Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Romp through the Gastropolis

I've been in the city the past 5 days. Yes, THE city, NYC. Primarily for a symposium at NYU on food collections in libraries, but otherwise for food itself. Not necessarily fine dining, mostly ingredients, a few proper meals, mostly grazing.

Chinatown, which is nothing like San Francisco's, seems to have been expanding since I lived in NY. Still very little to offer tourists. But the shops teeming with live fish, bizarre vegetables, bins of dried mushrooms, scallops and other unidentified medicinals, remain unchanged. Thankfully! The highlight is Ten Ren's Tea Shop. The King's Tea is among the most wondrous and weird things I have ever consumed. It enhances all other flavors, intensely so. I can still taste the potful I had this morning. I have no idea what's in it and I'm surprised the foodies haven't identified it as a miracle tea, 7th flavor, or something like that. (I just figured out, it's flavored with ginseng!)

Then there was The Pilgrimage. Despite what I have written on this very blog, Langers in L.A. does not even come vaguely close to Katz's. I can not even imagine what made me suspect so. 15 years without the real thing, no doubt. The place was packed, but service excellent. The pastrami literally made me swoon. The owner and I kfetched about David Sax's book Save the Deli. I liked the book a lot. But written by a guy from Toronto?

Dinner at Otto was as expected fabulous. Mario does do a mean pizza. And though the place was crammed to the gills, it was exquisite. My genes notwithstanding, my soul is, I admit, Italian. SO, does anyone remember Stuff Yer Face on Rt. 18 near New Brunswick? Where Mario started.

There were other forays, to the Upper West Side and Zabar's. Kaluystan's in the 20's for spices (all available on line now, but still) even a mad dash across the Brooklyn Bridge to Atlantic Avenue for the Lebanese shops.

The irony of the whole trip is the last night I thought I'd treat myself to a proper meal, at the uber-hip hotel at which I was put up. And I got what must have been food poisoning. If you don't mind such things, Faustina was very tasty. The aftermath I do not recommend.


Melissa said...

Ahhh... Stuff Yer Face. I still find it difficult to visit New Brunswick without stopping for the original 'boli. At least that one remains.

Deana Sidney said...

Sorry about the food poisoning.. but you got to Kalustyans.. which is one of the most fun places to shop (and they just expanded) Next time go to Astor... they have great cooking events upstairs!

Ken Albala said...

Yes, I was staying right around the corner on Cooper Sq. I stopped in, my friend Doug is the director, but I couldn't find him.

Judith Klinger said...

I wish I'd known you were here!
Around the corner from Kalystans is Curry-In-A-Hurry, its an Indian cafeteria that I adore (OK, I'm a total sucker for the Bollywood movies on the flat screen, but the food is good...follow the cabbies is one of my mottos.)
Don't know about the New Brunswick place, but we remember Mario when he worked at Rocco's in the village. He used to come out and kiss my mother up the charmer.
So much food, so little time...did you get to any of the wonderful cocktail bars?
Glad you enjoyed your bit of Gotham, except for the yukky sick part!

Ruth T. Alegria said...

At least you have an ersatz "deli" to go to. My first year in Mexico City I though I'd finally found a restaurant that might just have something, its name The Mount Sinai kosher restaurant....
Izazaga between 5 de febrero and 20 de noviembre
(near Pino Suarez) Tel: 709-4906 or 57 09 14 15

Well the menu was interesting, all Mexican but kosher. Finally spoke to one of the owners and we spent an hour speaking about deli's, his favorite Katz's, where he always goes on his yearly visit to NYC!

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