In what has become an annual event, we spent a couple of days before Christmas in New York City. This trip was part celebratory, we really had a great year - we got married, traveled to Italy for our honeymoon and have been growing our personal chef and catering company steadily. The other reason for our visit was inspirational. The food scene in New York is like none other, changing constantly and in many areas, way ahead of the curve. I always leave inspired and full of ideas that I can apply to my own cooking.
We also ate our fair share of Ramen, first stopping at Ivan Ramen. I had just read the book cover to cover. I loved the noodles. They are non-traditional rye noodles, a nod to his Jewish heritage and I enjoyed the chew and how the fat of the soup hugged each strand. The broth, on the other hand, was a little too fishy for me. The second bowl of Ramen we had was from Momofuku Noodle Bar. We had eaten here before but never had the ramen and we were not disappointed. The broth was so smoky and meaty with an egg further enhancing the broth once it was stirred in. We had hoped to try Ippudo but the lines to get in were hours deep. Next year?
In addition to Ramen, we had some classic New York establishments on our list. We stopped at Murray's for bagels and were disappointed. My everything bagel seemed stale, making me really work to chew it. The cream cheese on the other hand, was so fresh and deeply tangy, it was more memorable than the bagel.
When we travel, we have an eating rule. If you're not enjoying what you've got in front of you, don't finish it. It saves valuable stomach space, which is a premium on these sorts of trips. So we chucked our bagels after a couple of bites and a couple of blocks down, we ordered a hot dog from Gray's Papaya, to see what the fuss is all about. A famous landmark known for their cheap 'dogs, we also had a namesake papaya drink. I get the allure; a small spot, standing room only that smells of hot dogs. Crowded with grumpy elderly New Yorkers and one lady violently demanding directions somewhere and being answered with a simple shrug by the hot dog slinger, we enjoyed our hot dog. It felt New York. It wasn't special but I can understand that if you grew up on these hot dogs, you'd have a soft spot for them. Similar to how Bostonians feel about Fenway Franks, I assume.
Also of note, we enjoyed a burger at The Corner Bistro, which had the atmosphere that you'd want a great burger place to have. Almost seeming like a well kept secret and that perfect mix of simple and gritty, with not a lot of thought put into the decor and only a simple menu with burgers and a couple of other sandwiches, we split a cheeseburger and an order of fries. Simple and straightforward with well-seasoned and loosely packed beef that was so juicy, the simple sesame bun could barely contain it all.
Another meal of note, we stopped at Wylie Dufresne's Alder for brunch. Creative and playful, this menu kept us on our toes with things like "egg yolk pepperoni" that rested on top of homemade bagel pizzas that were reminiscent of our youth and clever bacon, egg and cheese Gyoza and French Onion Soup Rings.
This trip means so much to us each year because it gives us a chance to break away and unplug from everything, focus on getting new ideas, having long and in depths conversations on food, the future and everything in between. We left New York ready for a salad, a nap and maybe a session at the gym, but we also left with creative inspiration, feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and ready for a new year.