Yes you should spread the news and yes, if you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere...
Frank Sinatra had it right and I can really see, not that I didn't before, why this epic city is so iconic! It’s simply spectacular in every single way that you can imagine.
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to skip over man holes and tilt my head up at the empire state building. Amazingly, thank you to certain special people in my life it became a reality October 2014. From the yellow cabs to the subways, time square and the upper west side New York City is magic. It’s a strange thing because when I went to New York I realized how small I am. There, you are no one. Which is so beautiful because it opens up the fact that you can be anyone, someone. Now who wouldn't want that!
I decided on the way, which is a very long flight from South Africa that it was going to be all about the food. I just new it. One of the food capitals of the world how could it not be a trip focused on where to eat, what to eat and how to eat it.
The trip had to include the classic New York hot dog, the oldest pizzeria in America, the Smogersburg market in Williamsburg and of course last but not least the Cronut. We were going to fit this all in between the top of the rock, empire state building, statue of liberty, time square and anything else we could find. Talk about a jam-packed ten days.
Walking shoes at a ready... you're going to need them. New York is a mighty beast that will not be tamed
We begin with a coffee break, something simple something small. The beautiful thing about most of the coffee shops, bakeries etc. is that at the end of every day they give all their food to the homeless and in the morning make it fresh for their patrons.
One of the first places we had to go to was of course Dominique Ansel’s bakery. For one reason and one reason alone, the Cronut.
Here it is Cronut 101 as they call it. This is a little parcel of heaven is like a doughnut and a croissant had a baby. It’s a hybrid of both and it takes a lengthy process of being proofed, fried, rolled in sugar, filled with cream and then topped with a glaze. This process takes up to three days. Each month is a new flavour and the invention of the Cronut took over two months to create.
Having given it a practice run the day before, simply because we were unaware that the queue. Started at 6 am every single morning and you had to be one of the first 150 in the queue because the bakery only sells 300 Cronut a day. Which is understandable once you know the effort that goes into one of them.
The next morning after a frightfully early wake up we hit the queue at 6am. Thankfully we were only number 25 in lines. the bakery opens up at 9am and thankfully the weather in October is moderate and kind to this standing in queue at this ungodly hour. The bakery is friendly and as soon as the staff arrive they come out and greet everyone handing out fresh madeleine’s as a little taster and encourager that you are on the path to heaven, you just need to wait.
As the doors open there is a resounding cheer from everyone who simply cannot wait to sink their teeth into a Cronut. They pass a baguette as a sort of baton marking groups of twenty at a time to go into the bakery, as it is not a very large space. If you do not want a Cronut you do not have to stand in the queue. You can go into a separate queue and get other baked goods, which according to me, should be just as famous.
Once we were in, it’s a feast for the eyes that you simply cannot believe. From decadent éclairs to delicate cheesecakes this bakery is beyond. After much debate and hungry eyes we settled on two peach and black tea Cronut’s, a lobster tail (pretzel dough filled with peanut butter and served with salted caramel butter) and a DKA 'Dominique’s Kouign Amain' tender, flaky croissant like dough with a caramelised crunchy crust. a mouth full indeed.
Every. Single. Bite. Was absolutely worth every. Single. Second. Of waiting.
The Cronut is all that is right with the world. Its rich moist and sugary sweet. Its beautiful layers are clear and precise. It’s flaky and chewy all at the same time. You lose yourself in every mouthful. The ice coffee that was recommended cut through the richness. A definite must for those who cannot handle the sweetness or simply want the different flavours playing in their mouths.
The DKA is the unsung hero of this bakery. It is for me, on another level. Its perfection in its crust and its gooey center. You can break it up with your fingers and it simply melts in your mouth. The DKA has the perfect balance of flavours in its richness and its sweetness. The best part, you don't have to queue for the DKA. So there is no excuse to not get something amazing from this bakery, if you are in New York. I should be thankful I do not live in the area because I would get a coffee and a DKA every single morning. Hangover or not and probably look like one within a week!
The lobster tail reminds me of my childhood. Salty and sweet this play on flavours was delicious. The dough is slightly heavier and not as light as the DKA but not as chewy as the Cronut. I could judge the lobster tail but anyone who judges’ peanut butter with salted caramel butter I cannot be friends with. Who needs that type of negativity in their life! It’s a great pastry to get with the DKA as its slightly more complicated in flavour and not as simple. Needless to say every choice was perfect in the bakery. i look back and wonder if we could of made an incorrect one? Each one is probably just as good as the next.
The man is a master. *Applaud*
The DKA and iced coffee
the peach and black tea cronut
So lets talk hot dogs. I decided to go to Coney island and hunt down Nathan’s famous. Home to the original New York hot dog. Served with a large soda and cheese fries, this is no place to count calories. No amount of cheese spread in your childhood will ever prepare you for melted hot cheese on fries. It’s a sin and so so good all wrapped up in one. The hot dogs are tasty and perfectly served with fried onions, tomato sauce and mustard. The only way you can go wrong is if you make the rookie error and have lunch before the rides like I did. Coney island almost got all of me that day. But I put my big girls pants on and enjoyed every second. Full belly or not!
Little Italy is exactly how you would imagine it from the movies. Filled with Italian everything. From cannoli’s to pizza it was one of my favourite adventures.
We decided to go to Lombari's pizza, how could we not. It’s the oldest pizzeria in America. First licensed in 1905 this pizzeria was started by an Italian immigrant with a vision. We got there late as we had gotten lost on the subway. All part of the adventure. They hustled us inside in haste and told us that we had 5 minutes to order before closing. Working well under pressure we decided our toppings and placed our order. By the time we got our hot pizza box it was time to vacate the building. We didn't care, we had pizza. Off we went on our trip back to the apartment. We had decided to eat once we had gotten home but the aromas of the pizza got the better of us. Only two slices survived the trip. We ate as we went with hungry onlookers judging us. I can assure you that the pizza was spectacular and that the ricotta cheese used will live on in my memory forever.
Smorgasburg, lunch with a view. This amazing market is a feast for all. Its situated in Williamsburg and over looks the city. The first time I actually was removed from the skyscrapers. It feels like gaining perspective. a refreshing thought for anything in life. Each stand is unique and sells something delicious and different. I recommend following the queues. It doesn't sound fun but they are there for a reason. We visited the Mighty Quinns first and foremost. Slow smoked for 29 hours this brisket sandwich topped with pickled cucumber and chilli will melt in your mouth.
the organic market on the upper west side on a saturday was a true treasure. it reminded me of being back in cape town. we stumbled upon it by simply taking a walk. the wonders of exploring by foot.
organic cheese farm