A couple of weeks ago I had my first US experience as I travelled to New York. Home to many tourist attractions and notable buildings I decided to ignore most of them (except good ol’ Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge) and focus all my time on theatre and food. This definitely proved to be a good decision as I feel like I saw a bit more of the ‘real’ New York and not just the over-populated built-up tourist areas like Times Square.
So, in a nutshell, this is a small token of my food experience of New York.
Pizza. This is one of my favourite foods ever. Whoever randomly decided to put cheese on bread, is, in my mind, a god. But finding good pizza can be hard. I was told about a place downtown in Nolita that is supposedly the birth place of New York pizza – Lombardi’s. Lot’s of people know about this place so it can get busy and apparently there are often queues out of the door. Somewhat strange as I entered the restaurant was a sign on the door that said cash only. I have never encountered this before but would not let it deter me from pizza. This is one restaurant that looks a decent size from the outside but once you’re in it’s pretty big. Getting to the restaurant around 4.30pm meant two of us were seated instantly after a long walk around three sections of the restaurant!
The menu was pretty simple and the first thing I noticed was that a small pizza was 14″. I don’t know if this is a big deal to many people but here in the UK a small pizza is usually around 10″. So as there were two of us dining and only a few dollars difference between sizes we went all in and got a large that clocked in at 18″ with some additional toppings. Because why the hell not? I just put it down to being on holiday. And not having eaten all day.
I don’t know if I was really prepared for this pizza but it was huge. It took up most of the small table we were sat at and we only just made it through. It was amazing. You need this in your life. Tip: share with friends, you won’t make it on your own!
- 32 Spring St, New York, NY 10012, US
Mac and cheese. I’ve always loved a good mac and cheese, well, I love cheese really, so putting it in or on anything is an instant winner to me so when in America I had to get mac and cheese as it’s a big thing there. I’m not quite sure how I came across S’MAC (Sarita’s Macaroni & Cheese) on the internet but it was a glorious day indeed. All I knew in advance was that all it served was mac and cheese and that you could get varying size portions and even have the option of making up your own mac and cheese. Sold.
There are two S’MAC locations in New York (Murray Hill and East Village) so I dragged a friend to the one nearest where I was staying as it was easier. It was pretty quiet, even though we must have gotten there around 1.30pm and from the outside it didn’t look like anything special. Inside we made our order at the counter, took a table number and waited after grabbing some cutlery. Cutlery was plastic, fizzy drinks were in cans (unless you wanted a plastic cup too) but the all important thing was the mac and cheese.
We’d ordered our macs for lunch and as I was eating later on I’d gone for the smallest size: nosh. You can choose from four sizes: nosh, major munch, mongo, and partay! Soon a glorious four cheese (cheddar, muenster, gruyere and a touch of pecorino) mac appeared and it was amazing. Served hot in a skillet it was probably the best mac and cheese I’ve ever eaten and it only cost me $6.75. Definitely try this place out if you’re in NYC.
- Murray Hill: 157 East 33rd Street between Lexington and 3rd avenues
- East Village: 345 East 12th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues
But I usually talk about sweet stuff, right? What about the sweet things? So, yes, this is true but I enjoy cheese so much that may crop up from time to time – like now. But anyway, sweet things incoming…
The ice cream. I love ice cream. When I was growing up my Dad used to work in the dairy industry pasteurising milk and when the dairy industry slowly got sold out to big corporate companies he moved on to making ice cream at a local factory. While out in New York it did get a bit warm so it was perfect ice cream weather. Before I left the UK I found (quite by chance) that a small food festival called Madison Square Eats was taking place just over the road from Madison Square Park and it looked like they had some amazing ice cream by a company called Ice and Vice. Ice cream that could also be topped with toasted marshmallows. So I had to get one. It wasn’t particularly cheap as it depended on what options you chose (tub or cone, marshmallow, sprinkles etc.) but it was heavenly. And that was when I made my mind up to find the actual store.
There is only one Ice and Vice store in New York and it took me a while to find it. After jumping on the subway I got off at East Broadway and just wandered round following the map on my phone. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t feel totally safe going there solo so if you go, make sure you go with someone! And by if, I mean when because you need this ice cream in your life! After I found the store it took me a while to choose what I wanted. The store offer samples so if you’re stuck or you don’t know what you like, don’t be afraid to ask!
The menu is so luxurious and different to anything I’ve had before it took me a while to settle on flavours. I went for a double scoop in a blue salted corn cone with honey (coming in around $8-9). And in the cone I had Food.Drunk and Opium Den. Simply put, Food.Drunk is everything. Opium Den was great but Food.Drunk was just on another level. Created by bloggers for a limited run (as I understand it) the Food.Drunk flavour is cherry, lemon, lime with hidden blue “bubblegum” fudge. It’s now my favourite ice cream flavour and I’ll probably never have it again. Time to get creative at home I think!
- 221 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002, USA
Cookies. Most people know about Momofuku Milk Bar but if you don’t it’s the sister bakery of the Momofuku restaurants. Having first seen David Chang and Christina Tosi on various Masterchef programs I decided I had to try something Momo-based when I was in New York. Unfortunately I had no time for noodles so opted to grab some cookies from a Milk Bar (one of six stores in NY) instead. On my last day I decided to take a walk up to Central Park and stop off on the way to get some cookies. This was a hilarious trek which ended up with me actually walking past the milk bar due to it being so inconspicuous. Seriously, there was one small sign by the door not even above it so when I was walking along at first I didn’t see it until I doubled back on the opposite side of the road. But I made it.
As I was on my own and limited for time I wasn’t really there to enjoy the bar part of the bakery which seemed to be set back and possibly downstairs. But I did take the time to have a proper look round in the main ‘shop’. It was low lit and had a fabulously coloured menu which took up the whole left side wall . Sweet treats and ingredients were located on shelves on the right and I deliberated over which cookies I wanted to try. In the end I chose a compost cookie, a cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookie and a rather colourful confetti cookie – $2.25 each or $6.25 for three.
First up the confetti cookie was way softer than I thought and just gave you a hit of vanilla when you ate it. It’s basically a confetti cake in cookie form which has just been more concentrated with vanilla. It was a lot sweeter than I thought it would be but very pretty. The cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookie I got as I was curious about the combination. It turned out it was a lot like eating a breakfast bar that you get here in the UK, especially with the cornflakes and the soft marshmallow consistency. This cookie was very buttery and salty and was definitely something you wouldn’t eat more than one of in one go. And finally the compost cookie. I’ve never had a compost cookie before but the basic idea is that they are made up from sweet and salty kitchen scraps. This cookie was definitely salty but it was also less soft than the other two cookies. There was a mild taste of coffee along with chocolate and was unlike any other cookie I’ve eaten before. In fact I still can’t decide what is even in it. The ingredients are very unfriendly to the general home baker and I wouldn’t recommend trying to make them at home unless following your own recipe! But if you’re in the vicinity of a Milk Bar you should check them out.
- 15 West 56th St, New York, NY 10019, USA
I look forward to heading back to New York at some point in the future to track down some more tasty (junk?!) food. If you’ve been or have suggestions of where to visit, why not drop me a comment? I’d love to hear from you.