What a memorable week it has been. I spent my last seven days between New York City and home, traveling via the train and enjoying every second of my time. Part of me wishes I hadn’t had such eventful last days because time simply flew by. Nevertheless, I had the most excellent week that I will share with you below.
The best part of this excursion was seeing my boyfriend of 8 months for the first time since June! Here is a quick briefer on our relationship, no mushy details just the facts! Ludwig and I met at our boarding school last December when he invited me to dinner. I remember feeling both surprised and flattered by his invitation, for it was an unprecedented gesture in the environment of my busy, unromantic private school. Fortunately, that dinner was the beginning of subsequent evenings, and later, the best months of my life. The moment we sat down across from each other, we felt the spark, both metaphysical and physical, our intellect ran freely and our spirits had found their better half. Okay, so I’m getting a little mushy here… I cannot help but get lovey-dovey when I talk about love itself. Now, onto our week together!
One of the first things we did in New York was devour Mexican-Sushi. We stumbled upon a stark, black, box-shaped restaurant named “Taka Taka.” As if the intriguing mélange of culture in its cuisine was not enough to convince us, we were pulled in by the smells wafting on the surrounding blocks almost immediately. This place was both delicious and fun. It was equipped with revolving plates of varying colors, each with a designated price, and tantalized our appetites as they sped past our table. It became a game of “Find-The-Number-Read-The-Description-And-REACH!” Each number was unique in its hierarchy of flavor pairing, the blues plates being the most simple and the red ones (our favorites) sporting the most adventurous flavors. My favorite was the Caniinflas which was a tempura soft shell crab roll with black sesame seed, chives and chipotle mayonnaise… To die for.
Later that night we went out for a beer at the Bier Garten in Meatpacking next door to the Standard. For my German companion, it was both a comforting and disheartening experience. He was exciting to indulge in a German beer, knowing that such delicacies are rather rare in the outskirts of New York City (ahem, the town of our boarding school). At the same time, he was disappointed by the falsities of the system which led to a debasement of German culture: the servers didn’t know a word of German, wore kitchy dirndl printed T-Shirts, and served the beer as if they were serving cow manure.
After a blunt reality check that we were no longer in Germany, we were ready to sit down to one of our favorite, most dependable dining spots: The Standard Grill. Their food always pleases, especially their bacon-cheddar hamburger that is adorned with a quintessential pickle and a bouquet of crisp fries. As always, we had a wonderful meal.
The following days were filled with more delicious food and leisurely activities. We had a lengthy breakfast at La Grainne Café in Chelsea on Friday and Bosie Tea Parlor in West Village on Saturday. Both were divine. At La Grainne, I ordered savory crepes filled with smoked salmon, ratatouille and basil cream. Ludwig ordered a delicious serving of Orange Blossom French toast, sprinkled with almonds. At Bosie, I drank a black tea that was laden with strong rosemary top notes and finished with a warm, indulgent caramel after-taste. I must admit, though I knew what I was ordering, I underestimated the amount of rosemary taste and how it would not agree with my morning circadian rhythms. In other words, it was a bit too early for such a savory tea.
For my food portion, I ordered the oatmeal to balance the flavors. My plan worked a little to well. The rich, creamy, sweetness of my oatmeal dominated the otherwise unrelenting aftertaste of my tea. It was too sweet, even for my insatiable sweet tooth, and I gladly left a generous dollop for my date to scoop up with our check. I believe it was a nice addition to his meal of Egg’s Benedict, a Luwdig staple.
After each long morning of feeding our gastronomical appetites, we felt the need to switch gears and feed our intellectual appetites by attending museums. On Friday, we enjoyed the Middle Eastern exhibit at the Met, and explored the beautiful paintings at the Frick Museum on Saturday. For lack a pressing schedule and a stuffed disposition, we opted for our walking shoes over a cab ride. How nice it felt to walk!
Our two post-museum spots were Bar Italia on Madison and Café Sabarsky on Fifth. Both cafes have very different atmospheres: Bar Italia, with its swanky, white-wall interior and prime address for high end shoppers, brings both the upper-east side scene and visiting Europeans together, gracing the bar with their thick smoky accents and savoir faire. The authenticity of its diners speaks wonders about the food: it is real Italian cuisine. From Tuna Carpaccio to Tagliatelle a Ragu’ di Vitello, the menu is genuinely Italian, made for a sophisticated palette and an even more sophisticated wallet.
Café Sabarsky was an entirely different experience. Set on the ground floor of the Neue Gallery on 86th and 5th Ave, the restaurant is brimming with a long line of hungry art enthusiasts, curious European families, and numerous regulars who huddle privately at their favorite tables. The menu is a bona fide German menu featuring bratwursts, sandwiches, strudels, and quality beer to name a few. Ludwig was particularly pleased with his beer, a bottle of Radeberger, which he explained was rare even in Germany, and his favorite beer to enjoy. I was particularly happy with my dessert: a simple berry tea cake that was surprisingly moist and sponge-y with a delectable crust covered in succulent berries.
Once again, on both days, we had eaten ourselves merry. On Saturday we decided to digest on the sunny lawn in Central Park. We let the hours drift by us as a sun inched down the sky and we followed suit, gradually making our way downtown to Chelsea by dusk. The walk was yet again useful, we were ready to enjoy a fabulous, lengthy dinner each night!
As our dining experiences tend to be, both dinners were diametrically opposed in environments and menus, but equal in their excellence and execution. Friday night was Del Posto in Chelsea. It has been our favorite restaurant since we went there for the first time in June. (Another wonderful Italian gem is Scalini Fidelli in TriBeCa.)
The last restaurant I will post about is Brushstroke in Tribeca where we went for our final night in the city. This place is for avid Japanese connoisseurs who aren’t afraid of getting down with sashimi. It is not your typical sushi restaurant where your plate is an array of rice and seaweed rolls with a hint of spicy tuna in the center. At Brushstroke, raw fish takes center stage. Sure, there are additional meat, rice, and soup courses that compliment their piscine counterparts, but for the most part, it is a martime experience. Overall it is a fine restaurant. Our service was fantastic and our food was prepared in front of us (not hibachi style, mind you) with impeccable artistry. The flavors were remarkably complex and the planning of the menu, prix fixe and always changing, was clearly done meticulously.
Fond memories of dancing on the highline in my ethereal white gown.