattan shopping map for you (with words). We can start with brunch in the East Village, the earlier the better bc then we won’t have to wait for hours. I would like to go to Cafe Orlin at 10 am so we can get in before the 11 am brunch rush, or we can do Cafe Mogador if you want slightly more ethnic (Moroccan and Mediterranean), but if they’re too busy, Paprika can be our backup backup. After brunch, I’ll be leaving you, but here are a few suggestions:

Recommended shopping (that you can’t get in DC)

East Village – walk down East 9th St. (very close to brunch) between Second Avenue and Avenue A to find a sweet collection of boutiques, clothing and otherwise. I like Cadillac’s Castle for jewelry and I picked up a gently used Alexander Wang dress there for $88. I like Think Closet as well and I think they’re having a sale, and there’s Roni and so many other stores on that stretch that are so cute but I don’t remember all their names. A great area to spend a few hours shopping. If you’re hungry after, head over to E 7th St between 1st and Ave A where there’s Luke’s Lobster for a lobster roll, Porchetta for a slow roasted pork sandwich, and Butter Lane for the most amazing FRENCH (not the American) vanilla buttercream on vanilla cupcake that you have ever had – seriously, the frosting is so good I want to rub it all over my body. I rarely feel this way about vanilla. One block up on St. Mark’s is Crif Dogs for a deep fried hot dog – I like the Chihuahua – or Xi’An Famous Foods for a lamb burger and some hand-pulled noodles. So many choices, so little time…

If you want a quick break from shopping and eating, swing by Tompkins Square Park on Ave A and 7th/9th. Usually there are musicians or sometimes concerts and festivals. You can just hang out on the green for a bit and rest your feet if you like, or just cruise on through.

From East Village, you can make your way down south to LES past Houston, stop by Szeki on Rivington (she’s a doll!), Honey in the Rough, Pixie Market, Miks, Yumi Kim (sale section in back of the store), Foley & Corinna… If you want jewelry there’s also Hillary Flowers on Clinton St. By this point, you’ll probably be ready for a snack. I would recommend swinging by Baohaus to try the pork belly or beef brisket bao, or just get a Straight Frush between the three of you to share. If you are in the mood for sweets, go to Sugar Sweet Sunshine for a $1.50 cupcake and some bomb-ass banana pudding. Or swing by Meatball Shop for a $4 homemade ice cream cookie sandwich – ginger snap cookie with vanilla ice cream is the best.

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Miniature stuffed cupcakes are cho kawaii
May 17, 2010, 10:25 am
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , ,

Mini-everything is always cuter than regular-sized anything. Take stuffed cupcakes by Baked By Melissa, for example. Each bite-size cupcake has a diameter of a silver dollar, and stands only an inch high. There are ten playful flavors: mint chocolate chip, tie-dye (rainbow), cookies and cream, cookie dough, red velvet, peanut butter cup, cinnamon, peanut butter & jelly, and s’mores. My personal favorite is the PB&J, which as a cupcake, improves upon the PB&J sandwich; as a mini cupcake, is massively cuter than a regular cupcake; and as a PB&J, transports me to fond memories of my childhood.

Of course, there are drawbacks to minis. They are tiny. If you take dainty little bites, you might be able to get two bites per cupcake. Still, they are the cutest cupcakes that you ever did see. Plus, you can sample several flavors without feeling super guilty afterwards about having eaten several full-size cupcakes.

The original Baked by Melissa shop is a tiny little hole in the wall (literally) on the north side of Spring St. near Broadway in SoHo. Don’t walk by too quickly as it’s really easy to miss. According to their website, they’ve also just opened up a Union Square location at 7 Union Square. For 100 mini cupcakes, it’ll set you back $70. Smaller orders have a slightly higher cost per cupcake. It is definitely worth stopping by, if only to say, “Awwww!” about a cupcake.

Bone Marrow Madness in NYC

I truly love bone marrow. I grew up eating it mostly in Korean seolleongtang soup and other beef or oxtail broths or sucked out of galbi bones, but as an adult, my eyes were opened to the joys of roasted bone marrow. I had been scrolling through my Twitter feed when I saw this tweet from Michael Voltaggio:

“Colicchio and sons bone marrow with anchovy, need I say more! Great dish..

I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t post about bone marrow earlier (this blog had been saved in “drafts”), as it seems Yelpers have now beaten me to the punch and now I just look like I’m just hopping on the marrow wagon when I’ve been a longtime passenger. Whatever the case, I thought I’d get to typing and put together a little bone marrow roundup for y’all.

I recently had the bone marrow at Jo’s, which is cut lengthwise and topped with anchovies and crusty parsley bread. The anchovy adds another level of complexity that elevates the bone marrow from something that’s already great to something even better.

Still, there’s something to be said for the simplicity of roasted marrow served on its own, with nothing to detract or distract from its ooey gooey rich and fatty goodness. The marrow at Prune is served just this way, the bone served intact and upright with a side of salt and fresh parsley.

Here’s a list of restaurants in NYC where you can try bone marrow different ways. If you try any, let me know what you think! Full list of roasted marrow and marrow soup restos after the jump: Continue reading

Self-constructed 3-course meal

Yesterday’s eatventure with Sara consisted of three stops (unplanned) and a self-made three-course meal.

First stop: Jo’s (SoHo/Nolita)
Ate: 1/2 dozen $1 HH Miyagi oysters – these were normal sized, not on steroids – still buttery and meaty
Drank: HH draft of Ommegang Witte $4 for me, glass of Vouvray for S $10
Note: Angus the Aussie bartender has fabulous hair – he works Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Pardon the crappy camera but can you see how deep this Miyagi shell is? Not at all like the European flat oyster.

Second stop: Sachiko’s (LES)
Ate: Spicy Crunchy Rice (Spicy tuna on crispy rice) 6 pieces $8 – I am addicted.
Drank: HH sake for me, a very full champagne flute for $4; HH sake Cosmo for S $6
Note: We only ended up at Sachiko’s because when we arrived at CSBC (below) at 7pm, there was a 40+ minute wait for a table and we knew Sachiko’s has happy hour till 7:30 on weekdays.

The Spicy Crunchy Rice is good every time. Your choice of tuna or salmon. Also very good for HH is the tonkatsu ($10 – normally $14 if not HH). Sapporo drafts just $2.50 but I was afraid I’d be too full for Stop 3.

Third stop: Clinton St. Baking Company (LES) – February is Pancake Month!
Ate: BBQ Sugar Bacon Cheeseburger (BBQ sauce on the side) $16 & Fresh Blackberry Pancakes with Pecan Streusel and Warm Maple Butter
Drank: Water. We were already tipsy from HH boozing.
Note: 1/2 price bottles of wine on Mondays and Tuesdays. Also, they’ve just introduced a $16 Crab Cake Sandwich & Amstel Light combo deal on Mondays & Tuesdays. By the time we finished dinner at 9pm, there was an hour+ wait! Get there early, put your name on the list, and grab a drink elsewhere until your turn is up.

Can’t stop thinking about Miyagi oysters
February 23, 2010, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , ,

Photo credit: James Antrim, IST

Last night was much like any other: get off work, feel like happy hour, head to Jo’s. Oddly, I wasn’t much in the mood for oysters, but when we sat down at the bar, owner Jim Chu (also of White Rabbit) told us he’d gotten in a shipment of Miyagis and that we should try some.

We ordered a half dozen oysters ($1 each till 8 pm!) along with the last Meat in a Cup ($9) – they make limited portions because it has to cook for 8 hours, and they don’t make it every day so you’re never sure if they’re going to be sold out of it or not. The Meat in a cup is a metal cup of warm-ish meat slow cooked in a rich gravy, served with toasts and a tart frisee salad. Hearty + homey with a dash of acid and greens = yum. Wish there had been one more slice of toast, though, as with 5 pieces of toast there was leftover meat in the cup and it had to be eaten as meat on a spoon.

When the oysters arrived, the first thing I noticed were that they looked like they’d been taking steroids. I thought Royal Miyagis were supposed to be small and delicate. I don’t know if these were the prissy Royal kind; they were fit for the hungry laborer! Even more surprising was the depth of the shells. It turns out that the shell is quite concave, housing a deceptively large bit of oyster meat. The texture was very creamy, but the flavor was a bit salty, a bit fishy, and very meaty – all of that in a very good way.

The other bar patrons were friendly and funny, and Jim was hilarious. There was a group from the nearby Gawker offices and a Juilliard-schooled violinist from the antique lighting shop on Houston. Great mix.

I have plans to have pancakes with blackberries, pecan streusel, and warm maple butter for dinner, but I am tempted to go by Jo’s beforehand to see if there are any more Miyagis as an appetizer…

Add Jo’s to your SoHo happy hour rotation
February 19, 2010, 1:02 pm
Filed under: Eat, Go | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I booked it to Jo’s with Sara N. after work on a Monday night around 7:50 and by 8:00 was already on my second $4 Ommegang Witte (fresh keg – have never tasted beer head quite so delicious – citrusy and wheaty with some darker sweeter spices). We ordered the $1 happy hour oysters (5-8 pm weekdays) and, by god, were they big. Normally, I prefer smaller oysters because they taste more delicate, but maybe it was the beer (perfect pairing!) but these big oysters also had big, briny flavor. I’ve been to Jo’s once before and the oysters were good, but not as good as that night. I’m drooling a little thinking about it.

I went back to Jo’s the very next day because it’s close to work and because I could not get the Jerk and a Slap (three types of house-cured jerky and a Pork Slap beer for $9) and Meat in a Cup (slow cooked meat served in a cup) out of my head. Sadly, they were out of Meat in a Cup but they did have some jerky and Pork Slap around. I was disappointed with the jerky, as I found it to be too salty, too tough, and too small. On the upside, I loved the Porkslap Pale Ale. It’s hard to find beer in a can that actually tastes good, and I think this is it. Not overly hoppy and just the right amount of carbonation with very slight citrus notes. I’ll be having that again. The gruyere gougeres were not what I expected, but man, those warm little cheesy bread balls are dee-frickin-licious with some sriracha sauce! Continue reading

Hot alcoholic drinks to keep you warm in the NYC cold

[tweetmeme]UPDATE! For a new list of hot alcoholic drinks, please visit More hot booze to keep you warm posted January 3, 2011.

Brrrr. It’s winter. It’s frigid outside. The wind whips through you like an open window. Fancy a hot alcoholic beverage, do you? I’ve rounded up a list of places to go for a warming drink in NYC, and how to make them at home, approximately, in case it’s so cold you can’t bring yourself to step outside. In no particular order:

Hot Obama at Joe Doe (Pictured. EVill/LES: 45 E First St. between 1st and 2nd Aves.)
Served in a glass jar with a handle, your bartender Mike will heat up the apple cider with the milk foamer on the espresso machine, then adds two shots of Rum Clement, one shot of fresh lemon juice (diluted 1 part lemon to 9 parts water), quickly refoams, then grates fresh cinnamon on top of your drink and drops the rest of the stick into your $11 Hot Obama. I don’t get the name. Obama = boozy apple cider? Why is this called a “Hot Obama?” Feel free to take a crack at it in the comments.

Grandad’s Coffee, Hot Buttered Rum, or Freemans Toddy at Freemans (LES: End of Freemans Alley between Bowery and Chrystie.)
Freemans knows there’s nothing like a warm, spiked drink to make the world right again when it’s 15 degrees outside. On the cocktail menu under “Warm and Soothing” are three (!) warm boozy drinks for $12 each. Grandad’s Coffee is coffee spiked with brandy and walnut liqueur and served with a sweet cream float. The Hot Buttered Rum is made with a dark rum, spiced butter, and hot water. Here’s Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for a Hot Buttered Rum cocktail. The Freemans Toddy is made with applejack (Jack Daniels and apple cider or juice), lemon juice, and apices (likely cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg). Continue reading