26 September 2009

Welcome to the Jungle (New York part 2)

Times Square
Wow, what a crazy weekend to "decide" to go home from San Francisco. This weekend, a ton of friends are having fun in San Francisco, making me totally jealous (but, can you believe I have yet another post to write on San Francisco in the future? One of my favorite places, ever). As my plane approached Manila, the pilot said, "the weather is... not great," and no shit. A typhoon submerged part of my country's capital- the greatest flood to hit it in maybe 42 years. My family and my home are unscathed, thank God, but there'll be a lot of rescue/relief work going on.

Anyway, as promised, here is my post about my trip to New York from earlier this year (part 1 of my New York trip is here). Above is the tourist trap, Times Square. I didn't spend a lot of time here except for the now-closed Virgin megastore (I don't recall buying anything, either).
The Met - Kwoma Ceiling
Probably concerned that I was spending way too much time hunting for food, Duncan convinced me to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It wasn't only a good way to rest my tired feet and my iced-over thighs, but I also got to marvel at amazing works of art- not a bad deal for $20 (I was in business attire so I couldn't pass for a student, heh). Above is a detail from the Kwoma ceiling, from the Gallery for Oceanic art. Perfect example of beautiful/ frightening/ awesome: the entire installation is quite humongous.
The Met - glasses
Beautiful etched cups. I wish I took a picture of the description because I don't quite remember what era or location these are from and I don't want to look like an idiot by guessing. (Also quite impressed by my retouching of this photo- I wish I could remember how I did it!)
The Met - Agony
Detail from "Agony in the Garden." There really should be more artists (and we should really encourage them!). We can't lose craftsmanship like this.
The sketcher has become the sketch-ee! In Photoshop, though.
Lady M Interior
Lady M Mille Crepe and Chocolate Raspberry
Now to the food. It's been said that a fashion designer should open with a "wow" piece, and following that, I'm going to open with a "wow" patisserie, Lady M, where I dragged Genie and Noah for tea. It's a Japanese-Style French patisserie (confused?) that just screamed Park Avenue elegance (Charlotte York, that sort of thing). I know it might be more eyeroll-inducing and normally it would be for me, if their pastries were not absolutely delicious and impeccably made. But my feeling is, it should attract dessert lovers, not those wishing to be seen (i.e., those who cannot appreciate the pastries). We had the mille crepe, which inspired my own version of a mille crepe, and the chocolate raspberry cake.
Chikalicious interior
Chikalicious desserts
On the other hand, there are these places that you know are just built for dessert lovers, but probably because of the high expectations, fall short. I'd read about both Chikalicious and Room 4 Dessert from years back and I've always wanted to go, so I made it a priority to go to Chikalicious (R4D is sadly closed). However, even though I was the only patron in the restaurant, I felt very disconnected from the chefs even though I was at the bar and they were right in front of me. It's probably because I came in just as it opened and they were getting into their grooves, but the experience wasn't very exciting. I had the prix fixe which consisted of pear sorbet on black pepper gelee (sorbet was nice, as was the gelee, but I couldn't really tell it was meant to be black pepper), warm chocolate tart with red peppercorn ice cream (both good), and petit fours: chocolate cookie, pound cake, and toasted coconut... Something? Marshmallow? The fact that I can't even remember it isn't a good sign. The manager was very nice and engaged me in conversation. I talked about the experience with a (New Yorker) friend and he agreed, saying that it's all very "precious". While I understand the portions are meant to be small, I would have appreciated a little more assertiveness in the flavors and a noticeable benefit from the components. It also didn't help that prior to this I saw a feature on both Chocolatier magazine and The Food Network that showed a more energetic experience.
Chika Dessert Club
Across the street you have Chika Dessert Club, which has a selection of puddings and cupcakes. It was good, but me and my readers can probably make great cupcakes with our eyes closed anyway ;) Still, a welcome treat for... an hour before I entered Chikalicious (waiting for it to open). Did I mention I gained 5 pounds while I was in the US?
Curry-Ya Facade
Curry-Ya Curry
A short distance from Chikalicious is Curry-Ya, where I had my lunch. For only $8 I got a salad and the dried beef curry on rice. The dried beef curry is oddly named to me, because I can't really tell that anything was dried- it seemed like a regular ground beef curry to me. But OH SO GOOD. Too bad there wasn't an option to make it spicier (as it was a set lunch). But value-wise, I couldn't be happier. Never mind that it looked kind of like, er, never mind (check out the blurred dish behind the salad). Highly recommended. Curry-ya is managed by two young Japanese people (I'm not sure if they were siblings). The restroom is the awesomest thing ever (when I exited, the dude said, "Nice, huh?" LOL!).
Macaron Cafe
To contribute to Duncan's macaron survey I made it a point to try a few (continuing from Paulette and the sad ones from Philippe that I didn't try). These are from the very confidently named Macaron Cafe. While they were for the most part well-made, there was something odd about the flavors- they were quite strong and stayed on the nose. The creme brulee macaron had the "burnt" flavor there, but it tasted like it had been artificially added. The lavender macaron was not as good as the one in Paulette- again, too strong. Maybe I should have settled for the fruit flavors.
Madeleine Display
There were also macarons at Madeleine Patisserie, but they were lumpy and cracked, so I decided to get a fruit tart instead. Good, but I still prefer the Tartine one. At least it's still better than Petrossian.
Szechuan Gourmet
Eventually I had a craving for Chinese food, so I was excited to go to Szechuan Gourmet, reputed to be one of New York's finest. I had the iconic Szechuan dish Mapo Tofu, just to finally try it from a more-or-less authentic restaurant. It was beautifully aggressively spicy, but on the downside the added peppers also made it taste more metallic. Also, I couldn't finish it all! (Probably needed more rice and water!)
Caracas Arepa interior
Caracas Arepa - Arepa
The night Genie, Noah and I went out we ate at Caracas Arepa at Noah's suggestion, and boy was I glad we tried it. It's a very small Peruvian restaurant. I had the arepa la de pernil (tomato slices and spicy mango sauce, of course) and yoyos (sweet plantain balls stuffed with white cheese). All really good, and I'm dying to try making the yoyos at home. Genie and Noah had beers, but I had the sugar cane juice with lemon, which was phenomenal.

The last few pictures are a tribute to one of New York's finest Patisseries ever, Payard. For now, it's gone, but it looks like it will return, so I'm hopeful.
Payard Facade
Payard Display
Payard Display 2
Payard Sacre Couer
Drooling yet? I had the Sacre Coeur, which is raspberry compote inside white chocolate mousse with two layers of joconde and a joconde wrapper. As delicious and perfect as any dessert you could hope to get in Paris, and I'm sure Payard would not have it any other way.
Central Park
So this concludes my mini-food (and other... stuff) tour of New York (we've stopped by a bench by Central Park to relax!). I still have a few more pictures from the Project Runway finale show I attended at New York Fashion week, but I've yet to see if I have enough food pictures from New York and New Jersey to carry it as a separate blog post (of course, if you guys want, I could post it anyway, even if it's not really about food). Thanks for tuning in and I hope to see you next update for the next Tartine recipe!

blog comments powered by Disqus