Monday, 9 December 2013

A Foodie in New York

Location: New York, NY, USA
alt="New York cab, school buses, American flag, Fifth Avenue and Coke lorry"

This time last year, MrF and I were just heading off for a wonderful weekend in The Big Apple - my first visit to America and a much needed child-free break for the pair of us.

I hadn't started blogging by this point, so a few pics were Instagrammed, but nothing more. It seemed a shame, given how much we loved the trip. So a year on, I'm finally putting pen (finger tips) to paper (keyboard) about our long weekend on Long Island.

The Roger Hotel, New York (previously Hotel Roger Williams)
Images: Adrian8_8 on Flikr

Having trawled the internet with MrF for the best deal on a hotel room, we stumbled across The Roger New York (previously Hotel Roger Williams). Centrally based on Madison Avenue, cosmopolitan, decent sized rooms for a reasonable price (rare in NYC) - done! Room booked.

The Roger turned out to be a great find. MrF was particularly impressed with mini bar offering - most notably the sleeping pills (!) which we swiftly purchased for our flight home. Me? Well, what can I say, the Oreos were calling to me. 

Part of the Mini Bar

alt="wrapped up warm"
Ready to embrace the cold

Once we'd gathered our bearings and wrapped up warm, it was time to hit the streets. We walked for hours and hours each day - we paced West towards the Empire State Building, Macy's and Madison Square Gardens; uptown to Times Square, Central Park, Niketown and Grand Central Station; we wandered downtown through Greenwich Village then all the way down to Wall Street and Battery Park... you name it, we walked to it. 

On one particular day, after having already spent a few hours in Midtown, MrF was insistent on taking me to see the Statue of Liberty. So off we went, block after block. One hour went past, still walking. Two hours past, still walking. About half an hour later, we finally emerged in Battery Park, with a view of the famous lady. By this point we were pretty knackered, having quite literally spent ten hours traipsing around, so.... TAXI!

Clockwise from top left:
Empire State, Macy's, Central Park, Grand Central Station, Times Square

alt="Statue of Liberty"
As close as we got to Lady Liberty

This turned out to be the only cab we took. Being based in such a central location was perfect for walking, plus it was much more fun just wandering around, taking it all in. It also served to build up a good appetite... and boy did we eat!

The foodie highlights of the trip were pretty epic. First and foremost though, I have to say, I'll never enjoy one those dry, pre-packaged, British bagels ever again, after finally getting to sample the real thing... nor will I choose low fat Philly over full fat (screw the diet, it's worth it).

Every morning for Breakfast at The Roger, MrF and I slathered full fat cream cheese atop freshly toasted, doughy bagels. SO much better than what I've been used to in the UK (though New York Bakery Co's sesame seed or red onion and chive are the closest match I've found).

Another eureka moment was tasting proper Pastrami at Katz's Delicatessen (where that moment went down in When Harry Met Sally) And argghhhh, it's AMAZING!! Juicy, tender, salty, intense.... I haven't been able to eat the pre-packaged stuff since. It's clearly a big visitor attraction, with queues around the block and a bouncer at the door, you have to take a ticket on entering and wait behind another burly bouncer before you even get a table.

It's definitely worth it though - DO visit if you're in NYC.

Katz's Delicatessen

EPIC Brisket and Pastrami Sandwich at Katz's Delicatessen

Somewhere we'd already planned to visit was Grand Central Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station, having checked it out on-line. Open since the start of World War I, the place is vast, seating c400 people. The restaurant itself is made up of three separate dining areas, two with restaurant tables and one with horseshoe shaped counters to dine around. Serving up a whopping 30 varieties of oysters, along with the largest selection of seafood dishes I've ever seen, this is THE place to go in NYC if you love your fish and shellfish.

(The Oyster Bar Daily Menu - opens PDF in pop-up window)

MrF went for a Clam Chowder, which he thought was amazing, while I opted for the Bouillabaisse, which was hugely impressive - especially with a big old helping of lobster on top!

MrF at Grand Central Oyster Bar

Bouillabaisse at Grand Central Oyster Bar

Looking for some serious rib action, we also checked out Blue Smoke, on recommendation from the our concierge - a very good recommendation it was too. Part of Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group (of Shake Shack fame), Blue Smoke welcomes you in with a slap on the back, drinking with mates vibe. You want to get really drunk and eat lots of meat, as soon as you walk through the door - which is literally what we did! A few cocktails later, with ribs, brisket and fries devoured, we felt incredibly gluttonous, but with big stupid smiles on our faces.

Ribs, Briket & Slaw at Blue Smoke

That pretty much sums up our time in NYC though, as we spent the entire time with full bellies and big stupid smiles on our faces, thoroughly enjoying this awesome city. 

I'd never been particularly excited to visit the USA, maybe the stiff Brit in me was put off by all overly cheery "have a nice day"s. Whatever the reason, it turns out my preconceptions were way off the mark - I freaking LOVED it.

Track My Trip at Google Maps: Foodie in NYC

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