Tuesday, May 20, 2014

NYC Food Day 2014

Times Square
NYC Food Day (noun): A day in which one traverses the streets of New York in search the best of the best kinds of foods and sampling a little bit of everything the city has to offer.

Last week we went out into the city for what was my second time (Jake's millionth time) doing food day. We had an ambitious day planned that started at Bantam Bagels for their famous bagel holes:

These bagel holes were filled with different kinds of cream cheese. We tried:

  • French Toast: cinnamon nutmeg egg bagel filled with a buttery, maple syrupy cream cheese
  • The Hangover: cheddar cheese and egg bagel topped with melted cheddar cheese filled with bacon cheddar cream cheese and a drizzle of maple syrup
  • Grandma Jojo: Italian spiced bagel topped with thinly sliced, marinated tomato filled with fresh basil pesto cream cheese
  • Hot Pretzel: Pretzel bagel topped with sea salt crystals, filled with mustard and sharp cheddar cream cheese
  • La Poquita (their Bantam of the Month): Asiago cheese bagel filled with chipotle chorizo cream cheese
Our next stop was Café Habana. This place is a regular stop during Food Day festivities because of their incredible Mexican corn--a grilled cob of corn smothered in butter and then rolled in queso fresco and a bunch of spices, topped off with a fresh splash of lime juice.

Stop #3: Prosperity Dumpling. We ordered a set each of boiled and pan-fried pork & chive dumplings. This place has truly authentic dumplings for an incredible price - 4 fried dumplings are only $1 and ~10 boiled dumplings a mere $2. The available sauces at the bar also included vinegar--a sure sign of an authentic dumpling house.

Next was Luke's Lobster, a chain of lobster roll restaurants with locations along the east coast. The last time I went on Food Day (January 2013), Luke's was our first stop and definitely one of my favorites. My second visit did not disappoint--we ordered their classic lobster roll as well as lobster grilled cheese. Their pickles are also amazing.

Our fifth stop was for sweets! We hit up Spot Dessert Bar, another favorite of mine from Food Day 1. Because we had such a big group, we got to try three different types of desserts: the yuzu eskimo, golden toast, and the ever beautiful chocolate green tea lava cake. The chocolate green tea lava cake at Spot might be one of the best chocolate desserts I have ever had.

Yuzu eskimo: yuzu (Japanese citrus) ice cream bar garnished with strawberries and chocolate pearls. 
Golden toast: crispy honey buttered toast with sweet condensed milk and strawberries. 
Chocolate green tea lava cake: gooey chocolate cake with green tea ganache, green tea ice cream, and walnuts.
#6: The Nugget Spot, an eatery entirely dedicated to different kinds of nuggets with different kinds of dipping sauces. We were coaxed into trying a huge variety platter that included four different kinds of nuggets and two heaping sides. We went with the Southern Belle (classic chicken nugget accompanied by smoked BBQ sauce), the Cap'n Crunk (nuggets coated in Captain Crunch cereal accompanied by a sweet spiced butterscotch "Crunk sauce"), the Cheez Louise (with a cheese cracker crust, accompanied by "OG Ranch"), and the Po Po (polenta, roasted tomatoes, basil with a honey mustard sauce). We got several other extra sauces that I can't remember the names of as well as two sides of the Nacho Mac, which was actually my favorite part of the meal--an amazing mac & cheese using a blend of four cheeses.

Eli starting fashion trends inside of the Nugget Spot

After six straight restaurants, we decided that a digestion break was in order so we headed over to Chelsea Market and the High Line. 


But once we got to Chelsea Market, we couldn't help ourselves and had to get some oysters at the Lobster Place.

I tried the Fishers Point and Onset Bay oysters, both of which were great.

We had to get a fancy chocolate bar once we saw that it had my last name.
 Shots from the High Line:

Angsty Empire State Building partially obscured by clouds.

After our break, we soon were game for #8: The Doughnut Plant. They were sadly sold out of their signature crème brulée doughnut, but Jake and I settled for splitting a banana pecan yeast doughnut and a "Blackout," a super chocolate-y cake doughnut. We washed everything down with a green tea latté, which I was extremely excited to see had a fancy foam design in it. It made me feel super sophisticated.

Banana pecan on the right, Blackout on the left

Next we went to Pinché Taqueria, which was an old favorite for fish tacos for Jake and his friends. It recently closed but then reopened in two different locations and has become completely rebranded. The first time I went in 2013, it was a homey, traditional-looking place but now it has transformed into a synthetic music, dark lighting, pop-y restaurant. I have to admit that it was a little disappointing to see the change, but the fish tacos were undoubtedly the same and definitely redeemed the semi-tacky vibe.

#10: Xiaolongbao at Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen. Xiaolongbao are Chinese soup dumplings that are filled with a mixture of meat (traditionally pork) and jellied broth. The dumplings are then steamed, causing the broth to melt down and become a hot, rich soup. It could be described as a cathartic experience to bite into your first soup dumpling and experience the broth washing over your tongue while you chew on the perfectly balanced mix of meat filling and soft, delicate dumpling skin.

Finally we ended our record-breaking food day with an eleventh stop--Oh! Taisho--for yakitori, a traditional Japanese dish of grilled meat (usually chicken) on a skewer. We had beef meatballs, chicken white meat, chicken gizzards, and bacon-wrapped quail eggs. The quail eggs were absolutely divine and the gizzards were smoky, chewy, and much more delicious than I had bargained for. One of the more exotic aspects of yakitori are that the Japanese use a lot of the animal's innards as well as the more traditional meaty parts. I wanted to try both chicken heart and liver, but nobody in my group had the gut to try it with me.

After finishing Food Day, we went to a karaoke place on St. Marks to celebrate a successful food day and the end to our spring semester.

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