This post is WAY overdue, but I’ve recently had a few friends and co-workers ask me for New York bakery and restaurant recommendations, so it’s time to get this recap going! First a little background.
My friend Lydia and I take a trip to New York City every five years. Our first trip was in 2004, in a pre-blog, post Sex & The City world, and our friend Devon who lives there took us to Sushi Samba and to Magnolia for cupcakes. We had a cute dinner at Café St. Barts, some slices of pizza on the street, and as far as food goes, that’s about it.
When we went back in 2009, I was still about six months from the starting Planet Byn, but was a year or so deep into my Smitten Kitchen obsession. I think almost everywhere we ate was a SK recommendation. Lydia was also pregnant with Ethan, and as I like to joke, as hungry as I was for the time in our friendship. Perhaps I shall write a Retro-blog on that trip, because we ate a lot of amazing things.
In a random twist, Lydia and I both went to NYC separately in 2014 before our trip together. Lydia and her husband in June for one night en route to St. Maarten, me on a 36-hr whirlwhind adventure in October. For our third trip this past December, it was extra special because it was our first trip at Christmas (our previous visits were in May and August), and everything in New York is just so much more magical at Christmastime. To keep things in context, we arrived mid-morning on a Friday, and left early evening on Sunday. Here’s what we got up to on the foodie front in between:
- Our first stop once we checked in to the hotel was Back Forty West, a Smitten Kitchen recommendation that’s been on my mind since 2009. It’s a cozy, cute little spot in SoHo and we split kabocha squash risotto, beet and watercress salad with soft boiled egg and a warm Parker house loaf with smoked butter and radish.
- From there we walked down to Tribeca to visit my boys at Baked. It was so great to see the finished space (it was still a bit under construction in October), and it was PACKED with people. Matt & Renato were there, and I got to chat with Matt while Renato was filming a segment for some time of TV spot. Lydia ate a pumpkin whoopie pie, I ate a slice of chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, and I took a few treats back to the hotel – a chocolate pecan pie bar and a salty caramel Twix type thing and two types of marshmallows to take home (Peppermint and Whiskey Cinnamon) I loved everything of course!
- Dinner was at Lupa, an OG Mario Batali spot in the Village. Lydia had a warm spinach and pancetta salad and gnocchi, and I had a mushroom carpaccio salad and I had a pasta shape I can’t pronounce with short rib ragu. It was dark and cozy, and the food was warm and comforting. Classic.
- A couple people (my friend Nicole, plus Matt from Baked) recommended ABC Kitchen, but I booked its sister restaurant ABC Cocina after seeing some Instagrams and checking out the menu online. Everything we had was incredible, I was seriously dying: sangria, gooey spicy ham and cheese fritters, a bright crunchy salad with cabbage and apple, kale and mushroom tacos, and a tres leches cake with cranberry meringue. The menu is seasonal, so none of these are even on it now, with the exception of the fritters. A must eat.
- We stopped at a couple places in quick succession as it was raining, but went to: Breads Bakery for a rugelech, Max Brenner for a bunch of chocolate, Trader Joe’s so Lydia could see the insanity, and a Momofuku Milk Bar so I could pick up a couple things for Danielle’s birthday.
- The next morning we had brunch at a place we kept walking by next to our hotel, which turned out to be Geoffrey Zakarian’s restaurant, The National. I had a bacon and mushroom omelet, Lydia had a smoke salmon benedict, and we were ready for our last day.
- My dream for this trip was to go to Brooklyn to a bakery called Ovenly that my friend Dafna had been raving about. After a bit of a transit adventure, we finally ended up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Ovenly turned out to be the bakery of my dreams. It’s very tiny, very cute, and everything I tried was very delicious. I had a slice of flourless chocolate cake and a peanut butter cookie, and bought a peppermint brownie to take home. When I got home I prompted added the Ovenly cookbook to my Christmas List.
- We went out with a bang with burgers and fries at Shake Shack before heading to the airport and I did not regret it!
Other non-foodie related adventures:
- We stayed at the W in Midtown, which was within walking distance of Rockefeller Plaza. Our room was quite small, but the bed was comfy, there were Bliss brand products in the bathroom, and a cute little lounge with free WiFi on the main floor.
- We have a history of seeing female celebrities on all of our trips (Julianne Moore, Tina Fey, Mary-Louise Parker, Blake Lively), and Lydia was predicting we were due to have a major male celebrity encounter. Welp, we did. KANYE WEST y’all. Just walking out of a random building in the Village. No entourage, no Kardashians. I said “What’s up Kanye?” and he smiled and got into his car, while Lydia freaked out.
- On Saturday night we went to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, starring The Rockettes, and it was so much fun. We also did basically any other New York City Christmas cliche you can think of: Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Plaza, FAO Schwartz, department store window displays, and trying to sneak a peak at Santa at Macy’s.
- You can see pictures from the whole weekend on my Instagram! Can’t wait to go back with Lydia in another 5 years!