Sunday, June 22, 2008

TKTC in the Big Apple: One Bite At A Time

I "heart" New York.

When look at the things I love most (adventures, food, music, people, pretty things, divey things, etc.) it's hardly groundbreaking that I would love New York. But let's say that the the product is significantly greater than the sum of its already Times Square-sized parts. I've got a post in me that's about that size and it'll be a good one because it was a hell of a trip. Before I left, Jess told me "I hope you get to meet all of my favorite New Yorks."

Perfectly said- there are thousands if not millions of New Yorks (at risk of sounding a little Schiz, there are a few TKTC's as well...). From the Upper West to the Lower East. From Morningside Heights to Fort Greene and the West Village to Nolita and all throughout Midtown. The more I met, the harder I fell and it's true- not a one of them sleeps and neither have I for the past couple nights. So instead of attempting a mammoth of a recap, I think I'll stick to a familiar format for the night and post on the pastry thread holding all of my New Yorks together...the food. In chronological order, please find TKTC's eating adventure through Manhattan:

Night One:Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar inside the new 6 Hotel on Columbus Circle. Beautiful place with a tres chic lobby and directly across from the Time Warner building. We had "big" sushi and a couple bottles of Sancerre before walking back to the Roosevelt by way of the Upper West Side and then 5th Ave. Drooling at the windows of Bendel's and Bergdorfs along the way.
Brasserie: Here I must apologize. I really wanted to take a picture of my plate. But we were with a client and I just couldn't pull the trigger, so to speak. This place was divine. Very modern but French fusion fare and I had the Lunch Rapide which consisted of four small, square white plates, each with a small portion of the day’s specialties. For me this amounted to the chicken chop salad, a warm asparagus soup, seared scallops, steak frites and a small plate of madeleines and meringues for the table. Certainly delicious if not terrible nutritious and the idea of serving 4 items on small separate plates to each guest is a concept I’d like to adapt for a dinner party at some point. A way to formalize tapas and still be able to serve everything at once. Yes?Habana Outpost: Pick it up at the truck. I had a really great media event in the Meat-Packing District on Wednesday night but that really belongs in the second post. The relevant part is that I ended up being driven to Brooklyn by towncar thanks to a very generous team lead on the client side! I arrived at my hostess’ lovely abode in Ft. Greene just as the sun was setting and my wine buzz was leveling. Jess and I collected ourselves for a quick minute and I was thrilled when she suggested we walk around the hood to decide what we should have for a late dinner.

So much. The options included South African, Carribbean, French, Japanese and a restaurant whose whole concept revolves around a billion different kinds of Rice. We settled on the party happening at Habana Outpost- a solar-powered Cuban spot. I had a blackened chicken sandwich with red peppers and the best corn on the cob I think I’ve ever had. I mean WOW. Add in a frozen mojito and the neighborhood’s eco-conscious twenty- and thirty- somethings on a beautiful night to sit on a patio? This was my formal introduction to Brooklyn.

iCi: It will sound in this post and in those to follow like it would be impossible to isolate any favorite moments from the week. To an extent, that’s true. One best case scenario after another lends itself to just a persistent high, day after day. But for some reason I can pull my hour at iCi out and say that it was unequivocally one of my favorites.

Perhaps because it was, at its very core, exactly what I wanted that hour to be and that's rare. I was by myself, eating lunch on a relatively quiet patio in the middle of Brooklyn. I was 25 and in town for work and having a quiet minute to write and eat excellent food and be in a neighborhood that quite honestly spoke to me. Very much like Wicker Park did on my first few visits. Life just clicks sometimes. I had read about iCi in several places as a bit of a hidden gem from one of New York’s many famous restraunteurs. It happened to be around the corner from my temporary little corner and when I came upon it in person, I almost missed it.

Tucked into the garden level of a brownstone and I might not have even stopped if I hadn’t looked in the window next to where the menu was posted and could see daylight at the back of the restaurant. Johanna greeted me at the door and she, with one of those naturally relaxed and friendly faces, showed me back to the patio where a father and daughter were having a conversation I might have had with my own Dad about relationships and getting older. Not that I was eavesdropping…

Anyhow, Johanna recommended the BLT which I think we’ve established I’m susceptible to. It came alongside a generous bowl of chilled radish soup and I had a Blood Orange iced tea. And I sat. And I did not put my iPod on and I did not fidget to make myself look/feel busy and I did not read my book. I sat and I enjoyed my meal and the shady patio with the doppled mid-afternoon sun. I watched three of the most beautiful children I’ve ever seen in such a large grouping play at the bottom of the stairs. They looked Ethiopian- all high cheekbones, black eyes and hair that puts mine to serious shame. Ages maybe 3 to 6 and speaking a made up language I assumed to be part of a game. No, Johanna said, they’re Swedish and you should see their mothers! Amazing.

I did do some writing once I’d finished eating and took a second to think about how a few other people in my life would have appreciated the seat across from me in this little garden shaded by those big trees that grow in Brooklyn and fire escapes. But then I was also grateful be alone and to own that hour and to be able to do exactly what I was doing. That, my friends, is why I have a Tag entitled “Joie de Vivre.”Urban Spring: Even though my lunch was nothing short of perfect, my resident vegan has been talking about the treats at Urban Spring for quite some time and I wanted to also experience Ft Greene from a LovePuppy perspective. After roaming around a bit (she made me a map!), I had an Iced Mint Mate and a Chocolate, Oatmeal, Almond, Raisin cookie. I love it when people put lots of stuff in cookies. Particularly good stuff.

Manhattan Penthouse: I had a big girl PR moment arriving at a venue being put together in the shadow of The City. Two blocks off Union Square and up a rather nondescript elevator to open windows and views from every side. I didn't eat a lot (travesty of working) but it was fun, all the same.
Falafel Truck at 40th & Broadway: A picnic in Bryant Park with heaven. I got turned around coming out of the subway and Jess just found me and my floppy hat with falafel already in hand. We sunned and chatted and avoided the creeps for an hour in the middle of this well-appreciated Green Space. Jess below with out huge trays of falafel!OH my yum.

Magnolia Bakery: Pointed out by new Chicago friends met in a shoe store on Christoper Street. I have almost bought the cookbook several times but I didn't personally know why till Friday. Honestly, the cake leaves to be desired...a little dry for me. BUT the frosting is beyond redemption and the staff was sweet and helpful with suggestions. I was shocked they didn't all weigh several kilos.Salon de Ning: Bethy, a former soror and continuous kindred, recommended we meet some place very posh for a drink as we would likely only have one and it was a side of Manhattan I'd yet to see in earnest. The new rooftop lounge of the Peninsula on Fifth? That'd do it. I had a delicious Pimms cocktail with a cucumber spike. The Moraccan lanterns flickered and a beautiful woman in her early forties loved my hat in the bathroom and offered me her date. Seriously. "I love your hat. If you can pull that off at your age, you'll be really fun at mine!! My date's too young for me, want to meet him?"

Not really. I was quite happy talking all kinds of irreverance with Beth and Abby.

The drinks were delicious and the company was nothing short of Showtime-appropriate Loved it.
Bereket: I got very caught up in Jaimeson's arrival and by the time we properly said hello and we were ready to venture out, it was 12:30 already! After a few hours in Zum Schnieder, home to a faux tree and some found pesto (brilliant- just eat someone else's leftovers...budget Manhattan at its finest!) Jaimeson took me on a tour of "his" city. His city being every music nenue on the Lower East, several hotel lobbies, a pizza place, an Indian place and finally, Bereket. By then it was 4 and a Grilled Kofte Sandwich was about the best thing that could have happened to either of us. The sun was starting to come up as my eyelids were starting to set.
Country Cafe: Jaimeson and TKTC do Provence via SoHo. Jaimeson had been here once before but I'm thrilled he kept it on the short list. I had Lyonnaise potatoes with my meal that paired beautifully.All the doors and windows were open and Jaimeson was set far back in the booth taking it in. Felt like Grans, France. But with more photoshoots and street vendors. Bonus!
Cancun Charlie's: J had to be in Connecticuit Saturday night for work and I, having New Yorked since Tuesday, made the trek wiht he and his colleague Alexa. Hilarious drive...the fact that I was awake the whole drive speaks volumes. Once in, we found this lovely spot overlooking a little CT town with sailboats. Beautiful. And fun to people-watch in the suburbs for once while kind feelin like the Cape. Thanks AW!
Pick A Bagel: 3rd and 22nd for a toasted Everything New York bagel with Lox Spread. It was early when we got to stirring. Too early but anyway. Goodbye New York. Better to have loved and lost, eh?


Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joner said...

now THAT is a tasty post! Jealous of your peninsula drink with Bethany - looked like fun! Also - I have to agree/disagre with you about Magnolia - the cake WAS dry and the icing on my mini-cake was creepishly sugary - to a fault. (But then again it was bright blue, what should I have expected?) -- Loved reading the stories, looking for more when you have the time to fill us in!

Your Ill-fitting Overcoat said...

Re-posted because I effed up the HTML:

Oh, this was so beautiful! I'm so happy that you had such a wonderful time.

Next time you're in New York, I highly recommend Sugar Sweet Sunshine, which is absolutely divine and much better than Magnolia (which is definitely dry). The pistachio cupcake and the pumpkin are my personal favorites.

It's in the LES and one of our favorite lazy Saturday rituals was a stop at Sugar Sweet Sunshine for cupcakes and then a visit to Babeland (just down the street) to peruse the vibrators. :)

kat said...

House-swap? Done and DONE. I'll throw in some walkable restaurant recommendations.

Another better-than-magnolia cupcake to add to the list: Billy's Bakery on 9th Ave @ 21st. And it's right across from Grainne Cafe, which has really good crepes.

Molly McGuffin said...

Bien joue, la fille!! For my faves, I'm stuck between Ici and Country Cafe ... and, no,I'm not ashamed of my "francophilic" snobbery one bit :) But the Cuban place is a close 2nd. Ooh but I forgot about that 4-plate lunch special - and the French usually arne't that lenient with their options so that's a good find, hah :) Next time I'm coming with you! And why didn't you put in the pict of Molly's Irish bar?? You could just lie and say you stopped in for a bite .. or a car bomb, something :)

Jessica said...

What a wonderful recap. I'm hungry just by reading. It was so awesome to have you in town. I owe you a serious e-mail on my meeting and some other juicy bits.

L Sass said...

I am the worst ever and did not even get to see you. ::Hangs head in shame::

Sounds like you had a spectacular time, though!

I feel the same way about Magnolia / Buttercup. It's all in the icing!

Alexa said...

what a fabulous time! you hit some great spots! this is making me miss NYC so much.

Christy Lou Who said...

i'm hungry after reading this post! Glad you had an amazing time!

Katrin said...

Wow. I so want to go to New York one day, it's not even funny... At least now I have a online tour guide to help me find food. *Sigh*

nicoleantoinette said...

I loooveee Brasserie. And Magnolia frosting. Yum!

Bethany said...

I LOVED seeing you:-) But, I always wish there was more time..... I couldn't wait to hear your take on my city in your blog, you are always so poetic. Come back soon!!!!!