Bianca: New York, the city that never sleeps. Whilst the allure of the big city, bright lights, and vibrant café culture beckoned us to the Big Apple, visiting family was the major reason we headed to the East coast. Staying in New Jersey for two weeks with family over Christmas and New Year’s was an extraordinarily special time that we cherished greatly. We had anticipated a white Christmas and we weren’t disappointed, a light dashing of snow on Christmas Eve made our time in New York even more special. Granted, that ‘light patter’ of snow later turned into a full-blown blizzard that potentially put our departing flight in jeopardy. You win some you lose some.
The majority of meals were shared with family, A Christmas eve feast, a Christmas day brunch with panettone French toast and champagne and a departing celebratory KFC/Taco Bell combo. Seeing our American family was something that will stay with us for a life time.
Our Auntie and Uncle with freshly made butter and rosemary chestnuts
Cousin Ale sneaking in some homemade caramel popcorn before dinner
Zio Rocco and Zia Concetta
Some NYC eats highlights included:
The Loeb boathouse, the only Manhattan venue adjacent to a lake in Central Park. In the summer months boat rentals are available on the lake. The Loeb boathouse comprises of a lakeside restaurant, an outside bar and an express café. Settling into the lakeside restaurant after a ½ hour wait for a table, we were taken aback by the beautiful dining room, Christmas decorations adorned the ceilings, striking green and gold wreaths hung from the walls. Alex and I shared the twin boathouse burgers (slightly larger than a slider) with chips and Fish and Chips. It was one of those occasions where the food didn’t live up to the grand views and dining room.
Shake Shack was mandatory; I would have walked barefoot through snow to get to any of the several locations in Manhattan. We went to the original stand in Madison Square Park, queued in the reasonable line, ogled the Squirrels and anticipated the little box of goodies that were going to be ours after our buzzer sounded. When a chain of burger joints has its own ‘Shack cam’ you know you’re in for a real damn good burger. Alex and I each had the single ShackBurger, a cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and shack sauce. We also shared a small serving of crinkle cut fries with some shack sauce on the side. It certainly did not disappoint.
Five-Guys was a happy little accident, after spending the day with our Aunt visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We accompanied her on errands to Wal-Mart and BJ’S. We pulled into the car park and lo and behold a Five-Guys staring us in the face. Five-Guys allow you to choose as many toppings as you like on top of the standard on the board menu. I had the single regular cheeseburger with onions, ketchup, lettuce and tomato and mushrooms. Alex had a double cheeseburger with ketchup, lettuce and tomato. It’s quite the call but Five-Guys definitely gave Shake Shack a run for their money. AND to top things off, while you’re waiting you can help yourself to some shelled peanuts, simply scoop and saunter off. Filling a bag and leaving the store is apparently against store policy which I later found out on the road to Vegas after a Five-Guys stop off. Well, what they don’t know won’t hurt them.
Magnolia Bakery is one of those places that is on every ‘Foodie’s’ hit list. I don’t watch ‘Sex and the City’ so that connection was never really made for me nor am I a mad cupcake fan, sure, if someone is waving one in my face I’ll hardly decline. But they wouldn’t be my first pick. We virtually stumbled across Magnolia Bakery on 6th avenue after getting off the bus at Port Authority. Ordering was a bit of a nightmare but they seem to run a slick operation. I bypassed the cupcakes and went straight for the Banana Pudding and the chocolate brownie. Both were a wonderful introduction to the world of Magnolia Bakery.
I made it a point to visit Chelsea Markets on our last day in Manhattan, we went early in the morning so a lot of the shops and café’s hadn’t opened. We made a quick beeline for the NYC Highline and then ducked back into the markets and had a quick breakfast at Sarabeth’s. A cute little café created by jam maker and pastry chef extraordinaire Sarahbeth. Between the five of us we had a plain scone with jam/cream, a chocolate brownie, a creamy rice pudding and a breakfast muffin.
Our last NYC food highlight was Peanut Butter & Co. Those that know me well, are fully aware I have a very unhealthy, sometimes bordering on inappropriate, obsession with peanut butter. Usually there’s always Nutella involved. It’s not a pretty picture. I can thank Adam Richman host of Man vs Food for Peanut Butter & Co. This unassuming cafe offers a range of sandwiches and Desserts. Alex and I shared the Mighty Maple Sandwich – Maple peanut butter with crispy bacon served with carrot sticks and Peanut Butter & Co.’s own crisps. Coming back to Australia many balked at the very odd combination but until you try it you just don’t understand. The only downside to this quirky little café are the prices, $7.25 + tax for a peanut butter sandwich is a bit steep.
Whether you want flavoursome street food like pizzas, tacos, and burgers or refined restaurants, New York City supplies both in abundance and with great quality. We can’t wait to come back!
Bianca and Alex Squadrito
Photos taken by Alex