Concrete jungle where food dreams are made of…

Miss Lily's

It’s 9am on a Saturday morning and I am at the hairdresser sipping on a latte, flipping through the pages of 10 Magazine Australia and it suddenly strikes me that this is the first moment of peace I have had all week. I am reading an article about travel and the peace travel can bring and it reminds me of the last time I travelled alone to New York City.

A great many of us (me included) spend our days running from one meeting to the next or one social engagement to the next and we don’t get a lot of time to simply just “be” anymore. Some people find the thought of travelling alone confronting, as for me, I embrace it. Instead of constantly planning and using head space on where I have to be and by what time I wander, alone, lost in the vast spaciousness of my own thoughts. Self indulgent as it might sound it is pure bliss and anyway we all deserve to be a little self indulgent from time to time.

You are not doubt asking yourself what does this have to do with food? Allow me to explain…being in New York City alone with a great deal of spare time on one’s hands what else does one do but induldge in the fantastic food the City has to offer. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked for my restaurant recommendations in New York City I would be a wealthy woman and most likely typing this from a coffee shop in the Lower East Side rather than my dining room table in Kensington.

I am going to tell you about a few of my favourite eateries in NYC. These are not just any eateries but places that I felt very comfortable dining alone. Don’t get me wrong these are great places to share with your significant other, friends and family but for me I had a great time being in these places on my own. Just me, my thoughts and great food. I am dedicating this post to my dear friend Jen, not just because I want to sleep on your couch when you live in NYC and not just because you asked me to dedicate it to you but because you are an inspiration to me, you are a success and should be proud of what you have accomplished. Don’t ever stop “checking-in” on Facebook either (just saying).
The Melpaired corn recipe I am going to share was inspired by an outstanding yet very simple dish that I ate at Miss Lily’s.

Wd-50

When I mentioned Wd-50 to my friend Ron he rolled his eyes and told me that the correct name is Wd-40. Let’s not get confused here people, I am not talking about a lubricant, penetrating oil and water-displacing spray (thanks Wikipedia), I am in fact talking of my favorite restaurant in New York City (Eleven Madison Park follows a close second but I am not going to discuss that sublime restaurant in this particular post as it is a place best shared with a loved one). Wd-50 stands for “Wylie Dufresne” (the magnificant Chef behind the outfit) and “50″ refers to the location, 50 Clinton Street in the Lower East Side. I had read about Wd-50 prior to my departure but had not booked the Restaurant the required one month in advance. I walked past it many a time without realising that it was around the corner from the Apartment I stayed in. One evening I put on my finest and on my way out of the Apartment Building I excitedly told Charles (the wonderful Building Manager) “I am going to Wd-50 tonight and I am going to get in without a booking”. He was very encouraging but I saw the “don’t hold your breath look in his eyes”. I am happy to say I proved him wrong as a stroke of luck saw a spare seat at the Bar at which you can indulge in the full menu. I sat myself down next to a friendly looking gentleman and was greeted by the genius Bar Manager, Kevin. I really mean this, Kevin is a genius when it comes to mixing a drink. I had the option of the 12 course tasting menu, the 5 course tasting menu or selecting any 2 dishes from either tasting menu to which you can add more dishes if you are so inclined. I opted for the 5 course tasting menu but two nights later when I went back again I did the brave thing and went for the 12 course tasting menu (and I don’t regret a second of it). As far as drinks go I asked Kevin to make the decisions for me and that really is the only way to go in my opinion. Not only was the food phenomenal but I was made to feel very welcome sitting at the Bar. I quickly got talking to Kevin and Dan (a regular patron) and Dan was even kind enough to share some of his dishes with me. Two nights later when I dined there again Kevin kept me entertained and went to the trouble of reserving my seat at the Bar for my last meal and night in New York City. The menu utilises elements and techniques from a wide range of cuisines. Boasting 1 Michelin Star this is a must visit restaurant. One of the stand-out dishes for me was the “s’mores, bitter cocoa, meringue, blackberrry” (a sublime marriage of sweet and sour). The menu is eclectic but it works. I liken the experience to a vist to Vue De Monde Restaurant in Melbourne. Very exciting, very different, very delicious.
wd-50 on Urbanspoon
Wd-50
Wd-50 2
Spotted Pig

You can dine here at 2am or 2pm (I’ve done both) and no matter what time of day or night you can enjoy the ridiculous chargrilled burger with roquefort cheese and shoe string fries. Really what else do I need to say but thick chargrilled beef on a brioche bun with crumbly roquefort cheese and to top it off shoestring fries that are served with a delicious tangled mess of fried rosemary. The Spotted Pig is located at 314 W 11th Street at Greenwich Street. If you are really hungry please also try the chicken liver toast. This is the best chicken liver parfait I have ever eaten and I implore you to try it. This is what you would call a gastropub (or hipster-ville as I like to refer to it). It is considered the first gastropub in NYC. The gastropub originated in the UK and it really just describes a bar that serves high end beer and food. The walls are adorned with strange paraphernalia and I felt very at home in my leopard print jeans and red, black, grey and white woolen poncho (in fact I was one of the more mainstream looking amongst the staff and clientele). The Chef, April Bloomfield, worked at the renowned London’s River Cafe. I like to have a pint of the Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA to accompany my burger (perfect way to cure a sore head or to find yourself with a sore head if you drink too many). The catch is you can’t book and as with most places belonging in the hipster-ville category every hipster and his or her dog wants to be there, which is why I chose to go at random hours to ensure I didn’t have to play the hipster-matic waiting game.
The Spotted Pig on Urbanspoon
Spotted Pig
Manzo at Eataly

I encourage everyone who visits New York City to go to Eataly. It is hard to put into words just how fantastic this place is. It is a market of sorts selling all things Italian. You can purchase anything from fresh fish to Italian cook books and you can also indulge in a meal at one of the many restaurants while you are there. Responsible for the concept of Eataly is Oscar Farinetti, the founder and creator, the B&B Hospitality Group (a force to be reckoned with that includes Mario Batali, Joe and Lidia Bastianich) and Adam and Alex Saper. Located at 200 5th Avenue what I like to do is have a spot of lunch at Manzo to prepare myself for the difficult task of shopping on 5th Avenue (it is a workout my friends, I assure you). Manzo translates literally to “beef” and provides one of the more formal dining experiences at Eataly. I like to sit at the bar (can you see a common trend emerging here people) and chat to the friendly and knowledgable staff. My favourite dish on the menu is the linguine with lobster, tomato and basil. I recommend you wash this down with a glass of the barolo. I really can’t think of a better way to build shopping stammener, can you (rhetorical, didn’t think so).
Manzo Ristorante @ Eataly on Urbanspoon
Eataly
Ushiwakamaru

What I am about to say is going to come as a shock to those who know me well and know about my unrequited love of Japanese food but this is undoubtably my favourite Japanese Restaurant. Let me qualify this by saying I have not visited Japan and from what I have been told I need to get there quick smart and my mind may be changed. It was a stroke of luck that saw me find this little beauty. It had been a tiring day that had seen me walk from Greenwich Village to Central Park and back. I returned to the Apartment I was staying at around 9pm and realised that the last meal I had consumed was at Manzo at 12noon (apologies metabolism). I immediately hit up Google and searched something along the lines of “best Japanese West Village”. There were a few on the list and after around half an hour of searching, by which time my stomach was screaming “feed me”, I called Ushiwakamaru quite simply because it was one of the closest and I knew the way without the risk of getting lost. I made a reservation for 10pm (thank-you New York for never sleeping) put on my finest and away I went. It was fortunate I had hit up Google as this literally is a below street level hole in the wall that you wouldn’t find any other way but Google or word of mouth. Located at 136 West Houston Street between Macdougal and Sullivan Streets this pearl is the stand-out Japanese restaurant in the neighbourhood, in my humble opinion. I was greeted by a friendly hostess and seated at the long bar. The restaurant is very small and consists of one long bar and a few tables and chairs. Behind the bar were 6 chefs going about their business of preparing sushi and sashimi platters. It didn’t take me long to decide on the chef’s sushi and sashimi assortment, a miso soup and the savoury egg custard. To wash it all down I had a sake and a Japanese beer. I found it fascinating watching the precise and quick knife skills of the chef who prepared my platter. The fish was fresh and in some cases more unique than the standard run of the mill sashimi served at Japanese restaurants. The miso was warm and salty and the savoury egg custard was perfectly cooked with pieces of succlient fish hiding in the glorious depths of the wobbily texture. I left feeling very satisfied and very “in the know”.
Ushiwakamaru on Urbanspoon
Japanese
Miss Lily’s

They call themselves a Caribbean oasis in the middle of Manhattan and they aren’t wrong. Located at 132 West Houston at Sullivan Street in the West Village I’ve eaten at the Restaurant and also at the connecting eatery, Miss Lily’s Bake Shop and Melvin’s Juice Box (the latter being a more casual take-out eatery). One of the most memorable dishes I have eaten in recent times was the curried shrimp served with bok choy and brown rice (this is served in the Restaurant). While I enjoyed eating at the Restaurant I preferred dining alone at the Bake Shop. I went there on my way to a party one evening and decided to grab a quick bite and prepare myself before I indulged in my first negroni (my then favorite cocktail). I was the only person in the Bake Shop but was assured by the Chef that I didn’t have to dine alone as he would be more than happy to dine with me. It was quite a treat, he cooked and then watched me eat while I rambled on and on about my love of New York City. He was very impressed when I ordered the jerk chicken and the jerk corn but I feel that I let him down when I couldn’t finish the meal. When I placed my order he asked me if I was hungry with an amused look on his face. I had no idea what he was talking about as to my mind I was simply ordering a little helping of chicken and a piece of corn on the side. I had a “light bulb” moment when the feast was laid out before me as there was the equivalent of half a chicken on my plate (yes Nick Amore I acknowledge that I smash no less at Prime House over lunch) but this was served with a mound of rice, peas, chutney and two large pieces of jerk corn. The chicken was succulent with just the right amount of spice and the sweet chutney provided a great balance of flavour. Wash it down with a “tingaling” a popular beer based cocktail that you just need to try for yourself (thanks for the recommendation on the “tingaling” Remziye) and you have it made.
Miss Lily's on Urbanspoon

Melpaired Corn

Ingredients

Corn on the cob (as many as you like but the sauce will cover 4 adequately)
1tsp sweet paprika
2tsp butter (plus a little extra but don’t use unsalted please)
1 cup pure cream
50gms manchego cheese (plus addational 10gms for sprinkling on top of finished product)
Pinch of salt

Method

Remove the husk from the corn. To do this I simply pull the husk down and away from the corn and then give it a rinse under cold water to remove any of the stubborn silk (the white hairy threads just under the husk) that has not come away from the corn. I then cut the tough bottom of the corn off.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the corn to the boiling water and then wait for the water to come back to the boil after you have added the corn. This should take around 4 minutes and it will help if the lid is on to bring the water back to the boil quicker. Once the water comes back to the boil turn the heat off and leave the corn in the water for around 8 minutes. After that time remove the corn and rinse under cold water.

Place a griddle pan on the stove on high heat and once the griddle pan is hot smear the corn with some butter and put the corn in the pan. The corn is cooked and at this stage all you are looking to do is to give the corn some nice charred marks for the look and the texture.

While you are charring your corn place the cream, butter, sweet paprika and salt in a small pan on the stove on a low heat. You are looking to warm the cream mixture but not bring it to the boil. When the cream mixture starts to slightly bubble turn the heat to low and simmer the cream mixture for around 5 minutes or until the cream mixture thickens. Then remove it from the heat and stir in the manchego cheese.

Place the corn on a plate and spoon over the sauce. Sprinkle the additional manchego cheese on top of the finished product and enjoy. This is a very simple yet rich and decadent dish.
xoxo
Corn
Corn 2

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