November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving in NYC

We spent this Thanksgiving in NYC and our appetites were more than satisfied during this trip. While most of you were feasting on turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, we were slurping up soup dumplings and folding over large slices of pizza.

We spent a glorious Thanksgiving lunch at Joe Shanghai's in Chinatown, which is known all over the city for their soup dumplings. As a soup dumpling virgin, I had no idea these things were so good. They were truly awesome - warm, incredibly savory and actually fun to eat. They are steamed dumplings with a little pork meatball and savory broth in the center. You have to poke a small hole in the dumpling, pour in a teaspoonful of flavored soy-ginger sauce, slurp out the soup and proceed to eat the rest of the dumpling without burning your mouth. We also had amazing Orange Beef, Homemade Fried Shanghai noodles, and Kung Pao Chicken, all of which were incredibly good.

It was just a few short hours of walking around the city and seeing a movie before we could eat again. After striking out on a few of our favorite places in the West Village, we stumbled across a cute cafe called the Bus Stop. They had homey food that was perfect for the chilly evening and our tired feet. I got my roast turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and wilted spinach. While not as good as our usual family feast, it hit the spot. Some earthy red wine and a slice of dark syrupy pecan pie rounded out the meal perfectly!

The next day we sought out one of the best coffee bars in NYC. Cafe Grumpy was reviewed in the New York Times and being the coffee lovers that we are, we had to make the trek. I had an amazing cappucino, and my other half said the espresso "changed his life." Their set up was incredible and it's hard to describe the care they took when pulling the shots of espresso and the precision with which they executed each step in the process. Definitely recommended if you're a coffee geek in any stretch of the imagination.

We waited in the cold outside Jon's Pizzeria for what has to be the best pizza in town. Then it was across the street to the Blind Tiger for some cask ale in front of a warm fireplace. Shopping ensued for much of the afternoon and then when more eating was in store, we had a marvelous dinner at Pastis in the meatpacking district.

I actually don't think there is anywhere I'd rather eat than a French bistro or brasserie. Just reading the menu and seeing things like Tripes or Carre d'Agneau melts my heart. I don't even eat tripe or skate or boar pate, but when I see it on a menu, it's like I'm back in France. I know that I will find good inexpensive red wine, good bread, braised meats that melt in your mouth and warm chocolate cakes or creme brulee. I feel nourished, fulfilled and jovial in a way that just going down the local burrito joint will never ever do for me. At Pastis, I had a warm goat cheese salad, braised beef with carrots (in the richest meaty sauce you can imagine) with french fries to soak up that sauce. Between our party of 4, we shared a warm chocolate cake, an Île flottante, and a creme brulee. Does life get any better?!

Well, that was my two days of fabulous eating in NYC this Thanksgiving. Hope your Thanksgiving was just as fulfilling!

November 10, 2007

It's November already!?!

Hello, hello, hello...
Is anybody out there?

Testing, one...two...three...(clear throat)...Let's try this again, huh? Hmm...what's been going on since mid-September?

New Job - check
In process of buying first home - check
Cooking more frequently - check
trying many new restaurants - check
feelin' good - check

I'm also giddy that it's my favorite-ist month - November! The season of pigging out on Turkey and all the fixin's is upon us. I'm an unabashed Thanksgiving food lover. Surprisingly, I've met quite a few people who are ambivalent or even (gasp!) reviled by Thanksgiving dinner. This I do not understand.

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and green beans all drowning in gravy with just a dollop of cranberry sauce (you know, to completely offset all that fat) pretty much makes my eyes light up. Every component delicious and completely necessary. Add red wine and pumpkin pie and it's any wonder we don't all weep onto our plates in gratitude of our great heaping piles of bounty. It's the holiday for hedonists and strikes a deep personal divide between those that will completely let go, devour more than they ought and those that will not budge for one meal from their deep conviction that fat is evil. If they feel they must portray that we are what we eat, please do not do so for my benefit. We are what we eat, there's no doubt. I'm perfectly comfortable knowing that I am Gravy.

As I write this, I'm of course at once sure of myself and confused. I do not wish to vilify healthy eaters, because we all must be most of the time, but at the same time I am disturbed by the lack of passion when it comes to this one day in November when we can shed our reservations, become passionate food whores, drink too much and laugh at/with our family members.

All this being said, I'm going to NYC for Thanksgiving to eat Chinese food. I'm starting to feel a little bit of pain (my taste buds) when thinking about this. But, the good news is, I'm quite confident that I can create a beautiful Thanksgiving spread any day of the year so don't worry, I'll get mine!

This week, I'll be making these tasty Pumpkin Bars for my employer's Thanksgiving potluck.
Happy Turkey month!