02 July 2010

Et Cetera Eats in NYC

Now you may think all we ate while we were in NYC was BBQ. You'd be wrong. Come on, you know me better than that. Here's a rundown of the other goodies we sampled throughout the weekend.

After a stroll through High Line Park the Mrs. was determined to try Stand's Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake I'd raved so much about.

While I felt it lacked a little bit of the toastiness of the last trip, it was still ridiculously good. Mrs. Micro gave it her I-sucked-it-down-faster-than-anything-else-I've-ever-drank approval.

That's my favorite pic from the entire trip.

Dinner Saturday night brought us to Keste, the last of the 'Big 3' Manhattan Neapolitan pizza joints. I went with the Filetti di Pomodoro pie and Nikki chose the Regina Margherita. She loves Margheritas and I was really hoping to both knock her socks off with the quality of pie at Keste. Unfortunately, it didn't quite fulfill my promises of a revelatory experience.

I felt the pizzaiolo at Keste were a little heavy-handed with the oil on my pie. The tomatoes weren't as cooked through as I like them, therefore not caramelizing as much as I'd hoped, and tasted like they were picked out-of-season.

Also, the crust was a tad tough, requiring some serious neck work to pull away a bite. The cornicione was nicely salted and smoky, but I could've used a bit more char.

The Margherita suffered from all of the same shortcomings as the Filetti. Mrs. Micro also noted that the mozzarella was tough, and after taking another taste I completely agreed with her. She loves the Cristina pizza at Pazo and I agreed that the quality of their mozzarella was much higher there than at Keste, which I found quite shocking.

Keste, while good, didn't have the great char of the pies at Co. nor did it have the great smokiness of the pies dished out at Motorino, ranking it dead last of the Big 3.

At this point we finally went to check into our hotel, the Pod in Midtown East, and we chilled out for a few hours. We decided to go grab drinks and I found some decent press on the newly opened Painkiller on Essex St. in Chinatown. We walked right by the entrance our first time, and would've done so a second time if the bouncer hadn't asked us if we were looking for the Painkiller. He checked our IDs and opened the door into what I can only describe as a tiki bar on acid.

Unfortunately while the decor was great, neither of us liked our drinks. After much deliberation with the waitress we took her up on her recommendations. She suggested a New Order for me and a Missionary's Downfall for the Mrs.

Mine (pictured at the top) was very very tart, almost bitter, and hers was one big mint bomb, you could taste nothing else. While I did like the fresh dusting of cinnamon on my ice, it just didn't work for me. So we choked down our disappointing cocktails and headed back to the hotel.

In the morning we sped off to Sullivan Street Bakery on the west side of Midtown for a quick breakfast. We picked up a custard-filled bomboloni (Italian doughnut), an il danese macerato della fruta (brioche fruit danish), and a tortino di cioccolato (chocolate torte).

I assumed my favorite would be the bomboloni, which was wonderfully light and not too sweet, containing a super-fresh vanilla bean custard, after one bite of the danish I could see why their website touts it as a perfect breakfast pastry.

The warm mascarpone in the center combined with the flaky brioche and the tart-sweet dried apricots and cherries just harmonized wonderfully. Throw in some crunchy walnuts and I almost tripped as I went weak-kneed with pleasure.

The torte was the only thing that didn't blow my socks off. While good, it wasn't anything to rave about. I picked up hardly any crunch from the breadcrumbs, and most of it stuck to the bottom of the foil vessel it was served in, making it a real pain to eat on the go.

At this point we went to see the King Tut exhibit featured at the Discovery Times Square exhibition. No pictures were allowed so this is all I can show you of the exterior.

Let me be blunt. This exhibit was one big cock-tease. Plastered all over every single advertisement and their website is pictures of the famed sarcophagus and when we rounded the bend to the last room of the exhibition all we got was a damned replica of his skeleton! WTF? While they did feature many of the artifacts King Tutankhamun was buried with, apparently the man himself and the sarcophagus will never leave the sands of Egypt. It was a good exhibit overall, but it left me with a serious case of blue-balls.

After the exhibit we went back to Day 2 of the BABBQBP (which you can read all about in my previous post). After our fill of BBQ we decided to do a mini-tour of lower-Manhattan to satiate our insatiable sweet-tooths... teeths... teef.

First stop was Joe the Art of Coffee for an Espresso Granita.

Appetizing, eh? Yeah, not the most photogenic treat. Surprisingly it wasn't too strong or too sweet and ended up being a fairly light beverage. I think we would've liked it more if it were more creamy and less slushy, but I believe that is the nature of a granita. While the Mrs. gladly slurped it down I only took a few sips as I avoid caffeine like the plague.

Next up was Dessert Club, Chikalicious. After perusing the menu and asking the guy what he recommends I ordered a Toasted Almond Cupcake and a Salted Caramel Macaron.

Macarons are treats I've read a lot about, but had never had the opportunity to try. I wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. After my first bite, I was enlightened.

(I was having serious issues with my camera's auto-focus all bloody weekend... grr!) The filling was smooth and moist and the exterior was perfectly proportioned and with a nice tender chew collapsing underneath my teeth as I took a bite. I think the chew is what really made it skyrocket up my list of favorite sweets. Mmmmm, macarons.

Not to be stood up, the cupcake was also lovely, although maybe not quite as lovely as Sugar Sweet Sunshine. It was moist and fluffy, the icing was very unique as it was very light and creamy.

(Yay, auto-focus worked!) Bonus points awarded for the subtle sweetness and the toasted almonds. Bonus points taken away for the horrible Top 40s music and small space.

Our last destination was DT Works, the brick and mortar baby of the roaming Dessert Truck. I was talked into their best-selling Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with Bacon Custard Sauce which was featured on (and won) Bobby Flay's Throwdown. Since my first macaron was amazing I was craving more so after perusing the pastry case I also ordered a banana caramel macaron and a sesame passion-fruit macaron. And an iced coffee. That's it, I swear!

Immediately after tasting the bread pudding I was immediately kicking myself for not ordering the first item that caught my eye: goat cheese cheesecake with rosemary caramel and fresh blackberries.

I'm so over chocolate bread pudding it ain't even funny. Booooooring. Not even the potentially amazing bacon custard sauce fired my salivatory glands.

The banana caramel macaron was a bit more dense than the one I had a chikalicious. I had that synthetic banana flavor which, while off-putting for some, I enjoy. I are banana freak. The flavor took me back to the banana moon pies I loved so much as a kid. Damn, now I want one of those and I just got home from the grocery store. Bah!

My favorite item was definitely the sesame passion-fruit macaron. While the filling was surprisingly too sweet, it had a strong sesame flavor. Sesame being one of my favorite flavors on earth, I eagerly gobbled this thing up. Yum.

And there you have it. Thus concludes the tale of yet another weekend spent in the culinary wonderland that is NYC. Until next time, have a happy 4th of July. I know I be gettin' crunk this weekend, so I hope you all let yourself go a bit and have a little fun, eh? It'll be good for you.

Stand on Urbanspoon
Keste Pizza & Vino on Urbanspoon
Sullivan Street Bakery on Urbanspoon
Joe The Art of Coffee on Urbanspoon
Chikalicious Dessert Club on Urbanspoon

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