Eat here: Southern Hospitality, New York City

Southern Hospitality
645 9th Ave, New York
http://www.southernhospitalitybbq.com

Finally, winter is really here in Melbourne! I’m one of those minority idiots who actually loves the cold, as I demonstrated carrying on like a Michelin-man look-alike in America over the Christmas holidays just passed. I was also lucky enough to eat a lot of great food in really great places over there, and as such, the cold weather reminds me of a lot of them, particularly this BBQ place that came into play very unexpectedly and randomly…
This was one of those great accidental finds that you end up recommending to the next person you meet who says they’re going to New York. This happy accident came about after arriving at the doorstep of another recommended BBQ place only to find out, from the ever so nonchalant repair man, after standing outside in the snow for 10 minutes, that a gas tank had exploded and they were closed for business for the next few days. Great.
Having just walked a few kilometers towards the briskety light at the end of the snowy tunnel, we were both pretty hangry (hungry + angry). It wasn’t looking good. On a whim, I pulled out my phone and opened the Yelp app, hoping to walk past somewhere with free WiFi so we could find the next closest BBQ place. New York miracle: no WiFi, but Yelp had somehow still loaded my last search for BBQ places! And there was one a mere 600m away!We hauled frosty ass to Southern Hospitality in record time, defrosting happily with menus in hand. The unspoken agreement had been reached (one of the perks of a 10 year relationship), and lunch was ordered:- Brisket
– Pulled pork platter
– Slaw
– Mac & cheese

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Even now, months later, I remember this meal ever so fondly. The BBQ sauce through the pork was fantastic, tangy and smoky and all the things you want from a BBQ pulled pork situation in the freezing New York winter cold. The brisket was some of the best I’ve had anywhere (husband agrees) – lovely crispy, burnt edges with perfectly rendered fat. And the slaw and mac & cheese are the perfect sides – particularly the mac & cheese, all melty, golden deliciousness.

As far as accidental dining experiences go, we couldn’t have been much happier with Southern Hospitality, and would absolutely return again if when we re-visit New York. And if you find yourself at your first restaurant of choice to be turned away because of a gas tank explosion, just thank the universe for the not to subtle hint, and head to Southern Hospitality instead!

 

Southern Hospitality Hell's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Crif Dogs, New York City

Crif Dogs
113 Saint Marks Place, NYC
http://www.crifdogs.com/

Ahh Sunday afternoon, that bittersweet time of the week when you realise you still have a few more hours of relaxation before shit gets going again for another week. I generally read for an hour each day on week days, catching the train to and from work, but I’ve been trying to set aside a little time on Sunday afternoons to read a little, too. It’s just nice to unwind and get away from a screen for a while, you know? This week I’ve been reading Anthony Bourdain’s “A Cook’s Tour” (I’ll post a little something on that this coming week, because it’s a great read). I find it impossible to read anything he’s written now without reading it in his voice. That soothingly sarcastic, slightly psychotic voice that lulls me into a sense of maniacal comfort every time I flick channels and find him on my screen.

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We heard about this place (as we heard of so many others) from “the great man” as my husband refers to him, Anthony Bourdain, on his New York episode of The Layover. He visits Crif Dogs and it’s hidden bar PDT (Please Don’t Tell) with a man who I have great respect and love for, David Chang; they order a few dogs, and Chang orders a side of tater tots with gooey melted cheese for Bourdain, knowing he’ll appreciate it. All seems quite friendly and civilized, until we hear Bourdain tell Chang that it’s “only out of deference to him that he’s not thrusting his ****” in the melted cheese, such is his love for it. Needless to say, being the immature children we are, this line has been repeated countless times over perfectly lovely, otherwise civilized meals of our own.

Anyway, we were excited to be visiting and tucked into (left to right)
– BLT: bacon wrapped dog with lettuce, tomato and mayo
– Tsunami: another bacon wrapped dog with teriyaki sauce, pineapple and green onions
– Jon-Jon Deragon: dog with schmear of cream cheese, scallions and everything bagel seeds

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Honestly, couldn’t flaw any of them. That simple little BLT was magic, they all were, actually, and I’m starting to understand how Bourdain felt now. The dogs themselves were probably the best hot dogs I’ve ever had, and while there were heaps of options, they were all kept relatively restrained, with only a few toppings on each.

I wish we had hot dogs of this caliber in Melbourne…

 

Crif Dogs on Urbanspoon

Urban paradise: The High Line, New York City

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Woke up on Sunday morning thinking about this place for some reason… I think I first heard of the High Line around a year or so before I started actively planning our trip, and the concept completely fascinated me right from the get-go. You can read about the history of how this incredible project came to fruition on the website, but as a quick overview, a group called Friends of the High Line was founded in 1999 by a group of people who wanted to preserve and open the High Line, a train track abandoned in the 1980’s to the public as an open park-type space.

The planning began around 2002 and after a lot of hard work by some very dedicated people, the first section was finally opened to the public in 2009. It runs on Manhattan’s west side from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Aves, and it’s a fantastic way to see the city from a different perspective.

It’s open to the public daily, free walking tours are held if you want a bit more information on your stroll. There are events held regularly, like snow sculpting in the winter, and pop up cafes in the fairer weather. While not a green thumb myself, even I could appreciate the gardens; they still shone through the snow when I took these pictures in January. I could have spent the best part of the day up there, and it should be a must for anyone visiting the city!

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Good magic: The Sprinkles Cupcake ATM, New York City

Sprinkles Cupcake ATM
780 Lexington Ave, New York
https://www.sprinkles.com/cupcake-atm

When I first heard about this (and goodness only knows how I came across it, I can’t for the life of me remember!), I thought it was a joke. Maybe a temporary 1 month pop up deal. I didn’t think it’d last long enough for me to actually try it. But it wasn’t temporary or a cruel joke. It was magic. Good magic. From the good cupcake fairies of the world. How else can you explain an ATM that dispatches cupcakes?!

So, dinner had been eaten. It was freezing cold that night, as most nights were in New York over the past winter. We were on our way to Alice’s Tea Cup for some hot tea and scones, when we realised we were walking straight past the Sprinkles Cupcake store. The store with the ATM out the front of it. Cue hysterical laughing and then the realisation that this thing was legit.

How does it work? Pretty simple.
1. Put your credit card in the credit card hole.
2. Make your sweet selection from the touch screen.
3. Confirm your wish to spend money on magical cupcake happiness.
4. The screen door closes.
5. Stare in amazement as the screen door then opens to reveal a perfect little cupcake box sitting there, waiting to be taken home.

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Seriously, that’s it. It’s a real thing, and it’s the best! How much happier can you get than a cupcake at 3am if you desperately need one?! I wasn’t sacrificing my hot tea though, so I put it in my handbag and went on to Alice’s. But then I felt like a cupcake when we got back to the hotel – walking through the cold New York streets is hungry work, after all.  I went with red velvet, and it more than lived up to all the hype. Moist and crumbly, loved the frosting, it was delicious and totally cancelled out my fear that cupcakes from ATMs wouldn’t be as good. It really was. So stop reading this and go get yourself an ATM cupcake! And for those of us not in New York with access to a cupcake ATM, make your way to your nearest cupcake dispensary for a happier Monday!

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Sprinkles Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Shop here: Idlewild Books, New York City

Idlewild Books
12 W 19th St, New York
http://www.idlewildbooks.com

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I fell utterly and completely head over heels for this place… to think I almost didn’t get around to it! I’d had a few bookstores I wanted to check out in New York, and with only a few days left, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get to Idlewild. As it turned out, we were in the right neighbourhood anyway and I had the address saved on my phone – we arrived just on opening time that particular morning.

Idlewild is the bookstore wanderlusters dream about. Up a few stairs and onto a creaky wooden floor, and you’re surrounded by book after book covering every corner of the world. The best thing I found about this place was the way the books were organised; every book pertaining to a particular country in the one place. That meant that under Italy, for example, you could find guide books, languor guides, travel writing and novels set in Italy. It made things soooo much easier to navigate than having all the guide books in one area, then all the travel writing in another, etc. Absolutely loved that concept! It also got me thinking more about the notion of letting travel books and novels themselves act as a guide more so than the traditional guide book; how fantastic to read a novel set in New York City while travelling through the city itself! The prices of the books were very reasonable too – sometimes specialty bookstores like this feel justified in marking their prices up exponentially, but I found them to be more or less the same as I’d find online, which made it easier to justify buying another book to add to the pile I’d already purchased on my travels!

Idlewild is also incredibly popular for the language classes they offer, everything from Arabic to French, which is a really great idea to attach to a travel bookstore. While we weren’t there long enough to partake, it certainly gives you something to think about for when you get back home.

If you’re travelling to New York, or even if you live there and didn’t know about this place, and you have the travel bug like me, I can’t recommend highly enough taking a visit! And if that’s not reason enough, you can get a donut from Dough next door while you’re out that direction 😉

Coney Island, New York City

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Coney Island was one of those places that was never on my “must see” lists, until I saw a few photos of it in winter not long before we left for our winter trip. There’s something about an abandoned amusement park with an empty ferris wheel in the middle of winter that I find so beautiful – I’m no photographer, but I have always loved carrying a camera around to capture the moments that strike me, so once I saw those pictures, I knew I had to get there while we were in New York.

Coney Island is a residential area in Brooklyn, by the water, and filled with fun things designed to attract families – amusement park rides and an aquarium, a beautiful beach area and good food. But I couldn’t help feeling, as I walked through the neighbourhood on a cold January day, that the area was struggling. I know Coney Island’s heydays are in the past now, but I really got the sense that the area had been neglected and was forgotten about. Maybe that was just because it was winter and there weren’t many people around, but that was just the vibe I got. Pity, because it’s actually a really beautiful area and a lovely way to spend the morning 🙂

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Eat here: Sullivan Street Bakery, New York City

Sullivan Street Bakery
533 W 47th St, New York
http://www.sullivanstreetbakery.com/

Happy Monday! Or, as happy as a Monday can be hehe  : ) Monday mornings always seem to be the most common time for me to think about the travels I’ve taken, and particularly, the tea and cake time outs I’ve taken in beautiful, new cities; those are the times I could reflect on the journey so far, plan the next steps, and just enjoy the moment. This morning, I thought about the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York…

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For a bakery that originally didn’t really deal in sweets, the Sullivan Street Bakery has an amazing reputation for some of the best donuts (bomboloni, actually) in the city. I’d heard this was the bakery to visit for some of the best pastry in New York, and the smell that hit me when I walked through the nondescript front door on a particularly cold New York winter morning in January certainly made me feel like visiting was a good decision!

Established back in 1994, the Sullivan Street Bakery is still going strong, supplying their baked goodness to over 250 New York restaurants. Magnificent arrays of breads and pizzas and pastries are the first things you see when you walk in, and I found that it became increasingly difficult to concentrate… I knew I wanted to bomboloni, but there were croissants. And squares of pizza. And other little slices of cake. Damn…

What I wasn’t expecting was just how big an influence the Italian aspect would be there; it was pretty obvious from the flavours, shapes and types of breads and other baked goods that the Italians had been a huge influence here. That made me even more excited.

We ended up getting one of each bomboloni, a vanilla cream and a chocolate, and they were every single little bit as good as everyone says. The lightest, airiest dough, incredible tasting creams, even the powdered sugar on top fit perfectly. It was absurdly hard to say no to another few to eat on the walk, but we resisted. Only to be met at the door by a lovely gentleman with a sample of the day’s special, a dough + Nutella + berry something-or-other… he said he couldn’t let us two young kids out onto the cold streets without something warm and chocolatey to eat, and who where we to not accept?! That, too, was spectacular.

Extra friendly service, completely delicious donuts, beautiful savouries as well as sweets.  Make sure you visit Sullivan Street Bakery for a quick tea and bomboloni pit stop when you’re visiting New York. It’s a necessity.

 

Sullivan Street Bakery on Urbanspoon