“NOT much time on my hands. Better feed this hungry tourist,” I requested from my gracious hosts, Tonypet and Jonah, who took time off work to show me around the Big Apple. The visit was coming to an end and I had a few more entries to strike out from the list of must do/see/eat. They gave their thumbs up.
I am not alone in this “predicament.” New York is a cornucopia of cuisine with each restaurant battling it out for the better tasting dishes and survival in the vast kitchen playground. Just like the mythical Hydra— lose one resto, two pops up, in the city that doesn’t sleep.
From the list I had (courtesy of Bourdain, fellow travelers and foodies who frequent NYC), I was able to try a few joints. But my friends have a few recommendations of their own, so where they went, I followed.
Lunch was at Porchetta, 110 East 7th Street, a popular place according to my hosts and recommended the Porchetta Sandwich ($12). The place boasts of their seasoned whole loins with skin slowly roasted at various humidity and dry heat that makes the pork soft and juicy. Tender it was but I missed out on the juicy part, I don’t know why. Other offerings are Lebanese Chicken Sandwich, salads and potatoes.
Dessert followed where the rainbow flag was waving – Big Gay Ice Cream, 125 East 7th Street, East Village (also at West Village, 61 Grove Street), a Bourdain entry on my list.
It started out as a seasonal food truck in 2009 and its popularity as “a unique, playful new spin on old-school soft-serve frozen treat that appeal to a diverse mix of clientele” drove the brand to open shops in the East and West Villages.
As the name suggests, everything about the place is gay in a jolly way. Who could ever think of decorating the place with a winged unicorn with a rainbow horn and naming ice cream concoctions with Bea Arthur, Mermaid or Salty Pimp (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche, sea salt, chocolate dip. I ordered this because the name and the ingredients appealed to me)?
A walk around the NYC to see more of the sights I haven’t seen yet was good to burn the calories we took in. It’s a prep for another food encounter.
For dinner, we made our way to the Italian food village of Eataly, 200 Fifth Avenue.
Chefs Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Lidia Matticchio are partners in this place which Batali describes as “a grocery store with tasting rooms.” Eataly is what he say it is—an eat and shop destination.
We opted to dine at the pasta and pizza section and had our “okay” fill of typical Italian fare after an afternoon of walking on foot.
Of course we had to have something sweet. Another favorite of the couple is another so-gay (at least for the Pinoys) place called Dessert Club, ChikaLicious, 204 East, 10th Street. It’s a hole in the wall eatery that serves “fresh, fun and innovative individual desserts.” Though the macarons (to be stuffed when ordered) looked tempting, I was told to try two of the best-sellers— Green Tea Lava Cake and the Bread Pudding Brioche, which were quite good, I must admit. Sharing the dessert made it more fun to eat.
Just before we called it a night, we made another stop at Pomme Frites, 123 2nd Avenue.
It is “authentic” Belgian double-fried pomme frites (the first frying to cook and the second time to give it a golden color and crisp) served in “authentic European paper cones” (regular- $4.50; large- $6.25; double- $7.75). There are free garnishes or for another $1.50, you can choose from a variety of toppings like Parmesan Peppercorn,
Horseradish Mayo or Sambal Olek- hot chili paste. It’s quite good if you don’t mind the loading on fats and calories.
All these in a day on a life of a panicky tourist who wants to sample the flavors the locals fell in love with. With so many to try, should I live in the Big Apple? Nah, I would love to have the food’s taste linger in my tongue and look forward to returning (with eagerness).
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