22 July 2009

NYC 07/09: Day 3: Eating Big

After a quick shower and some web research we collected all of our things and thanked everyone for letting us stay the weekend. We decided to hit up Levain Bakery for one of their popular fist-sized cookies.

Originally, I planned on either hitting up Jing Fong for dim sum or Chola for some amazing Indian buffet, but I had a sweet tooth that apparently two milkshakes and pie from the dinner party hadn't quite satiated. It took a bit of navigating to find it since they have such a small sign in a tucked-away space, but we persevered. I ordered a chocolate peanut-butter cookie and Zack went with their most popular chocolate chip walnut.

These cookies were definitely big enough to provide adequate energy for walking the streets of Manhattan all day… or participating in a triathlon. They were colossal. Mine was packed with more peanut butter chips than I thought possible, but as soon as I tasted Zack’s I realized why it was their best-seller. The center was a gooey mass of cookie dough and the walnuts provided the perfect flavor and texture compliment. The mouthfeel was superb. I downed mine without much trouble--I pride myself on being a human garbage disposal—but it took Zack some serious effort to finish his. After a few bottles of water we were hydrated and packed full of carbs and ready to take on the city.

At first we walked down Broadway with no real direction just taking in the sights. We saw an Urban Outfitters so we stopped in there. Meanwhile Zack was trying to find the address to Forbidden Planet on his phone because I had been there on previous trips and thought he would appreciate it. We happened by a sign for Nintendo World so we high-tailed it over to Rockefeller Plaza.

Nintendo World was cool but nothing over the top. I picked up a case for my DSi and was hoping to find some sweet Dragon Quest toys, I really want a metal slime, but unfortunately the toys were mostly Pokemon, and the expected Mario and Zelda.

We did see some awesome old-school Mario wall stickers (masterfully modeled by yours truly above) but they were $75 a set. No thanks. I went to pay for my case and the cashier told us it was still a pretty long walk to Forbidden Planet so instead he suggested we hit up another comic shop. So we changed our destination to Midtown Comics at 45th and Lexington.

We headed over there and looked around. It was a pretty sweet comic shop all-in-all but I still didn’t find any sweet toys to add to my collection. There was a bust of Unicron from the Transformers animated movie but it was out of my price range. There was also a really sweet statue of Gandalf battling the Balrog, but that was even more out of my price range. We went to the 42nd St. station and, after checking the time, surmised that we didn’t have enough time to make it to the buffet which ended at 3. Frustration kicked in as I wracked my brain trying to think of a decent culinary destination to end our otherwise terrific weekend in the city. I was out of ideas and my Zagat handbook wasn’t really helping. It looked like it was going to be a shot in the dark… and the clock was ticking. I was almost at my breaking point when, in a last ditch effort, I scanned over my hand-written page of notes for anything in the West 40s and there it was, a shining beacon of barbecue delight: Daisy May’s BBQ USA at 11th Ave. and 46th St. I looked at Zack and asked if he were in the mood for barbecue and in typical Zack fashion he responded “Hells yeah, dude! I love barbecue.” We had our next culinary destination.

I had researched NYC barbecue joints for previous trips and Daisy May’s had always been a consideration, but for one reason or another I had never made it out there. I immediately felt more accustomed to the blocks close to Daisy May’s near the Western edge of Manhattan. There were no huge skyscrapers in sight and I almost felt like I was back home. It felt much less surreal and had an unpretentious vibe about it. I commented to Zack that if I ever had the chance to move to the city I think I would look for a place in that area of town. We rounded the corner and spotted the spinning BBQ sign and knew we had finally arrived.

Upon entering I was thrilled to find the cafeteria barbecue joint atmosphere that the e-reviewers had raved about. The sides were laid out in plain view and there were two workers manning the counter but with a laid back attitude that conveyed the notion that I could take all the time in the world to decide what I wanted. But I knew what I wanted. A big fat Oklahoma Beef Rib was what I wanted. I asked the guy what his most popular side items were and decided on the cheesy creamed corn and the sweet potatoes. A diet Barqs rounded out my order. After I placed the order the girl at the register confirmed it all with the guy prepping the food and I overheard him say “Diet??” I had the urge to say to him “Yes, I’m not counting calories, I just prefer diet over regular soda.” I was about to consume a football sized chunk of barbecued meat, the notion of counting calories seemed quite absurd at that point. Zack ordered the pulled pork with beans and rice and baked beans with beef tips and what turned out to be a monster jar of sweet tea. My order was up by the time Zack had placed his, and his quickly followed. The barbecue feast was about to begin. The dining area was great with it’s wood finish and a decently sized plasma TV mounted on opposite walls. One was showing country music videos and the other was showing the Mets game, I chose the seat facing the Mets game. Sorry Zack.

Don’t ask me why, but when it comes to barbecue I always go for the sides first. I dug into the golden glop first and my eyes lit up. This was the first time I had had creamed corn and cheese combined and it was instantly addictive. I noticed green and red bell pepper mixed in but if it had a little heat to it, I would’ve raved about it all day. I think I’ll do a little research on it and try making my own with the addition of some serranos or maybe chipotles. Nonetheless it was an awesome combination of sweet and savory. The cheese was nice and warm and smooth and the corn was whole kernel and gave a nice pop in each bite. I honestly don’t know how they got whole corn kernels like that. In my experience, when cutting corn straight from the cob it never feels quite whole and these certainly didn’t taste like any canned variety. Thinking about it right now is making my mouth water and my stomach rumble. I could eat a whole bowl of that stuff. It was a wonderful way to start the meal.

On the other hand, the sweet potatoes I must certainly rave about. These were without a doubt the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had. This includes other barbecue places I’ve tried and sweet potato casserole served at Thanksgiving. The only other iteration of sweet potato that comes close to this is the sweet potato pancakes I had at EJ’s in Brooklyn a few years back. It was super smooth without a single lump and so creamy. I couldn’t put my finger on what made them so great, they just were. I think more often than not people doctor up sweet potatoes with too much sugar or marshmallows or whatever else, but these had the perfect level of sweetness. I hadn’t even tried my beef rib and I had already chalked this up as a great meal. I glanced across at Zack and he was doing much of same thing, having decimated his beans and rice and not touched the baked beans or pork. Sadly, I missed my chance to try them, they were gone. The baked beans were good but nothing special. I got what I thought was a nice burnt end in my bite but didn't taste anything so it may have been a cube of fat, I'm really not sure.

The pulled pork was so chopped and moist that it had an almost mushy consistency to it. The last pulled pork I had had before that was Andy Nelson's at our wedding shower, and it blew the pulled pork at Daisy May's out of the water. Another thing to mention was they didn't give Zack a bun, just a plastic container of pulled pork. I found that a tad strange. Is eating pulled pork as a big pile o' meat instead of a sandwich a common practice in some barbecue joints? I've never heard of it before. The sweet tea was great since it wasn't over-the-top sweet like most concoctions labeled as Southern Sweet Tea. Zack downed his entire jar of the stuff. If I had done that I would've been bouncing off the walls. Well done Zack, well done.

My beef rib was good not great, but I expected as much and ordered it more as a novelty than anything else. The overall experience was very primitive and if had had a spear handy I probably would've hunted locals for sport. The caramelized outer crust was definitely the best part. There was more fat content than I prefer, but the meat was tender and juicy and... abundant.

As much as I wanted to, and I most certainly could have, I did not finish the entire thing. I couldn't get the notion of walking around the city with a mean case of the meat sweats out of my head. I really would've been miserable if I had finished it all. Plus I practically licked my side dishes clean, so that gave me at least some sense of accomplishment.

The most off-putting thing about Daisy May's was the lack of table barbecue sauce(s). This was also a first for me. Barbecue establishments that I've been to always have their own sauce that they make and bottle. Perfecting one's own barbecue sauce, in my opinion, is a huge part of barbecue culture and should be a pre-requisite for opening your own barbecue joint. Zack even got up to ask the guy behind the counter and nope, no barbecue sauce. This was unexpected and definitely a mark in the negative category. After we were done stuffing our face, we relaxed for a bit and reminisced about the highlights of our great weekend. But it wasn't quite over yet. We paid our check and headed out the door. I had one more thing to do.

Ice cream. Yes, that's right, I am quite mad, quite mad indeed. I didn't do any research, but I wanted a nice sweet finish to my meal. Zack looked at me like I was insane, I think the sweet tea did him in. I saw a Pinkberry and the name rang a bell so we headed inside. I asked what the dealio was since I'd never been there and ended up sampling their coconut and passion fruit. I ordered a small passion fruit and since you get two toppings I did a double-up of strawberries. It was nice and light and refreshing. I've never been a huge fan of passion fruit, but this had a tangy sweet that struck me as more prevalent than iterations I had had in the past. I finished it, despite my stomach's protest during the last few bites. Bah, I surely walked it all off. Yeah, no... still recovering.

That is the conclusion of our weekend excursion in NYC. Sorry that some of the pictures from this post were blurry, I'll try to do better! I hope you enjoyed reading our tale and don't doubt that there will be other similar trips recounted on Microcosm K both from the recent past and the ever-promising future. Thanks for reading.

Daisy May's BBQ Usa on Urbanspoon
Levain Bakery on Urbanspoon

Other Similar Ramblings

Widget by Hoctro | Jack Book


Post a Comment