Eating My Way Through New York City

February 25, 2011  •  New York, North America, Travel

How lucky am I that my middle son now lives in Manhattan? Although he lives in a small 285 square foot studio on the upper east side, we managed to share the apartment for the weekend (he gave me the bed and he took the pullout chair) and spent our weekend moving from one dining venue to the next. We fit in a bit of shopping and a visit to see his new office between meals, but this weekend was clearly about seeing my son and eating, and we started at the cool bar at the Shoreham Hotel in midtown for a bit of refreshment and catching up.The bartender recommended Shelly’s, just a couple of blocks away, for dinner, and the salmon hit the spot. After dinner we met a couple of my son’s friends for a nightcap, then went to sleep early, my son tired from a hard work week and me exhausted from work, travel and a cold.Saturday morning I met the lovely Jennifer from Gourmet Cooking & Living (the olive oil sponsors of my food blog) for coffee at Agata & Valentina, a very cool Italian specialty grocer on the upper east side. I could have spent hours perusing the store, but made my way back to grab my son and head to Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain, where we started our brunch with this fabulous tuna tartare. The entire mound of tuna was surrounded by minced hardboiled egg, red onion, and capers, like lox would be served in NY with bagels – really wonderful!I had the open face omelet with mushrooms, roasted peppers and feta cheese, while my son opted for a Kentucky Hot Brown, a traditional open faced turkey sandwich with gravy and bacon. We both left lunch quite satisifed, and headed to Eataly for some browsing.Although it was freezing out, the sky was partly cloudy mixed with a vibrant blue, creating a wonderful backdrop for the buildings lining Madison Square Park and the iconic Flatirons Building.Inside Eataly, we were instantly met with the same enormous crowd I experienced on my first visit there. It’s almost suffocating to try to make your way through the winding store.While the food displays are mouthwateringly creative, for me the crowd just takes away from the experience, making you want to beeline towards the exits. I also had the same strange feeling that the author of the recent Grist blog post had – this is kind of cool, but doesn’t it really belong in Italy, not Manhattan? In Italy, Eataly is all about celebrating the local foods of Italy. In NY, it seems just commercial.I think on my next trip to NY I’m going to shoot for visiting Eataly during the week, and perhaps early in the day when they open, in the hopes of really seeing what it’s like. Better yet, maybe I’ll plan a trip to Torino to check out the original Eataly!Our big splurge for the weekend was dinner at Tom Colicchio’s Craft restaurant in Gramercy. I was treating my son and a couple of his good friends to dinner, and we started the evening off with a nice bottle of pinot noir and this little amuse bouche from the chef, a creamy sip of soup.One of my favorite nibbles of the weekend was this wagyu beef carpaccio garnished with quail eggs.My son’s buddy was kind enough to split the suckling pig for two with me, and it was some of the best pork I’ve had. We managed to eat it all, despite appetizers and salads preceeding the entrees. After dinner we shared a champagne nightcap at Flute Bar – a quirky champagne bar that has several outposts throughout the city.My son had made reservations for his group of friends to meet us for brunch on Sunday, something they do every weekend that I think is a great tradition. Since he made the reservation this time, we managed to get them to come from their Murray Hill neighborhood up this his upper east side part of town for German brunch at the Heidelberg. A couple of eggs with creamed spinach and home fries, along with a mimosa, hit the spot for me. After brunch was went to see one of the other young women’s apartments, meet her dog, then made our way to shop for clothes and more before heading back to my son’s apartment to rest up a bit.Jennifer from Gourmet Cooking & Living had suggested Spina on the lower east side for dinner after they had done an olive oil dinner at the restaurant, so my son & I decided to give it a try. The classic arugula salad was almost as great as the arugula in Italy – nice and peppery, accompanied by some thin slices of Pecorino Romano cheese.The malloreddus pasta dish, saffron infused sardinian gnocchetti finished in a veal, beef, and pork ragu, was really exceptional, and a comforting dish for Sunday dinner. I had one more meal – pasta fagioli at Dean’s in midtown – when I had lunch with my son and his boss on Monday before catching a cab to LaGuardia, but didn’t feel it was appropriate to photograph my food in front of his boss. Dean’s is a simple pizza and pasta joint, with surprisingly good food. They also offer family sized portions that are very reasonably priced, so I can see my son returning there with his gang.

So there you have it – a weekend of wining and dining my way through Manhattan. I can’t wait for my next trip when we’ll do it all again!

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