janet @ the taste space

How Not to Eat Out in New York City (An Eatalian Meal)

In Breakfasts, Favourites, Mains (Meat) on February 25, 2011 at 5:44 AM

Last weekend, Rob and I took a trip New York City. I thought Family Day was only a made-up holiday in Ontario, but it turned out February 21 was also President’s Day. Everyone had a long weekend! 🙂

I find eating through a cuisine a great way to learn about a new culture, which is what I typically do when I travel overseas. New York City is a foodie-paradise with abundant choices for high-end splurges, plentiful cheap eats, as well as a handful of grocery stores. Our main purpose for heading to New York City was a 9-course menu at Per Se, so I knew I had to save my stomach for the ultimate gastronomical experience.

So what’s the trick to eating healthy, plentiful meals while still wanting to experience everything NYC has to offer? I am sure not if we’ve mastered it just yet, but here are my tips to how NOT to eat out while in NYC.

The first step is to find yourself a kitchen, because that makes a world of difference. In a city where apartments are tiny, hotel rooms are equally as small and ridiculously expensive. We stayed at the Affinia Manhattan, across from Penn Station, with huge rooms and reasonable rates (we paid $139/night + tax). However, the main advantage is that each room has a kitchen, complete with a fridge/freezer, oven/stove, microwave, toaster and utensils/plates/cutlery. If you don’t have access to a kitchen, you may need to become more creative, storing food in the minibar, bringing cutlery/plastic containers, etc.

I will admit that we visited more grocery and food stores while we were in NYC than anything else, but that’s what we like! Trader Joe’s is great for picking up breakfast items. I bought some quick-cook steel cut oats (what an oxymoron, but true to the advertising they cooked up in 7 minutes over the stovetop) and we added some dried blueberries and bananas for a delicious breakfast. We picked up some apples, edamame hummus and baby carrots for snacks. Arugula and artichoke antipasto spread were bought for sandwiches. Other travelling-friendly breakfast options sans-stovetop would be granola overtop yogurt and fruit or overnight oats.

After Trader Joe’s, the next stop was Eataly, the upscale Mario Batali Italian superstore.  My main purpose was to buy mosto cotto, a condensed balsamic vinegar made with reduced Concord grapes (any clue where to buy this in Toronto?). While the prices are not cheap, Eataly is a good place to pick up high-quality items for sandwiches.

Armed with a loaf of “rustic” fig bread (slightly sweet from the figs), 18-month-aged prosciutto (nicely flavoured), and taleggio (a mild cow’s milk creamy, soft cheese), we had the fixins for a super sandwich. With a limited number of ingredients, quality is the defining factor of your sandwich. I found the flavours worked really well, with the slightly sweet bread topped with the silky artichoke dip.  Next, we topped it with overflowing arugula, laid a slice or two of prosciutto and lastly added a few pieces of silky, melt-in-your-mouth taleggio cheese.  All the ingredients lasted us a few meals with some food left over to bring back to Canada (the artichoke surprisingly did not set off the alarms at the airport, hehe). For a vegetarian option, roasted red peppers could be substituted for the prosciutto and for vegans, the cheese could easily be omitted.

I will also give due credit to the most wondrous milk we bought at Eataly – Soloriso basmati rice milk. With a delicate smooth flavour, I never knew rice milk could taste so good. With a side of edamame hummus and carrots, this is how a foodie does not eat out in NYC.

Where we ate elsewhere in NYC:

Ess-A-Bagel – There are Montreal-style bagels and New York-style bagels. When in NYC, you should  try New York-style bagels. Ess-A-Bagel is well-known for its huge, fluffy bagels (12 different varieties including whole wheat everything), and also serves up vegan-friendly tofu-spread in lieu of cream cheese (the traditional cream cheeses are there too, including the delectable lox cream cheese). The bagels are packed with filling, and 1 bagel could easily serve 2.

Alan’s Falafel – Battle of the street cart food falafel in NYC creates the most lusciously moist falafel with minimal grease. Get it in a wrap, a salad or combo spread with lettuce, tomato, hummus and a sesame dipping sauce. Can’t say I’ve compared it to Sam’s, but Alan’s was mighty tasty.

Candle Cafe – A long-time favourite vegan resto with a focus on local, organic foods. The collard rolls are a must-try! 🙂

Other worthwhile food-related places to visit in NYC:

Kalustyan’s – For all your kitchen desires, spices, vinegars, beans.. let’s just say I was stopped by the bean section, and didn’t really make it to any other floor (I think there are 3 levels). (Thanks for the tip, Joanne!)

Essex Street Market – For down-to-earth fresh produce and condiments

Chelsea Market – A bit too upscale for me (can you say not affordable?) but a cute, artsy renovated warehouse housing upscale gourmet food vendors, with the Food Network located upstairs

This is my submission for this month’s My Kitchen, My World, featuring Italian cuisine, and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

Artichoke, prosciutto and taleggio sandwich on artisanal fig bread

Slices of rustica fig bread
Smears of Trader Joe’s artichoke antipasto (my spicy artichoke heart dip would work really well here if not travelling)
Handful of arugula
Couple strips of prosciutto
Slices of taleggio cheese

1. Layer sandwich ingredients.

Blueberry-Banana Steel Cut Oats
(all approximate amounts since it was done by eye)

1/2 cup quick-cook steel cut oats
3/4 cup milk, rice milk or more water
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup dried blueberries
pinch of salt (optional, to be honest our plan was to swipe salt packets from a fast food joint but we couldn’t seem to find any that were easily accessible – this was fine without any salt)
2 ripe bananas, cut up in tiny pieces

1. In a pot, bring oats, milk, water, dried blueberries and optional salt to a boil. Stir frequently to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. If you have the quick-cook steel cut oats, it will be done in 7 minutes.

2. Add chopped banana to cooked oatmeal and enjoy. If yo have any leftovers, the oatmeal can be refrigerated. When reheating, add enough milk/water so that it isn’t dry, mix in the chopped banana and microwave it for 1-2 minutes on high.

Serves 2.

  1. Yay! We had a fun and delicious trip. It was great to meet Joanne, too!

  2. This sounds like a fun time! Definitely need to plan a trip to NYC, myself. Haven’t been since I was 12, and with my parents.

  3. How was Per Se??? I lived in New York for almost three years and all the time I debated whether I would shell out that much money for one evening. When I finally decided that yes! I would do it! they had raised the prices of their tasting menu by something like 50-75 USD and I was back to square one…. I never went…

    My favorite places to eat at – just in case you’ll take another trip at some point 😉
    Sushi Yasuda – The absolute best sushi I ever had.
    Sripraphai – try the crispy cat fish salad, spicy duck salad, or som tam (green papaya salad) – best Thai food I had outside of Thailand – it’s in Woodside, Queens, but totally worth the trip
    Saravanaas for great and cheap South Indian fare – try any of the Dosas – the service and decor is lacking… but the food is good
    Or try Tiffin Wallah in the same neighborhood for similarly good South Indian food but a bit nicer atmosphere.
    Caracas Arepas Bar for great aprepas
    Tia Pol when they have the suckling pig special. It’s good for the other tapas, too, but the piglet is divine.

    Dang, I’m starting to drool, it’s high time I visit again…

  4. I totally wish that I had told you about Kalustyan’s sooner so that you could have really explored it’s depths! Ahh next time. I think you did some pretty awesome food exploring though…more than I’ve done and I’ve lived here my whole life!

    I loved these tips on NOT eating out in NY. Honestly, I think even some NY-ers need tips like this, as most of my friends eat takeout for every meal 😛 I still need to go to Eataly for that rice milk. I’ve been dreaming about it…

  5. Sounds great. I’d come for oatmeal at your house anytime.

  6. Sounds like you had a great time. Your sandwich looks wonderful–thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays. 😉

  7. Wow I’m impressed that you guys made some of your own meals! I struggle with eating healthy when we go away because I want to try everything has a place to offer. But I imagine eating some healthy meals in your hotel makes indulging in meals out even more enjoyable. Anyway sounds like you guys had some amazing food. I love exploring grocery stores in different cities!

  8. […] many colourful varieties), cranberry/Borlotti beans, lima beans, adzuki beans and edamame. If my recent trip to Kalustyan’s is any indication, I will also begin cooking with Anasaki beans, Appaloosa […]

  9. […] thrown overtop the baby greens and basil and drizzled it with mosto cotto. Yes, I christened my Eatalian mosto cotto with this salad. It was divine. Simplicity at its […]

  10. […] I love my breakfasts to feature all kinds of fruit, I have recently been smitten by savoury oats for breakfast. Playing around with […]

  11. […] Rob and I went to NYC last year, we ate at Candle Cafe. I had the Paradise Casserole and when I saw it was in their cookbook and […]

  12. […] shared travelling tips and recipes before, but this is different. I feel like I have discovered a new way to find great […]

  13. […] milk from kamut, quinoa, farro/spelt, oats, and rice + hazelnuts). They reminded me of the fabulous brown basmati rice milk Rob and I bought at Eataly. Totally in a league of their own in the realm of non-dairy milks. […]

  14. […] which means they retain more nutrients, but it also takes 40 minutes to cook (unless you snag some quick-cook steel cut oats from Trader Joe’s which have been partially steamed beforehand). I make a big batch of steel cut oats on the weekend […]

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