New York City
After kicking off our time in New York with a fantastic dinner at Babbo, Dana and I proceeded to take the city by storm, going from one end of Manhattan to the other in search of fun times and good eats. We were in town for the BlogHer ’10 conference, a gathering of 2400 bloggers (mostly women) who discussed all aspects of blogging and technology. The sessions were informative and filled with lively debate as speakers and attendees dug into issues such as advertising, branding, and building communities. We listened, we laughed, and we partied with fun food bloggers at night.
One of our first stops in New York was the Chelsea Market. The lower level of this beautiful brick building is home to a myriad of food purveyors and specialty shops while the upper level is home to none other than the Food Network! Reminiscent of San Francisco’s Ferry Building we wandered through the center walkway encountering bakeries, fish mongers, and chocolatiers.
Dana (aka The Kitchen Witch) spotted the Fat Witch bakery and had to stop for a photo and a brownie!
It was all too easy to imagine Food Network stars and employees alike popping downstairs for a sushi lunch, a fresh baguette, or a mid-afternoon cupcake. Talk about a great building to work in!
Having worked up a huge appetite walking through all that beautiful food, we crossed the street and headed to Del Posto for lunch. Yes, it was a second Batali restaurant in less than 24 hours but the $29 prix fixe lunch was an offer we couldn’t refuse! The impeccable service and well executed dishes reflected again how Mario Batali was able to use his skill to build a culinary empire. While Babbo embodies fine dining with a beatnick vibe, Del Posto captures the essence of established luxury with a grand piano in the center of the restaurant and floor to ceiling windows swathed in lush draperies. Lobster salad with big chunks of sweet meat, handmade pasta tossed with salty bonito flakes, a chocolate ricotta tortino- if you are looking to eat like a king on a budget then lunch at Del Posto is the place to go.
We decided a walk was in order after lunch and found our way to ABC Carpet and Home. Established in 1897, this company is a New York institution with everything from classic Persian rugs to patio furniture suited for die-hard Dr. Seuss fans. I have never seen such an eclectic mix of fashion, furniture, and funky knick-knacks in one spot!
Another stop on our trip was Grand Central Market. Adjacent to the famous Grand Central train terminal this market is a place for busy New Yorkers to stop and pick up gourmet food to go. As I eyed the magnificent cheese selection from Murray’s Cheese, big crusty loaves of fresh bread, freshly caught fish, and even a Penzey’s Spices booth I started to wonder what it would be like to walk through a market like this on my daily commute. For a minute I could almost see myself moving to New York- then I looked at the price on a bottle of water and promptly returned to my senses!
On Thursday evening I had the pleasure of attending a book signing for the King of Desserts (aka David Lebovitz). He was in town signing copies of his latest book, “Ready for Dessert, My Best Recipes“, which is truly a gem of a cookbook. (I’ve already made two outstanding recipes and have several more flagged.) Witty, charming, and flat-out-hilarious David handled the crowded room with ease, proving my theory that pastry chefs are a special blend of creativity and detail, which often makes for great personalities.
Continuing along the theme of sweet treats, I couldn’t leave New York without a stop at the Magnolia Bakery. Famous for starting the “cupcake craze” of the late 1990′s, Magnolia bakery is home to classic cupcakes, ice box cakes, and glorious muffins.
Since it was early in the morning, I resisted the urge to buy a cupcake and instead walked out with an apple walnut muffin and an oh-so-soft lemon bar.
I found a bench across the street from the bakery where the pigeon and people watching were prime and happily ate a breakfast made by cupcake champions.
My camera didn’t make it with me on every adventure, which included heavenly dumplings from Men Kui Tei, chocolate covered ginger from Jacques Torres, heirloom Italian beans at Salumeri Rossi, and incredible sourdough rolls and the chocolate chocolate chip cookies of my dreams from the Levain Bakery. However many of these food finds made it home (much to the delight of Mr. B). I left New York surprised by the constant friendliness of the city. The stereotypical “rude New Yorker” was nowhere to be found. Instead I encountered a city of fantastic food, exciting restaurants, and friendly passersby. Having barely scratched the surface of the food scene, I can think of a million reasons to plan a return trip soon!