Every time I go to New York City, I come back completely exhilarated yet exhausted. There are too many places to try out, too many to revisit, too many to just stumble upon and relish in the discovery.
I went for a long weekend at the end of February for one of my bridal showers (yes, more than one - it's what happens when you have family & friends on both coasts). Although the nicest part of the trip was seeing my best friend and other friends & family, eating and wandering was a close second. And like the last trip, it was nonstop.
After taking a quick red-eye, I checked into the hotel and searched for breakfast, walking in unusually balmy weather before tucking into a baguette at Le Pain Quotidien. The communal tables, bowls of coffee, and pots of jam and hazelnut-chocolate spread were just what I needed to settle into the trip. Nothing too fancy, yet definitely not what I eat every morning to make it feel special.
I stopped hyperventilating and gasping at the prices for shoes at Neiman Marcus and made my first discovery of the trip: a chocolate café on the shoe floor! I don't remember the name of it, but it actually has a conveyor belt loaded with glass domes of pastries going around the counter, with a few tables and a storefront of boxed chocolates. Who knew? It's a nice quiet place to get a sugar fix.
I succumbed to the temptation to crawl into bed and take a nap, then decided to find myself a late lunch, namely the Grand Central Oyster Bar. As much as I loved the ambiance, the history, and watching the cook make my oyster pan roast in the weird contraption, the pan roast was much too rich for me and didn't come close to what I expected something called a pan roast to be. Still, I loved the atmosphere and subsequently made my second discovery of the day, the Grand Central Market. It's nice to know that Manhattan has such a fabulous place right in its heart.
The evening began with meeting up with the girls and having my first Momofuku experience. Yes, my first ever Momofuku food - I think I've been living in a cave or something. It took me long enough, but I think I kept secretly hoping to eat the legendary Bo Ssam as my first David Chang bite. That will have to wait for another trip, but we hung out for a bit at Momofuku Bakery next door, amazed at how packed it was for a bakery on Friday night while we waited for a table at Momofuku Ssam.
Maybe we were giving off good vibes, maybe we were especially charming that night, but we ended up waiting only about 15 minutes on a Friday night at 8PM before we got a table. Good table, good wine, good company, and adventurous eaters. Here's what we ate, everything was spot-on and delicious, although the spicy rice cakes were a tad too spicy for all but the half-Korean in the group.
Oh, and the famous pork buns? Every bit as good as rumored, so good that we placed two orders and then got another order to split as dessert. Go figure.
Since it was dark, my pictures came out blurry and most can't be posted, but suffice to say that yes, we had a bowl of deep fried shrimp heads. Yum. I think we even joked about serving them at the wedding but decided that wouldn't be a good idea. We were a little disappointed they wouldn't let us order dessert from the bakery next door, but we ordered one thing off the menu and it was great, lots of textural differences and really interesting (but for the life of me, I can't remember what it was).
Ending the night at Pegu Club for cocktails was the best idea. It almost seems hidden, yet was jam-packed when we got there and remained so the whole night. I immediately could tell this was a serious cocktail bar when my drink arrived with Kold-Draft ice cubes in it. I won't go into it in this post, but suffice to say the classes I saw John Gertsen do at Stir gave me my first education in the importance of ice in drinks.
Stumbled back to the hotel and it was as end to another night in New York City. Next up, the bridal shower!