A culinary tour of NYC, Part III.

Believe it or not, I saved the best for last. Don’t miss Part I and Part II.

Shake Shack — Madison Square Park/Flatiron (multiple locations)

There used to be only one Shake Shack location. I think it was also only open for certain months, and it was so popular that you could easily wait an hour or more in line for its legendary burgers, fries and milkshakes. I attempted that line once or twice, but I just never made it through. Now, there’s a Shake Shake on every corner in NYC. I’ve even heard they’re expanding to locations in London.

At the close of another full day of eating, we ended up at the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. The line was short, and there were tables aplenty. Perfect. Except that it was slightly north of freezing — a bit chilly for eating outside. I was quite happy, though, to tuck into a classic cheeseburger with ShackSauce and crinkle-cut french fries doused in this light, creamy cheese sauce. None of that neon-orange, gloopy, chain/stadium-style stuff here. Shake Shack’s selling point is quality — and you can taste it in the freshly ground meat and homemade sauces. My only regret is that it was too cold outside and I didn’t fell well enough to order a milkshake. So, guess I’ll have to go back. Poor me.

After so many years of waiting, I’m glad to report that Shake Shack lived up to the hype. It was dee-licious.

shakeshack

burger

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Make new friends, but keep the old.

I invited some dear friends and former coworkers over this week. These ladies helped me through one of the darkest stages of my career, at a place where we each experienced all manner of hell and persecution. I know that everyone has had an unpleasant job of some sort before — but whatever you’re picturing, quadruple it. To survive the day-to-day, we leaned on each other and cooked, ate, laughed and commiserated together. We all shared a love of food and fellowship, which led to plenty of potluck lunches and flurries of emails and conversations about recipes. I found many of the food blogs I read today through their recommendations: Pioneer Woman, David Leibovitz, Brown Eyed Baker, Smitten Kitchen, Orangette. Even though we don’t see each other every day anymore, like soldiers who fight on the battlefield, I will be bonded to these women for life.

It’s been several months since we had quality time together, so everyone came to my home to catch up with wine, heavy hors d’oeuvres and stories about ridiculous work escapades. Their visit served as a good excuse to pull out a few dishes already in my repertoire but also to experiment with some new ones. For appetizers, it was bruschetta three ways: fig-mozzarella-prosciutto, classic tomato (my good, ole standby) and smashed pea with mint.

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