New York Favorites List

I didn’t intend to take a full 3 week vacation from writing…but alas, here I am. Major fail!

I would apologize, but being home for the first time in 8 months was too much fun to feel sorry about. Between catching up with friends, quality time with the family, shopping, going for nostalgic walks in old neighborhoods and eating through all of my favorites, I didn’t leave myself much time for cooking or writing about cooking.

But I’m back! And before I go back to the usual I thought I would share my New York favorites for eating and drinking. These are the things I crave most when I’m gone and are completely essential to any visit when I’m back.

rooftop view

The Met

williamsburg bridge walk with Mr. F

Bagels: What can really be said here? New York has the best bagels of anywhere ever. Hands down. Get involved:
Russ & Daughters
H&H
Ess-a-Bagel
Brooklyn Bagels
Pick a Bagel

everything bagel with vegetable cream cheese

Boozy Brunch: This has become some what of a New York tradition. On Saturday and Sunday many restaurants offer unlimited breakfast cocktails (mimosas, bloody marys, bellinis) either free with the purchase of your meal or for a small fee (usually around $15 for 2 hours of drinking.) It’s a slightly naughty way to spend an afternoon with your girlfriends and it’s always a boisterous good time.
Essex – The menu is a cut above.
Sunburnt Cow (or Sunburnt Calf or Bondi Road) – A NY-Aussie classic.
Yerba Buena – Fantastic South American/Mexican food and killer cocktails.
Tapeo 29 – Flamenco eggs cannot be overlooked.
Poco – Unlimited sangria AND lobster mac and cheese? Whaaat?

Coffee: I don’t know why I feel so endeared to these iconic little Greek coffee cups, but I know I’m not alone because they keep making them. You absolutely can’t drink fancy coffee from these cups, it’s just not done. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t taste awesome. One of my favorite places to get a drip coffee or espresso is:

Juicy Lucy – My drink is cafe con leche. Cafe Bustelo espresso with warmed milk and one sugar. Perfection.

cafe con leche

New York Classic: For the love of God, forget street hot dogs and big pretzels. Pastrami on toasted rye is where it’s at.

Katz’s is a total institution.

A Quality Margarita/Margarita Deal: I am always on the lookout for a good margarita. My criteria are simple: decent tequila, fresh lime juice, easy on the triple sec, on the rocks, lots of salt.

Benny’s Burritos – Always underrated and a personal favorite. Fresh lime juice margaritas are available in sizes ranging from modest to a large beer mug-full. Get them half-priced at one of the two daily happy hours (6-7pm and 10-11pm)

Lobster Roll: Technically a sandwich from Maine, but New York has a few good ones in the running.

Luke’s Lobster – For something that is usually sold for around $25 in New York, Luke’s Lobster has them for a steal ($14) and makes them my favorite way: a tiny bit of mayo on the toasted split bun, with big, generous chunks of sweet lobster drizzled with butter and topped with a celery salt-speckled spice blend.

Date Night Spot: Must have a romantic but fun ambiance, with good food for sharing and great wines. Big life decisions have been made at these locales.

Tapeo 29 – My all-time favorite tapas place. Their sangria is best.
Ten Bells - A tiny bar with lots of nooks for two. Specializing in French organic wines, stinky cheeses and $1 Oyster Happy Hour.

Best 24 Hour Diner: One of the joys of living in New York is that you can get pretty much whatever you want at any time of day.

7A - Breakfast all day. Shouldn’t that be enough? They also have great salads, veggie dishes, sweet potato fries and burgers.

Fresh Seafood/Dad’s Cooking: My dad is the captain of a fishing boat. He has been catching his own fish to eat since he was a boy and takes the quality and preparation very seriously. Because the man is so particular about his seafood, over the years he has made himself into one of the best seafood cooks I know.

Some favorites include: clam sauce, grilled lobster tails, beer battered fish, fish tacos and his newest dish: flounder fillets rolled with spinach and feta.Whatever he cooks, he hits it out of the park. Besides spending time with they guy, this is one of my favorite parts about being home.

Food Lovers Paradise(s):Β  New York has quite a few venues and events where you have free reign to geek out over tons of amazing eating and buying options in one place.
Smorgasburg
Hester Street Fair
Eataly
Chelsea Market

west village

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Chocolate Pudding Parfaits

When Death by Chocolate was declared the January theme for the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop, I couldn’t help but be enthusiastic. Chocolate is almost as good as having a blank canvas – it’s full of possibilities and potential.

My first instinct was to bake. But I had to be real and think about what I really wanted to make and eat on a warm Sydney night. Ice cream crossed my mind, but then I got all sentimental.

There are some things that you don’t realize you’ll miss until you don’t have them anymore. I’ll spare you a relevant song quote, but it’s true. I never would have thought I would miss the New York subway system or the Avenue A Key Foods, but there you are.

And then, there are some things that you anticipate missing. You know at some point in the future you won’t have this thing at your fingertips and you’ll be bummed out about it. Usually when this thought of missing something in the future crosses your mind, you are presently enjoying that very thing, minimizing the impact of the feeling.

Let me illustrate this rambling session with some examples of things from America that I have anticipated missing, that have now become well and truly missed:
– My friends
– My family
– Our E4th Street apartment
– Fresh-caught fish from my Dad
– Franks Red Hot Sauce
– Trader Joe’s
– Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
– Fudgesicles
– Whole Foods
– Tapeo 29, favorite date-night and boozy brunch spot
Jello pudding cups

I’ve always known the pudding would be an issue. The lack of chocolate pudding (or puddin’, if you prefer) in my life lately does not go unnoticed. This recipe (from fellow blog-hopper and former New Yorker, JJ at 84th & 3rd) is perfect. It’s simple, has a much better ingredient list than the Jello brand, and best of all: it tastes and feels just like the pudding I miss a little bit.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that pudding actually means something else entirely in Australian dessert language – I don’t want to talk about it. Not now. Now, we eat chocolate pudding, raspberry and hazelnut parfaits!

P.s. Thank you for kindly ignoring the fact that there are two different types of hot sauce on that condensed list. I have a problem.

Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4 (recipe adapted slightly from 84th & 3rd)
– 1/3 cup of cocoa powder
– 1/4 cup of sugar
– pinch sea salt
– 2 cups of milk, divided
– 2 tablespoons brewed espresso
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2 Tbsp cornflour
Parfait layers (optional)
– Crushed cookie
– Chopped hazelnuts
– Frozen raspberries
– Toasted coconut

Place sugar, cocoa and salt into a medium saucepan and whisk together.

Whisk in 1/4 cup of the milk into the dry ingredients until smooth. Add another 1 1/2 cups of milk and the espresso, whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium low heat, then reduce immediately to a simmer.

Stir corn flour and vanilla into remaining 1/4 cup of milk until smooth, pour into simmering chocolate mixture and whisk gently for 4 1/2 minutes. Pudding will thicken further as it cools.

Pour hot pudding into a medium heat proof bowl. Refrigerate until cool.

Once cooled, make it a parfait by placing cookie, hazelnuts, toasted coconut and raspberries in the bottom of your serving cup and spooning the pudding over it. Create as many layers as you’d like or simply top off your glass with more of the same elements.

Other ideas for parfait layers:
– Sliced banana
– Whipped cream
– Ice cream
– Peanut Butter
– Chopped peppermint patties
– Granola
– Dried cherries
– Brownies

For more chocolatey goodness, head over to the Sweet Adventures Death by Chocolate Blog Hop page at the Hungry Australian.