18 April 2010

Autumn in New York (New York Part 3)

Central Park
Before anything else, if you're learning or want to brush up on Photoshop or Elements, I've put up my next "lesson" on Histograms, an important foundation to adjusting brightness and contrast.
When I went to New York last November, I only had a few days before I had to go to San Francisco (but very happily, I might add), so I soaked up every little bit of it I could. Thankfully, when I returned for the second wave of interviews last January, I was able to see a little bit more and now that I've clinched a residency position there, going over my pics makes me super-excited about returning! Above is, of course, Central Park. Nothing like an Asian man in a business suit snapping away at ducks in the early afternoon that screams, "TOURIST!!!"

Momofuku Noodle Bar
The very, very first restaurant I went to (practically pledged getting there) was Momofuku Noodle Bar. I don't have any hipster cred (don't even have horn-rimmed glasses, much less a designer chair); I'm more of a wannabe. I was half-afraid of being shunned or laughed at, but at Noodle Bar, my server (I sat at the bar) was actually nice and reasonably attentive even smack dab in the middle of lunch, and the chefs were hard at work but seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Momofuku Steamed Pork Buns and Ramen
As for the food, well... I didn't grow up on ramen (just an occasional thing) but I did grow up on steamed pork buns. These were good. But hella expensive. Thank God I had a dollar bun in San Francisco that was simpler, but much more satisfying. To further jack up my bill (and to make lunch more substantial), I had ramen. Much too salty and umami and not vegetable-y ("green") enough for me. I could have done without the pork shoulder, too. But poached egg, pork belly, fish sausage, and mushrooms? YES.
So, because I am a steamed pork bun fiend, I also went to the newer (hence hipper?) Baohaus (get it??). I think they too are preserving their hipster cred, but thankfully they were very nice and helpful when I went (as the only visitor mid-afternoon).
Baohaus Chairman Bao
As for the gua bao, it was as expensive as Momofuku but had an edge in complexity of flavors. Plus, a bonus of being served with mango nectar (yum). I heard that they adjust the relative fattiness of the cut of pork they serve you based on how they size you up. I'm not that big and tall (in fact, quite slight) but man was there a ton of fat on that pork belly (probably more than 50%). Yummy (and, uh, thanks?!!? Haha), but I should have asked for a leaner cut.
Moving on... I stopped by at least one of the many branches of Pylones, but didn't get anything. I'm not sure the pepper mills would have gone with anything else in this house, but still, they are (hipster-)cute.
Co. Pizza
Though I'm not a pizza fan as much as I am a steamed pork bun fan, I still enjoy a well-made one when the mood strikes (see: Francisco, San: Delfina). I've heard that Co. is one of the best in New York, if not the United States (Co. is short for Company, we haven't suddenly gone Chinese pizza on you). As you enter, these giant curtains assaulted me and suddenly I was afraid I walked in on a closed restaurant. But that's just their thing.
Co. Pizza "Rosa"
I had a "Rosa": fresh tomatoes (yum), garlic (yum), fresh oregano (yum), and chili (OH GOD YES). Notice that I didn't say anything about cheese. Here at Co., unlike Delfina, I don't think they accept alterations on their pizza, and I'm glad, because I finally learned that a cheeseless pizza can be a thing of beauty. Superb.
Chelsea Market
As a food-shopper, I made it a point to visit the Chelsea Market. While there wasn't a ton of stuff for someone who's just passing by like me (as compared to, say, someone who needs deli goods), there were a lot of places to have lunch or a snack, for people working nearby.
Bowery Kitchen
One of the only shops that actually sold wares was Bowery Kitchen Professional Cooking Supplies and Equipment, after the famed area near Chinatown. I saw a huge stack of the disposable foil pie pans (perfect size for Duncan's delicious Pastéis de Nata) I use for only $10, but I didn't buy them because I thought they'd be squished in my luggage. Damn!
The last food stop we have for this leg of the journey is Kyotofu, the only US outpost of the popular Japanese restaurant. Patisseries that incorporate Asian influences into their desserts are super-rare, so when a place does it, and spectacularly well at that, I just have to go.
Kyotofu Matcha Green Tea Tofu Cheesecake
In my previous post I was talking about the first tofu cheesecake I ever had, and with little doubt will never be dethroned as the best one I will ever have. This is it: matcha green tea tofu cheesecake with black sesame shiro-an, yuzu caramel, and pistachio tuile. I'm not even a huge fan of cheesecake AND matcha AND sesame but I could have had a 9-inch round of this all to myself. It was just perfect.
Kyotofu Chocolate Cake
This was their chocolate brownie with matcha shiro-an. As far as brownies go, this was pretty good, though at this point, we all have our favorites mastered at home...
Kyotofu Signature Sweet Tofu
The third dessert in my prix fixe was their signature sweet tofu. This is pretty much soy milk that has been gelled and served with a black sugar syrup (kuromitsu syrup). Yes, as a Filipino I grew up on taho (dau hu), but if there's still anyone out there who doubts that straight soy product makes a good dessert, this may be the one to shut them up (if the cheesecake doesn't already). The secret is in the intense, molasses-y Japanese black sugar syrup -- it just blends so well with the delicately scented, mildly sweet tofu. The worst part about this dessert is that there was so little of it.
Bryant Park Skating
So, that's our trip for now. I wish I'd skated but I didn't bring my ice skates along, and at this rate any other pair would hurt my feet. Ah well, there's always next year right? But wait! I hope you stay tuned for Part 4 of my New York travelogue, coming soonish. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!

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