Wednesday, March 28, 2012
A lifetime could be spent exploring the holes in the wall of New York. Whether it is a bakery, beer garden, or a modern Italian-American barroom, the city reveals more hidden gems than the safe at DeBeers. Granted, most of these places have basement prep kitchens, but still the quality of food coming out of these tiny spots is impressive.
A Sunday morning jaunt to the Natural History Museum turned up to of the best snacks we had on our trip. Levain Bakery has been heralded from sea to shining sea, and for good reason. This closet sized basement bakery doles out chunky, gooey cookies in a variety of flavors. The chocolate chocolate chip had the heft of good book but once the crusty exterior of the cookie was breached it transformed into a soft explosion of chocolate finesse. And finally, here is a chocolate peanut butter sweet that actually beats into submission the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in its proportion of the two main ingredients.
The Natural History museum was filled with screaming children and stairs. Both of which eventually wore on our patience, so we hailed a cab and headed to Earl's Beer and Cheese. This locker room of lagers and ales has but a few beers, a few snacks, and a wall decorated in a faux forest scene. It felt like college again, homely, warm, and welcoming.
The menu sticks to food you want to eat while drinking a beer. But each item has a certain twist to it, to make it stand out. For instance, the taco comes not on a tortilla but on a scallion pancake. The result is a crispy wrapped, meat filled odyssey. Topped with radishes and a squirt of lemon, this is fusion done right. Or the tomato soup, which comes spiked with just enough ginger and spice to make you crave Indian food.
We also made time one day to stop in at Parm. Parm is the second offering from a group that has reinvented Italian-American food at the next door, Torrisi Italian Specialties. It was in between lunch and dinner service when we went to Parm and only the bar was open. The staff seemed out of sorts, but that is what happens when a restaurant is open when a shift change is underfoot. Service woes notwithstanding, the plate of pickled vegetables, jalapeno poppers, and a beet infused Negroni more than helped ease us into the evening.
Finally, what trip to New York City would be complete without grabbing one of its most iconic foods: the bagel. For that, we headed to Ess-a-Bagel. Inside the brick building, a counterman yells out, "No toasting." Then slides gobs of cream cheese on a sliced round of bagel, crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside. If this isn't bagel perfection, what is?