Monday, October 11, 2010

New York Day 1 and 2

Its end of day 1 and 2 in New York and I am most impressed.  I had few expectations of what I would find in New York except that I knew I would probably be amazed and surprised either way. My first food experience yesterday was at Saks 5th Avenue.  I had to wait around to get into my hotel room so, of course went shopping.  I, rather weary after a long haul flight, took some refuge at the famous Snaks Bar for a salad and a drink.  The Gluten Free meal option on British Airways is scary so I was quite hungry.  I had a chopped salad with beef.  The salad part was okay but the beef was scary looking.  Oh dear $14 for this  - what am up for this trip was my thought straight away.  Anyway without judgement I checked into the Hotel, had a much needed shower and headed off to Eataly (  As I am writing this I have butterfly excitement in my stomach at the thought of this place.  The first one opened in Milan a while back but this one is the flagship. Started by three New York Italians - Mario Batali being the most famous of them all.  It is essentially an Italian Supermarket with restaurants and eating bars as part of its makeup.  But that description is not good enough for this place. You can either buy the most amazing range of Italian gourmet ingredients to create heaven at home or you can eat there.  There is a charcuterie and cheese platter area and you stand at tables and feast on the board of delights ordered with a glass of the finest wines or you can stand in the queue for the Pasta & Pizza Bar or eat at Manzo which is the more restaurant style venue.  There is a coffee bar a Gelato Bar, a bookshop, freshproduce, and so it goes on.  I chose the Pizza and Pasta bar as it seemed the easiest place to eat solo.  This is the thing when you are travelling solo, you can't take up fun group dining environments and New Yorkers are quite glamorous so its a bit daunting doing some of these things solo. The menu is simple and exquisite. I sat at the bar looking into the pasta kitchen watching the slick chefs prepare their magic and ordered the Ravioli with brown butter and sage.  They give you a little brown parcel to start which has the most amazing bread hidden inside.  One thing I love about New York is that when you sit down you don't have to ask for water.  There is a waiter with a jug of water on hand at all times and they fill the glass so well that you actually feel bad and end up drinking more water than wine.  Well back to the ravioli.  I can't describe how perfect: the size of the portion, the perfection of cooking and flavour is just wonderful and after 4 months of no wheat - oh my God!  I have to confess to visiting the Gelato counter afterwards.  It is so popular they run out of Gelato and they only had Vanilla left which was so simple, so creamy and one scoop is all you need to be in Gelato Heavan!

Eataly Gelato Provenance

Chelsea Market Halloween Pumpkins
This morning started with a visit to Chelsea Market.  It is not a farmers market or a fresh produce market it is more a wealthy trendoid market, but saying that it has a fantastic selection of food to eat and buy.  Halloween is coming so there was alot of pumpkins on display and cupcakes with spider webs seemed to be the flavour of the day.

Gluten Free Nutella Crepe
Having broken the no wheat diet I felt it important to commit again and try the Gluten Free crepes.  This stall is right next to the Raw Food Stall which makes one feel guilty for living at all!  I, in rebellion, decided to have the Nutella Crepe.  Actually that is not completely honest, the crepe master said that the Gluten Free is a sourdough base and only the Nutella can be paired with it as the sour taste doesn't really go with lemon and cinnamon.  "Yes", I said dutifully.  It was delicious!!

Balthazar Salad Nicoise

The tower in the middle is all Seafood!!!
Balthazar was next to meet colleagues and although the Salad Nicoise and atmosphere was good, it didn't really live up to the expectations I had.  However the next door table's seafood tower looked amazing.

At the end of this trip I think I will dedicate a blog to amazing waiters and bar staff I have come across in just 2 days!  The professionalism is astounding and somethng South Africa could really learn from.

Just had the most amazing Fillet Mignon at the "hotel restaurant" although the restaurant has nothing to do with the hotel and has a reputation of its own apparently.  It has been voted as one of  New York's best steakhouses.  The Fillet was perfect in texture, flavour, cooking and presentation.  Nothing done to it but free range, aged well and cooked perfectly. The beef is from Montenegro and it is aged here in a special room and the chef has accolades of the best steak chef! Wow!  I had a Malbec 2007 to go with it from Spain which was a perfect match. I was given one glass on the house to go with my steak as I was reluctant about a second glass and the maitre de insisted it had to be had.  Again astounding service!  I am sure you are now bored and so I will catch up in a day or so.  I promise to give a street food update as mentioned in the last blog.

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