Tuesday, February 21, 2012

30 Hours in New York City

I try to visit New York City at least a couple times a year. It's a city I love to visit for a few days at a time, although I suspect it'd tire me out if I stayed for much longer. Fortunately, Joel and I have plenty of friends and family in the city, so it's not so hard to make these trips happen.

At the end of December, I unexpectedly found myself with a little bit of free time between the end of one job and the beginning of another, so I ditched Joel and booked a quick trip into the city to spend some girl time with my friend Kim, who lives right in the middle of plenty of fun and delicious things in the East Village. Thanks to the magically cheap and not-too-sketchy BoltBus, I was in and out for a whirlwind 30 hours of...mostly eating.

First, we failed epically at lunching at Eataly, a mega mart of Italian food with several sit-down restaurants in the middle of all the action. It was beyond crowded, and we were very confused as to how to get a table at one of the packed restaurants. When we finally found a hostess stand and put our names down, it turned out we were in line for the vegetarian restaurant. We were seated after a wait and realized that there was absolutely no pasta on that menu, just salads. Sure, salad is great, but we went to Eataly for the pasta. We realized, however, that we were starving and it'd be a very long wait to go through the whole process again for one of the other restaurants, so we resigned ourselves to the greens and planned to get pasta for dinner. (The salads were delicious, by the way.) I'm fairly certain that Eataly resides in a special circle of tourist-filled hell, but it's still worth a trip. Despite the crowds and frustration, it's a pretty neat idea and reminded me of a bigger, fancier version of Bon Marche, a cafeteria-style restaurant that used to exist at the Prudential Center in Boston.

To sate our pasta craving, we chose Porsena for dinner, a spot that several people recommended to me when I put out a Twitter call for not-too-expensive hidden gems around the East Village. We were extremely satisfied; I particularly enjoyed my anneloni con salsiccia e rape, and the wine was fantastic as well.

...and we somehow saved room for dessert at the legendary Momofuku Milk Bar. The red velvet soft serve ice cream was rich and wonderful. I brought home a couple cookies to share with Joel as well.

We ended the night at The Immigrant, a cozy wine bar in Kim's neighborhood, where we enjoyed a number of wines. I don't recall the number...

Kim was occupied the next morning, so I headed over to Brooklyn to have brunch at Egg with Clara, Joel's brother's girlfriend. (She and Joel's brother, Dan, have a fantastic food blog!) Broiled grapefruit? My new favorite thing ever. Candied bacon? Obviously amazing. We walked off the gluttony by browsing around an amazing cheese shop (can't remember the name), a shop full of kitchen goodies (can't remember that name either), and a few other places.

Back in Manhattan, Kim and I did some shopping and then had an early dinner before I headed back to the bus. This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef is adorable, although I do think Boston wins out on the roast beef war. I'd definitely prefer a sandwich from Roast Beast or Jimbo's over this one, which was on the soggy side, but it had potential. And the fries were amazing. Interesting phenomenon, though: I ordered a can of regular Coke, and I reminded the guy that I wanted regular when he asked "Diet?" a few minutes later, and I still ended up with Diet Coke. Yuck. (I didn't realize until we were back at Kim's, unwrapping our sandwiches.) Kim said that places around there aren't used to girls not ordering diet soda. I rarely drink soda, but when I do, it's the real stuff. I'm strongly anti diet soda because (a) it tastes gross, (b) artificial sweeteners are sketchy for a variety of reasons, and (c) there's substantial research that suggests it contributes to worse health in a number of ways. And anecdotally, at least, it seems that many people who drink diet soda drink a lot of it because hey, it's diet. Doesn't mean it's good for you. On the other hand, because I only drink regular soda, I only treat myself to it once in awhile.

Totally stuffed, I headed back to the bus and back to Boston. We squeezed a lot of delicious things into 30 hours! I'm looking forward to my next trip to NYC, which will be in April. My band is playing at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn on April 14th, part of our (second annual!) tour with Neutral Uke Hotel and Golden Bloom. (Wanna come to the show? Tickets are now available!)

Here are some of my other New York favorites that I didn't get to visit this time around:

Amazing BBQ at Fette Sau. (Earlier blog post.)

Gut-busting brunch at Pies 'n' Thighs. (Earlier blog post.)

Late night pierogi at Veselka.

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