New York City Eats

I have just returned from a two week holiday in New York City and I am already feeling the nostalgia. It was my first time visiting the United States and was definitely a change from my norm back in Australia. It really is the city that never sleeps. I spent 12+ hours of my day roaming the streets checking out the sights, catching up with friends and most importantly eating all the wonderful food that the city has to offer. What I bring to you today is a snapshot of the tasty delights that I consumed whilst in the Big Apple. It is by far not an exclusive list of places that are worth visiting but are the highlights of my short stint.

 

Bagels – Absolute Bagels (2788 Broadway, Upper West Side) $

Bagel

 

Oooo la la first New York bagels. I went with simple cream cheese on a plain bagel just for starters. The shop was everything I expected from a bagel place. It was a little local bakery filled with customers and pretty much raining bagels. As the mornings were quite cold while I was there, bagels served as a perfect warm start to my jam-packed days of sightseeing.

 

Pizza – Famous Famiglia Pizzeria (Corner W 96th Street and Amsterdam Avenue)* $

New York Slice

I was never really into “just cheese” pizza. It always seemed so uninviting and pedestrian. Well my thoughts have changed about cheese pizza forever since my first taste of a New York Slice. Homemade, rich and flavoursome tomato sauce base, a generous amount of cheese melted to perfection on a crispy thin base. Oh and bonus, they’re basically giving them away with slices ranging from $1 – $4. There were a few of these stores around the city but this was my local.

 

Bacon and Egg Roll – BEC  (148 8th Ave) $

Bacon and Egg Roll

Okay not going to lie, main reason I went to this place is because of the name. Alas, the food was actually
really good! If you want to switch it up from bagels for breakfast then have a wonder down 8th Avenue and get yourself a classic bacon egg and cheese on fresh ciabatta. I am a big fan of runny yolk and this place cooked the egg to perfection.

 

Deli – Katz Delicatessen (205 E Houston St) $$$

World famous deli both for their pastrami and also Pastrami Sandwichtheir movie features (When Harry Met Sally anyone?). I walked in here and was immediately intrigued by every little thing in the place. From all the photos along the wall of past visitors (both famous and non) as well as the enormous counter and diverse selection of food available to diners. I had pastrami on rye with a generous side of pickles. It was a battle to eat but worth it in the end and reaffirmed why people flock from all over the world to visit. Due to its popularity and fame, it is quite pricey for what it is. Best is just to not think about it and just eat there anyway.

Italian – Amici II (165 Mulberry St, Little Italy) $$

Lobster RavioliIs it even a trip to New York without a visit to Little Italy? I had a wander through Mulberry Street not really knowing what I was looking for but then stumbled across this quaint looking restaurant, dimly lit but filled with life (and a very enthusiastic waiter). I was spoiled with choice. The menu was filled with traditional Italian dishes with all the pasta made fresh in-house. I ended up going with the lobster ravioli with absolutely no regrets. It was so rich in flavour and the “flamingo” sauce complemented the fresh pasta perfectly. I paired this with a cocktail and devoured the free bread with homemade garlic and herb oil. Molto bene!

Fries – Food Stand at Yankee Stadium $$ 

Have you even been to America unless you have had a Cheese Frieshot dog, cheese fries and a soda? Well I had all three…in one day. Only managed to grab a photo of the cheese fries because they were the most glamorous looking of the trio. I didn’t even want to think about what the “cheese” sauce was made from or if it even was cheese but I ate it anyway happily because there is just something so satisfying in devouring junk food. I only do it sparingly so that when I do, I get the ultimate satisfaction and no guilt.

Brunch – Le Garage (157 Suydam St, Brooklyn) $$

Poached Eggs and ChorizoI spent my second week in the borough of Brooklyn and was lucky enough to have a wonderful friend show me around her local neighbourhood. But first, brunch. This place reminded me a lot of home. Quirky cafes, poached eggs, you name it. I dove straight into my chorizo and eggs whilst sipping on house made mimosas. What a time to be alive. This place is a bit out of the way from where most tourists reside but it is worth a look at if you want to feel a bit more local during your stay.

 

Burgers – Shake Shack (1 Old Fulton Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn)* $

My oh my, people rave on about this place for a reason. Shake ShackThe burgers are so fresh and flavoursome, it almost makes you feel like you’re not eating fast food. We went with the original Shackburger accompanied by cheese fries and a soda each. Enough said, you need to try this whilst in New York City (especially since this is the city where it originated). Get on it.

 

Poke – Sons of Thunder (204 E 38th St) $

Poke bowlI really wanted to try poke whilst in the United States even though this is a Western American dish technically. As per reviews on Buzzfeed and Instagram, I landed at this place on the East Side that was thriving. I happened to be around at lunch hour and the place had a huge line (always reassuring). I went with a half salmon + tuna over white rice + avocado ($1.5 extra). Overall I was satisfied with the dish. I had confidence that the ingredients were all fresh due to the turnover of trade. It is a generous portion and would probably get mixed greens instead of rice next time.

Mexican Fiesta – Tacombi (255 Bleecker St) $$

My first proper meal in New York City was at Tacombi, a Mexican place located in Greenwich Village. We had chipotle corn, guacamole and homemade corn chips and tacos (of course). I had a pork taco and a crispy fish taco (yum). The meal was filling, flavoursome and located in a really cool garage vibe place to give a street food feel. This food was accompanied with cocktails including a pina colada for me. All in all, night and money well spent.

Southern BBQ – Virgil’s Real BBQ (152 W 44th St – Times Square) $$

My friend and I were in desperate need for mood food on the day we discovered this place and it definitely delivered on what we needed. First up was BBQ wings with a blue cheese sauce (the full size wings and not the teeny ones that disappear in a second). I then followed this up with a pulled pork sandwich, house cut fries and homemade pickles. Let’s just say I was full for the foreseeable future. Even though it was close by to Times Square, it was tucked away a bit away from the action so you could escape the controlled chaos that is Times Square. Tasty, friendly service and moderately priced.

German – Retagast Hall & Biergarten (113 N 3rd Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn) $$

After a long day of sightseeing around the popular neighbourhood of Williamsburg, we decided to park ourselves at the long bench tables at Retagast Hall. My friend expressed how great the sausages were here so was keen to try them out. I had Bratwurst on a pretzel bun (yes that’s a thing) and loaded with homemade sauerkraut. I was spoiled with choice for mustard. I ended up going with the most German option available. As well as this we decided to split one of the giant pretzels! It was warm, fresh and the way every pretzel should be. There were also pickles on the side. Yes!

Greek – Souvlaki GR (116 Stanton St) $$

If you’re having Greece nostalgia like my friend and I were and you are unfortunately not in Greece, then this is the place to go. It is decked out exactly like the Greek Islands with the white and blue colours protruding from all angles. They even had the pink flowers and blue chairs as part of the decor. We started off with Greek fries which consisted of house cut fries covered in herbs and feta. Next up it was souvlaki pita which mimicked a mini “Gyros” but a bit more glamorous. Finally, we finished up the meal with loukoumades drizzled in honey and sprinkled with nuts. Food babies for days.

A few other places I visited that are worth mentioning that I didn’t manage to capture any decent photos from are as follows

  • The Meatball Shop (170 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn) – $. Perfect for lunch or late night feed.
  • Gray’s Papaya (everywhere) – $. Hot dog cravings sorted within seconds.
  • Magnolia Bakery (Grand Central Dining Concourse)* –  $. Cupcakes and fan girl moments.
  • Gallow Green (542 W 27th St) – $$$. Beautiful rooftop with light meals and cocktails.

So that’s it! I was spoiled with choice and have barely even scratched the surface on one of the most incredible cities in the world. Can’t wait to go back.


* Places indicated with a * are found in multiple locations. I have included the address of the location that I visited/frequented most.

Price scale 

$ – giving it away

$$ – a happy medium and well justified

$$$ – I really loved it and forgot about my whole food philosophy for a second

 

 

 

 

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Our Growing Edge December 2016 Round Up

Happy 2017! Hope everyone enjoyed the festive season. As part of celebrating the holidays as well as giving the blogging community a chance to share their creations, this month’s growing edge theme was Festive Feeds. As part of the community, we want to encourage everyone to get creative in the kitchen as well as share their marvellous creations to inspire others.

This month, we were lucky to have 18 submissions! Thanks so much to all the bloggers who submitted their creations.

Here is a showcase of all things festive by our community:

First up we have Terri’s Roasted Turkey & Black Current Brie Bites! These look so quick, easy and of course delicious! Also from Terri, we have some butter tarts which look divine!

The holiday fever continues with Cheat Sheet Home Maker’s North Pole Latte! I can imagine this being a perfect fit for a white Christmas! In the same league, another idea from Cheat Sheet Homemaker is using your leftover candy canes in your tea or coffee! A great way to add a minty sugary hit!

Next up, some more fruity flavours from Corina with her Apple Carpaccio.  I especially like this because it includes my current favourite food – pomegranate! For more fruit fusion during the holiday season be sure to try out candied orange peels by Ms Frugal Ears! Absolute genius idea.

This one is for the popcorn obsessed people (me) out there! From Julianna we have Coconut Curry Caramel Corn. Cannot wait to try this one out! Another great hit by Julianna is her Cranberry Pistachio Pate! Pate has become a recent fave for me as well and this looks delightful!!

Loved this winter warmer from Elaine which is a Pumpkin Pie. Have only eaten this dish once but I loved it and really want to eat it again. Fabulous! For more of your baking desires, you will want to whip up these Cinnamon Rolls from Maja! I know if I made these at home they would gone as soon as left the oven! Delicious.

For those who love roasts regardless of the temperature outside, please join me in admiring Patricia’s Roast Pork which looks so succulent and tender! Mmmmm. Another grand roast idea is From the Terrace Baker with Roasted Gammon 2 ways. The honey and mustard glaze looks completely on point and I would devour it all immediately.

Anyone who knows me personally will know that I love miniatures! From dosirakbento we have some beautifully decorated Christmas Cakes including one with a mini dining table Christmas setting including a turkey and mini bon bons!

As a chocolate fiend, I loved Tess’ Chocolate Crinkle Cookies made with Hershey’s! Hitting the sweet spot that’s for sure. From Tracey we have some Traditional German Christmas Ginger Butter Cookies! A great staple cookie recipe to have on hand whenever the sweet cravings kick in!

From the Our Growing Edge leader Genie, we have an incredible, fresh and vibrant Festive Lamb Salad ! Salads are perfect for a Summery Southern Hemisphere Christmas! Keeping on with the light and healthy approach to the festive season, we have Nicole’s collection of Christmas cooking! I really enjoyed her idea of stuffed mushrooms which serve as a perfect healthy side dish at a festive gathering!

And last but not least. for those who love the holiday spirit (as well as alcoholic spirits), you will enjoy Chandler’s Holiday Spirit Exchange providing an opportunity to share the merriment over good quality liquor.

Thank you again for your submissions! It was a pleasure being host this month and getting to share some really fabulous ideas and getting some inspiration for my own cooking! If you would like to know more about Growing Edge and be part of our monthly blogging event, check out Genie’s blog Bunny Eats Design for more info!

Our next month’s theme is Healthy Starts and is hosted by Terri over at Food Meanderings.

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Europe Nostalgia: Poland

So this is my last Europe Nostalgia post for the time being! Poland is a beautiful country which has been through a lot in its history. However, as time went on, they still managed to retain their traditional customs that began long ago. I stayed in Poland for two weeks and visited 3 cities with each having its own personality and charm. In comparison to Western Europe and countries like Greece, Poland is quite underrated in terms of being a tourist destination. It’s a shame though, there is so much to see, do and of course eat here! Also a bonus, their over inflated currency means that everything is dirt cheap!

Poznan

An small, old fort city in the West of Poland. It was once the capital at one point (as many of the other cities in Poland have been also…). It is quite a cute little city with plenty to offer. My walking tour guide did a successful job of convincing me that Poznan was definitely worth my visit. I had some delightful food here. I found a place which specialised in crepes (they call them pancakes).

Warsaw

The current capital of the nation. Majority of this city was destroyed during World War Two but has been restored to replicate what the city looked like pre war. I did my first ever food walking tour! For those who haven’t heard of this or done one before, basically you go to a bunch of places and try a signature food item at each place. They’re only samples but by the end of the tour, you are full! You also get to try local drink too and in Poland that is Vodka. Instead of using a soft drink or juice as a chaser, we used a pickle! Surprisingly, it was delicious because the saltiness of the pickle balances out the sharp flavour of the vodka.

Krakow

Last but certainly not the least, Krakow! The most touristy city in Poland and one of the biggest. I spent a week here and got to really embrace the culture and lifestyle. I also did another food tour here which was quite different from the one in Warsaw. Each city has its own traditions and food. For example, instead of chasing your vodka with a pickle, in Krakow, they chase with piece of herring! Who would’ve thought?! I consumed at least another 50 pierogis while I was here! No complaints at all.

So that’s it for my Europe adventures at the moment! I won’t be heading back there for a while now but will be travelling abroad again as soon as possible!

Europe Nostalgia: Prague

Prag, Praha or in plain old English, Prague, is the capital of the Czech Republic. Here you will find some of the most stunning architecture I’ve ever seen. I also consumed some amazing food here. Both on the street and in a restaurant called “Lokal”.

A popular street food which you most likely will not be able to avoid because almost every second shop and street stand sells them is “Trdelnik”, a cylindrical doughnut cooked on a rotating tube which is normally coated with sugar and nuts. You can also get ones with fancy extras like chocolate, cream, ice cream or a combo of all three. Do not leave Prague without trying one and make sure you go to a place where they pull one off the heat fresh for you because it’s so much better than if it is cold. In terms of prices, there was a pretty solid standard for these and were priced the same basically everywhere I went around the city. Another must try in Praha is the street sausages! It is a super sized hot dog with your choice of toppings. I just kept it simple with good old ketchup and mustard. I found that walking an extra 50 metres knocked some coin off the final price so have a wander around before choosing a place.

So I think “Lokal” deserves a paragraph all on its own so here we go. When visiting a foreign country, one of the things I love to do is find out their traditional food, scope out the scene and pick the best place to try it out. This restaurant was actually recommended to me by a friend back home and I am so thankful for it because I went here two days in a row for lunch. This place functions as almost like a cafeteria where each day, the pre prepared menu changes keeping the place fresh. Of course, you can still go back the next day and devour an entire plate of bread dumplings (so delicious I can’t even explain and also a staple on the menu). This place was bustling both times that I went and it wasn’t just tourists either. In terms of prices, I had a 3 course meal (I constitute beer as a course here as it filled me up quite a bit!) for under 10 euros.

Fun fact: According to my free walking tour, the Czech Republic is the highest consumer of beer per capita. And why wouldn’t they be? It is actually cheaper than water in a lot of circumstances. Compared to its neighbour Germany, the taste is actually pretty good (however German beer is still my fave). Even better, they sold this as well an array of snacks and drinks at our hostel reception. This was especially convenient when supermarkets closed at 10 and you just completely lost track of time in the first hours of the evening.

Here are some snaps from around Prague to get a feel of the vibes.

Prague is one of the cities where I spent the most time so I really got to embrace the culture and life here. It is a down to earth city with so much to offer. Definitely put on your list of places to visit before you die.

Next post: Poland

Europe Nostalgia: Italy

Time for my next post about my most recent Europe adventures! This trip marks my third visit to Italy. I am in love with the food and history in this beautiful country. Each region has its own specialty to offer the world and so it is essential to not just relive the Lizzie Mcguire movie in Roma! The three cities/regions that I visited in 2015 included Naples, Florence and Milan.

Naples 

Residing on the South East coast of the boot is the region of Naples. Home of Mount Vesuvius, Sorrento and the stunning Amalfi Coast, there is plenty to see, do and of course eat. From both research and word of mouth, I learnt that Naples was famous for pizza! However, being on my own meant that every time I ordered one, I had to consume the entire thing (no complaints). I also had a lucky experience of getting to watch the chefs make my pizza for me. I will be attempting this method at home in the foreseeable future.

Florence

If i had to pick one city in Europe overall even though it is basically an impossible question because each city is so different I would pick Florence. This was the second time I visited Florence and I loved it so much I decided to pop in again. The city is filled with stunning architecture, genuine leather products, fresh food and some exquisite gelato. To top it off, a last minute change of accommodation whilst en route to Florence ended up being the best decision I made and I ended up with a top notch room for my stay.

Milan

Unfortunately, I didn’t stay in Milan for very long (5 hours to be exact). However, I definitely got a feel of the place and a peek at some of the sights while there was still some daylight! I also enjoyed a meal here and of course gelato.

So there you have it, a little taste of Italy, a country that I will most definitely visit again.

Next post: Prague, Czech Republic

My Tips for Surviving Europe on a Budget

So I may not be Rick Steves or a writer for Lonely Planet but I have definitely picked up some handy tricks and tips along the way in order to explore Europe with a limited amount of cash. Thanks to both friends at home and abroad for their help and inspiration for this post. Oh and Tyler Cowen.

Find yourself a free walking tour

For those who have never done a free walking tour, the basic concept involves a guide who doesn’t work for a wage and is rewarded for his/her work with the tips of the tour participants i.e. you. I find walking tours an excellent way to find out a load of info about a city in a short space of time. The guides are normally locals or people who have lived in the city for an extended period of time and so they know their bit. Tours are also a great way for solo travellers to meet people (more often than not you meet fellow travellers staying in the same place as you making meet ups super easy post tour). If you really did enjoy the tour, don’t be a stinge and tip the guide please (and write them a fabulous review on Tripadvisor)

Find a supermarket

Not a mini market, but a supermarket where you would normally do a full grocery shop. This will become your new favourite place for breakfast, snack purposes and bottled water (if tap water is not potable). If you’re paying a euro for a bottle of water, you’re paying too much. Some good supermarkets that I recall visiting include Lidl, Tesco, Biedroska (Poland) and basically anything German.

Eating out

So you’re in the beautiful city of Nice (for argument’s sake). A good way to figure out a well priced restaurant is to set yourself up a “price index”. Basically, you pick a dish or two that is served at basically every French restaurant in Nice (for this example I will use Niçoise salad). For this to work and you to keep things as simple as possible, you need to assume the salads are exactly the same. Oh and look around you, if you are in the middle of the Old Town Square then yes, prices will be double so branch out into the side streets or less populated areas to avoid the tourist price gouge.

Never settle for the first offer

This could be anything from souvenirs to pretzels. It is always highly likely the place around the corner has it for a euro or two cheaper (with that difference being able to buy you some gelato or something). Also in some countries, it is perfectly acceptable to negotiate a better price. I found this a lot in Turkey and in any kind of market or bazaar with stalls as opposed to structured shops.

Find where the locals eat

A good way to find these places is via these few pointers

a) The menu at the front of the restaurant is not in English

b)  The words “Tourist Menu” are not mentioned at all

c) They specialise in one form of cuisine and are not catering for the masses

Basically, these places are cheaper, more authentic and the quality of the food is much better. Finding these places may involve some wandering around but hey you’re in a beautiful city so it’s the best of both worlds.

Where should I snooze?

As a solo female traveller, I opted not to utilise the site “Couchsurfing.com”. I’m not saying it’s bad or anything, but for me personally, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to use it. This would be the ultimate budget accommodation as it’s free. However, to give myself (and my parents) peace of mind, I went with hostels. Two apps you need in your life – Hostelworld AND Hostelbookers. Not everyone out there is aware that each booking site gets allocated a certain number of beds and so you may have heard of an amazing hostel however it may not be showing on one app. However, if you check the other you might just be lucky enough to score a bed. As for choosing your pad for the night, big things I look at are location, security and facilities such as kitchens.

  • Location – if you can walk to every awesome place that you want to see, then you are in a great location. I personally hate trying to figure out public transport in foreign cities and so I always make sure my hostel is located in the centre of all the important things.
  • Security – getting things stolen is not fun for anybody so make sure you pick a place with a super high security rating. Bonus if your room has lockers AND locks are provided. Most hostels have safety deposit boxes free of charge at reception too.
  • Kitchens – so as much as I would have loved to have gone out every night indulging in restaurant food, I knew I had a limit on funds and so if you score a good hostel with a kitchen, you will be able to whip yourself up nutritious meals on those nights when you don’t feel like foraging for food (or those mornings when all you want is bacon and eggs).

Make friends with people in your room

Because…

a) Friends are awesome and make for fun adventures whilst travelling

b) They have most likely been there slightly longer than you and may have interesting info about the city

c) With friends, come friends who may potentially know a local in that city which means access to a whole new realm of possibilities like underground bars and secret hideaways.

Raid your hostel reception area

They normally have a stack of free maps and guide books with some offering discounts at partnering restaurants. They also have an array of things to entertain yourself with if you decide to have a quiet afternoon to yourself (oh and if you’re lucky they have free unlimited tea and coffee! Win!)

Choose your transport wisely

So majority of backpackers travelling Europe will be venturing to more than one city. So to find your way of getting from A to B there are a few options for you. As a solo female traveller, I decided not to use car sharing services however, I would if I was travelling with another person. Second best priced alternative I found were buses. There are hundreds of companies around Europe and a handy place to find a decent portion of them is through an app called “Go Euro”. Through this app, you can do point to point trips and it will show the prices for bus, train and plane (save yourself the hassle and don’t fly between cities unless you’re travelling from west to far east for example). This app also provides the nifty feature of letting you book your transport directly through the app! So much time and money saved. Also, two birds one stone idea is if you’re travelling a long distance (in transit for about 7 hours plus) then opt for an overnight bus. You will arrive in the city early, give yourself another full day and also save on a night’s accommodation.

So there you have it, this is some of what I’ve learnt whilst being on the road so hopefully when you decide to jet off abroad you will be able to use some of these tips to better plan your trip. No time like the present.


Featured Image: Appropriately chosen photo of Nice, Côte D’Azur from Europe 2014 where I did my first ever walking tour and also where I first utilised the price index concept. 

Europe Nostalgia: Greece

I am lucky enough to have gotten the chance to visit Greece for a second time alongside my travel companions Madeleine and Eleanor. We ventured off to four islands including Rhodes, Santorini, Crete and Mykonos. Each island has its own unique style and atmosphere and so when planning a trip to Greece make sure you include a few islands to get the most out of your experience.So here I am to share with you some of the sights and of course the food that I encountered!

Rhodes

Medieval city, beaches and cocktails. Rhodes or “Rodos” is an island just about an hour away from the South East coast of Turkey. Here we discovered the Medieval city which is UNESCO Heritage listed. We had a wander, took numerous selfies and really just took the place in. Day two was spent soaking up the sun, swimming in the Aegean Sea followed by a night of cocktails in Rhodes town.

Santorini

White buildings, expensive galleries and jewellery shops that I will hopefully one day be able to afford, volcanoes and donkeys. We stayed in a bed and breakfast style place with an amazing breakfast of Greek Yoghurt, fresh fruit and boiled eggs straight from the owners’ own chicken! We also ventured to two sunset spots – the main one filled with tourists in Oia and also a second one which can be seen from the Santo Winery. Unfortunately for us, the night we chose to visit the Santo Winery our sunset view was completely blanketed with cloud cover! Alas, we still enjoyed the wine “samples” which were basically the equivalent of a full glass of wine. Happy days!

Crete

I didn’t really have high hopes for Crete before arriving. That would be due to my limited knowledge about the place and also because I didn’t know anyone who had visited there in the past. However, it was instant love. We decided to hire a car and were glad we did because we had access to some of the best beaches I’ve ever visited. It was here too where we also consumed some amazing food!

Mykonos

The party island. Well one of. Also filled with the beautiful white buildings like Santorini. We checked out the nightlife, the beaches and enjoyed chilling out for 5 days.

So there you have it. A taste of our Greek oasis!

Next post: Italy


Featured image is from our visit to Elafonisi Beach, Crete