Warning: Lots of fabulous food photos and details of my Foodie trip to NYC. Proceed at your own risk.
My plan was to arrive in New York, get to my hotel and maybe explore a little bit of the Tribeca area where I was staying before my Cooking Pastelitos for 100 gig on Sunday. I was traveling alone, which doesn't bother me. It was just the getting-from-one-place-to-another that I had to figure out.
The best direct flight was into Newark (which didn't look that far from my hotel on the map), but then that left me having to find my way into the city from New Jersey.
I put the word out on Facebook, hoping that maybe some of my local New York FB friends would tell me the best way to navigate their world.
Enter my amazing and generous MBFCF readers...
Arriving in the City
"We would love to meet you and pick you up from the airport."
So it was that I arrived in Newark and was greeted by sweet Christy, her husband Koe, and their beautiful daughter, Sunny. I got to spend the first leg of my trip chatting with these lovely people and bonding over our Cuban similarities in spite of living on opposite coasts.
Our route took us through the famous Holland Tunnel, which apparently is 10 times more crowded at any other time, but that's not important right now.
We arrived at the hotel where the Rodriguez's dropped off a very tired and very, very grateful Marta. (Also, isn't that the über-cutest child you've ever, ever seen?)
The NY Foodie Tour
I'd just arrived in New York City and frankly, I was hungry. I know enough about New York that answering the "where to eat?" question was not a simple thing, unless, of course, I was willing to get corner-store pizza (I was definitely not willing). New York has every kind of food in every kind of neighborhood, some more accessible than others.
Enter MBFCF readers Mario and Michele. He is Cuban and knows how much I love Cuban food, but I also mentioned that I'd be having Cuban food all day at CCC of NY event.
"We'll pick you up and we have a great plan for the evening to make sure you get to enjoy the best NYC food experience possible."
Obviously, I was in a beggars-can't-be-choosy position here. Also, I had seen enough of their photos on Instagram to know I was in good culinary hands. Plus, they totally understood that I was all about documenting the magic at all times which, gratefully, Mario subscribes to also. So I didn't feel too weird about taking pictures of my food and uploading them to my Instagram account.
(Parenthetically, if you're not following my adventures on Instagram, you totally should. I'm Smrtqbn.)
NYC Foodie Tour Stop #1: Nom Wah Tea Parlor. Chinatown.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor • 13 Doyers Street, New York, NY 10013 • (212) 962-6047
The oldest Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. It opened in 1920. Click here for a fascinating history of Nom Wah.
It was just around the corner down a narrow and slightly scary old New York Chinatown street, just sitting there awesomely in all its slightly dive-y glory.
We started at Nom Wah with appetizers, or Dim Sum in Chinese, consisting of a variety of egg rolls, dumplings and buns. I'd never had, but fell totally in love with the Steamed Shrimp Sui Mai (top left with the green pea in the center), Roast Pork Buns (bottom left) and fried Sesame Balls.
Let me be perfectly clear (lest it appears by the photographic documentation that we had completely thrown caution to the wind and were decadently indulging our inner gluttons): We didn't eat every, single thing. We mostly just sampled so that we got a taste of everything, and also so we could have room to enjoy the rest of the food on the tour. The night, after all, was young.
NYC Foodie Tour Stop #2: Katz's Delicatessen. Lower East Side.
Katz's Delicatessen • 205 E Houston St., New York, NY 10002 • (212) 254-2246
The central highlight of the New York Food Experience - good, old-fashioned, New York deli food.
Katz is where the infamous "I'll have what she's having" scene from When Harry Met Sally was filmed.
Also, they give you an interesting ticket with numbers that are part of some kind of elaborate deli code when you first arrive. And heaven help you if you lose this Very Important Ticket. There's a $50 fine for losing it. Don't ask me why. The ticket is then turned in when you go to pay. If you have the actual back story as to why this is a thing, please share.
So, what to order? Everything on the menu looked so tempting.
We started off with a plate of Pickled Things. Sweet, salty, and oh-so-lip-puckery. I'd never tasted pickled green tomatoes. (I guess it's an acquired taste.)
Then we ordered Katz's Deli Seltzer and Dr. Brown's Celery Soda. (Because regular soda is for sissys.)
For the main meal, we decided that the hand-cut (!) pastrami on rye was mandatory, or better yet, real kosher hot dogs with mustard and sauerkraut. Or both!
Again, let me reiterate that we split all of this deliciousness. (We were hungry. We did not have a death wish.) And although the hand-cut pastrami was fantastic, I could barely finish my 4th of the sandwich. (Plus there was one more food stop after this and we had to pace ourselves.)
This particular sauerkraut was wonderful. It had just enough tang to add lots of flavor but not overpower the hot dog. Being a novice at this, I don't know if all sauerkraut is the same everywhere. I've never really enjoyed it before this, so I'm guessing Katz's features the Cadillac of All Sauerkraut.
I just have to interject here that Michele, who was driving (in New York, people!) was the Goddess of the Perfect Parking Job. She could not only find, but she managed to squeeze her mafia-sized car into any spot that any New York City street accidentally offered up. Minstrels should sing songs about her ability to maneuver a car in between two others the way she did all over the city. (You, Michele, are my hero.)
NYC Foodie Tour Stop #3: Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain. Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain • 513 Henry St., Brooklyn, NY 11231 • (718) 522-6260
Home of the Famous Traditional Brooklyn Egg Cream. (Which, interestingly, has neither egg nor cream in it.)
The Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain is a beautifully restored old-school 1920's soda fountain in the very gentrified Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn.
The atmosphere was 1920's-soda-jerk cool. The service was wonderful. The egg cream truly delicious. (Milk, soda water, and some truly amazing chocolate that doesn't exist on my coast.) That's the egg cream in the next photo, on the right.)
We also stumbled upon something called a Mr. Potato Head on the menu which involved vanilla ice cream, real peanut butter, caramel sauce and potato chips. Did you catch that? Potato chips! And caramel sauce! Over ice cream! (I guess you just had to be there...)
Okay, so I had a taste and I didn't love it. But then I don't particularly love peanut butter. And I'm not a huge fan of ice cream, either. But I really loved the idea of it. Ice cream and potato chips - together at last! Genius.
This is where our tour ended for the night. I felt like I got a fantastic sampling of all the gastronomical wonders that New York City holds. Bonus: I got to spend a really fun evening with the greatest people you will ever meet.
My blog has allowed me to have some really amazing opportunities. At the top of the list of Reasons I Love Blogging would be: Spending time with the most generous and thoughtful people on the planet. That would be my Cuban Cubiches.
Thank you, Koe, Christy, Mario, and Michele. You are the reason I *heart* New York.
Also, next time we will find that cronut.