Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Island of Dreams

Aaah, New York.

Despite having been exploited for all it's worth, with everything written about it that possibly could be, ubiquitous Central Park photos splattered all over the web, New York City still moves me in a way that's almost indescribable.


I can sense the train pulling into Penn station every single time; it sends a shiver down my spine and makes me sweaty with anticipation. The sheer joy of being the world's greatest city (yes, it is), being surrounded by culture, food, art, fashion and history, and of course the shopping - all of these combine into the heady cocktail that is New York. Its narrow alleys set me free; its towering skyscrapers make me giddy, and its pulse finds an echo in the beats of my heart.

Ok, I'll stop.

This trip was probably my last sojourn to NY (as tour guide to my visiting mother), so I decided to tick off another few things on my to-do list (I could never, of course, hope to tick off ALL of them). My focus so far had been on history and fashion/shopping. This time, I wanted pop-culture NY - and I wanted food. So I scoured the Food Network for affordable, interesting places, and this is what I came up with.

1. Magnolia Bakery Any fan of Sex And The City would recognize this name immediately - it's where the ladies got their cupcake fix. Since the show aired, this place has become a destination in itself, known more for the show than the actual cupcakes. I got 2 - red velvet (my absolute favorite), and Chocolate Coconut.

Now, I've been on the hunt for the perfect red velvet for ages (more on that later). This one, while good, didn't come close to that vision. The choc-coco had great texture and soft, sweet coconut, but slightly dry cake. All in all, Magnolia did just about ok in my book.

2. The Meatball Shop A Brooklyn original, it recently branched out in Manhattan (thus saving me a tedious subway trip), and serves beef, pork, chicken and veggie meatballs. You can order them "naked", on a slider (one ball, small bun), as a burger (2 on a bun) or as a hoagie (3 on a hotdog roll), with an assortment of sauces and cheese. I got chicken burger, spicy tomato sauce and pepperjack cheese - and it was goooooooood. The meatballs had just the right consistency, were flavorful, and piping hot. Would go again. 

3. Waffles and Dinges A traveling truck that dispenses authentic, hot Belgian waffles. Found out it was parked in Times Square (perfect). A long line of post-lunch, craving-something-sweet people greeted me. I got a plain small waffle with just powdered sugar...........and couldn't figure out what people raved on and on about. It was nice, yes, but nothing to write home about. Ah well, maybe it takes a more sophisticated palette ! I was on a busy sidewalk with sugar all over my fingers, so no pics. So sorry !

4. Red Hook Lobster Another traveling truck, and this one went gourmet ! Serves lobster rolls, lobster mac and cheese, and even live lobsters ! It was the most expensive of my jaunts - a $16 lobster roll ain't cheap - but oh, was it worth it ! Cold, sweet chunks of lobster, a hint of spicy mayo and a perfectly buttered bun - H.E.A.V.E.N. 

NYC never fails to surprise and amaze me. This was my 8th (9th ?) trip to the little island, and I discover something new every single time. 

That's why I keep going back for more.