Category Archives: New York City
Quick Bites from New York- Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
Here’s a little marketing tip for you… If you name your business Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, I will visit it based on that name alone.
So when we had a couple hours to explore the East Village neighbourhood of New York, Robyn, Shana, and I knew we had to check this place out.
It turns out that the name is a bit misleading.
Oh, it’s plenty gay alright, but big? Not so much.
Amongst the iconic gay culture images adorning the walls were menu’s of the items available that day. The choice for me was easy. First thing on the menu- The Salty Pimp.
The Salty Pimp is a cone filled with vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, and sea salt, dipped in chocolate. Perfection.
The dulce de leche is actually injected inside the ice cream, making these little pockets of sweet deliciousness that are hard to beat. The salt adds that little bit of zip much like a good salted caramel has, and the chocolate dip is fantastic.
Robyn decided on a Lovelet ice cream sandwich. The cream cheese ice cream sandwiched between red velvet whoopie pies was really rich and tasty when it warmed up a bit, but was too frozen to enjoy right away. So Robyn ate half of my Pimp while we waited. She then conveniently forgot to share the ice cream sandwich again after I got a first taste.
Then she stole my fur coat and purple fedora and slapped me across the face.
Now that’s a salty pimp!
Quick Bites from New York- Katz Deli
Probably the most famous Deli anywhere, Katz Deli has been on my list of New York “must try’s” for years. Thankfully, I got to cross it off my to-do list recently.
When you go inside, you’re given a small ticket. Do not lose this ticket. It’s used to track your order, and you MUST present it upon exit, even if you ordered nothing. No exceptions. If you lose it, they will charge you $50!
It’s a little confusing to know what to do when you get inside. There doesn’t seem to be a specific spot to order, so you just step up to the counter, and place your order with the first available carver.And yes, hurried New Yorkers on their lunch break will push you out of the way if you just stand there like a deer in the headlights.
Katz is famous for their pastrami on rye, so thats what we got. We also got a brisket sandwich and shared them both between the 3 of us.
Now I must tell you that none of our group of 3 are typically fans of pastrami. On top of that, I hate mustard. So ordering a pastrami on rye with mustard seems like a crazy stupid idea, but when I go somewhere that is so famous for one dish in particular I have to have it. Much like when in New Orleans I had to try a muffaletta sandwich even though I despise olives.
Thankfully, this pastrami was unlike anything I’d ever had before. Thick cut pieces of fall-apart tender meat, gently spiced, and very juicy, it filled the bread like a skyscraper. The yellow mustard was more mild than I was expecting and didn’ t overpower the sandwich.
I usually find that when I am presented with a meal of ridiculous proportions, it’s done to distract you from the lack of quality. This sandwich needed no such distraction. It would have still been fantastic with half the meat.
This sandwich made a pastrami convert of all 3 of us.
The brisket sandwich also had mountains of meat on it, and while very tender as well, it was a little on the dry side for us. I kept thinking how fantastic it would have been to take home and serve open faced topped with gravy. The mere suggestion of anything other than the classic way may get you run out of town though, so I kept that to myself.
As fantastic as the pastrami sandwich was, I think what I enjoyed the most is the old school atmosphere of the place itself. It’s no frills, and is bustling with activity, which makes for some great people watching.
Katz Deli- more than just a tourist trap, it’s a New York City institution worthy of the reputation.
Judging the Judges- Aaron Sanchez’ Centrico Impresses
A trip to New York wouldn’t be complete without checking out at least a couple restaurants from the Food Networks platoon of celebrity chefs, would it?
I decided on Chopped judge Aaron Sanchez‘ Centrico, in Tribeca.
The whole menu sounded delicious, so choosing a few dishes was difficult. We started with guacamole with fresh tortilla chips and a trio of spicy salsas, because all Mexican restaurants should be judged firstly on their ability to make a fine guac.
Although I usually prefer a more rustic, chunky guacamole, this smooth and creamy version was truly a fantastic start to dinner. It was so well balanced, and none of the flavours were overly assertive. (I’m looking at you, onion and cilantro) Nice crispy chips, and the trio of salsas really set the tone.
We followed that up with the Queso Fundido, which essentially is a cheese casserole baked with potato and chorizo.
Seeing that I was dining with 2 ladies, you can guess who ate most of this, not that I’m complaining. Big pot of melted cheese and sausage? Bring it on!
The fat from the chorizo infuses the cheese, which makes for a delicious treat, but for health reasons you should probably make sure you have others to share this with.
The Pork Belly Tacos was the next dish to hit the table. This was the only letdown of the evening. There is an ideal ratio of fat:meat with pork belly, and this was just way too much fat and not near enough meat. It was so much fat that we actually had to, gasp, cut some of it off. The pork that was left behind was delicious, but the dish fell a bit flat for all 3 of us at the table.
Scouring the online reviews before we left home, there was an overwhelming menu favourite… the Braised Short Ribs in Ancho Chili Broth. Of course, we had to have it.
Regardless of the full table we had going at this point.
I hate to say it, but this short rib was even better than mine. It was huge, and fall-apart tender. The ancho broth was so rich and savoury, yet still allowed you to get all that delicious beefy flavour from the rib. It was a total crowd pleaser at our table, and would be worthy of a return visit all on it’s own.
Unfortunately, Aaron wasn’t at the restaurant this night so we didn’t get to meet him, but lucky for him the food speaks for itself. It would have been nice to extend an invitation to come check out my boys back home in Edmonton at Tres Carnales.
Quick Bites From New York- Yankee Stadium
Last time Robyn and I were in New York we went to a Yankees game in what was then the brand new Yankee Stadium.
One of the highlights for me was the Philly Cheesesteak from Carl’s Steaks that I got there. I was anxious to try it again and see if it as good as I remembered.
Also similar to last time we were there, Mother Nature tried to damper our enthusiasm…
But no amount of rain could stop this from happening…
Have I mentioned that I love this place?
See you again soon.
A Meal Worth Breaking Bad For- at New York Vintners
Our trip to New York was already going to be super awesome, and filled with enough delicious meals to last a month, but when Shana emailed Robyn and I to tell us about this unique theme dinner based upon popular t.v. show Breaking Bad (one of our favourite shows), we knew we had to make room in the schedule to check it out.
Shana found out about it through a company called Underground Eats, but the event itself was put on by New York Vintners.
As we found out, New York Vintners is much more than a wine shop. They also do wine tasting classes, cooking classes, and the occasional Alternative Dining Experience such as this Breaking Bad dinner, which they whimsically called “Breaking Bread”.
We were the first guests to arrive, and were greeted with a beautiful dining space set up in the back of the store, along with a welcome glass of Prosecco by organizer/Artist Jason Oliva.
While we were waiting for the other diners to arrive, I got a chance to pester the chef, Ryan Smith, about the menu and get in the way taking pictures. Seeing the concept come to life in the kitchen put me at ease about what kind of meal this was going to be. This is a serious chef, with seriously great ingredients.
This was shaping up to be a great meal.
Plus, where else can you have dinner with big bags of Meth all over the place?
We sat down to look over the menu in more detail and check out our own private stash on the table.
* Note: Fans of the show will likely recognize the scenes that inspired each course, but if you don’t, just check out the links below.
Dinner started with Hors D’oeuvres of “Garage Roof Flattened Pizza“, with aged saucisson. Considering we had pizza at Lombardi’s the night before, I was nervous at how this would be.
Turns out, those nerves were all for naught. The pizza was quite well done, and had a lot of flavour. I was tempted to snoop around for another piece, but since there were still 4 courses to go I figured I’d better pace myself.
In the meantime, Chef Smith was really getting into character, right down to the chemical suit…
The second course was Huevos Rancheros- an all time favourite of mine. This was one of the most creative, interesting, and most well balanced dishes I have ever had. It consisted of a poached egg coated with panko and deep fried, with avocado mousse, jalapeno dust, and tomatillo sauce atop a corn pancake with creme fraiche. All 5 of us at the table were wanting more. It was so good that I actually had to get up and tell Chef Ryan that I never want to eat another egg any other way.
The next course was “Los Pollos Hermanos” sous vide fried chicken, breaded with panko and served with a fantastic jicama and red cabbage slaw. The chicken was so juicy and had such a crispy exterior that it really was fried chicken art.
The sous vide cooking method of sealing the protein in an airtight bag and cooking for a long period of time in a water bath produces some super juicy bird. The cooked chicken was then coated in a delicious chicken mousse and breaded with panko bread crumbs and fried to achieve that great crunch. The slaw was a nice partner to the chicken, with shishito peppers used to add a punch of flavour to the inherently more neutral jicama and red cabbage. So good.
As if we weren’t all about ready to burst, I wandered into the kitchen once again (I’m a nosy pain in the butt that way), and witness this bit of magic happening on the stovetop:
I was 1 part surprised, 9 parts elated to find out we were each getting a full Kobe steak in the next course!
Following up with the whole Southwestern theme of the night, this course was a Kobe and Foie Gras Burrito with Blue Cheese, served over “ricin’ beans”. Even though the tortilla added nothing for me except a tie in to the theme, this was one of the single greatest pieces of meat I have ever eaten. So tender, and cooked perfectly. There was not one tidbit that went to waste from this beauty, and it was clear everyone at the table felt similarly. The Blue cheese, the foie gras… it all worked perfectly.
This steak more than made up for the appalling excuse for a steak we had a couple nights earlier at Butter. I don’t often order steak in restaurants because I frequently get disappointed, but really, there’s nothing quite like the perfect steak.
After stuffing down every last morsel of steak, the last thing on my mind was dessert. But I got up to do some more helping (getting in the way) in the kitchen and ended up brulee-ing my own creme.
How helpful am I, right?
Looking at the blue colour, I never would have predicted the cinnamon churro flavour. While not as addictive as I imagine real meth to be, it was still a pretty decent end to a fantastic meal.
Of course each course came with a wine pairing, but since I’m more of a beer, baileys, and mojito’s guy I can’t go into detail on the selections.
Overall, my only regret from the evening was that I forgot to call everyone bitch. I was going to be all like “Yo, Gatorade me, bitch”, and “Yo, helicopter, bitch!” Missed opportunity, I guess.
RUB BBQ – New York City
Whenever I holiday in the U.S.A., I get excited for one type of cuisine in particular…. BBQ.
At home in Edmonton, BBQ is one of the very few things that we do not copy well. Delicious, authentic Indian food? Sure, we’ve got it. South east Asian delights? No problem. The best in real Mexican favourites? We’ve got you covered there too. Heck, we’ve even got some pretty decent pizzas and a small but vibrant food truck scene.
But BBQ? Not so much. The best we’ve got is Bubba’s BBQ truck, and while very popular and “good for Edmonton”, I’ve had better BBQ in the Houston airport.
So when our friend, and native New Yorker, suggested we head straight from the airport to Rub BBQ, we didn’t argue.
Our flight arrived late, and after a long day of travel (we got up at 3:30 AM), we were anxious for dinner. A little research online was all it took to find out that the slam-dunk favourite thing on the menu is the burnt ends (the fattier tips of the brisket- smoked 18 hours), but they are in limited supply. Luckily we were able to get the last order, so we snapped that up quickly. We decided on a 2 meat platter as well and would share everything between the 3 of us. That would give us a choice of 4 sides as well, so we got the greens, cornbread, beans (with chunks of brisket in them), and potato salad.
The runaway favourite at the table was, of course, the burnt ends.
So fatty, and tender, and absolutely melt-in-your-mouth good; I was considering grabbing the tray and running away with it after my first taste but decided to be a gentleman and share. One bite of these and you’re reminded of just how vastly superior BBQ is south of the 49 parallel.
Even in New York City.
The 2 meat platter we selected had BBQ Beef Brisket and BBQ Ham on it. This was one of the better briskets I’ve had, as it wasn’t overwhelmingly fatty but had a beautiful smoke ring and was super tender. The Ham was lean, but was also packed with flavour. With both these meats being more lean, they paired beautifully with the much fattier and sinful burnt ends.
Dessert came highly recommended. So of course we indulged.
Deep fried Oreos!
How have I never thought to batter and deep fry Oreos before? It seems so obvious now. The cookie gets soft and kind of cake like, while the filling adds a little creaminess. Surprisingly, the exterior was crisp but not greasy at all. I enjoyed these much more than another deep fried dessert I’ve had, the sickeningly sweet and gooey, deep-fried Mars bars.
So while maybe New York is not known as a BBQ mecca, it’s still possible to get top quality ‘cue right here in Manhattan. In fact, I may make a big plate of burnt ends a new post-flight tradition whenever we come back to NYC.