So I am back from New York and I feel absolutely wiped out. I was only there for a few days but what a trip it was! I was staying with my good friend Reisha who used to live in East Village but has recently moved to Jersey City. It is so easy to just stick to Manhattan and Brooklyn when you fly to New York but it was nice to see Jersey City. And yes, I do know Jersey City isn’t New York, but its 15 minutes on the PATH train into Manhattan and that’s good enough for me.
After a bumpy landing through the nor’easter storm, my plane was stuck on the runway at JFK for over an hour while the planes that were trying to take off were being de-iced. It took a loooong time to get off the plane and out of the airport, then I had to queue for ages in the freezing cold blizzard for a cab into the city.
Eventually, I got to Grove Street station in Jersey City, and was greeted by Reisha with screams and hugs. I needed wine and something warm to eat so we popped into her local bar/restaurant, LITM. Happy hour was in full swing so Reisha and I, armed with lots of wine and a cracking good Macaroni Cheese with chorizo, caught up with all our gossip.
The next day we wondered around Jersey City trying to get some brunch. Unfortunately Jersey was badly hit by Hurricane Sandy and a lot of restaurants were closed. Luckily, Skinners Loft on Newark Avenue was open and serving fantastic food.
We ordered a portion of Filet Mignon sliders with sautéed mushrooms, garlic butter and parmesan herb fries.
These were incredible. The brioche bun was soft and sweet and had started to soak up all the juices from the meat, the mushrooms and the butter. The beef was tender and juicy, the mushrooms earthy and buttery. I reckon if I was asked right now what I’d want my last meal on earth to be, I’d ask for that dish. The portion gave you 3 sliders…a bit much for one person in my opinion, but this is America and they do love their big portions. It was perfect for Reisha and I to share though.
We also ordered the warm sliced steak salad with grilled onion, roasted Portobello, romaine & boston lettuce, crumbled blue cheese, roasted shallot vinaigrette, topped with shoestring fries.
Again, this was fantastic…warm juicy steak with a beautiful dressing and a lovely tang of creamy blue cheese. I will definitely be coming back to Skinners Loft next time I’m over there.
Obviously, being November, squashes and pumpkins are in season and I saw them everywhere I went. These ones were found in the food market outside Grove Street station, including the biggest butternut squash I’ve ever seen!
In an effort to save a bit of money, Reisha and I decided to buy some bits and pieces to eat at home. Her local store was fantastic, I could have spent hours in there. I have to admit to a bit of an obsession with foreign supermarkets and food stores. I love seeing what people eat around the world. One thing that did amaze me was the vast options that are available in American stores. This was a tiny store and yet they had an unbelievable variety of milk… (this is just a fraction of them)
And balsamic vinegars…
Not to mention the array of crisps (or chips as they call them), chocolate etc. We ended up buying salami, cheese and crackers to go along with the tomatoes onion, mozzarella, olives and bread we had bought at the food market by the station, and then went home to devour our feast. One of the highlights being this triple cream goats cheese brie…
The next day we headed into Manhattan and the first place I wanted to go was The Smith in East Village. I love this place and as much as I’d love to try out more of the menu, I always end up ordering the same thing…vanilla bean French toast with maple butter and caramelised bananas…with a side order of home fries. And this time we also got some crisps with melted blue cheese poured over the top.
I have eaten a lot of French toast in my time and I must say, this is still the best I’ve had. Soft, sweet and buttery…its amazing. If you’re going to New York, please go here for breakfast and try it. Also, the home fries are the best I’ve tasted.
You’d think that after eating this I’d be full, and I was. But after about half an hour of walking up Fifth Avenue, I noticed a Papaya Dog and was suddenly hungry again.
And half an hour after that I was hungry again (!) and popped into Rickshaw Dumpling Bar on West 23rd Street for some scrumptious duck dumplings and clear noodle soup.
The next day, on our way to brunch, we were walking through the market at East 21st and Broadway and I noticed a few stalls selling Arepas. I had never seen or heard of these before but basically they consist of two corn cakes with mozzarella sandwiched between them, and then fried. Crispy, sweet and gooey all in one bite. Amazing!
We then arrived at our destination for brunch…Barbounia. When we got there we were told there would be a 15 minute wait but we could have a drink at the bar while we waited. No problem! Brunch is obviously a very popular pastime all over the place, but in New York, it seems that you get unlimited champagne cocktails with brunch! Yes, that’s right…unlimited. Needless to say, Reisha and I were very happy.
Our initial prediction of a 15 minute wait actually turned into an hour and 15 minutes but by that time I’d sunk about 6 bellinis and I think Reisha had matched me in Mimosas. Once our table was free, we giggled as we tried to manoeuvre through the rest of the people waiting to be seated (it was packed), to our table in the centre of the restaurant. Yet again, our glasses were being filled and I started to have difficulty in composing myself in order to be able to read the menu. I did eventually decide on the croque portobello…
This consisted of duck proscuitto & swiss cheese with sunny side up eggs, served with fries. Absolutely fantastic. I have never had duck proscuitto before but it was delicious. And with the added richness of the soft egg and the cheese…this was a really great dish.
Reisha ordered the Foie Gras Sausage Shashuka – Baked eggs with tomato sauce, paprika, garlic & homemade chicken foie gras sausage. And her boyfriend Matt had the Turkish Eggs – Baked eggs with spinach, ground lamb, chickpeas & tahini. Now, by this time, I was pretty drunk so I don’t remember what I thought of these dishes but I’m assured by Reish and Matt that they were indeed delicious.
We also ordered a side of baba ganoush and this I do remember. It was wonderful. Possibly one of the best I’ve had, and I’ve had a lot in my lifetime. It had a really deep smokiness to it, and served with fresh, warm bread, I was in heaven. The bread really was fantastic…the long loaf of bread is served on a wooden board straight out of the oven so its piping hot when it arrives at your table. Its lightly spiced and perfect for dipping into baba ganoush.
Unfortunately, I was at the end of my trip, with only enough time to buy up some essentials to take back to London with me…
Goodbye New York. Until next time…