travels

Back East

24 May 2010

beach
[Miami, May 2010.]

Friends, I have logged some serious miles in the past 10 days or so. I went to the East Coast for work and pleasure — but mostly all of it was a pleasure, despite the long stretches spent hauling luggage around via public transport (however! I think I finally have mostly conquered the Subway. It only took 10 years.) There were a lot of cross-continental flights, happily not too much jetlag, a few hours spent on a beach, many hours spent on a porch during a balmy, green upstate May, and lots of delicious food consumed all over the place. I’ve just piled a lot of vegetables on a plate for my return-to-California dinner and need to dive in (to wit: quinoa with sauteed shittake mushrooms and garlic and spinach; roasted cauliflower; a shaved red cabbage, beet, and carrot salad), so will keep this brief.

rochester
[On the porch, Rochester, May 2010.

]

First, there was Rochester. I took a red-eye via Detroit, of all places, and landed up in a cool spring morning to my favorite upstate New York city. I: heard much Greek; sat on a porch and remembered how good that feels; ate a lot of hummus; rode a bike to the Lilac Festival; danced with a baby, tried to distract a baby with many toys, wondered how I could convince my friends to move to San Francisco so I could spend more time with said baby (and also them, of course); devoured creme brulee gelato (yes, that’s creme brulee gelato and yes it was probably the best gelato I’ve ever eaten); lamented yet again the many (many!) miles between California and upstate New York.

beach2

Then, I went to Florida — Miami, to be exact, mostly for work but also to eat. I ate, actually, pretty well for a work conference — lots of fresh fruit (pineapple, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries), vegetables (staying at a fancy hotel has its perks, namely delicious ), as well as an unexpected dinner outside on South Beach (various interesting sushi rolls, including roasted vegetable, and an enormous and filling bowl of quinoa laced with asiago fresco, fresh asparagus, and mushrooms) that made me wish San Francisco didn’t have that whole, uh, fog thing that makes eating outside an exercise in patience and warm scarves. The first day I was there I arrived earlier than anticipated, so I checked in to said fancy hotel and promptly took myself to lunch overlooking the beach. I ate salad and perfectly toasted pita with hummus, and watched the rain patter down on the pool outside the restaurant. After, when the rain had stopped, I flung myself into the Atlantic for the first time in probably five years. I don’t need to tell you it was marvelous.

nyc
[Along the river, New York City, May 2010.]

Finally: New York City, after far too long. There were brunches, with homemade biscuits and strawberry butter; rice and beans and roasted vegetables and a mojito with much-missed friends at a little place in the West Village (we sat out back in the garden until late); countless coffees; cookies eaten with my grandmother on a Sunday afternoon in Jersey City as we pored over old photos and I was astounded anew at her 90-year-old memory for specifics (her brothers, old boyfriends, crossing Niagara Falls via , summer weekends spent in rural Pennsylvania); a few glasses of cold white wine and a cheese plate tucked up in a little spot on the Upper West Side; an early-morning run. It all went by, of course, much too quickly.

cookie
[From Milk Bar, May 2010.]

My last night in the city my friends indulged my wish — nay, my need — to go to for dinner. I don’t even know why exactly I wanted to go so badly — perhaps it was that New Yorker profile of I’d read a few years ago and which lingered in memory — but once my friend mentioned it as a possibility I could think of nothing else (plus, uh, and the fabled right around the corner). There were just a few vegetarian options on the menu but oh holy god, were they good. This is what I ate:

– barely steamed sugar snap peas topped with shaved horseradish and tossed with bits of radish and mint
– the ginger scallion noodles, which is: a huge bowl of gorgeous, chewy ramen laced with the perfect proportion of thinly sliced, lightly pickled cucumber, pickled, sliced shitaake mushrooms, , ginger and a crisp sheet of nori to crumble in

– (a few Lagunitas pale ales)
– and finished with a tiny, perfect portion of pickled cherry soft serve

I think I sort of lost my mind over this meal. I mean, it wasn’t fancy in any way. It was served fast and furious and the restaurant was so packed we could hardly hear each other shouting over the loud music. But if you’re in New York City, or planning to be, get there as soon as possible. Believe the hype; it’s so good. In fact, I don’t really even think it’s hype so much as delicious food with interesting flavors balanced with good ingredients that taste of themselves and nicely salted just as I like.

I truly, honestly, seriously considered ordering double of everything I ate, to take home, but caught myself before I did so (a long Subway trip and an early morning plane were on the agenda and it seemed slightly foolish to lug all that with me rather than simply enjoying in the moment — but, like, man. I kind of wish I had anyway.) I bet the meat dishes for which he’s popular are even better, though I was quite, quite happy to bury my head in that amazing bowl of noodles and hardly come up for air until they were all gone (note: I vowed to eat every last scrap, and yeah. I did.). I cannot wait to go back. Really. I cannot wait. In the meantime I guess this means I have to learn how to make this stuff at home (there are worse things).

Luckily, though I might rather have a repeat of last night, I treated myself well tonight, the first night I’ve been back in the kitchen in 10 days. I missed it, a little. To ease the pain of departure — and jetlag — after my dinner I’m going to have a bowl of Greek yogurt and raspberries with a drizzle of honey — my favorite late-spring indulgence. And so I shall wish you a dreamy and delicious good-night, filled with visions of sweet-tart soft serve ice cream, chocolate-chocolate chip cookies, and that incredible green-blue sea.

  • Ke 28 May 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Oh honey I am soo jealous that you got a chance to go to momofuku! I’ve been dying to go there. Also the pictures look amazing and I know you had a fabulous time. Can’t wait to catch up over a glass or two or three of wine. XOXO

  • delia 28 May 2010 at 11:53 am

    hmmm – i am heading to new york next week, and though already daydreaming of far too many delicious possibilities to cram into too few days, i may just have to add one more to the list.

  • kate. 26 May 2010 at 6:11 am

    um…i’m kind-of, sort-of, okay definitely, madly in love with you. <3

  • Erin 25 May 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Okay, after Noodle Bar you got me in the mood to reminisce about my meal at Momofuku Ko – which I recommend to all your readers. (And will now of course be on the list for when we re-converge in New York next, I even know how to use the online system) :)
    This is my general recollection of the meal pieced together from all the wonderful foodies like you who actually remember the details of a dish and post it online after consuming. (Oh, and to add to the thrill of the incredible combinations was the atmosphere of a 12-person restaurant with our “chef-server” being David Chang’s co-owner himself Peter Serpico)

    1.Pre-Amuse Bouche Buttermilk Biscuit black pepper butter, mirin chicharone, togorshi
    2.Amuse Bouche – Fried Pork Rinds with Togarashi Pepper
    3.Long Island Fluke buttermilk, poppy seeds, Sriracha, white soy
    4.Cold Dashi broth, Sugar Snap peas, Santa Barbara Sea Urchin/uni, Cucumber
    5.Sous-vided Egg with Caviar, Sweet Onion, Crispy Fingerling Potato Chips, Herbs of Chervils
    6.Butter Clams, Sweet Sea Scallop, Smoky Bacon Dashi
    7.Soft shell crabs, Pickled carrots
    8.Shaved Foie Gras, Lychee, Pine Nut Brittles, and Grape Wine Gelee
    9.Deep-fried Short Ribs (braised for 48 hours and then briefly deep-fried), Daikon with Mustard Seeds and Grilled Scallions
    10.Pre-dessert – Guava sorbet, Cream Cheese
    11.Dessert – Funnel cake, Black Sesame Ice cream, coconut, Lemon

    (For an even better description of about half of these, check out this posting of someone who actually knows how to describe dishes… a little more like you, though not as fabulous of course – chowhound.chow.com/topics/499380)