Emily takes New York City

I was recently blessed with the amazing opportunity to travel to New York City for work for a few days.  Several years ago, I had visited the city for a day with my family, and since then have always wanted to go back and explore. This time around, I had a whole new affinity for the culinary delights the city has to offer, and made sure to stop at as many delicious looking places as I could.  I arrived during a week of perfect weather (it was in the 70's the entire time!), and so I set out during my off-time to walk or take the train to as many places I could think of.  A few of my friends who either lived in the city or had visited before sent me in the right direction of some great food, and here is some info about my experience.

Premier Cafe

The first place I wound up was called Premier Cafe, off 7th Street in the Midtown area of Manhattan.  This stop was purely accidental.  One of my dearest friends suggested I visit Carnegie Deli while on my trip, which happened to be right near my hotel.  I had arrived rather early--too early to check in yet--so I had some time to wait out and wanted to keep a close distance to the hotel.  As I relied completely on my phone for directions, when it died early in the day I found myself using an old fashioned method--finding a random place to eat rather than spending an hour looking for one first.  This is, of course, a great method, as it is so easy to bypass a great restaurant by just focusing on what's popular or well-known. Carnegie Deli was near my hotel, and per the recommendation of my friend I decided to walk over and grab a bite. Upon walking to it, I learned it was closed for repairs.  The Premier Cafe was directly next door, so this girl stopped in.  It was a great place to satisfy my appetite after having only airplane snacks for breakfast, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Reuben sandwich.  Sandwiches here are no joke--these things are huge! The price wasn't horrid for a tourist-loaded area ($15 for a sandwich is a bit steep), but was somewhat more than I would have liked.

I do wish I had found the time to stop into Katz's Deli, as another friend had highly recommended this as a great eatery.  Next time, New York.

Ray's Pizza

The evening I arrived, I had to work at an event nearby.  I needed something quick and easy to eat then run along on my way.   I made it a point to track down the location of the Italian pizzeria my family and I had stopped at years ago, as it had been quite good and I recall really liking the inside.  The original location was fairly close to the southern side of Central Park, and had a staircase on the inside leading up to a second level.  After wandering around a bit, basing my search on my recollection of where we were, I did discover the original spot, which was now closed.  The restaurant itself was still open, but had relocated a block over to 7th Street.

I ordered a fairly huge slice of veggie pizza, and it was as good as I remembered.  I love a thin crust pizza, and this was just enough food to fill me up for the night.  It was nice to find somewhere familiar in such a huge place!

The Chew

Though I'm focusing this post mainly on the food, I did take some time to explore the city in other ways, including visiting the Museum of Natural History and making a special visit to see The Chew filmed live.  My mom is a massive fan of the show, and so I saw a chance to get a free ticket online and couldn't pass it up. I ended up arriving far too early for the afternoon taping (it's a long story!), so I spent a little bit of the day killing time at Live with Kelly & Michael (I wouldn't do that one again), then made it over to The Chew to have my chance at being in the background on TV.

I had a lot of fun seeing that show filmed, and appropriately the episode recorded was for Mother's Day week.  And wouldn't you know, I got a free one-year supply of peanut butter!  I think you may already sense the kind of recipes that will be posted over the next year on the site...

Here's another pic from the set!  I have to say, the cast and crew were all great to the audience and this was a super neat experience.  I can only dream of hosting a cooking show where everybody preps ingredients for me!


Parm was an exciting one.  One of my friends mentioned this being an excellent place to check out, and after being a complete tourist at ABC Studios, I was absolutely starving.  My map noted this location just a few blocks away, so I headed over and got my very first Chicken Parm sandwich. and a nice cold beer.  And that was one excellent sandwich.

I ordered a side of zucchini fries as I just couldn't resist. They were sliced thinner than I've ever seen fried zuchhini--normally when I have them they are much larger and thicker, which I prefer.  These were seasoned very well though, with a decent amount of salt and a good, crispy outside.

Now for the chicken parm sandwich.  Forgive the shadows, as I sat outside and the sun was at that perfect angle.  First off, I am not often a fan of sesame seeds on a bun. It's just that, well, I don't like sesame seeds all that much and they often add way too much of their own flavor for my taste.  There were other bread options, but I opted for the roll rather than the hero so I could have a fairly small sandwich.  In this combination, though, I found the sesame bun to be perfect.  The seeds went well with the marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.  The breading and sauce were totally delighful, and there was more than enough chicken to make this a reasonable meal.  I went from starved to satisfied in just a few minutes!

Little Italy/Chinatown

On my day off in the city, I took the subway down to the Chinatown & Little Italy areas to continue my wandering.
I stumbled on this great little cheese shop named Alleva.  This store was filled with great ingredients to cook with, and I wish I could have taken more home!  I spotted all kinds of sauces, meats, fresh pasta and cheeses, and the gentlemen working were so friendly. I grabbed some Balsamic Glace with White Truffles because that was something I knew I could stow in the plane and had yet to try.  And let me tell you, this stuff smells amazing. I poured a bit on some portobello mushrooms I baked when I returned home, and they were awesome.  I can't wait to try using it in other recipes!

Dean & Deluca

Dean & Deluca deserves more than just a mention here, because this is the grocery story from heaven.  But really!  I spent at LEAST half an hour wandering back and forth in this store, amazed by all the crazy ingredients I kept noticing. It was just incredible.  The employees were SO nice; it was like being in an even fancier version of Publix (and we all know, Publix is the best grocery in Florida).  I brought home a bunch of goodies - to the point where leaving the store I grew concerned how it would all fit in my bag!  But I made it work.  My mom's been wanting duck fat to cook with for months - she's heard of it in many recipes and when I called her and told her they had it she was ecstatic.  Then I found some black garlic mayo, sriracha mayo, and even chocolate covered espresso beans (YES, PLEASE!).  I even saw vegemite ("Land Down Under", anyone?!), though I resisted the urge to buy.

Check out that THAT BAKERY!

And the we can't neglect the bread!

There was also fresh produce and a little cafe.  The best part is that I found some things I have at home and the prices were right about the same amount I paid.  So, despite shopping of Broadway in NYC, I was not overpaying.  Dean and Deluca, come to Florida.


This was another recommendation from a friend, though after going there I felt like I should have known of this place all along.  It was the evening of my day off, and I went over to the Broadway area to check it all out.  Of course, the shows were all either sold out or insanely out of my price range, and then I saw the lovely lights of Junior's and made my way in.

So they had the option of a plain ol' burger, but then there was the choice to get a mushroom and swiss topped burger plus a side of fries and rings for a few bucks more. Um, yes!  And free coleslaw, pickles, and beets.  Clearly, I pigged out (well, tried to.  Half of this got boxed up!).  The burger was super thick and so delicious!  I wound up at the times square location, and the prices were quite reasonable.

Though I was beyond full by the time the dessert menu made it's way around, but that didn't stop me from ordering a slice of heavenly looking cheesecake. I just was going to have to bring this back to my hotel (encased in a bag with some ice, since I didn't have a fridge!).

Best. Cheesecake. Ever.  Later in the night I got to finally try it, and wow. It was light while at the same time being dense.  How could this be?  And of course this item will have a recipe posted soon!

The waitress at Junior's was super nice and helpful as well.  She was helpful with the menu and kind enough to help me create a little cooler with some ice in an extra food container so I keep my food in my hotel.  I will absolutely be returning here when I visit again!

Poseidon Greek Bakery

I had an event that was going to run late in the evening, and I got all comfy and ready to relax for a few minutes beforehand.  Then I realized I was in New York City, and this was no time to relax!  I needed to explore!  I had visited once already, and not come back for 8 years.  So I set out for the Hell's Kitchen area, a couple of blocks south of my hotel.  That's when I saw the bright blue sign for Poseidon, a Greek Bakery.  As you may know from my recent blog posts, this girl loves Greek food. As a matter of fact, a few weeks back I spent the day with my friend's family cooking up a Greek feast--Tzatziki, Eggplant dip, Moussaka, Patsitsio, and Baklava.  I bake it, I eat it, I love it.  So after resisting the urge to bolt across a busy street to get there, I took the crosswalk and made my way over.

This bakery has been around for over 90 years, in the SAME location!  And though I've been around a decent amount of Greek food in my time, they had items I hadn't even heard of.  So I grabbed a few pastries, named afala and trigona. One was a phyllo pastry with pistachios, while another was filled with almond paste.  Um, yum!

There was spanakopita, tiropita...

And all the pastries a Greek girl could want.

I took the afala and trigona back home with me and brought them to my parents to share. I couldn't just be greedy with treats like this!  They both loved them, and I'm sure I don't even need to mention that these are going on my baking list!

There were of course a few other stops during my trip, including a coffee/sandwich joint called Fresh?, which had a pretty good vanilla latte, and another coffee cafe named Pret.  I had another latte and a pre-made roast beef sandwich here which was not bad.  I just didn't quite qualify it as being on the same level as my other restaurant goings, but my love of lattes warrants an honorable mention.

The only place I was just completely unimpressed with was this little cafe in LaGuardia airport.  I was exhausted the morning I left, and had to leave early from the hotel.  So I decided to grab a quick bite at this place right by the terminal called Au Bon Pain.  I had this coconut iced latte which was absolutely the nastiest coffee beverage I've ever had. After taking a few sips to try and siphon as much caffeine as I could tolerate out of it and subsequently spilling some on my shirt, I tossed it away.  From the same place I got a breakfast bagel (the only bagel I had in the city), which was right about subpar.  And can I just say, coming from Florida where every facility has to have a bathroom, it was pretty surprising how many places not only lack a place to wash your hands (which is somewhat understandable given the fact these are not new buildings), I don't think I saw hand sanitizer once.  I am so used to washing my hands before and after I eat that this was foreign to me.

New York City was an amazing place to visit, food aside.  The people I came into contact with were so friendly and made my experience even better.  I got to chat with a music therapist who played in one of the bands at one of the events I worked at and a guy from Ireland who had only been on the city a few months.  I had one of the nicest cashiers I've ever met give me the change I needed to complete my purchase since I was just short on cash and had left my card at he hotel.  In just a few days, I came across more friendly and helpful strangers than I normally do.  That's not to bash Florida; it is likely that I too was more friendly than usual in efforts to gain knowledge and learn interesting places in the city during my travels.  But the people and places really surprised me, in all pleasant ways.

When it comes to the food, I really did try some fantastic places.  Junior's was just plain stellar, but with options like Parm in the area I can understand why New Yorkers eat out so much. I enjoyed all the places I stopped, but I know I barely scratched the surface of what the city has to offer. New York, I'll be back!

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