“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver
Back from the city that never sleeps… though my husband and I managed to challenge that cliché, since as tired parents of 2 we were ready to do some serious sleeping-in! 🙂 We try to get away just the two of us at least twice a year, a chance to recharge, indulge, and plan a whole weekend around ourselves (vs. kiddos). OK, if I’m being really honest, plan a whole weekend around mostly me, since my dear husband is so easy-going and sweet that he usually lets me drive the itinerary (excl. his requests to go to WD-50 & to stop by Comic Con where my brother was working the show).
The easiest part of traveling for us is the dining, because we are both definitely restaurant “foodies” who love trying new places, cuisines, and especially seeking out food experiences – both high-and low-end. We actually had chosen our fall trip because I came home from a business trip in NYC with a serious fixation on returning soon to shop and eat more in that great city. So, our trip planning started with dining at several NYC establishments I’d been longing to try:
1) WD-50, Wylie Dufresne’s innovative lower east side restaurant. Delicious food, casual/relaxed environment, but didn’t care for the service, which was WAY too slow (4 hrs for 11 courses, please!) and sloppy. Not to mention the row of tables for 2 were pushed so close together we felt like we were eating at a communal table. One of our favorite courses was definitely the scrambled egg ravioli with charred avocado — see the lovely pic below courtesy of the restaurant’s site — that’s pretty much how it looked, my mouth is watering just remembering how tender and delicious that little egg ravioli was, and the creaminess of the avocado — heavenly.
2) Le Bernardin, Eric Ripert’s three Michelin-starred, world-renowned seafood restaurant in the theater district. Amazing, the food was so light and refined, but bursting with unexpected flavors. We had the 8- course tasting menu and loved every bite. The service was impeccable, though certainly the dining room experience was much more formal than the night prior @ WD-50, the atmosphere was bustling enough that it still felt energetic and not too stuffy. It’s difficult to say which was my favorite course, probably either the first, a paper-thin raw pounded tuna over a thin baguette slathered in foie gras, with a chive/olive oil emulsion over the whole thing that kept everything herbal and light (yes, despite the foie!!) or the fourth: a striped bass served with a chili crab consomme and a jalapeno puree of sorts. Fantastic. I would eat here at least a couple of times a year if I lived in Manhattan — happily forgoing a whole lot of other, lesser meals!
3) Artisinal Bistro, a magnificent tribute to all things cheese! I’d learned of this bistro because the chef had made an appearance on the Martha Stewart daytime TV show… despite this, the food was delicious. We were there for brunch and had a fondue as well as the french onion soup – tasty – and “the frenchie” grilled cheese sandwich, made with brie, mushrooms and truffles. Sadly, I wished I’d ordered “the Spaniard” or the “English Cheddar” as I felt the flavors were a little flat. That said, this place has an amazing cheese cave and you can buy a huge variety of yummy cheese from the restaurant as well. BTW, they have a website where you can order and have delivered anywhere! Also, lots of cheese education on the site, very nice.
4) Joe’s Shanghai restaurant — OK, switching gears, I really wanted to try soup dumplings (dumplings with meat and a broth inside the wrapper — so you’re slurping the soup and eating the dumpling at the same time) and figured we’d be able to find a good place in the city. Sure enough, googling “best soup dumplings NYC” led me to Joe’s from Chowhound or something. They were a savory, chewy, broth-y morsel, we had pork and crab, but actually think the plain pork dumpling would’ve been better. Not that it stopped me from eating like 8 of them in one sitting! Be warned, this is a Chinese dive/hole in the wall, not the best ambiance or cleanest looking place (see below pic from their site), but those dumplings were good.
During the weekend we did also manage to get some french chocolates, macarons, and bubble tea for snacks as well… I think I might need a cleanse after all that indulgence, but it was so worth it. Since chronicling our food adventures has already taken too much time, I’ll update later on the shopping (we had to walk off all that food) — we really just focused on 5th Ave one day and SoHo the next, but I did get to visit a few stores I hadn’t seen in the past, so can discuss that next…