by Erin and Xani
While a normal report of one's vacation would include highlights, including culinary ones, we do it a little differently around BCD. You see, when we go on vacation, especially our trips to NYC, we put in literally months of research to determine where we should eat. Thus, everywhere we go is a highlight :) That's why it takes us 3 posts to write about one weekend, because every restaurant was hand-picked and highly anticipated.
So, let's start with Day 1 (of 3)! Actually, we should start with day -1 (??) because before we got to NYC, we spent some time in Philadelphia. Xani had been in Philly for work for the week, and then EP and friends Matt and Smulson drove up from Baltimore on Thursday night to see the much-awaited It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia LIVE show! For those who don't know, It's Always Sunny is a TV show on FX that recently went on tour, so to speak. We are huge fans of this television show and our friend Andy not only hooked us up with great tickets, but also was one of the driving forces behind the show's existence! Thanks Andy - we love you! The show was, in a word: awesome.
"Are you chewing gum??" (And yes, that's Danny DeVito!)
Of course, while we were in the City of Brotherly Love, we had to have cheesesteaks! We went to Jim's before the show and got a classic cheesesteak with provolone (not cheez wiz - can't bring ourselves to eat that!) and an Italian cold cut sub. Both were good, neither blew our minds. I hope we don't get threatening emails over that last sentence like the Magnolia Cupcake incident of '08.
The following morning, we took the trusty Bolt Bus to NYC!! Two hours later we arrived at Madison Square Garden and got a cab to BFF Lauren's place of work, where we dropped our bags. Thanks LP! Then, excitingly, Xani and I were off on our own in NYC. We had a game plan, and it had alliteration: Prune, Porchetta, Pinkberry.
We took a cab down to the Lower East Side and started at Prune. We'd been to Prune before in February for Xani's birthday, and were eager to get back for some snacks and cocktails. Daytime drinking is classy when you do it at Prune ;)
For our drinks, we got their famous Bloody Mary and also a Ghost of Mary, which Xani had the last time we were there. The Bloody Mary was very fresh-tasting and definitely homemade, with a good amount of fresh horseradish. The Ghost of Mary was much lighter and very refreshing, due in part to their using tomato water (they strain their Bloody Mary mix to make a consumme of tomato, of sorts) and lemon vodka. Yum!
While drinking our drinks, we were noshing on the various garnishes (house-pickled, of course) and we ate what appeared to be a pickled green grape and it was so delicious! We asked the waitress for more of them (greedy for garnishes, we are) and she informed us that they were pickled, unripe (green) grape tomatoes! Called "tom-olives" in the biz. She told us we could buy them at Zabars, so we did!
She brought us extra tomolives!
Then we got two little snackers to go with our cocktails and garnishes. Again, one was a repeat and one was new. The repeat was "Cold Spicy Eggplant, Fried Salt Cod, Hard Boiled Egg" which was just as delicious and interesting as we remembered. As described, it was spicy, smoky, salty and a wee bit fishy from the cod, but then it had a beautifully cooked egg and some creme fraiche on top. These were served with grilled bread with black and white sesame seeds, and the whole thing was very satisfying.
We also got the Sous Chef Salad, which had lovely greens, boiled potato, cheddar cheese, radishes, fresh corn, walnuts, and a vinaigrette made with walnut oil. Yum!
After our visit at Prune, we headed to our next stop just a few blocks away: Porchetta (pronounced por-KET-ah). (And on our way we saw a MOVIE STAR!! Bryan Greenberg! Swoon!) We've had our eye on Porchetta since we strolled by it on our way to Butter Lane last February, and were almost carried away by the scent of roasted pork, like in the cartoons.
Porchetta has approximately 2 things on its menu: roasted pork, and potatoes cooked in the pork fat with the "burnt ends" of the pork (crispy pieces of porky goodness). We got both, natch. We ordered the pork in sandwich form and it was SO. GOOD. It was super-flavorful from the herbs rubbed on it, and it had a contrast in texture between the meat and the crispy skin - when's the last time you got delicious crispy pork skin in the US, much less on a sandwich in the middle of NYC?! The potatoes were, as predicted, incredible. Potatoes + pork fat + burnt ends = magic.
Last stop of the afternoon was Pinkberry, the frozen yogurt craze that is sweeping the nation. Xani had had Pinkberry before but EP had only had one of the knock-offs in Baltimore, so we were excited to get a sweet treat at the original yogurt shop. The verdict? Pinkberry actually IS better than the knock-offs! Xani insisted there was a difference but EP wasn't convinced until that moment. We got the regular "tangy" flavor with kiwi and strawberry, and then a coconut-flavored yogurt plus chocolate-covered crisps on top. It was sweet but not too sweet, and a great (light) dessert after our multi-stop lunch in the East Village.
We then walked all the way back to Lauren's office in Tribeca (and worked off approximately one bite of pork), and changed for dinner. (I swear, there were many hours between Pinkberry and dinner!!) For dinner we gathered cousins Ann and Steven, cousin Brian, friend Melody, and of course BFF Lauren at a wonderful Peruvian place called Yerba Buena. Since we had a large group, we ordered MANY things to share. Some of the highlights were the taquitos (so tiny!), the fish tacos, both ceviches (one was flounder and one was ribeye with sea urchin!), the guacamole, the empanadas, the croquetes, and of course, the cocktails! As is often the case when we get this crew together, much of our energy is focused on catching up with our dining companions, so the food is (for once) not our main focus.
Awesomely spicy guacamole
Empanadas with Peruvian corn (it was gigantic!)
Croquetes of manchego cheese - TDF!
Rib-eye ceviche with sea urchin (uni) and more Peruvian corn
Taquitos - so tiny; see lime for scale!
Churros - a great end to the meal
Whew - what a day! A couple more NYC posts comin' atcha in the coming days!
We'd like to send a big THANK YOU to everyone who has been voting for us as the best Foodie blog in Maryland on the Baltimore Sun's Outstanding Blog awards, the Mobbies! Keep up the great work! Remember you can vote once a day, every day, until October 9th!
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