Recently, I met up with Ayersian
(Chris & Amy) on Tuesday August 2nd
in Manhattan for a small tour of what turned out to be a number of dairy-centric delights. Our journey took us from Midtown East to Harlem, back down to the Upper West Side and finally to the outskirts of the Lower East Side. We first met up at one of The Travelin' Man
's favorite places, Ess-A-Bagel
, on 3rd Ave. near 51st St. in Midtown East.
The line was pretty long but not quite this big. I may haver annoyed a customer or two by chatting with Chris & Amy and not paying attention to the counterman asking me what I wanted so one of them skipped ahead of me. It pays to be aware of your surroundings in NYC!
My Everything bagel with Raisin Walnut cream cheese, one of my favorite combinations at any bagel shop. I'm so glad this version had salt on it (some don't) as it really plays into the salty/sweet dichotomy that I so love.
Mmmmm... It certainly helps when the bagel is very fresh with a crusty exterior and soft, slightly chewy interior as this was. Chris and Amy picked up an Everything bagel with lox and cream cheese and a Pumpernickel-Raisin bagel with butter. The combination of dark pumpernickel, raisins and caraway seeds were a winner for each of us.
While waiting for our orders I had remembered my friend Brooke telling me of a little park with a waterfall that has been a real oasis for her when she just needs to tune out the sounds of the city for a bit. I texted her and just half a block away on 51st St. near 3rd Ave. is Greenacre Park. Below is a link to a website that has a very nice picture of the park. I couldn't believe how tranquil this place was. I could feel some of the cast off from the waterfall and the sound of rushing water completely drowned out the typical busy sounds of Gotham and made for the perfect spot to relax, munch on some really good bagels and catch up with old friends. http://11870.com/pro/greenacre-park/media/46fdac16
Being the consummate list maker, I had about 15 spots on the agenda and I figured we'd hit about 5-6 of them on this day. Next up was a short three block walk to the Citigroup Center building, one of the ten tallest skyscrapers in NYc and one of the most distinctive with its 45 degree angled roof and stilt-style base (as seen partially in this shot that I took).
At the base of the building is a below street level courtyard with an entrance to the subway and MELT SHOP
, a relatively new grilled cheese shop and a place I have had my eye on for a few months.
We started out with some Zapp's Voodoo potato chips. Chris & Amy had told me about these before having had them in NOLA and boy were they good. they reminded me of a slightly spicy cross between BBQ and salt & vinegar chips.
My Arnold Palmer. Sometimes called a Tiger Woods or a half & half, the blend of iced tea and lemonade is a very refreshing one. This particular one was just okay. I thought it could have used some more lemonade.
We opted to split the Buttermilk fried chicken with jalapeno jack cheese, red cabbage slaw and melt sauce on country white bread. Like a grilled cheese Gone Wild, this was one intense, messy sandwich. The chicken was crispy and had a peppery kick to it, the bread was liberally buttered and quite crispy/crunchy, the cabbage provided a nice tangy contrast to the gooey melted cheese and I think the melt sauce was like a thousand island sans pickles. I debated going back later in the day to pick up one for myself, which I wisely declined and my waistline thanked me for it!
A McClure's dill pickle. McClure's is a small company that makes pickles, relish and Bloody Mary mixes in Detroit, MI and Brooklyn, NY. I've seen them at various food fairs in NYC. This is the second time I have tried one and there is just something about the brine that I can't quite put my finger on but I'm just not a fan. Sorry.
We walked past another waterfall, this time just outside of the subway station and made our way underground to the 6 train headed for the 116th St. stop in Harlem.
A few blocks east to 1st Ave. and 2 blocks up to 118th and we found ourselves at... Patsy's Pizzeria
Patsy's does have a sit down restaurant but we were only interested in the take-out window.
They do sell whole pies and slices (for only $1.75!!) at the takeout window and the only drinks are from the soda machine inside or if you want a bigger selection of thirst quenchers there is a bodega two doors down. When we walked up to the building there was an NYPD detective (I saw the badge clipped to his belt) walking out. He looked at us, wiped his mouth with a napkin and groaned, "Ahh, da best!!" Couldn't have asked for a more NYC experience.
These were some seriously great coal oven slices. Sauce. Cheese. Crust. All perfectly balanced and absolutely addictive. I think the whole pies are only $12.00! Seriously? A great deal for one of the city's premier pies. Walking through Harlem for me was really like entering a vastly different world than the one I live in. I realize that we only walked a few blocks but we saw little kids running through a fire hydrant that had been opened on this hot day, people saying hello to each other on the street and a man sitting in a chair in the sidewalk tending to some peppers he was growing on a small tree there. The word that kept popping up in my head? Community.
As we headed back towards the subway I tossed out the idea of walking about 10 blocks to Amy Ruth's, a soul food place that I love, to get our Chicken & waffles groove on. Chris said that he was starting to hit the wall and was just looking for liquid Roadfood at this point. They were meeting Bruce Bilmes
& Sue Boyle
later on to watch the Amazin' Mets at Citi Field and I don't think they wanted to overdo it as there were a few stops later that night. We hopped back on the 6 train and got off at 86th St. Three blocks south was the Lexington Candy Shop
. This place has been around since 1925 and a favorite of mine for sometime. It does get its share of tourists but there is definitely a local clientele here too. The first time I came here a customer uttered a few words in French and the woman behind the counter began speaking back in French and they had a friendly conversation. A few minutes later another customer realized he didn't have enough money for the bill and the woman said just pay me the rest next time you're in. Such a nice place. They still make sodas and egg creams at the fountain too!
They also have an extensive collection of vintage and specialty Coca-Cola bottle on display in the windows.
I love the one from the "T" in Boston for their 100th anniversary!
Chris & Amy split an egg cream and I think they liked it.
Having tried the egg cream before and opted for a chocolate malted. Love that silver beaker with about another glass and a half left in it. Good chocolate flavor and lots of malt too. Cold, rich and just what I needed.
When I saw this on the wall in the restroom (my camera was still in my pocket) I just couldn't resist taking a picture! The Far Side rules!
Our last stop of the day was at il laboratorio del gelato
on E. Houston St. (conveniently located directly across the street from Katz's!!). Another place that has been on my "to-do" list for years and with a dizzying array of gelatos and sorbets I was eager to dive right in.
They do allow customers to sample up to two flavors before choosing. I went for a two scoop of chocolate hazelnut gelato and maple gelato. Wow! The first flavor reminded me of the chocolate pudding ice cream from the much loved Herrell's in Northhampton, MA with lots of crushed hazelnuts mixed in. And these were crunchy nuts, mind you, not ones that had gotten a funky, soft texture that can plague some lesser ice creams. The maple had a bold flavor and I was really craving it, being maple deprived for the most part no longer living in Central NY or New England.
Chris & Amy chose a three scoop of maple gelato, tarragon gelato and yellow watermelon sorbet. The licorice tones of the tarragon paired very nicely with the creaminess of the gelato and the sorbet tasted like an ice cold hunk of fresh summer melon.
And more cascading water to end the day, courtesy of the City Hall Park fountain. I had a great day with my friends and I look forward to our next adventure! The 411
831 3rd Avenue (near 51st Street)
New York, NY 10022
Ph # 212-980-1010
2.) MELT SHOP
601 Lexington Avenue (@ 53rd Street)
New York, NY 10022
Ph # 212-759-6358
3.) Patsy's Pizzeria
2287 1st Avenue (@ 118th Street)
New York, NY 10035
Ph # 212-534-9783
4.) Lexington Candy Shop
1226 Lexington Avenue (@ 83rd Street)
New York, NY 10028
Ph # 212-288-0057
5.) il laboratorio del gelato
Corner of Houston & Ludlow Streets
New York, NY 10002
Ph # 212-343-9922
"Eating is an adventure, enjoy the ride!" - billyboy, 2011