Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Meal of the Month: November - New York City

It’s only the middle of November…but I have to give an update about my meal of the month. In an unprecedented move, there is going to be MULTIPLE meals of the month for November. Yes, it’s true. Given the month I’m going to have, I just know, that I’m not going to be able to pick just one outstanding meal. Heck, I’ve already had about half a dozen or so meals that in any other month would be the Meal of the Month. Slam dunk. No doubt about it. And yet in this month? Not so easy. In a month where I’m spanning the globe, and eating in San Francisco, New York, Sydney and Melbourne, there is no way I can choose just one favorite meal.

SO. We’re going to start with a recap of the many meals I had while in NYC. Let’s see…starting with an amazing experience at Insieme (which by the way, has a pasta tasting menu—what could be better??) My friend Marshall was behind the bar that night (umm, why else do you think I went here?), and we tasted so many delicious special cocktails and had perfect wine pairings for each of our courses. My favorite from the night? The classic and simple linguine con vongole—perfectly cooked linguine with clams, garlic and hot pepper and parsley. Delicious! Simple and perfect for a chilly NYC evening. The sweet potato tempura dessert was also unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before.

Another fantastic meal? Bobo! It’s a fun space (if you blink, you’ll miss it—there’s no sign, and it’s a non descript brownstone with small stairs that lead you down to the restaurant). Because we ate downstairs, we were able to order from both the dining room menu as well as the bar nibbles menu. Chef Patrick Connolly prepared a great meal for us (he’s adorable too!), and the gals and I enjoyed bone marrow tots (YES! Like tater tots!) with a house made catsup, braised short ribs, a yummy crab salad, fried pickles, a hamburger…and of course, delicious cocktails! Tons of cocktails and wine.

And then let’s see…a delish cheese course at Artisanal Fromagerie Bistro Wine Bar (can we just say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a restaurant with more cheese!) A great brunch at Pastis, where not only did I have a perfect Eggs Benedict, but I ran into an old coworker (who would think I would run into Mr. Jimmy Suh himself with his wife and new son?!) Small world!

Another yummy brunch? Restro, near my wonderful 70 park avenue hotel, where I ate the Hangover Pasta, cause as it turns out, I was a little hung over. Also the place where I had my first Dutch Baby! (You always remember your first!) AND, a place that has one of my all time favorite cookbooks, Pork & Sons behind the bar. Gotta love a place that’s got the Pork & Sons cookbook in house.

Then let’s see…there was the perfect rainy Saturday mid-day snack. Ramen, smoked chicken wings and David Chang’s famous pork buns at Momofuko Noodle Bar. With a large Japanese beer of course. Nothing better than slurping up ramen noodles with a good friend (coincidentally, another West Coast gal!) on a cold rainy day.

Let’s not forget the casual Monday night dinner at Blue Smoke…perfect spot for a casual and comforting meal after a long weekend of eating, drinking and staying up late. They also have one of my all time favorite beers there—the Allagash from Portland Maine! Yum.

On top of that, there were endless nights of drinking…and yes, to some, these count as a meal (haven’t you ever heard of a liquid diet?) Those liquid meals include:

- Drinks at Tailor (where there was a Sam Mason sighting!)

- Beers at The Room (such a cute place! Awesome beer and wine list!)

- Too many to count yummy Plymouth gin drinks mid-day at Bar Milano from Ross the bartender (my friend Jamie would be proud!)

- A local Brooklyn distilled beer at the Spotted Pig (a beer 'that'll put hair on your chest!' according to my friend Tim)

- Drinks at PDT, from Mr. Jim Meehan himself…where not only did we try most of the drinks on the menu, but I met two awesome OZ industry folks who gave me a long list of places to check out, but also where I had a yummy late night snack of tater tots and a David Chang dog (yum!!)

THEN, to top it off, I was able to attend the new Boqueria Soho opening night party…where I ate more padron peppers than I’ve ever had before…and where there were sightings of local NYC chefs such as Anne Burrell, Marco Canora, Patrick Connolly, and supposedly Johnny Iuzzini made a late appearance (I was LONG gone by then, Barry please don't be mad!) In addition to the yummy pardon peppers, there was quail eggs and chorizo on toast, lamb skewers, cheese, olives and much more. YUM! (Go Baltz team for throwing such an awesome party!)

So! What if not any of those meals, is my Meal of the Month: New York, you ask? (And just how many days was I there for?? I know, it’s a lot of food and drink…) My Meal of the Month would have to go to Dell’anima. I haven’t been able to stop raving about it since I’ve been back. Our table of five took one look at the menu and almost ordered the whole thing. Luckily for our stomachs, we refrained and just ordered ALMOST everything from the menu (they were also kind enough to bring us a few items we didn’t order.) Let’s see. Where do I begin?

Well, first, we ordered all five of their bruschettes…chickpea with preserved lemon, avocado with sea salt, octopus aioli, a soft scrambled eggs bottarga, and a ricotta with sea salt. It was all so good. I could have just eaten these and been happy. The bread was grilled and rubbed with a little garlic. Not too garlicky, but just enough. The soft scrambled eggs were my favorite!

From there, we moved onto some other starters…grilled sweetbreads, braised boar with polenta, and escarole hearts (we had to have one order of something green--Sam and Jamie insisted!)

As if that wasn’t enough…we haven’t even gotten to our pasta course! (And those of you that know me know that I sure do love pasta!) We ordered the tagliatelle alla Bolognese, linguini neri puttanesca, trofie with bacon, tomato, shallots and rosemary, and the garganelli with funghi trifolati, lemon and parsley. How could five people eat all of this?? We’re pros. Not a bite left on the plate. But wait. There’s more.

We finished off with the pork chop, served with sunchokes, prosciutto and mustard fruit, as well as the chicken ‘al diavolo’ served with braised escarole and raisins. The pork chop was a huge piece of meat, and yet when we cut into it, it was perfectly cooked and so moist. Too bad it came at the end of the meal and I was too stuffed to eat more!

Dessert you ask? Sigh. I know they brought us some. But what you ask? I’m a bad blogger and I have to admit, I think I was starting to creep into food coma by then (after all, we had a ton of wine and I was exhausted after a really long weekend.) All I can remember was the perfect shot of fernet I had. Yummmmm, just like at home in San Francisco!

So, what else will this month bring? No doubt lots more good food? When's the next time I return to New York? No doubt, very soon.

Thanks to all of my friends that made this such a fun trip...all of the thoughtfully planned meals, reservations, invitations, suggestions, etc., MUCH APPRECIATED! When are you all coming to San Fran?? Happy to return the favor!


  1. Ms. Law, your foodiness motivates me to bake and create in my beautiful kitchen. Last week I baked a Lemon Pine Nut Torte, mmmm. The teachers at my school, love it. Bake on!