Monday, September 28, 2015

STK: Meat Market (Midtown, NYC)

This love child of the classic steakhouse and swanky nightclub was hip, but definitely not hipster. In fact, STK seemed to represent the "anti-hipster" with its gleaming fields of clean-shaven faces and tucked shirts; professionals arriving fresh from work, dressed up to get down.

A Kendrick Lamar number was playing…kind of. His remixes were getting remixed with a remix, so there was no steady song. Old classics were spun with disarming, jarring techno beats (I think Otis Redding might have opted for jumping off the dock if he heard this rendition) and our twenty-something waiter perfected his role of the annoyed and aloof server, probably because he knew we were nobodies. 


Bread: Popover with blue cheese and side of chive oil

Whether it was bread, or chips and salsa, or a saltine for God’s sakes, I was always happy to see some type of complimentary nosh arrive to tide me over before the actual meal. But when it appeared in the form of a savory muffin-cake puffed out with hunks of blue cheese melting down the side, there was another level of excitement all together! Popovers ‘bout to pop off, son!

Chive oil glistened as a liquid emerald of minced herbs and oil, which was a welcome addition since the the bread was somewhat dry, but that didn't mean I hadn't been impressed and pleased by the overall presentation. 

Entree: 10 oz. Filet mignon with bernaise sauce and side of Yukon mashed potatoes

Simple dimple - meat and potatoes. This was perfectly cooked and plated nicely, but nothing to jump up and shout about. Tasty, but not memorable, which was fine. We knew what we were getting into. We weren't there for the steak or the scene.

We were drawn in by STK's gigantic, outdoor plaza on this rare City night, 75 degrees with no humidity, and we were determined to take full advantage of it...even if that meant swatting away techno beats like mosquitoes throughout our meal - it was worth it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Snacks and the City: Pig’s Head, Crack Pie, and Cantaloupe Juice (NYC)

Greeley Street Park
First order of business: Greeley Street Park. We’d discovered this path of gourmet food stalls too late the previous summer, when we were already on our way back to the train station after a day of gorging. It had been absolute torture to discover this culinary Xanadu with full bellies, like Hansel and Gretel stumbling on the witch’s candy compound and not being able to take a bite. But today, we came prepared…to eat freely at Greeley!

Cannibal: Pig's Head Cuban (pig's head, Vermont ham, pickles, gruyere)

Got head? Definitely a greasy handful, but the layers of toasty bread, ham, head, and melted cheese sealed it all together in one drippy, fatty, indulgent experience.

Red Hook Lobster Company: “The Connecticut” Lobster Roll (butter, scallion, lemon)

I considered “The Tuscan” (lobster/ basil vinaigrette), but couldn’t have been happier with “The Connecticut” - a quarter pound of lobster doused in citrus-soaked butter. Served in the traditional, hot dog-esque bun, its usual white bread ways instantly dissolved beneath the weighted luxury of lobster and melted butter, but that was ok, Red Hook's Maine focus was the lobster, and they succeeded in getting the point across. Claw meat for one and all! Let the good times (lobster) roll!

Momofuko Milk Bar: Crack Pie

I ripped into the miniature, cardboard package I’d purchased for $5.50 and wished they included a magnifying glass so I could find my piece of pie. I was a little disappointed about the size until I chomped a bite and all the air went out of the room as my mouth filled with a balloon of butter and sugar. It coated the entire surface area of my palate like a thick Vaseline of baked euphoria sealing in a million motes of decadence. I tried to identify the flavor, mumbling to myself, “It tastes like, like…” 

“Pecan pie without the pecans!”, my mom blurted out. She was right. Though, the filling was more solid than wiggly. There was a buttery chew beneath its thin coat of caramelized armor that gave way to a rich, rounded denseness that tasted somewhat molasses-y. Its deceiving simplicity had so many layers that I kept searching for answers as I devoured it…just one more bite.

I had to admit that my itsy-bitsy portion was enough, but I was considering going back for a second slice to take home. Because really, when would I be able to get another? And it only made sense to buy two since they were so small…

And that was how they got you hooked.  Crack pie, indeed.

Streets of SoHo

Jack’s wife Freda: Cantaloupe juice

A wise man named Pee Wee Herman once said, “If you love it so much, then why don’t you marry it.”

But you can’t elope with a cantaloupe…

Let me start from the beginning. Summer in the City = back of my neck feeling dirty and gritty. We were parched and sweaty, so this open-faced eatery shone like a beacon. I loved Jack’s Wife Freda immediately, not only for her welcoming, intimate interior which felt like a classy, charming, and modern European aunt who openly swaddled you against her breast in a gigantic hug of tastefully upholstered booths and tiny tables, but for the few seats outside that made for excellent people-watching while dining al fresco.

After coming straight from Greeley Street, we were only interested in drinks, but they welcomed us anyway. We glugged down water by the glassful like thirsty horses at a trough, as the poor waiter repeatedly returned with his pitcher to try and keep up with our emphatic gulping. Also, when we asked if it was ok to only order “drinks”, they probably thought we meant cocktails, but our scorched, sandpaper tongues sought out the unique offering of cantaloupe juice.

And well, I don’t want to over exaggerate here, but it might have been the best decision of my life!

I couldn’t believe how cantaloupe-y it was! I mean, I’ve bought cantaloupes before and they were always hit or miss – some with barely any flavor at all. But this juice, this nectar of the gods, this beautiful miracle fruit, multiplied cantaloupe’s usual silky sweet nature by a gigafruit (yes, gigifruit) as if they discovered some ultra-concentrated formula in a lab. But the way it slipped softly over the tongue, I couldn’t imagine that they added anything artifical. It was just cantaloupe, on a pedestal, naturally. Its velvety afterglow washed over the tongue in a cleansing wave. This was 16, portable ounces of magnificence.

I was in love.

But you can't elope with a cantaloupe...
So I'd have to settle for our summer in Soho.