Well, at 7pm on May 1st we finished the “Manhattan Death March” by arriving at the south end of Battery Park. After a short break as we watched the sun starting to set, it was decided that a celebration was in order, and that beer and pizza was going to be the order of the evening. After some discussion of various pizza options, we settled on John’s Pizzeria on Bleecker Street in the West Village. Down the street from Joe’s Pizza that I hit up earlier in the day, John’s is a very different pizzeria from Joe’s. Coal oven instead of gas fired. Whole pies and no slices. Table service instead of counter.
Our next lunch stop on the Manhattan Death March was for hot dogs. Like many regions of the country (as an aside, Wikipedia has a rather nice summary of regional hot dog variations, New York City has it’s own take on hot dogs. In fact, it has two: the “dirty water dog” (a typical street cart dog, so named since they simmer them in warm water in the cart) and the “papaya dog”. The latter is the interesting one, since, despite the name, the papaya dog doesn’t actually have papaya in or on it; it’s the same Sabrett’s hot dog you’re buying from the dirty water carts on the street, although they’ve grilled it instead boiling it, and it’s generally offered up with both kraut and hot onion sauce as condiments…
In this modern world of web review sites, twitter, facebook, and the like, it’s not uncommon for places to get a lot of hype these days. Sometimes the hype is warranted. Sometimes it isn’t. On our recent trip to NYC, we decided to meet up with my friend Roy and give it a shot. In the case of Shake Shack, the modestly-sized, well, shack in Madison Square Park in New York City, the hype is substantial. Pretty much every respectable burger blog has talked about (sometimes I swear AHT has an article a week on the place), as well as several magazines. The lines are often daunting as well. But, at least from my experience, the hype is warranted (especially if you know a little line management, such as going off-peak).
On weekend and vacation mornings, I really enjoy relaxing with a cup of coffee and the newspaper, and have a nice sweet breakfast, such as pancakes, waffles, or maybe a sweetroll or something. Unfortunately, this sort of thing can be a little difficult when you happen to be in New York City. Luckily, about 18 months ago my sister-in-law introduced me to Le Pain Quotidien (“The Daily Bread”).
Anyone knows me knows that I love pizza. I’ll further admit that I’m a pizza snob. Growing up, I was taught by my Connecticut-raised father that there is One True Pizza, and that’s the pizza (err, Apizza) from Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napolitana in New Haven, CT, with begrudging acceptance of a choice few other places on the planet (most of them near New Haven, like Sally’s, and The Modern). Over the years, I’ve learned that there are a lot of other good pizza places hiding out there, turning out pizzas whose crust, sauce, or cheese (mostly the crust) are head-and-shoulders above the rest. Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix. Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco. American Flatbread in Waitsfield, VT. Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn. Patsy’s in Harlem. Lombardi’s in New York City. The last two of these show that if there’s a home to pizza in America that’s not New Haven, it’s New York.
(Closed) If there’s one thing I really like, it’s a good bagel, in particular a New York style one. Unfortunately, fewer things in life seem more certain than the exponential decay in bagel quality one experiences as you move further in distance from NYC. By the time you are barely 50 miles into Connecticut most bagels have been replaced by some sort of circular bread product that resembles a bagel only slightly in appearance, and even less in taste. It’s as if someone took a real bagel, described it in writing, and made someone re-invent it from that description. Most “bagels” leave me disappointed and wanting. And sometimes it’s rather hard to explain, since their exists a pretty big bagel gap: it seems that most people outside NYC have never actually had a good bagel (for example, seeing the gushing reviews on Yelp for one of our local bad bagel ships), don’t know what a bagel should be, and wrongly think that all bagels taste the same. On the other hand, I’ve met several people in NYC that haven’t ever had a bad bagel.
On our recent trip to New York City, Carol and I wanted to go someplace nice but not over the top to celebrate our tenth anniversary since we started dating. A quick search of OpenTable showed that the Saturday night slots at most places were really starting to fill up, but we noticed that the Financial District location of Brasserie Les Halles had decent availability, so we decided to give it a go. Les Halles has been on my hit list for a while, mostly since I love bistro food, French-style butchering, and good fries. And, admittedly, Bourdain’s plugging of the place made me curious…