Big Bite of the Big Apple (NYC)


New York City is known as the "Big Apple"—but I ate everything in sight except the apple.

We all know that New York is a food paradise. But I never imagined just how fantastic the food could be until four days and eight restaurants later—from the Bowery to the West Village; from the Meat Packing District to the East Side.

So here's a taste of my New York.

When we landed in the city on Christmas morning, Pulino's in the Bowery was our first stop. Bloody Marys, mussels and creative pasta dishes kept us in the holiday spirit after a long morning of traveling. My favorite was the cappalletti di zucca: a sweet and savory squash-filled pasta with brown butter and pomegranates. Unbelievable.

Chinese food and Jews on Christmas clearly go hand-in-hand; so we just had to check out Zagat's top-rated Chinese spot for 2012. We were five of 42 people in the cozy West Village Red Farm NYC restaurant. And, oh, did this restaurant win the top spot in my book.  The highlight was the Katz's Deli pastrami eggroll with a spicy mustard sauce.  How "New York" is that?! It was so delicious that we had to order another halfway through our meal.

Chelsea Market, if you haven't been, is a gourmet food court of restaurants. I was having trouble deciding which to choose, until I noticed a woman walk by with a full lobster on a paper plate.  Decision made.  The picture below doesn't even do it justice.  The Lobster Place is the way to go.

The award-winning db bistro menu on Wednesday evening brought instant satisfaction before even tasting the dishes, simply because every dish included mushrooms (my favorite)! Their special db burger, stuffed with fois gras and black truffle, melted in your mouth (if you could manage to get your mouth around it!).

Todd English Food Hall, housed in the basement of the Plaza Hotel, was the most overwhelming lunch I’ve had in a while. Why? The “dining hall” set up offered everything from sushi to homemade pastas and salads.  Whoa.

BLT Fish served seafood elegantly and provided a fabulous dining experience, even with a cotton candy finale. The pacific hamachi appetizer matched the avocado and grapefruit with perfection. The cheddar cheese biscuits also hit the spot.  Our waiter provided us with the take-home biscuit recipe, so I'll be sure to whip up some of those before heading back to Austin.

The meat-packing district, a gem of the city I wish I had discovered sooner, became my favorite area for its quiet atmosphere and high-end scene of restaurants and shops. At Fig & Olive, we started with a cucumber martini in the middle of the day.  How fun is vacation!  I kept my eyes peeled for celebrities, since I have heard this was a hot spot; but no luck.  At least the crab salad was tasty.

Hungry yet? Some caramelized critiques are coming your way in the next few weeks! Put these on your list for your next visit to NYC.