Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Romp through the Gastropolis

I've been in the city the past 5 days. Yes, THE city, NYC. Primarily for a symposium at NYU on food collections in libraries, but otherwise for food itself. Not necessarily fine dining, mostly ingredients, a few proper meals, mostly grazing.

Chinatown, which is nothing like San Francisco's, seems to have been expanding since I lived in NY. Still very little to offer tourists. But the shops teeming with live fish, bizarre vegetables, bins of dried mushrooms, scallops and other unidentified medicinals, remain unchanged. Thankfully! The highlight is Ten Ren's Tea Shop. The King's Tea is among the most wondrous and weird things I have ever consumed. It enhances all other flavors, intensely so. I can still taste the potful I had this morning. I have no idea what's in it and I'm surprised the foodies haven't identified it as a miracle tea, 7th flavor, or something like that. (I just figured out, it's flavored with ginseng!)

Then there was The Pilgrimage. Despite what I have written on this very blog, Langers in L.A. does not even come vaguely close to Katz's. I can not even imagine what made me suspect so. 15 years without the real thing, no doubt. The place was packed, but service excellent. The pastrami literally made me swoon. The owner and I kfetched about David Sax's book Save the Deli. I liked the book a lot. But written by a guy from Toronto?

Dinner at Otto was as expected fabulous. Mario does do a mean pizza. And though the place was crammed to the gills, it was exquisite. My genes notwithstanding, my soul is, I admit, Italian. SO, does anyone remember Stuff Yer Face on Rt. 18 near New Brunswick? Where Mario started.

There were other forays, to the Upper West Side and Zabar's. Kaluystan's in the 20's for spices (all available on line now, but still) even a mad dash across the Brooklyn Bridge to Atlantic Avenue for the Lebanese shops.

The irony of the whole trip is the last night I thought I'd treat myself to a proper meal, at the uber-hip hotel at which I was put up. And I got what must have been food poisoning. If you don't mind such things, Faustina was very tasty. The aftermath I do not recommend.

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