How To Gotham City

It should come as no surprise that I was on the PC a pair of weeks back. I saw an advert for a posh Asian airline. Why not go somewhere I thought. I punched in CLT to LGA and a sweet priced ticket revealed itself. The fare was cheap because the departure dates and times were wholly inconvenient for the average Joe but without a locked schedule, I can be anywhere, anytime. Carpe diem. I booked to depart on a Wednesday afternoon. My Uber driver took me where I needed to be. A bottle of water, my Kindle and on the plane I went. I arrived in Manhattan circa 5.00. Traffic into the city was surprisingly calm and through midtown and south to the flat I went. Upon arrival, I let the doormen know I was in town by myself and expected zero visitors. Check one. Once on our floor, I was annoyed to hear beeping in the hallway only to discover that the noise was in fact coming from ours. One of the fire alarm batteries was running low. Every sixty seconds, a robot billowed what needed doing. 

After a mini-headache, I found the ladder, changed said battery, called my parents to regale them of my accomplishment and set out to spot number one on my restaurant list, Foragers Market. This is a terrific little green grocer in Chelsea that sells local and organic produce. My objective was to grab farm eggs and a couple of bottles of fresh pressed juice. If you have the option, eating breakfast at home when traveling is the way to go. From the grocer, I had planned to eat at the bar at Gramercy Tavern but the buzz of the restaurant attached to the grocer called to me. I sat at a tallboy (always a prudent choice when dining alone) and enjoyed a sublime meal. I started with their Foragers Salad, which is a marvelous mix of lettuce, sprouts and a crisp vinaigrette. My main was striped bass with sunchoke puree, roasted salsify, black garlic dates and black trumpet mushrooms. I had never heard of such ingredients. Weezer was playing in the background. Score. On my perch, I was fortunate to have a spellbinding view of the kitchen. After dinner, a tad bit light headed from the delectable food and rich vino, I stopped at the wine store attached to the shop to pick up a bottle of red. I returned home, locked the doors, removed my shoes, poured a glass and delighted in the city lights.

My time by myself in the city was brilliant. I stayed at my folk's apartment - alone - which was simply exceptional in its own right. It should be said that I would not trade my current living situation for the world but I was transported back to a time when I lived alone. Upon moving to Germany in 2002, my biggest fears were not living in a new country, not speaking a foreign language, not going to the doctor speaking a new language, not even joining the corporate world. I legitimately worried about how I would fare going from living in Chapel Hill with a house full of girls to an Altbau apartment in Dusseldorf, Germany alone. Let me tell you, the learning curve was short and sweet. I was soon telling peers with roommates in other cities that rolling solo is the way to go. I could blare MTV on a Friday after work as I was readying for a night at the discotheques. I enjoyed sushi cross legged on the floor with an old wood coffee table as my dining space. Arm presses in the chair in the company of myself. No one borrowing clothes without my knowledge or making a racket upon entry. Back when I was a cool 22 year old girl living abroad I used to sit on the stoop of my massive, bay windows that were open to the night. Halcyon times indeed with a French cigarette in hand as I admired the world below and before me. I loved my time abroad. Fast forward 13 years, no roommate for a few nights. Hello old friend. Silence. Who knew I enjoyed it. I slept like a baby each and every night.

On my first full day in the City, I woke up early and went for a 5 mile walk through downtown. Exercising in NYC is the business as everyone is in a rush to be somewhere. Traffic moves down and up streets at mach speed. You can always identify the tourists. They are the ones clogging up the main arteries and taking their sweet time. Note to tourists in NYC, be mindful of traffic and if you want to linger, get thee to the curb! Case in point, you better keep up. Also, please stop using selfie sticks. You look ridiculous. After my morning coffee, cardio and shower, I headed to Northern Spy Food Co. in the East Village to sample what Eater ranked as one the best kale salads in the city. This little spot was the jam. My waitress was quirky and one advantage to dining alone is that you somehow adopt superpower hearing. Or at least I do. The banter around me was most interesting. I especially enjoyed listing to a threesome. Two were a couple and the male in the pair used to date the third. Together, they discussed their viewpoints on marriage. Lunch was the piece de resistance. Hearty kale with squash, crunchy almonds, salty cheddar as well as pecorino and two eggs on top. Runny yolk makes everything better. Especially burgers. Fact. After lunch, I walked north to Park Avenue to meet my best friend for tea. We had a lovely catch up and from there, I headed due south to prepare for my night on the town: Williamsburg. 

I have always been tenant about venturing into Brooklyn. Loco, I know. I took a train to Coney Island once and the ride was seemingly never ending. A ride on the Cyclone, who knows how many beers and at least two hot dogs could have accounted for that. I suppose this colored my vantage point. Wrongfully so. Brooklyn is where it's at. I was picked up in a cool Uber ride by one of my brother's best friends. This young man is worldly, successful and commands the most terrific sense of humor I have ever come across. Our evening was marked by endless laughter. Our other two dining peers were a couple that fed my brother well during his first weeks in Los Angeles. Some time later, they moved to NYC. She is also a foodie; a masterful, creative and inventive chef. Thanks to a shared love of cooking, we became pen pals via email. So after a pair of years writing, we were to meet in the flesh. What a grandiose reunion. One of her sisters said our relationship is like that of Julia Childs and Avis DeVoto. Oh the compliment! Perhaps we do have a cookbook in us. I was thrilled to eat at a spot that has been on my culinary bucket list for two years, Diner. Housed in an old train sleeping car from the 1920s, it is small and quaint. Menus change daily so the person in charge of your table writes down the specials on your table. I was in an ethereal food coma and blacked out what we ate. This said, our meal was magnificent. When heading here, I recommend popping in next door at Marlow and Sons for some pre-dinner livery and libations. Our evening ended at a spot called The Drink. Pick your poison and a refreshing punch comes to your table in a gorgeous old crystal bowl complete with a ladle and delicate little cups. The evening ensued and needless to say, I woke up feeling less than 100%. In fact I had a hangover to mimic those of college days. I was quite proud. Never knew I still had it in me.

The following afternoon, a bit rough for the wear, I met one of my very best friends from college days for lunch at Lafayette, another spot on my list. This gal and I met at the age of 18. I think she first saw me at our sorority house in my famous blue suede clogs (an Italy purchase that summer) and most likely eye shadow to match. Maybe something was in the water but she gave me the time of day, we became fast friends and this lady helped shape my university experience. We have been bosom pals ever since. She is one of those friends with whom you pick up where you left off, no matter how much time has elapsed in between. For lunch, I went for the salad Nicoise. reputedly the best in the city since the closing of Pastis. I also highly recommend their cheeseburger and to-die-for french fries. Waiters are knowledgable about wine and a cause of being on vacation, I partook. From here, dear friend and I commanded the streets reminiscing about this and that. Our stroll took us to a fabulous antique jeweler in the Meatpacking District, Doyle & Doyle. If you need an engagement ring, right hand ring, sweet pair of earrings or a stunning locket as my friend picked up, this is your place. I find myself perusing their website daily since going into the shop. Sometime in the late afternoon we said our "see you laters" as we were joining the rest of the crew for dinner for a reunion dinner. In reality, I needed a nap. At 7 pm, we all met again at the Italian pasta shop, Bar Primi, on the Bowery. We ladies had lots to celebrate including a new marriage and baby boy on the way. A superb reunion indeed that carried us through the night. Dinner was a continuous stream of small plates that were simple and delicious. We ogled and awed over Sicilian tomato rice balls, grilled prawns (I love sucking the heads), beet salad with pistachio pesto, stuffed meatballs in sumo and broccolini with feta and breadcrumbs. For dinner, we each ordered a small plate of pasta. Mine had garlic and breadcrumbs. Another bolognese. One, just tomatoes and basil. This lively spot was quintessential Manhattan. Lively service, superb food and surprisingly economical. 

The remainder of the weekend was a fantastic blur. Between juices for breakfast around the corner at Organic Avenue, power walks through Central Park with my other best friend, I saw it all. I got to hold lots of babies, which was splendid. One evening, we hooked up with our South African cousins for a tour-de-West Village and beyond. We started at Otto Enoteca Pizzeria in the West Village for vino and dynamite pizza (this is my favorite restaurant in the city) and headed over to the ever rowdy Tortilla Flats for loud music and pitchers of margaritas. We enjoyed a 10.00 pm dinner reservation at The Dutch (another amazing spot and go for lunch when they serve their uber famous burgers). On my final full day in the city I went to Brooklyn again, this time Cobble Hill. Together with a dear friend and her growing little family, we walked to Carroll Gardens and ate at the brilliant Prime Meats for pre-Prohibition cocktails and true farm to table grub. We started with the chilled iceberg salad complete with maytag blue cheese buttermilk dressing and bacon. For dinner, we kept it classy and ordered the certified black Angus burger. Hands down the best cheeseburger I have ever eaten. Next time, I am going to find someone with whom to split the Cote de Boeuf, which is 36 day dry aged beef. A glorious meal made for a pleasant trip on the F train back home. On my last and final day of rolling solo in the city, I ventured to Num Pang, the famous Cambodian sandwich shop in Chelsea Market for lunch. I ordered a spicy and refreshing salad with grilled skirt steak. I took it home and enjoyed my first and only meal at the family dining room table. Now that my folks are in the Big Apple, I look forward to returning soon. I plan to take serious advantage of the roof deck, weather and of course, enjoy some of their food at that same very same dining room table. As my brother Keith likes to say, #howtobreyer.

After the gastronomic onslaught in NYC, I returned home committed to giving my stomach a bit of a breather. The below soup is flavorsome, delicate and super easy to prepare. Sometimes, there is nothing nicer than a warm bowl of soup that goes down easy. Enjoy this in a bowl or mug, whichever tickles your fancy.

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

You Need

1 acorn squash
2 TBS coconut oil - olive oil will work too
1 small white onion - chopped
2 or more garlic cloves - I like more
3 inch knob of ginger - peeled and chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher salt - I like David's
4 cups of organic, low sodium chicken stock

How To Do

1. Take your acorn squash and put it in the oven for an hour at 450 degrees. No need to cut it, in it goes. Once it is finished roasting, remove, let it cool, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Now scoop out the squash and put in a separate bowl. With acorn squash, you can eat the skin if you want to nibble as you work.

2. In a pot, heat the coconut oil on medium low heat. Now add your white onion, garlic and ginger. Let this cook for approximately 20 minutes. Stir it every once in a while so as to ensure that it does not burn. 

3. Now you can add your ground spices and kosher salt. Give a big stir.

4. In goes the squash as well as the broth. Bring to a boil and lower to simmer for 25 minutes. 

5. Once this is done, you want to puree the soup either in a blender or with a immersion hand blender. You can garnish however you please. I like fresh thyme, chopped avocado or even green onions. If you are cool with dairy, this would be divine with some grated Pecorino.

1 comment:

  1. Liz you have such a wonderful life! You did more in NYC in a week than I would do in a year!