A culinary tour of NYC, Part I.

Last October, I was able to sneak away for a weekend in New York City. It was my first trip there in two and a half years, and I went with grand plans for great adventures. I returned excited to tell you all about it. Then a little storm system called Sandy hit. It was heartbreaking, and I just had trouble reconciling the city I know with the devastation I saw on the news. Suddenly, talking about all the fun I had just seemed wrong.

So, rather than chronicling every spare second as I am wont to do, I instead offer a much condensed version of my trip.

During my tenure as a New Yorker, I reveled in the food scene. My friends and I tried out all the top restaurants as soon as we could get a reservation — brunch at Sarabeth’s or Balthazar, dinner at Butter, Pastis, Spice Market, Eleven Madison Park, Aquavit, the Rainbow Room, Gramercy Tavern. (The “hot spots” circa 2005.) Exciting trends in food are usually born in or come to the U.S. through New York first. Within 20 minutes, I could sample a Magnolia cupcake, a Jacques Torres hot chocolate or a Serendipity3 ice cream sundae.

My worst realization, coming a couple of months into building my new life down south, was that the food scene moved on quite easily without me. As I left, Pinkberry was becoming all the rage, as was Momofuku. I tried but never had time to wait in the mile-long line for Shake Shack, and Eataly opened several years later. As time approached for this trip, I had built up quite a list of things and places to eat … my own culinary tour of the city, you could say.

Takahachi — East Village

First stop was this little sushi joint (really, it’s tiny) in the East Village. Takahachi was the first place I ever ate sushi, back in 2000. We just stumbled on it one Sunday afternoon after wandering most of lower Manhattan. That meal was spectacular, and I was hooked (har har.) I ate there again several times, and it never disappointed. Until now. Continue reading

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I ♥ NYC.

When I was 7, my mom won a trip to New York City over Thanksgiving. We stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria (in the smallest room known to man), saw some Broadway shows and ventured out to watch the parade. My parents let me walk in front of them because they said I was good at parting the crowds. I just held my hands out in front of me, clapsed together like a rudder, and weaved through the sea of people. (Hey, I was 7.)

In middle school, my mom, grandmother and I flew up for one-day shopping trips during Christmas season. (My mom scared an elderly Asian lady in Macy’s when she put her arm around her from behind, thinking she was my grandmother. Oh, how we’ve laughed about that over the years.)

When I was in college, my dad and I spent fall break in New York, just walking around the streets and hitting all the tourist sites. We climbed the Statue of Liberty, where I had a heights-related panic attack on the spiral stairs, and took a photo at the top of the World Trade Center (freezing, since it was October). I remember feeling so let down coming back to my dorm room that night after I’d spent the morning walking in Central Park. Keep reading »