Wednesday, March 06, 2013

I landed in New York with a packed schedule and a horrible cold, and the weather forecast was something like 38 degrees and raining. My sickness lasted all week, but the rain let up, and so did the work I was there to do. With what was left of my sense of taste and smell after a week of blowing my nose, I enjoyed good food and great company at hot spots like ABC Kitchen, the Marrow and Jeepney. But the meals that really left an impression on me on this trip in New York were my version of comfort food, which apparently comes down to eggs and pasta. I highly recommend these dishes and the restaurants that serve them...

1. Perfectly baked eggs for brunch, served over the cult-status kale salad (lacinato kale, aged cheddar, sweet potatoes, pecorino and almonds) at Northern Spy in the East Village. It seems that they do simple food really well -- my friend was talking about how good her porridge was all day.
2. I've always wondered what it would be like to eat ramen at a noodle bar in Tokyo, and I think I got a little taste of it at Totto Ramen. It might have been the hour+ wait at 4:30 in the afternoon in the cold vestibule outside of the restaurant (tip: buy a huge hot tea around the corner to sip while you wait), but this was possibly the best ramen I've ever had: the chicken paitan ramen broth was rich and concentrated, the straight noodles cooked perfectly chewy, and we asked for rayu (spicy sesame oil) on the side which added a peppery flavor and refreshing heat to clear our heads.
3. I had just watched this video of Cathy Whims making cooking gnocchi look so easy, and was lucky to soon satisfy my immediate craving for the pillowy dumplings during a business lunch at Union Square Cafe. The restaurant has been around for a while, but the food there is so solid, which I think is really highlighted in their use of produce and house made pastas. The two were beautifully combined, along with duck confit, in this half portion of gnocchi.
4. And last, but definitely not least, my friend and I were wandering around looking for another great brunch spot on Sunday, and without settling for less (we even sat down in one place but got up and left when we looked around and saw that none of the diners were finishing their meals), we stumbled into  Tertulia when the restaurant was almost completely empty! I imagine that it still may be tough to get in for dinner, so brunch is a great time to go, and I recognized some of the dinner menu items available during the day. I ordered this incredibly flavorful lamb stew with tomato and peppers, with eggs baked into it, and crispy olive oil toast to dip inside.
Despite my run-down state and the chilly weather New York, as always, embraced me with open arms and fed me well. My chic room at the Ace Hotel, with its cozy Pendleton blankets, big windows and daily doses of Stumptown espresso served right downstairs definitely helped with that.

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