‘Tis the time for making plans. My biggest plan for 2014 is to finally catch up on all that European travel I’ve been dreaming about when deciding to move from New York to Moscow. So far, however, there’s just one trip on my calendar – my annual New York pilgrimage some time in late April. The most important part of planning that trip is not booking the tickets or figuring out where I am going to stay; it’s deciding what I am going to eat in the gourmand’s heaven that is New York City. While in 2013 I was mostly catching up on the classics and my favorites, 2014 will be all about creativity and innovation, things that are still sparse on the Moscow restaurant scene. Here’s what my NY to-eat list looks like this far:
I’m not a fan of doughnuts but I do like flaky croissants, and this blockbuster hybrid of the two apparently took New York City by storm last summer. I know that in no way will it live up to the awesomeness of a Russian ponchik (to be covered at a later date), but I am very curious nevertheless. The latest word on the street is that the cronut fad has already started to cool off, so hopefully by the time I come to the city in the spring, I won’t have to camp outside of Dominique Ansel Bakery at 6 am to nab the two-per-person-max pastry or pay $100 per bun to scalpers.
I looooove hamburgers, and I can always score a quality classic in Moscow – at Goodman Steakhouse, Corner Burger, or plenty of other joints. But occasionally I want to get my burgers a bit on a funky side. The most unusual one I had to date was actually in London, and that tower of goodness, dubbed the Kiwi, had beets, fried egg, pineapple and relish, on top of the expected tomato, lettuce and cheese.
The latest burger with a twist that hit the town is the Ramen Burger, which is served between two noodle patties instead of a bun, and with special soy-based sauce instead of the usual condiments. Naturally, it’s on my hit list. I cannot even begin to imagine what it will taste like, but I cannot wait to find out.
It’s always on my list when I am stateside, usually as an accompaniment to a dry vodka martini with a twist. Perusing the New York Magazine & the New York Times food sections, I found guac with a twist to match at Empellon Cocina in East Village. According to the Times, this dish shows the “way tradition and innovation can coexist” – exactly what I am looking for on this particular culinary outing. How does this, per NYMag, sound: “The guacamole is folded in soft, ripe chunks with fried pistachios and pickled jalapeños, among many other things, and served with a milky, faintly tangy pistachio salsa that is designed to be spread over the flat, crispy, strangely ungreasy sheets of masa with a little silver spoon”? I might have to pick out a couple of jalapeños though, the reviews say it’s REALLY spicy. Or maybe just ask for extra vodka to cut the taste.
Nobody does bacon better than Americans. NOBODY. And they do love it in and on everything. So, I am rarely surprised when I see bacon featured in any kind of innovative way, even including dessert (it’s more popular than you might think). However, I didn’t expect to find it as a star item of a Chinese hole- in-the-wall place on the Lower East Side. San Francisco’s transplant Mission Chinese Food – currently closed for renovations but hopefully up and running again by April – has this dish called Thrice Cooked Bacon.
And what excites me, besides the obvious, is a pileup of ingredients that I usually wouldn’t be keen on: “Garlic, strings of tofu skin, and slivers of vividly green bitter melon provide an authentic back note of sourness and crunch. Sugar, fermented black beans, and Sichuan peppercorns combine to numb the tongue in a flavorful, zombielike way. Chewy, compulsively edible disks of Shanghainese rice cake cleverly mimic the texture of the bacon, and sprigs of fresh coriander clear the nose. But the key to this fiercely spicy, fiendishly addictive, ingeniously refined dish is the pork…” Yup, all of this on top of the actual crispy bacon. This dish will be a test of how adventurous I can actually get with food (usually – not at all).
Not a buterbrod, sandwich’s thin, open-faced European cousin. Not a sad little BLT knock-off at Moscow’s TGIFriday’s. I want the real deal, piled up sky-high with meats, cheeses and veggies, held together by freshly baked, crusty bread, and distinguished – per this year’s mission – by an unusual sauce, ingredient, or a combo for that little extra something. This breakfast sandwich served at a – get this – Nouveau American/Spanish tapas WINE BAR (file under ‘Only in New York’) has it all: bacon, fried eggs, Cheddar cheese, avocado, black-bean purée and a housemade hash-brown patty with miso mayo and jalapeño relish on a rustic roll. I will probably need one badly after a one too many martinis the night before!
Apparently this thing called an Egg Cream is on the verge of extinction, and although the description – milk plus chocolate syrup plus SELTZER WATER??? – sounds mildly frightening, I feel like I should take a sip before it goes the way of Venice and polar bears.
Anything else I should add to my list, New Yorkers past and present —or just globe-trotting foodies ?