Sunday, January 26, 2014

Taking A Bite Out Of The Big Apple

After my brief stay in Boston, I traveled to the city that never sleeps, New York City.  Unfortunately, a good deal of my time in NYC turned out to be spent with my head over the toilet with the stomach flu...yuck!  Leave it to me to be away from home to stage in a few restaurants in the city and have to call in "sick" before they even met me.  So now I officially know how much it stinks to be sick and away from home in a tiny, sometimes freezing cold apartment.  Oh the joys of a big city!  All that being said, in the 10 days I was in the city, I did get the chance to do some pretty exciting things.

Back in June, the hubs and I came to New York.  It was a half Christmas, half graduation present in which I was allowed to eat anywhere I wanted.  Awesome gift, right?!?  In fact, I just realized that the trip was before I started this blog and, therefore was not included.  Maybe I'll do my own version of "Throw Back Thursday" and hit you with an awesome food tour blog of NYC...stay tuned.  Obviously, I wasn't able to eat out often on this trip, but I did get to hit one new find before the boom hit my tummy.  Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to one of the most unique bars I've ever been to...anywhere...Amor y Amargo.

I can take no credit for that beautiful pic, I got it off their website.  In fact, I enjoyed myself so much here that I forgot to take pictures of anything!  If you ever find yourself in NYC, especially on the weekend, you MUST go here for brunch/lunch and you MUST order the Chicken IN Waffles. 
Yes, you read that right, Chicken IN Waffles.  Again, not my pic...thanks google!  But mine looked pretty much exactly like this, with a few more jalapenos scattered on the plate.  I tried this dish, and this bar, as a recommendation from a good friend from college.  I've always been hesitant to try chicken and waffles since I've never been a huge fan of mixing savory food with sweet flavors.  If I can give you one piece of advice, put this particular dish on your food "bucket list".  Trust me, it will change your life.  The chicken is breaded in waffle batter, hence the "in" instead of "and", and served with spicy maple dipping sauce.  The waffle on the plate is just a good ole fashioned Eggo, but put it all together and you come pretty close to brunch nirvana.  Cocktails here are also a necessity, I mean it is a bitters bar after all.  I tried two of their coffee concoctions which consist of a fancy cocktail with a little bit of cold coffee.  Now that's a brunch cocktail!  I spent lots of time talking to the bartender and listening to her educated people who came in and out while I was there.  She even gave me my own little tasting of some goodies behind the bar I had never heard of.  Super awesome girl!  Straight forward in their cocktail creations, Amor y Amargo doesn't have any fancy sodas or juices.  Their cocktails are straight up and made with things that can be easily purchased either in their store or easily found at your local liquor store.  This will become a staple for me on any future trips to New York! 
Now that I have your mouth all watery...time to talk business.  I had two stages scheduled while in the city.  And although I didn't get to stay at them as long as I would have liked...thanks again stomach bug...I did get to both of them.  First up was a mid-town jewel called Oceana.  Located at Rockefeller Center, I had never seen anything like this restaurant kitchen before.  It was HUGE!  Probably at least 50 kitchen staff there while I was.  Each station was stacked with it's own sous and executive chef.  Something a small town NC girl had never heard of before.  Specialty here is fresh fish and seafood.  They even have their own fish walk in cooler...yeah, it's that big...and probably one of the most impressive things I've seen in a kitchen so far.

Culinary friends, tell me that's not bad ass!  No changing out yucky fish tubs here, that is a custom made fish board with draining so the fish constantly stays on ice.  Yeah, that's only one of their walk ins!  Although my time here was short, I decided something this big just wasn't for me.  I didn't want to go to a big college because I didn't want to get lost in the crowd.  I think my feelings about big kitchens goes the same way.
My second stage was at a "little known" bakery, Dominique Ansel.  For those of you outside the culinary world, I probably only have to say one word for you to know who this guy is...cronut!  Yep, he's the creator of the pastry delight that has taken the world by storm.  This kitchen was a lot of fun.  The staff was constantly joking around and I felt I fit right in.  Constantly evolving, the bakery never rests on it's laurels on what "works" but continues to raise the bar in the bakery and pastry world.  If I ever open a bakery one day, this is the kind of place I want to run.
Now over a week later, I'm heading home in the morning.  Living in the city, however brief, was quite an experience.  I learned that snow in NYC is beautiful when it's falling and almost instantaneously turns to grey mush as soon as it hits the ground.  I learned that the subway is the best way to travel and super easy to soon as you figure out the difference between the uptown and downtown sides of the street.  Most importantly for me, I learned it's not a place I really want to live.  It's crowded, it's noisy and it's super expensive.  Years ago, I thought about moving to NYC pretty seriously and, obviously I still was considering it now.  However, it's not going to happen.  I'm not built for the big city.
Now it's time to go home, to both my big and little baby, and stay there for more than four days...hopefully! 

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