One of the best things about getting to visit Noah in New York (besides, of course, the "getting to see Noah" part) is being able to have days when we just go to the city and try to experience as much of the food atmosphere as possible. The small town where I live is almost stiflingly homogeneous food-wise, so the wealth of options available in New York is intensely refreshing. In early January, I took the bus to New York to surprise Noah with a visit (I had planned it in advance with his parents, and miraculously none of us managed to give away the surprise!), which was a huge surprise for him (he had no idea!) and was a lot of fun. Since he wasn't dong anything in particular that weekend, we decided to take a day and have adventures--or "foodventures", as we like to call them.
Our first stop was Doughnut Plant, where we started our day right with delicious fresh doughnuts. I had a hazelnut doughnut, because I am helpless to the power of hazelnuts, and Noah's was Meyer lemon. Then we went to Kossar's and had bialys. At least, I think we did. My memory is hazy after so many weeks, so I don't remember exactly where we went or what kind of bialys we had, just that we had bialys somewhere and they were really good and there wasn't a lot of seating so we pretty much had to squeeze onto one chair. From there we stopped briefly at an amazing pickle place where pretty much anything you can think of existed in its pickle form. We gaped at the selection of pickled things (I love pickles, so it was like the mothership calling me home), but decided we were going to come back to it. We never did, because we got distracted., Maybe next time! My google searches do not come up conclusive on what the place was called. This concluded Leg One of our food tour: the Lower East Side.
Our next leg was the Chinatown leg. We were only in Chinatown for one thing, and that was super-cheap dumplings. After some preliminary research, we finally decided on a dumpling house called, well...Dumpling House. (I believe my Google search also comes up with Vanessa's Dumpling House, but I can't remember if they're the same place.) We started our time there with 2 orders of dumplings. The dumplings are all crammed together in one small container, and 1 order (containing 4 dumplings) is $1. Can't get much better than that! We followed it up with a sesame pancake (Dumpling House has several varieties, and I can't remember which one we had...this'll teach me to wait so long to write my food blog entries) and some kind of soup--I think it was the pork wonton soup, but again, not sure. Dumpling House is definitely the kind of place I'd be at all the time if I lived in NY--it's super crowded, everybody's pressed together like sardines jostling each other as they eat their delicious (and budget-friendly) dumplings. I'm looking forward to visiting there more times during my regular visits to the city.
We then abandoned Chinatown for a very cold and windy walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, which made me wish I'd brought a hat, but was still exciting because I'd never walked across the Brooklyn Bridge before. We were in Brooklyn for the Mile End deli, where we'd heard there were amazing smoked meats being made. And the smoked meats were really good! After a wait, we ordered the smoked meats and also a house-ground salami sandwich (I tried to get the menu on my computer, but for some reason my computer loaded it really tiny and I couldn't make the window any bigger, so I can't actually read the menu to tell you what the sandwich was called). The smoked meat sandwich was good, but we actually liked the salami sandwich better. If I remember correctly, we also had pickles. And I had a cup of tea, because I was really cold. Mile End is a great place if you enjoy people who put a lot of care into their meat, and if you've got some time on your hands (there is always always always a wait, from what I've heard, so don't expect to just waltz right in). I would definitely go back to try more of their menu, or just eat more delicious salami sandwiches.
3 days after I went back to MD from that trip, Noah came to visit me for MLK Day weekend! We had 3 days to spend together, which coincided with an early celebration of our 2.5-year anniversary. (Since we had had feelings for each other for a while before we got together, and because we were a bit hazy on when we actually became an official couple, we chose July 26, 2008 as our anniversary because that's when we believe everything really started.) Because we had an anniversary to celebrate, we decided to go someplace nice for dinner, and after some deliberation we chose a little Bistro in Baltimore called b. It was a great choice for a nice dinner--it was intimate and friendly, and pretty much everything on the menu was strong. We got a selection of appetizers, tapas-style, and then shared an order of moules-frites. The appetizers included: olives (Noah's email reminding me of where we went and what we ate describes this as "roasted olives with lemon peel and some other stuff"), a charcuterie plate with amazingly delicious duck prosciutto as well as really good bresaola and serrano ham, served with fried bread, and a potato appetizer that was reminiscent of the patatas bravas that you get at tapas places everywhere. The potatoes were SO good--the waitress had placed them by me, and I definitely had a hard time sharing! ;-)
The star of the show, however, was without a doubt the moules-frites. The mussels were the best mussels either of us had ever had. They tasted like they had never known the inside of a freezer, and were incredibly fresh and well-prepared. They were served with frites, which were also excellently done. The meal was so good that I wrote a thank-you note to the staff on the back of my receipt and left it for them. There couldn't have been a better way to celebrate 2.5 years together then with good food and wine and the company of your partner. :-)
Check back in the next couple of days for my (slightly unusual) entry in this year's Novel Food, a celebration of literature and food organized by a food blog I've been reading for a while now. I'm not sure my entry will be accepted, since I didn't base it on a novel (more of a nonfiction book), but you'll get to see it regardless! I also may talk about an excellent stir-fry I made the other day from an even more awesome cookbook that you should all go out and buy. But that's later.
379 Grand St.
New York, NY 10002
367 Grand St.
New York, NY 10002
Dumpling House (this address is for Vanessa's Dumpling House, because I think it's the same thing)
118 Eldridge St.
New York, NY 10002
Mile End Delicatessen
97a Hoyt St.
1501 Bolton St.
Baltimore, MD 21217