I don't have a recipe this week, mainly because I was eating my way throughout New York City for the past 4 days.
Last Thursday I took off to brave freezing temperatures in order to celebrate my best friends 40th birthday in New York City. Boy did we celebrate! Here is a quick run down of the foods, places and our take on our culinary walk-about.
We started Thursday nigh by visiting Mama Mexico. A family owned restaurant close to where my NY friends live. While the food was fresh and flavors were spot on. The best things were the "Margaritas".
We ordered the guacamole, which was done tableside, unfortunately the place was super dark and pictures did not come out. I ordered their appetizer, "Almejas al Tequila", which are clams, filled with baby shrimp and crab with a tomatoes, tequila, cilantro and olives all sautéed on top. It was refreshing, fresh and delicious. Another way to go is the traditional Burritos and Enchiladas, which were also a hit.
On Friday night we took the birthday girl to Fig and Olive. Located in the meatpacking district, this is a happening place. The atmosphere was full of a trendy vibe, beautiful people and eighties music, who knew? The bar was hopping while people were waiting for their table. It was the perfect place for a birthday dinner. As the name suggests, many recipes feature liberal use of olives, olive oil, and sweet figs, all of superior variety and quality. We started with a couple of appetizers but the star of the show was the "Fig Gorgonzola Tartlet". The melted gorgonzola, prosciutto, fig, walnuts, arugula, tomato on top of a puff pastry was such a hit that we all pretty much were licking our fingers and eyeing the last piece - ready to pounce.
Another good choice was the "Veal Carpaccio", and the "French Riviera Rotisserie Chicken".
On Saturday night we had tickets to see a show in Union Square, so we decided that Republic was the best choice, plus we all were craving Asian food. We started with the "Fried Calamari" and the "Fried Wontons" as appetizers, and we were not disappointed. The sweet-chili sauce of the Calamari was to die-for. I ordered the "Wonton Broth Noodles" while my friends opted for the "Chicken Pad Thai". We also highly recommend the red "Sangria".
After the show we decided the only thing to do was to duck into the "W" hotel to warm ourselves down and to have a couple of drinks at the Living Room Lounge. We were all over the drink menu and ended up ordering a couple of appetizers to make sure the hang-over the next day would not kill us. It's all about balance people - trust me. We ended up loving the "Fig and Prosciutto Flatbred" (Yummy) and the risotto tater-tots filled with Asiago cheese. (I'm so going to duplicate this, make sure to look for it in a future post).
To round the whole culinary experience we had going, on Sunday we decided to head back to the meatpacking district/Soho and find our way into Pastis. The restaurant looks and feels like an early 20th century French bistro - without being tacky. Broken mirrors on the wall are offset by stained and cracked tiling and worn floorboards. Nicotine-stained ceilings are nicely ironic in a city where you can't smoke in public. It was the perfect place for a late, very late brunch.
More than once we keep saying "Are we in back in Paris or in NYC?” This place its happening right now, the wait was around 15-20 minutes and it was almost 4 in the afternoon - The place was packed! The food was excellent. I ordered the "Eggs Florentine" and the Béchamel sauce combination with the poached egg on top of sautéed Spinach was the perfect comfort food after a night of drinks. The other dishes to recommend here is the fries and the "Croque-Madame". Its also the perfect place to find someone famous. We sat a table away from Matt Dillon and his companion. Very cool.
And of course since it was a Birthday celebration we could not forget the most important thing. The Cake. And were else but Magnolia Bakery? The only flavor acceptable was the Coconut Cake and it was so good we ended up eating it every day during our trip.