My normal baking successes/woes/queries/general musings will be interrupted with a few tales from my glorious trip to New York a few weeks ago. Blogging about meals isn't my normal cup of tea (idle Yelp account of, oh, probably two years - case in point), but I savored too many delicious bites in those five days to let them go unrecognized. This way, I'll actually be able to recollect where I enjoyed so many tasty morels and not draw a blank anytime a friend asks me where to go as I sometimes do now in LA.
I hit the ground running Saturday morning after a quick nap Saturday morning, after arriving...Saturday morning (it was a very early arrival), with brunch at Shopsin's General Store at Essex Street Market. Cousin Albert was in the midst of cramming for NYU Law finals and wasn't about to waste time trekking to Brooklyn, and Shopsin's was on the short list of my good friend, Lindsay, so that selection killed a few stones for both of us. Not a short wait by any means, but slightly shorter than anticipated, we ended up sidling up to the bar. This meant prime seating for the brother-sister-father bickering show that is essential to the Shopsin's experience. Hearing so many stories about people being thrown out of this place, and being an awful decision-maker given too many options, the ordering process became an anxiety -ridden chore. Sweat beaded in places that shouldn't be sweating as I engaged in the age-old tradition of just plain ordering. Ultimately (and without mishap), I decided on a Sneaky Pete while Albert humored his appetite with the gumbo in addition to the Jewboy sandwich. All of the dishes were fine, but I don't think any could be considered a signature dish by the establishment. We probably should have gotten the hamburger soup or mac 'n cheese pancakes, but my memory completely escaped me when confronted with the anthology of options. Our dishes were tasty, but not particularly remarkable.
Cousin Alb and I parted ways as he had to get back to his regularly scheduled programming of studying, but I wandered about, picking up a pistachio cupcake from Sugar Sweet Sunshine (of which I only ate half), a potato rosemary slice from Grandaisy in Soho, and then eventually headed uptown to meet up with my working friends. As I was already on the Upper West Side, I thought a detour to http://www.bouchonbakery.com/at the Time Warner Center was in order and picked up my first TKO and a pistachio macaron. I sound a bit like a glutton, don't I? Yes. I agree.
Dinner later that night was at a place I had been holding out for ever since reading about it on Serious Eats: JG Melon. Those pictures, along with the one accompanying their feature on the apple sour cream walnut pie shortly thereafter were embedded in my memory and I had to have them both. The dream became reality that night after a short wait in the cramped bar area. I think we were jostled between the jukebox side of the walkway to the stool side at least 25 times during our wait, but it was all worth it. We ordered the burgers medium and they were cooked to perfection -- maybe even a little more on the medium rare side which I was quite content with. The bun was so soft yet completely held up to the meat and its juices. I would liken it to a big hug around a beautiful patty of ground meat. The cottage fries were completely addicting, and even after all the sweets I had consumed that first day, I allowed myself to indulge in the pie.
Sigh. There we were. Three good friends catching up over such a great burger, delightful rounds of deep-fried potato, and a fabulously rich pie. A great end to a first night in a beloved city.