I am now writing this several weeks “anno trumpini” and this tip was made many days “before trumpini”, when New York was still one of the most ethnically diverse food cities in the world. Arguable claim, given the efforts of the current “leader of the free world”, but I feel like recent new-comers to the scene (of foreign-descent of course!) such as Cosme and Sushi Nakazawa will be well-supported by their established neighbours for the foreseeable future. For now though, how about a quick run down of a few places to hit when in the Big Apple for a couple of days….
Imimgrant culture and how it truly defines the food culture/evolution of a country like the United States of America only serves to help improve the diversity, interest and overall business of such a nation…right?! It’s no wonder the growing scene of varying strains of North African cuisine seem to be lighting up the eating scene in traditionally, shall we say, neglected neighbourhoods such Brooklyn. This isn’t to say that we’re not lucky enough to enjoy equivalent experiences here in London; Lima (Peruvian) has a Michelin Star to its name, I’m not even going to being of the power of Indian food on British food scene, the Turkish kebab shops of Green Lanes are all solid and that’s just a few!
With the current state of affairs over in the US I find myself asking what would the President’s home city be like if it hadn’t have been for the influence derived from the food of the close-nit Italian communities? Remember as well how when those Polish and Jewish communities took the bold step to travel to a new world, this was the city that gave them the platform to allow their food to become synonymous with the city itself – I’m talking kielbasa, babka, lox, smoked sablefish, bagels…..all of this now “trendy” food was borne out of New York’s Lowe East side. But then some stupid f***ers decide to go and add food colouring to make a bagel “insta-friendly” – not more appetizing (see here what Russ & Daughters fourth generation co-owner, Niki Russ Federman, has to say about New York’s appetizing food)…they were probably eating some pretty shitty bagels anyway so no wonder they thought this would be the needed facelift! (Rants are fun :D).
Even now though, we’ve got new flavour combinations starting to evolve BECAUSE of the co-habiting and mixing of these cultures. Latin & Asian cuisine are showing strongly, especially now that there is an increasing appreciation for elevation as a result of their natural flavours. Chef Alex Stupak established the Empellón Group that has been inspired by Mexican cuisine, but done through the eye’s of a Boston-born Chef. Mark Ladner’s experience at pizza counters led to his movement to NYC where Del-Posto’s (1*) fine-dining approach to “ Cucina New Yorkese” (his words not mine!) shows that Italian dining is about more than just dollar pizza!
History and appreciation over, here’s the round-up you’ve been waiting for...
With all this in mind, I had a couple of places I wanted to hit while in New York and would STRONGLY recommend you take a few moments to consider the options! Bagels were a must, so we took the short subway journey from our hotel to Black Seed Bagels (touted as hand rolled and wood fired). It was completely worth the trip, but I still don’t understand how people can still accept just a plain bagel (I’ll have an everything every time from these guys). Dinner had to be at the pasta-centric Lupa…it’s literally THE BEST pasta experience you could have. I’m actually ready to pack my bags and go back (no pictures were taken as proof). By the way…no bought-in pasta and no stupid “walk-in only” rules. For Mexican I really didn’t know what to do, but was told that Hell’s Kitchen was the place to go. Found a spot called Tacuba and while it might have a chain-y sort of feel to it, was bloody delicious. That’s what I kept coming back to during this trip…there wasn’t really anything ever that was not tasty…so much tasty! I’ll end by giving up nominations for the “dollar pizza” (it’s a real-thing….$1=1 slice) category – 2 Bros Pizza has several locations and the 99 Cents Fresh Pizza both make it up there.
Now to an abrupt, but well-timed ending to this post..
2 quick things and then time to go: 1) Visit Eataly at The Oculus Memorial’s Westfield and 2) Go see School of Rock it’s so much fun. R.