Tough Cookie takes on NYC

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Oh hello there, my little hickory sticks!

The rumours are true: this tough cookie packed her bags and headed to NYC for some serious wining, dining, and reclining — not necessarily in that order. In fact, after several days of pure hedonism, it occurred to me that Elizabeth Drew’s “Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversation” should probably be amended to “Too often travel, rather than broadening the mind, merely expands the poor waistband.”

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I spent a hefty amount of time up in northiest-westiest Manhattan, because my lovely aunt and uncle invited me to crash at their home in Inwood. We visited the weekend farmers’ market there, hoed into several servings of this carrot cake, and spent a good deal of time walking, crooning to, and generally coddling the canine featured below. Her name’s Mavis and she’s the latest addition to the family! She’s a gastronome in training — currently, her favourite snacks are liver treats and my boots. She also happens to be the cutest pup on earth.

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May I also just mention what a wilderness it is in north Manhattan? I was visiting my aunt’s fantastic pieces in the “Drawn to Nature” exhibit at Wave Hill, and could hardly believe that what unfolded before me still qualified as being part of NYC.

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tough-cookie-new-york-city

Also, though I realize I’m extremely late to the game here, it was my first time ever in Brooklyn. I fell in love with the ceilings at Black Brick and drank some excellent coffee both there and at Blue Bottle Coffee Co. Actually, let’s be honest, I mostly just sipped the coffees of others, because coffee turns me into a jittery basketcase. So I stole sips and took photos. Forgive me.

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tough-cookie-new-york-city

Absolutely insane eats included breakfast at Egg (no small part of which insanity included that my companions were able to get me out for breakfast in the first place, since — as someone who’s been traumatized by years of serving brunch to others — I usually find any restaurant meal that centres on eggs to be too stressful to attend). My friends opted for the melty-cheesy-gooey Eggs Rothko on a thick slice of fresh brioche, but I definitely emerged the winner with the day’s special: grits fried into generous strips, topped with asparagus, ramps, and caramelized onions, served with two sunnyside eggs and the sweet, slightly smoky housemade hot sauce. Would anyone like to teach me how to fry grits? In exchange, I will a) love you forever and b) bake you cookies.

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On Sunday, we also managed to hit up the veeeeeeeeeeery popular Smorgasburg food market. Gorging included Milk Truck’s classic grilled cheese “with a twist” — a.k.a. perfection in the form of aged Wisconsin Gryuere, champagne vinegar pickled onions, and whole grain Dijon mustard on fresh rye. Washed that baby down with Brooklyn Soda Works’ rhubarb (surprise!) and Thai basil soda, which was perfect in all aspects except for the fact that it was alcohol-free — a feature I’ll no doubt improve upon when I re-create it at home.

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one-tough-cookie-nyc

Took about a thousand photos of shoes waiting for the sun to go down and for dinner to begin. You know, as you do.

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tough-cookie-new-york-city

tough-cookie-nyc

Had such an amazing dinner at Traif that I considered not even writing it up, to help keep the place a still-mostly-local-mostly-secret, but not to tell you about it would do an injustice to the food there. Because let me tell you, the menu was so enticing that despite the fact that I haven’t eaten meat for the last ten months (and made all my friends and loved ones jump through some crazy hoops to accommodate my newfound vegetarianism, not to mention they had to listen to me wax lyrical about Pollan and Bittman and even Kingsolver and Food Inc.), I completely gave up all pretenses of herbivorism when I got to Traif. People, I did not even put up a fight. Not even the pretense of a fight.

First off, let me say that the service was fantastic: our server was very friendly, dishes were cleared and waters refilled so quickly we didn’t even notice it happening, the food as brought out with impeccable timing and — in perfect tapas style — the dishes arrived in perfectly complementary order, with the heavier dishes followed by lighter ones and vice versa. Not to mention that the amuse-bouches that came with the meal included a creamy roasted red pepper soup and, later, some pineapple wedges with pomegranate molasses. Throughout the night, we ate something like ten different dishes, but the following stuck out for me as the highlights:

  • Tempura of royal trumpet mushrooms, gorgeously crunchy on the outside with the creamy mushroom slabs enhanced by truffle honey and ponzu on the side.
  • Scrumptious pork belly, seared on the outside and smooth as butter in the centre, with crunchy, slightly pickled hearts of palm, and some bacon to top it off.
  • ¬†Strawberry-cinnamon glazed Berkshire baby back ribs, peppery-spicy and sticky sweet, with the meat so tender it was practically falling off the bone
  • Silky-smooth seared scallops, with a beautiful, brown-buttered pea risotto with hints of caper, tomato, and lemon
  • The key lime pie prepared, as we were told, by the chef’s mother, with kaffir lime zest and whipped cream flecked with vanilla
  • Heavenly budino (a traditional Italian dessert) with a scoop of pistachio ice cream layered on top of white chocolate custard and nutella mousse, drizzled with salted caramel sauce

Simply divine.

Hopefully I’ve helped get your mouths watering. Now, if you’ll excuse me, this tough cookie is off to hit the gym — oh wait, just kidding, off to go bake a crumble for the next post! Some things never change.

Until next time!

xo,

A

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One Response to “Tough Cookie takes on NYC”

  1. Elsa July 10, 2013 at 10:25 PM #

    Sounds like New York was a blast and a half! Glad you had such a good gastronomic time! Elsa.