It pays to have friends all over the place. It's even better when they're foodies. Two weeks ago, I ventured to NYC with my friend Chelsea. We had a vague idea of what we wanted to do when we booked our bus tickets, but nothing was set in stone. A few days before we left, I messaged my friend Michael who lives in Brooklyn asking if he'd be around and if he had any suggestions of places to eat. I expected a quick reply with a semi-famous restaurant to try or a local bakery or two. What I got back was a detailed, organized list of places to try, spanning different courses and cuisines from cupcakes to Milkshakes to Venezuelan and menu suggestions and specialties for each establishment. Had we been blessed with more time and super-rapid metabolisms, we would have tried them all. Instead, we picked a few and centered our day around eating. (Welcome to traveling with Kelly...)
Our first stop was Shopsin's, a tiny eatery located within the Essex Street market.
Don't let the size fool you. Even though they only have a few tables, their menu is EXTENSIVE.
Oh my goodness! We spent a good ten minutes reading through it and trying to narrow our possible picks down to five choices instead of ten. Ultimately, Chelsea went for the mac-n-cheese pancakes.
Creamy mac n cheese meets fluffy corn pancakes.
I wasn't sure I'd like them, so I didn't order them. Chelsea let me have a bite of hers and boy was I surprised! The textures and flavors meshed so perfectly that I couldn't believe I had ever doubted them. It was like mac n cheese and pancakes were meant to be together in breakfast bliss. Now if only I knew how to make them...
I went with Michael's recommendation of Blisters on My Sister: a skillet dressed in corn tortillas smothered in black beans and kidney beans and greens, topped with sunny side up eggs. A mix of melted cheeses coats the whole thing, marrying all the components together, making for one delicious Tex-Mex breakfast.
Of course the other part of being a tourist is that you can never take your leftovers with you, so I was forced to eat the whole thing (not that I'm complaining).
Normally, I like to walk off a breakfast like that before attempting to eat again, but my food plan for the day led us right around the corner to Sugar Sweet Sunshine, a bakery that brought all three words into my life.
They have a whole case of tantalizing trifles, but I had heard promise of better-than-Magnolia cupcakes and I would not let even the most perfect pudding detract me from my goal. I spotted pumpkin cupcakes in the case and normally I'd partake in the seasonal sweet, but I wanted a rare flavor that I couldn't get at every cupcake shop in town.
I went with pistachio.
A slightly dense cake with a hint of green color and just enough pistachio flavor. The frosting was perfect silky meringue buttercream with a light flavor to compliment the cake beneath it and the whole thing was topped with a dusting of pistachio crumbs. Perfection.
We picked up some banana pudding to go to bring over to my friend at work to say thank you (he was very appreciative!) before heading over to the MoMA for their exhibit on kitchen design and women's liberation.
The exhibit was fantastic. As someone who values counter space more than any designer handbag, I have to say that this was worth the entire trip! It told the story of kitchen design after World War I through a socio-political-historical lens. It also featured kitchen appliances through the years (my gadget-collecting self was in heaven!) and art featuring cooking, food and kitchens.
Our last stop of the day was Grand Central Station. By the time we got out of the MoMA, it was pouring rain and we were tired, cold and wet. We headed into the food court for some chili and cornbread.
After paying for my food, I turned to find a place to sit and was confronted with a line of people standing in front of Magnolia Bakery. Call me greedy, but I couldn't resist. I've never had one and the reputation was too big to pass up the chance at having one.
I went for red velvet and while I'd like to say that these lived up to their reputation, I'd be lying if I did. I didn't get to try my cupcake because the day ended in tragedy.
Rainy city meant wet bag and that wet bag didn't hold up to the weight of my cupcake. The box fell out somewhere between 31st and 38th and I was cupcake-less and out $3.75. [womp womp]
Despite the cupcake catastrophe, the day was a complete win. I caught up on sleep and had a fantastic nap on the way up. I ate an amazing array of food. I got to see an old friend from college and I had lovely company throughout the day. Is there a better way to travel?