Monday, October 22, 2012

New York City: 2 Days, 2 People, $200

Grounded Coffee on Jane St. in the West Village

If you were in New York City sometime in the last week, you are the lucky few.  Crisp, clear mornings; falling yellow leaves; precious fading hours of amethyst daylight; these autumn days are the best days to be in New York. 

As such, I thought I would celebrate autumn, the city, and my 100th blog on Pho the Love of Food with an imaginary trip to a few of my favorite spots in the city right now.  No doubt one can blow the bank on a single meal in this town, but if you live here, that is not the way of life.  More likely you learn how to eat well, often sharing food with a friend or lover to get the most bang for your food buck. 

So here you have it.  Two days, two people, two hundred dollars to spend eating and drinking in this best of all possible times of year in New York City. 

Day One

I rouse John from his precious slumber sometime around 10:00am with promises of coffee just a short walk from our apartment at Grounded.  We pull up two mismatched chairs to read the New York Times over one extra hot latte with organic skim milk and one Japanese Sencha full leaf green tea.  Once caffeinated, we split a poppyseed bagel, easy on the butter, and one of Grounded’s signature breakfast wraps- a tortilla stuffed with scrambled eggs and turkey sausage then griddled on a Panini press until crisp. ($13)

It is a weekday in this imaginary scenario so we hop the L train to the East Village for the “Duck Bowl Set Lunch” at Momofuku Ssam Bar (not served on weekends).  The sweet, sticky, juicy duck breast and shredded leg served with rice, lettuce cups, scallion pancake and a side of spicy roasted potatoes is almost enough for two people to share.  We throw in an order of duck dumplings for good measure all washed down with oolong iced tea. ($32)

After an afternoon long run on the Hudson River and some shopping for new releases at Book Book on Bleecker Street, John’s getting peckish.  A small order of fries with bourbon dipping sauce and two Belgian beers in courtyard at Vol de Nuit (otherwise known as “The Belgian Beer Bar”) gets us back in a good place.  ($25)

Do I feel any shame in eating regularly across the street from our apartment?  If the food weren’t so damn good at Corsino you’d have every right to call me lazy.  But the Tagliatelle with Pork Ragu and Mint is one of the most satisfying pastas in town.  We share an order of the tagliatelle and a half bottle of Valpolicella then call it a night. ($37)

Day Two

We take our paper over the Chelsea Market to stake out a table before the tour busses arrive.  A latte from 9th St. Espresso for John ($4) plus an oat scone and almond brioche from Amy’s Bread and one green tea ($12) gets Day Two started on the right foot. 

Spicy Cumin Lamb Noodles
It is back to the East Village for lunch.  I’m pretty sure they add crack to the Spicy Cumin Hand-ripped Lamb Noodles because I get the shakes if it has been too many weeks between visits to Xi’an Famous Foods. While I take mine in a rich, soupy broth, John does his dry, or rather, stir-fried in a slick of chili-laced oil.  Our taste buds hum for hours. ($14.50)

We stick around the East Side and catch a movie.  By the time we come out the sun is fading signaling Happy Hour is getting started at Terroir.  We order two glasses of Musar Jeune, Chateau Musar 2010 (Lebanon) and an appetizer of sage leaves with lamb sausage ($20).

On the seven block walk south to Zabb Elee, I’m pretty sure I can smell the duck larb.  It’s calling to me.  Ground duck, shallots, mint, crispy duck skin, lime, scallion, chili.  My mouth is on fire. We wash it down by splitting a Beer Laos before moving on to the next spot. ($17)

We have room for one more beer and maybe a bit more food.  We continue the southward walk to the Lower East Side because there may be no better Asian food for soaking up excess liquor than the Ham Rice Cakes at Yunnan Kitchen.  The hearty bowl of chewy rice disks is tossed with shaved heritage pork and plenty of chili sauce.  It is drinking food with a conscience. We toast our successful two days of eating with an Ommegang Witte and a Victory Prima Pils.  ($23)

Total for the weekend: $197.50.  (Note this doesn’t include tax and tip but I’m pretty sure not everyone would be as inclined to eat or drink quite as much as us.)  I’m not sure eating this good can only be done in New York, but on gorgeous fall days like these, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be doing it. 

Amy Powell is a food and travel writer based in New York City. She is a graduate of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration and the French Culinary Institute. Follow her on Twitter @amymariepowell

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