Food seems to be on my mind so today’s topic fits nicely. Might as well write about food while the house still smells of the baker’s dozen of “everything” bagels that I brought home from Murray’s Bagels in Chelsea. I was alerted that the bagels were addictive and I concur. I was also warned that I should not ask for a toasted bagel. (A toasted bagel is just matter of fact in Edmonton). My friend went in to Murray’s with me one day and asked for a toasted bagel before I could tell her not to and she was told that Murray’s bagels were never toasted. They are so fresh that they don’t need to be toasted. They are thinner than bagels I have eaten. The texture is dense with a very fine crumb. They are just the right amount of chewy and don’t require a lot of effort to eat. I think that this is a good measure of a bagel. Murray’s also has a very nice variety of soft spreadable cream cheese. I liked the scallion one and the Kalamata olive one was also recommended. When you buy one ready to eat the cream cheese is generous and oozes out the sides once you bite into it. Murray’s also had delicious raspberry rugulach, just saying.
As I write this I am reminded of a card I saw years ago which had a picture of pioneers next to a covered wagon and in front of a campfire. The inscription said “ate out again today, it was good”. That statement pretty much sums up eating in New York. Good food where ever we went. Some food and locations did stand out.
One such location was Doughnut Plant. Fortunately it was located directly between the subway exit and Leo House, a two block journey each evening as we returned from our foray to uptown shows. To fortify ourselves for the last block through cold blasts of winter we would of course stop, ostensibly to warm up. Unfortunately that excuse wore a bit thin as we found that even the largest doughnut can be scarfed in less than three minutes. I am not really a doughnut fan but have never been such a shop in my life. Pecan Praline Beignet, Brooklyn Blackout, Peanut Butter & Raspberry Jam, Coconut Cream, Manhattan Cream, Creme Brûlée. Of course there were more, but even in a brief time one develops favourites. The long wall was covered with three-dimensional fabric doughnuts. Whoever did these was an excellent fibre craftsperson and there is real creativity displayed.
One evening when we ventured to a Lower East Side off, off Broadway play we ate at Katz’s Delicatessen. We sat directly next to the table made so famous in Harry Met Sally. The sign above the table said “we hope that you have what she had”. In fact we had the Pastrami sandwich which is the best. I actually had half a sandwich. I couldn’t get my mouth around it and tried to take it apart and still couldn’t get through it. I felt that it could have easily served me and a couple of friends. One person in our party had a vanilla egg cream. I tried a sip and it was delicious. Another person had the potato pancakes and I tried those as well. Would go again but would share half a sandwich with a friend.
Thursday we wandered around Soho for shopping and found a restaurant called Le Pain Quotidien. It was a communal table restaurant with delicious organic food, heavenly bread plus more. My problem is that my eyes are always bigger than my stomach. The most memorable item for me at Le Pain Quotidien was the beverage. (I was now waging all out war on the sore throat). It was a bowl of frothy hot lemonade with freshly grated ginger, lemon chunks and honey. Wish we had a restaurant like this in Edmonton, alas, none in Canada yet.
Yes, yes this is getting to be an essay. I have honed it down to just three more restaurant/ food shops I want to tell about. Readers are very lucky that I didn’t get to any of the food shops listed in my favourite Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.
Our tour leader had tried to schedule lunch at Eataly. We finally made it to discover as she put it “a Debaji’s on steroids”. An apt description. Piles of many kinds of oranges and other citrus fruit. Shelves of interesting pasta, chocolates, nougat. Then there were the deli food counters – focaccia with aroma’s to draw you in, panini that looked like they should be in a painting, desserts so luscious you wanted to say “one of everything please”. As well there were individual restaurants within the store including one for pasta and a wine bar. One of our group from Edmonton had been invited to lunch with a friend and he discovered that there was another restaurant on the 14th floor with a wonderful view in addition to delicious food.
Our last afternoon we wandered (if you could say that when it was one of the coldest days in New York and mighty chilly even by western Canadian standards) down to Chelsea Market. It was food kiosk, restaurant, food shop, one after another. There are two that particularly caught my interest. The first was spices and tease . This market kiosk consisted of bowls and bowls of fresh spices and teas behind glass of course and a very appealing display. I came home with a very few to try.
I saw a sign Liddabit Sweets. I have a cookbook of the same name so I was off on a search. A small kiosk tucked in a corner turned out to be the storefront location for Liz Gutman and Jen King authors of the cookbook. Before laughing yourselves all the way to the fridge for a carrot check out this book or even better the shop. Top notch ingredients and exacting recipes by authors who met at the French Culinary Institute. Good candy making is not a slam dunk but the results are worth it.
So I am at the end except for I remembered that when I was in Grand Central Station food court I kept seeing these cookies that were iced half white and half black. Some were just regular size and some the size of side plates. I stopped and asked if they were special to New York and was told that yes they were and that they had come out of Seinfeld episode. So when next in New York go to Grand Central. While there be sure and check out Magnolia bakery. I am hoping I can find the recipe for their “Smore” cake. One of the very best I have eaten but not shippable to Edmonton.