Guilty- I have been absent from blogging for quite some time now. No excuses. But, looky here! A new entry!
I have just returned from a long vacation in the US and, needless to say, Matt and I took full advantage of what the Bastion of Capitalism has to offer. From organic (and not-so-organic) supermarkets to street food to comfort food, we swept through the country with guts (and pant flaps) wide open.
Most of our trip was spent in the East Coast, where some of my family is based. New York and New Jersey is probably the most culturally diverse states in the US and, naturally, so is the food.
Here are a few of our favorite stops.
Whole Foods Market
A trip to the US is not complete without several visits to this organic super store. The uninitiated usually get visuals of hippies in hemp tunics selling quinoa cupcakes, but that's not what this place is about.
The produce section is an explosion of color- native and imported fruits, the best green vegetables and herbs from local farmers, all naturally-grown and only the highest grade there is. The seafood, meat and poultry section boast of the same top-quality stuff. I heard somebody say recently that there is no such thing as organic beef. Well, there is- I saw it with my own two eyes: Organic, grain-fed, dry-aged, prime-grade porterhouse. I wish I took a picture.
Matt and I have two favorite sections: the smoked fish and cheese sections. Vacuum-sealed to maintain optimal freshness, they carry smoked and cured salmon from anywhere in between Alaska and Norway. They also carry some signature brands, such as Charlie Trotter’s cured salmon. I was particularly fond of the citrus-y variety.
The cheese section just blew our minds. I’m pretty sure it’s not the widest of selections, but it was definitely more than what I am used too. It pretty much covers all the major cheese-producing countries, as well as a number of local artisanal products from upstate. For this alone Matt and I were willing to make the ten-minute drive to the supermarket every day.
We frequented the branch along River Road, Edgewater, NJ, but there are hundreds all over the US.
Sarita’s Macaroni and Cheese (S’mac)
Speaking of cheese- a whole restaurant dedicated to mac and cheese is, in my humble opinion, beyond brilliant. It could only be a product of divine intervention. The East Village eatery s'mac offers a sizeable variety of cheese combinations and add-ons that would please every palate. So far I have only tried two kinds, and of the two, there was one that I fell head-over-heels for- The Alpine. Perfectly-cooked macaroni coated in luxe Swiss Gruyere cheese, mixed with salty cubes of slab bacon- how could I not?
And if this was not self-indulgent enough, you can order their mac n cheese “to go” and ready to be reheated any time you are in need of a good coddling.
345 East 12thSt. between 1st & 2nd Aves., NY, NY
Tel. no.(212) 358 7912
Another East Village haunt that we loved was this small yet popular German biergarten. We arrived early and scored a good table, but show up after six and for sure you will have to stand by the bar. The beer selection is obviously German, with quite a few on tap. The food is, expectedly, all things meaty and cheesy- we enjoyed theboiled veal bratwurst with pretzel, as well as the baked camembert. It’s a great place to escape the cold, have a beer, and catch up with friends.
This is a favorite spot for football fans during the Euroand World Cups, so if you find yourself in the area, do check it out. It should be fun, if you don’t mind being shoulder-to shoulder with rowdy European types.
107 Ave. Cat East 7th St. NY, NY
Tel. no.(212) 5981098
If I ever become a gazillionaire and could choose any chef in the world to cook for me at home, every single day, it would be Marc Murphy. His cooking style and food philosophy is akin to mine- French and Italian dishes cooked bistro-style are so up my alley. Don’t let the trendy surroundings of both his Tribeca and AOL Time-Warner restos fool you- his food is good.
I was able to enjoy his lunch menu a couple of times- once alone, and the second time with companions. It was quite an experience for me to sit at their bar and order myself a meal- I felt so grown-up and chic.
A deceivingly light yet cholesterol-laden starter is theFrisee aux Lardons- delicate greens tossed in red wine vinaigrette, generously-topped with thick cubes of bacon and poached egg. With that I had a small portion of their Pasta of the day- Linguine con vongole.
Meat lovers should try their steaks, simply-seasoned and lovingly grilled right behind the bar. This includes a side salad and fresh-cut fries- and at $30 for the hanger steak-probably one of the best deals in Manhattan.
The icing on top of the proverbial cake must be the winelist- over 300 bottles to choose from in their thick, leather-bound inventory. There are no wines by the glass, only half bottles: you can definitely find one you'll like from the 100 varieties they have on stock.
3/F TimeWarner Center
10 ColumbusCircle, NY, NY
Tel. no.(212) 823 6123
Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen
This bakery/restaurant is every bit modern-American-cool- from the distressed wooden furniture to the low lighting to the young urbanite staff. When I went to the bathroom, I discovered the basement bakery where they churn out their delicious breads, as well as a small cellar/dining area.
Aside from the breads, people come here for one other thing-Fried Chicken. Mildly-spiced and deep-fried until crisp, with a side of mashed potatoes and collared greens- it is southern cooking at its finest.
Not in the mood for fried chicken? I spied an interesting cheese list (to go with their bread, of course) as well as a New York strip with shallot butter and fries. For drinks, go down the street and check out the neighborhood watering holes- $16 for a shot of DonJulio is a buzz kill.
35 DowningSt. NY, NY
Tel. no.(212) 337 0404http://www.blueribbonrestaurants.com