Updates: Giveaway winner & New York eats

When I last checked in 11 days ago I gave a brief update of what what going on and what was coming up. Here are some updates to the updates:

Giveaway winner

The Choco-Locate contest ended and Jaimie C was the winner. She’s been notified.

New York City

My four days in New York & SMX East in New York were fantastic! People have asked where I ate, so here’s the play-by-play.

I arrived at my Airbnb host’s place around 8am on Monday and after a nap went wandering. I always visit Union Square, the East Village, and the Lower East Side, so those were my focus on Monday: A quick walk around at the Union Square Greenmarket. The purchase of new shoes to replace the worn out ones on my feet (DSW shoes, where they were half the price I’d pay for a pair of Clark’s here). An iced Americano at Mud shop (acquired, set on a bench outside, accidentally dumped on the ground when someone sat down next to me).

Afternoon breakfast at Clinton Street Baking Co., where, on my previous visit last November, I made a friend before missing my flight home. I sat in the same seat, had the same waiter (John) and had enjoyable conversation. I’d like to return for Pancake Month if they do it again. I’m not usually into pancakes.

I wandered through LES to Roasting Plant to pick up a pound of their house roast for a friend, which now seems to be tradition. After I deliver it she’ll have enough to last until her own visit to NYC during American Thanksgiving weekend. It’s no longer fresh, but I’m sure it’s still fantastic. I could be doing her a favour if I take a little off the top.

As I tend to do, I got lost in Chinatown on my way back west from the Lower East Side. I tend to recognize street names but get confused and think that I’m more north than I am. My feet took me to the West Village and I found myself fading. I looked up at saw Taim, which I remembered Serious Eats declaring the best falafel in New York in 2010. I don’t know if it is “the best”. I ordered the traditional “green” falafel with parsley, cilantro, mint and concluded that although it was my first falafel in New York, I’ve had better in other places. Asking for hot sauce after I began eating was the right move. Their hot sauce, “s’rug”, is a traditional yemeni hot sauce with cilantro, chili and garlic and extra virgin olive oil that really brought out the flavours. It turned “good” falafel into “really good” falafel. The ingredients were really fresh, and the price was right – $6.25 for a falafel. For any meal that seems cheap, especially in New York. In fact, it’s practically free. If I find myself nearby again I’ll return but order differently. Perhaps I’ll try the Harissa falafel or a platter.

Because of the conference, my breakfasts and lunches were spoken for from Tuesday-Thursday. Hungry and not wanting to go far on a rainy Tuesday night, I visited nearby Daisy May. Someone in the food industry who’s been living in New York for years had recommended it to me as the best barbecue in the city. Maybe it used to be or maybe I was there on an off-day, but it wasn’t good. This isn’t me with “high standards” because I cook on a KCBS barbecue team, have tasted barbecue from other teams, ate in a Kentucky restaurant with an old-fashioned BBQ pit and where they make their own charcoal, and ate outside Memphis at the restaurant of a world champion. This was fact: The pulled pork had appearance going for it – lots of separated strings – but was on the dry side and bland. The baked beans with burnt ends had no burnt ends. They were dry on top and with the telltale darker color of dried sauce on the surface, seemed to have been sitting out. Only I can take responsibility for not enjoying my Samuel Adams Octoberfest beer.

By contrast, the next evening a friend and I went to Hill Country. Walking in, I was smacked in the face with wood smoke coming from the custom meat-smoking room. They smoke over Texas post oak. I neither smelled nor saw Daisy Mays’ smokers. I ordered a Yeungling lager in a bottle. My friend and I shared the “Two-Step special for 2”: 1/2 lb Lean Brisket (we opted for moist), two pork spare ribs, two beef ribs, half chicken + Campfire Baked Beans with burnt ends & collard greens with applewood smoked bacon. I was too busy eating messy food to take notes, but did note that the beans were cooked perfectly from dried and that the brisket had good smoke on it. The ribs weren’t exactly “competition” standard, but this is a restaurant, not a competition and so I don’t care if they’re perfect. They were really good. We ate maybe half before our appetites defied us.

The rest I took “home” to my host.

Thursday post-conference I decided to walk down to Madison Square to hit Shake Shack for a burger (I don’t need to repeat the experience). I wandered north a bit and got a slice of pizza. Heading back to Madison Square I discovered that I’d failed to notice Madison Square Eats the first time around. A shame. So, I ate dessert there, an ice cream sandwich from the Melt Bakery stand. The special of the day was the Southern Belle: Brown butter, Maker’s Mark bourbon, shortbread cookies with peach ice cream. I’d seen Melt in the Lower East Side on Monday but they weren’t open. My feet took me back east through Gramercy and East Village, back through Union Square. My feet do that when I’m in New York. I always say that if I lived in New York I’d move to the East Village, maybe LES. East Village and LES feel like home.

Up to Times Square until it was time for me to collect my baggage from my host’s apartment and head for the bus station.

I’m skipping over stuff, of course, but those are the food highlights. I met some nice people, had an inspirational conference (new blog coming soon– update here and here), continued my love affair with New York even though I didn’t see much of it and spent the bus ride home chatting with a grad student heading home for Thanksgiving weekend. I spent under $500 on travel and accommodation this trip. The Greyhound bus cost $130, my accommodation cost under $230. It took a few days to recover from not sleeping on the overnight bus, but this is a great way to do New York.

(Photos to follow. Right now I just want to get the post up.)

Two days after my return we catered again. No big Thanksgiving feast this year, but more on that in a later post.

Also read
My blog post from last year’s NYC visit (usual disclaimer: I lost a bunch of photos when I migrated my WordPress blog).

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