How to Maximize Your Trip to NYC

How to Maximize Your Trip to NYC

I recently reunited with college best friends (from Denver, New Orleans, Chicago and Israel) for a fast-paced, perfect getaway to New York City. Absorbing the city’s energy upon arrival was unavoidable, as we managed to toast with wine and steak frîtes at Balthazar until 1 a.m. on Friday without a blink (and I can’t say I’ve stayed up that late in months).

Gansevoort Market (New York)

IMG_7792know I am not a fashion blogger, so I can't be entirely jealous of the slew of #NYFW (New York Fashion Week) hashtags on Instagram. But I just cannot help the feeling.

So, in honor of dreamy New York getaways of which I am currently not a part, I am here to provide your next daytime to-do in Chelsea: Gansevoort Market.

Sure, locals and tourists covet the vast and crowded Chelsea Market; though nothing beats an authentic open-air space, whose petite paths wind you through a Manhattan food mecca. As my beloved Memphian-New Yorker Mary Catherine explained prior to our visit, Gansevoort personifies old New York with a juxtaposed trendy twist of greek yogurt bars, pressed juice and lobster rolls. It's a fantastic approach. I especially admire the industrial interior, a nod to the historic surrounding neighborhood.

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Two dozen stands, within a 8,000square-foot space, include the charming Tacombi, a VW bus-turned-taqueria, with homemade tortillas and killer salsa. Meanwhile, the whimsical Flower Girl brings vibrant, natural floral arrangements to a bordering booth on the street-side of the Gansevoort Market.

I was so tempted to bring a bouquet back with me to the hotel. Instead, Alex and I ordered addictive cucumber coconut juices from the next-door juice stand.

Gansevoort Market, I love you.

 

The Smith (New York City)

IMG_7820 I firmly believe in savoring breakfast -- labeled the most important meal of the day for a reason -- especially when it's a weekday morning egg scramble or poached-style toast ritual. But on a weekend at The Smith in New York City, the classic egg dish is amplified to a cast-iron lobster frittata or a poached egg avocado toast. That, my friends, is a proper American brunch. And that brunch should, indeed, be experienced right here.

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We were seated by a floor-length window with beautiful views of Midtown scenes and pedestrians. Though locals complained about the "heat wave" overwhelming Manhattan, a sunny and 82-degree forecast was more than appreciated by my family, who is still learning to manage the heavy humidity of Memphis.

The breezy, brunchy vibe transmitted from tables to waiters, who kindly delivered individually-wrapped packages of crusty bread with whipped butter to accompany our dozen ice cold oysters on the half shell.

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The lobster frittata special, while cooked through more than I typically prepare, highlighted slices of buttery brie, blistered cherry tomatoes, and quite impressive servings of fresh lobster. The portion was delightful, especially when served in a piping hot skillet. If only this could be translated into a weekday morning pre-work breakfast...!

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The avocado toast with poached egg and frisée was clearly a home run, and the ahi tuna and lobster salads were refreshingly light compared to our Il Mulino feast the evening beforehand. Light-as-air fennel slices and crisp hericot verts were fantastic additions to fresh seafood, which would satisfy any summer palate. The bold colors across our table reflected a colorful, comprehensive menu I'd recommend to any tourist or NYC local. The Smith was simply, utterly wonderful.

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Full from NYC, Hungry for Writing

For the past three weeks, I experienced some cravings, as any food-obsessive gal would expect. First, it was adventure. I managed to push through four extremely demanding work weeks before heading to exciting destinations, each with a culinary-crafted bucket list in hand. The list of Caramelized Critiques drafts has never been so lengthy. Oy.

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Then, it was the gin with tonic and cucumber. I sought the cocktail refresher at Terranea in Los Angeles, Madison Rooftop in Memphis, and Girl and the Goat in Chicago. Don't worry, I only ordered one at each spot.

Then, it was avocado toast. I enjoyed that one at St. Roch Market in New Orleans and The Smith in New York City.

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But now, on this beautiful Monday afternoon in July, I realized what I was genuinely hungry for: writing. My everyday commitments have indirectly pushed my true passion of recreational writing to the bottom of the list. Or I guess I have just been too busy eating...?

I aim to sit down with a cup of coffee tonight, tomorrow, and Wednesday to share the nationwide delicacies I have savored this past month. Maybe it'll serve as a form of a diet -- writing about food instead of eating it? Stay tuned for so many restaurants and recipes in so little time. I won't let you down.

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The Dutch (New York)

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It's Sunday, and I'm deeply missing the brunch experience of a lifetime at The Dutch NYC. This morning's protein shake cannot and will not ever compare to the cream cheese cinnamon roll and full oyster and raw bar, among other fine American bistro options. IMG_5075

Nestled in SoHo (my favorite neighborhood of the city), the swanky spot reminds me of an old-time American bar with country club-esque charm. The graphic and interior design are both fabulous. I almost loved the menu's design as much as the food in front of me.

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My opinion of the restaurant was immediately validated when Neil Patrick Harris and his family arrived in the dining room in pastel Easter charm. I respected his family time and did not snap too many photos, though I especially enjoyed watching the twins in their respective bowtie and blonde curls!

We ordered quite the array of items, which satisfied my family's extremely diverse palates.

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The raw, plump oysters with shredded horseradish and housemade hot sauce were a no-brainer. Mom took it up a notch by requesting the addition of crab to the platter. I washed mine down with a grapefruit mimosa, though the spicy bloody mary to my left accompanied the salty starters well.

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I enjoyed a light entrée of beet salad -- a burrata burrito, if you will -- which held creamy pockets of burrata cheese with a crunchy pistachio sprinkle, root shavings, and a fine vinaigrette.

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The cornmeal pancake short stack was appropriately loaded with hot blueberry compote. I enjoyed the change of pace from typical pancake ingredients; the grittier version of cornmeal added a complexity that still hasn't left my taste buds.

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The farro and mushroom salad was brilliantly constructed. Layers of pesto, broccoli, farro (a barley-like wheat) and wild mushrooms were topped with snow-like parmesan, bringing the entire dish together.

And, of course, the Dutch burger (not pictured) was epic in itself. Home-style potatoes and fries accompanied, leaving us fantastically full. I'm so into The Dutch. So is Neil Patrick Harris. So add it to your list.

What to Try at Smorgasburg (Brooklyn)

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Never have I believed myself to be so lucky until I curiously clicked on Smorgasburg's website after booking an NYC family vacation for my grandmother's eightieth birthday over six months ago. The bolded words, "We're back April 4th!" popped out as I scanned the screen. And then, I rejoiced. I would be in Brooklyn on opening day of the most fabulous food flea market in existence: Smorgasburg. My family of five strategized upon our arrival. We'd tackle long lines by venturing to different stands and, after twenty minutes, gathering in the center to taste and pass. The system was both efficient and hilarious. Below are my favorite bites from the 'burg:

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1. Mozz pops. New to Smorgasborg, Big Mozz x Atlantic Avenue prepares fresh mozzarella onsite and serves it up in different styles. I preferred the "pops:" two quarters of buttery cheese with a side of lemony bright pesto for dipping. A light appetizer for the feast, if you will.

2. Beef short rib. Carnal grills up a massive beef short rib with an unbeatable chimichurri sauce. Slow roasted with bone marrow, the serving is summer savory and completely addictive.

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3. Mac & cheese. Milk Truck may be known for their grilled cheeses, but the aged cheddar bechamel bow ties (topped with house made breadcrumbs) are delightful. You can add sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and other delicious ingredients to the mix.

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4. Ramen burger. It's the original; and frankly, it's life-changing. Sesame ramen noodles sandwich a fresh ground chuck patty with a shoyo glaze and market fresh vegetables. Who would've thought your college dorm room staple and classic burger could be combined into such greatness.

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5. Truffle fries. Home Frite has a 50-person line for a reason: the "crispy fresh" fries kick ass. I am a huge fan of the packaging, which holds the hand-cut potatoes and homemade sauces with mobile ease. Go for the truffle dipping sauce.

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6. Chicken parmesan slider. Sunday Gravy keeps it classic with grandmother-made quality chicken parmesan with heavy red sauce and parmesan. Served piping hot on a trendy slider, you'll want a second. Or a third, in our case.