Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan’
Listed alphabetically by state, Joe’s Shanghai (鹿鳴春) was in the New York section of CNN’s ‘50 best Chinese restaurants in the United States‘. In the same block as Momofuku Má Pêche and Momofuku Milk Bar in Midtown, Joe’s Shanghai is a double storey ‘centre of exotic specialties’.
I signalled a table for one and was ushered upstairs. Bronze deer and potted bamboos decorated the bay window. A tiered sparkling gold and crystal chandelier was suspended above the vestibule.
A curious specials menu included New Zealand mussels, T-bone steak and rack of lamb.
A mound of cold egg noodles was drizzled with sesame dressing, topped with julienned cucumber and served in a scallop shell shaped dish. I slurped the cold sesame noodles (芝麻冷麵), a simple but appetizing celebration of Chinese carbs.
The traditional trio of ginger slivers, soy sauce and vinegar were stirred in a bowl for dipping.
Joe’s Shanghai is famous for their soup dumplings. Six crab and pork xiao long bao (蟹粉小籠包) were on a bed of shredded Napa cabbage (黃芽白) in a steaming bamboo basket. The delicate morsels were juicy and meaty, although the skin was a little doughy.
Noodles and dumplings were requisite sustenance for shopping in Manhattan!
I had read about Beecher’s Handmade Cheese opening in New York and made a mental note to visit the next time I was in the Big Apple. Located in the Flatiron District in a spacious loft, Beecher’s New York is a retail store, café, licenced restaurant and cheese making factory.
The original Beecher’s Seattle is at a busy intersection at Pike Place Market. Noses press against the windows to watch the cheese makers at work, inside the crowds shuffle along the narrow room to the cheese counter, and queues frequently curl out onto the sidewalk for their ‘world’s best’ mac and cheese.
The New York outpost spans three levels. The ground floor has a cheese counter, a produce section, the cheese kitchen and the café. There is seating on the mezzanine level and downstairs is The Cellar, a cheese and wine bar.
A large sign hangs above the café proclaiming the company’s mission of ‘changing the way America eats’ and directs the spotlight to the Flagship Foundation, Beecher’s contribute one percent of all sales to educate children on nutrition, health and food choices.
An L shaped counter entices with artisan cheeses and charcuterie, and shelves are laden with preserves.
The mezzanine level was empty when I visited for a mid afternoon snack. The elevated area has panoramic view of the cheese kitchen, although no cheese was being made on the day.
After many hours of walking, I ordered a small pasta salad to nibble on for sustenance.
A hearty combination of salami, marinated bell pepper, capers, fresh mozzarella and olive oil were tossed with fusilli.
The East Coast version of Beecher’s is glamorous but still with Seattle at its heart.
On our last visit to New York, we had a pizza picnic with friends at Madison Square Park. We sprawled out on the lawn amongst office workers, and nannies and their brood, good pizza and better company under a natural canopy on a humid spring day.
Ms H worked in the area so I asked her about Shake Shack. She said there’s always a queue but you can check the Shack Cam on their website for the length before you go to line up.
After elbowing through crowds at the Empire State Building, I strolled down to Madison Square Park for lunch at Shake Shack. There were about forty people in the queue and it took about forty five minutes from lining up to ordering and picking up my meal.
It was a pleasant day and the queue was in the shade. I perused the menu and exchanged text messages with Ms H for recommendations. I chuckled when I noticed the B-line sign. Why would you only get a drink or dessert?
I was split between the custard of the day and the concrete jungle, a blend of vanilla custard, hot fudge, bananas and peanut butter.
Once I ordered I joined the group pacing back and forth at the pick up window, staring at the staff assembling the dockets, clutching the paging device, willing it to vibrate and beep. There are plenty of tables and chairs for al fresco dining in the glorious post Hurricane Irene weather.
The ShackBurger was positioned upright against the side of the cardboard box, a tray of crinkle cut fries wedged in the middle, next to a melting cup of vanilla almond fudge custard.
Minced Angus beef, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce sandwiched in a bun, the ShackBurger was on par with In-N-Out! It was freshly cooked, juicy but not soggy, tasty but not messy.
I love the uniformity of crinkle cut fries, each baton is equally golden and crunchy. I was on alert for the hovering pigeons, watchful over my fries.
The custard was suffering in the heat. I scooped quickly, each spoonful of vanilla custard was studded with chopped almonds and I finally found the hot fudge swirled on the bottom of the cup!
There was an ominous feeling on the Saturday of Hurricane Irene. Blanket television coverage droning on about this, that and the other, the solemnity Mayor Bloomberg’s news conferences, declarations of state of emergency, mandatory evacuation orders, and the shutdown of the Subway and all New York airports all amplified the forboding.
Although I joined the grocery store queues and stocked up on bottled water, some muesli bars and a large bag of almonds, I felt safe in Midtown Manhattan.
The apocalyptic photos of an empty Grand Central Terminal and deserted Times Square were transmitted across the world. The streets were eerily devoid of people and silent of honking as the city stoically awaits the ferocious hurricane.
Most stores were closed and only a few eateries were open. Ms H did a search and found Marché du Sud on the Upper East Side.
We walked there from opposite directions in the torrential rain, thankful that the hurricane winds were still several hours away. The entrance to Marché du Sud is divided into the dining area and patio on the left, and the bakery and gourmet market on the right.
Cold and dripping wet, I was relieved to be indoors. A long and narrow room with the bar at the front and an open kitchen at the back, the space was homely and comfortable.
The laminated menu had a tabloid magazine as its cover. There were set menus available but curiously these were cash only.
We selected two items to share. The specialty is Alsatian tarte flambée or French pizza. Thin and crispy, the l’authentique had crème fraîche, lardon, caramelised onions and Gruyère. Plain in appearance, it was a delicious combination of flavours.
We should have ordered a second French pizza! The Belgian waffles were unfortunately a little dry but easily remedied with extra cream.
Hunger sated, we strolled a couple of blocks in search of gumboots for Ms H. You’ll smile at this cute photo!
We spent a week in California wine country last year. To avoid driving through San Francisco, we picked up our rental car in Napa. After a serene ferry ride, we were a little frazzled by a long bus trip into Napa. Despite having a dinner booking at Bouchon for the next evening, we made an impromptu stop in Yountville. A quaint manicured town, Yountville is home to Thomas Keller and his restaurants, The French Laundry, Ad Hoc and Bouchon.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch at Bouchon - the best croque madame I’ve ever eaten and impeccable service in a French bistro atmosphere. Afterwards we crossed into the bakery for some sweet treats. In the car I gently cradled the carry bag with macarons, a TKO and a lemon tart.
I decided to save the momofuku compost cookie for Hurricane Irene so I strolled to the Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle for dessert after lunch at má pêche. The building has an outpost of Bouchon Bakery and is also the location of Per Se.
The café was busy with work lunches and tourists. There is a delectable selection of soups, salads and sandwiches, including lobster sliders as the special of the day.
An array of pastries and baked goods tempted the queue, for immediate consumption or packaged as gifts.
Rows of pastel coloured macarons filled an entire shelf.
There was a tray stacked with TKO, Thomas Keller’s interpretation of an Oreo.
I limited myself to one macaron, I could not rationalise a pain au chocolat and an éclair for Hurricane Irene!
Perfectly round discs of meringue enclose a spread of buttercream. Fragrant with vanilla, the macaron was crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. It was light and soft, and more than double the size of macarons I’ve had in Sydney!
I’ve now had memorable experiences at Bouchon on both the East Coast and West coast!