Back to the City

About two weeks ago, I went to New York City to visit my cousin, see Lady Gaga in Central Park, and basically just hang out in the city. While I was there, I kept track of some of the cool foodie things we did; obviously though, I haven’t gotten around to writing about them – until now. And, with swollen cheeks from getting my wisdom teeth out (a.k.a. refusing to be seen in public), what better time than now?

Since the Gaga concert ended so early in the morning (we were on the way to the city by 5 AM), we were in no rush and had nothing to really do. And, because it was such a beautiful day (while, as far as I know, it was pouring back in Buffalo), we spent a good portion of our morning walking about the Upper East Side and relaxing in Central Park. To refuel, we had our “second breakfast” at a place called Sicaffe. Reminder: we were in the UES; the prices and atmosphere reflected that. My cousin and I each had a “mezzo” (medium) iced caramel macchiato and a sticky bun. Although expensive (nearly $20 for the two of us), the quality of our selections made the price worth it – after all, you’re not going to find anything much cheaper in that area. The iced macchiato (which ended up being our second of five coffees throughout the day) was pleasingly strong: something that surprised us given the milky color of the drink. The espresso was tantalizingly fresh and the balance was spot-on; we could’ve easily gone for another. And as for the sticky buns, the photo says it all: they were caramelized, fluffy, sweet, and perfect.

After a lot of shopping in SoHo and the West Village, we walked over to W. Houston St. and ate at Francois Payard Bakery (at around 2 PM, although it felt like 6). Although F.P.B. specializes in pastry – cakes, pies, macarons, etc. of every kind – which look picture-perfect, we were really in the mood for lunch. Luckily, the bakery offers a selection of about 10 sandwiches and other savory foods like quiche. I ended up choosing the Breakfast Sandwich while my cousin had a Roasted Vegetable Panini – all with iced coffee, of course. The names don’t do any justice to what we received: an excellent panini and the best breakfast sandwich I’ve had in my life. This sandwich – heated through when ordered – contained a vegetable omelet and cripsy bacon, sandwiched between pretzel bread and smeared with just a touch of mayonnaise. Innovative, delicious, and brilliant. It put any breakfast sandwich I’d had before to shame, whether homemade, locally made, or from a fast-food restaurant. And, the atmosphere was open enough that we felt comfortable relaxing there for a bit; others were seeing doing work or reading a book.

Not-so-secret secret: I find it impossible to be in the city without going to Momofuku Milk Bar in Midtown, which I’ve already mentioned in a previous post. After a long day of walking, shopping, and exploring, there’s something incredibly relaxing about this nearly-hidden dessert place. Nestled in the boutique Chambers Hotel, the Milk Bar is small and nondescript from the street – two large wooden doors are signified only by a small peach: David Chang’s logo (also representative of his restaurant downstairs: Ma Pêche). For the summer, the salted pistachio caramel custard was replaced by a blackberry kaffir lime. Seasonally speaking, it’s a smart move, although I did miss the former flavor. The custard itself was great, as usual; it was rich and wholesome due to the berries, but – as anyone who has tried kaffir lime knows – had a sharp and crisp overtone due to the lime. Overall, it was the perfect way to end our day.

Sicaffé on Urbanspoon

François Payard Bakery on Urbanspoon

Momofuku Milk Bar (Midtown) on Urbanspoon


2 Responses to “Back to the City”

  1. 1 Sarah Walley July 24, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    Gah! Next time, bring me back some Payard macarons!! Happy to reimburse! These photos look delicious.

    • 2 Matthew Luongo July 24, 2011 at 7:49 PM

      Thanks! I’m actually going to be in the city for the second week of August; I’d love to bring some back! I didn’t actually try any when I was there, but FPB definitely warrants a return visit – it was so good.

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