New York Gastronomy Tips

My sister-in-law Carrie and her husband John went to New York just before Christmas and they have been telling me ever since about all the incredible restaurants and food places they visited. I thought it would be fantastic to share these tips with all my edible readers so asked Carrie to guest write a post for Edible News of her New York gastronomy adventure (and if you’re feeling hungry after reading it there’s a post on my take on New York burgers at the bottom!)

New York

New York City – Food Tour & Tips

Here are some highlights of our New York food tour…. there is so much choice out there, it helped to get some useful recommendations. We wanted to pass them on to you too…

Murrays Bagel  – First place that we stopped at for breakfast in NYC and we weren’t disappointed. The immediate difference between cities ( New York vs London) is the incredible choice on offer. Murrays Bagel not only had a vast amount of fillings – there was also an amazing selection of bagels on offer that are hand rolled everyday. Adam who owns the shop had a simple dream twenty years ago to make the best bagels in New York. It is named after his Father who introduced him to the love of bagels. A perfect way to start the day.

What we had: American Pastrami Bagel and Coffee
Where you can find them:  500 Avenue of the Americas, New York

Bagels

Burger Joint – It isn’t much fun getting lost in New York City at night when it’s hitting the minus figures. We were looking for a ‘Burger Joint’ with no luck. We finally found it randomly in a hotel called Le Parker Meridien Hotel, New York. It didn’t have a name to the restaurant instead just this neon sign which pretty much told us we had found it finally!

They have a no reservation policy and it’s very popular so getting a seat as well as trying to order at the same time was a little tricky. They keep the menu very simple… Burger or Cheeseburger with filling or not and obviously chips on the side. I liked this…keeping it simple and knowing what you can deliver quickly and well. Be famous for cooking proper burgers not what you get from chains on every other corner.  The decor consist of graffitied walls and cosy seating arrangements…it’s not a place you stay for long, so not good for first dates, big families or special evening meals. It’s great for every other occasion..

What we had: Cheese Burgers and Chips!
Where it is located: The Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien Hotel, New York

Burger Joint

Momofuku – This is a noodle bar located in Chinatown. The name Momofuku means lucky peach…I definitely thought we were lucky to find this place and to also get a seat! It’s a very popular place (again with a no reservation policy!)  It specialises in Ramen dishes. We managed to sit up at the bar and watch the chefs cook all the amazing different types of Ramen dishes, it was incredible to see the speed and passion that they all put into their creations without making any noise (unlike all those celebrity cook programs we see). Demand was definitely stretching for the restaurant but they completely deliver.  Staff are super friendly, efficient and seem remarkably calm. Next time we will try their Milk Bar which looks amazing

What we had: Momofuku Ramen & Spicy Miso Ramen
Where is it?: 171 first Avenue btwn 10th + 11th street  New York

Momofuku

Chelsea Market – Is an enclosed urban food court, it is housed in the old National Biscuit Company factory. This is an incredible place for foodies – it has such a selection of every type of food you could think of. It could be called food heaven! We timed it badly  we had just had breakfast) so couldn’t sample too much that was on offer. We did manage a cookie from Amy’s Bread House. It is an artisan bakery which has a huge display of the best of everything sweet. You can watch Amy’s bakery knead the dough in the bakehouse or people watch from from the windows.  Tip… turn up hungry and have fun sampling all the different artisans food on offer.

What is on offer:  Take a look here
Location: 75 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10011

Chelsea Market

Bubby’s – This was recommended to us and we were so pleased we went there for our last brunch in NYC before flying home. The Americans love their brunches…which is something that hasn’t really taken off over here yet. We had to wait for a seat (extremely busy) but they offered hot cider whilst we we did, which was a nice touch. Bubby’s menu is delicious from  Bubby’s pancakes to pit smoked barbecued hash & browns. Bubby’s started as a pie company but quickly opened a small restaurant using many traditional family recipes – they pride themselves that all food is made from scratch and you can definitely taste. What also makes them unique is that they open for 24 hours and offer a brilliant midnight brunch menu! What more could you want?

What we had: Organic Granola & Beef Fajita
Where is it: 120 Hudson St, Tribeca, NYC

Bubby's

Other Highlights :

Cheesecake Doughnuts from Dough – Brooklyn Flea Market

StumpTown Coffee – Ace Hotel (but there are loads)

Cocktails at Bathtub Gin – Secret Gin Bar

Mast Brothers  – Chocolate Makers

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Thanks so much Carrie for your delicious tips! Can’t wait to head over there soon.

In honour of their New York trip I decided to make us all burgers to bring a bit of America to London, almost as good as the real thing!

Burger

My take on NYC Burgers & Sides

– 500g ground beef
– 10 Cream crackers, crushed very small
– I egg
– Handful chopped parsley
– Big pinch salt
– Double dash Worcestershire sauce

Combine and shape into patties you should get around five from this mixture depends on how big you want them

Place on a hot pan/griddle for around 5 mins each side the serve on a bun or just naked with 1 tbsp pulled pork with BBQ sauce as a topping for your burger.

Side of coleslaw

– Shredded ½ white cabbage
– 1 finely sliced white onion
– 1 carrot finely sliced
– 1 finely sliced apple
(all above can be done in a food processor for extra thin slices)

then in a large bowl combine with a large handful of raisins, you can also add pineapple as kids love the sweetness of it.

– 4 tbsp mayonnaise
– 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
– Big pinch salt and pepper
– Side of  Crunchy Sweet Potato Chips
– 3 Sweet Potatoes  sliced into chunky chip size
– 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
– 1 tsp smoked paprika
– 1 tsp garlic salt

Combine all of the above in a bowl and cook on a tray in oven at 200c for around 25 mins turning halfway until crispy

Burger topped with pulled pork with slaw and chips on the side – bringing a bit of New York to you without the snowstorm! Why don’t you try it this weekend?

Pole Pole (definitely in this heat)

Last week as you know, I paid a visit to Tanzania to see how our new school build is going. After a manic three and a half hour car journey from Dar Es Salaam with no A/C in one hundred degrees heat we arrived in the village of Bwawani and then changed into an old four wheel drive for our one hour drive into the bush, to the sub-village of Lukwambe where the school is located. As I said in my previous post, the school is being built to bring education to this little village and the 52 children of school going age who live there, who have no way of getting to the main school in Bwawani apart from a three hour walk both ways.

I was greeted with the usual welcome of children singing a song they had been rehearsing for the last 2 weeks in my honour and by the village head man who said great things about me (all in Swahili) or so I was told by our man on the ground, Remmy! After settling in to my bed in my little wooden hut I went up to the school to see how it has progressed since my last visit in July and, I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the structure is now up with only a few windows and doors to go in, finish off the plastering and tiling, then painting and get the desks in, so nearly there! Then it’s build the toilet block and hopefully open in early April.

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The thing you have to remember is that being in a very rural, location it takes forever to get all the materials to the site along that VERY bumpy track and there is no electricity and running water so all cutting of timbers and metals has to be done by hand and everything transported to the site, so there’s a lot of Pole Pole (oh by the way, that’s Swahili for slowly slowly or take it easy) mmmm, so things get done but at a different pace. Anyway while I was there we did get a lot of things done including plastering the entire front of the school, moving all of the bricks to the site of the new toilet block and building and marking the new access road, so not bad for a weeks work.

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Now all of this energy sapping work is done on a very meagre diet of food that your average Tanzanian eats twice a day on a daily basis with little or no variation to this apart from the odd treat of a spoonful of meat in the form of Chicken, Goat or Impala. You have to remember these are extremely poor peasant families who survive on around a  two dollars a day. I spent seven days on the ground and while I enjoyed the food and was most grateful to them for sharing it with me, I have to be honest and say that by day five I started to daydream about eating pasta with cheese or a hamburger and I did feel guilty for that, but I think it’s because I know that I am lucky enough to have that choice, they don’t so do they yearn for something else, I can’t answer that, but the one thing I do know is that I’m happy when I’m in that little village, as there is no exposure to the rubbish that goes on in our modern world and their daily lives certainly wouldn’t be made any better by that exposure, as they have it tough enough already.

For more info go to  www.facebook/happybricksfoundation

Here’s the kitchen…

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The slow cooker! The fire stays lit all through the day and the heat is controlled by taking the logs in and out of the fire.

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Here’s what I ate for seven days, give yourself a test and see how long you can eat it for before you yearn for a change, remember the villagers eat it for the rest of their lives!

Rural Tanzanian Daily Menu

Breakfast
Chapati (usually two)

Lunch
Ugali (Maize, rolled up between the fingers and used to mop up your sauce)
Mchele (White Rice)
Maharage (Kidney Beans)
Mchuzi ya Nazi (Coconut Sauce, made from coconut shavings )
Mchicha (Greens, usually the tops off the sweet potato)
Viazi (Irish Potato)
Viazi Vitamu (Sweet Potato)
Nyama Mbuzi (Goat, a special treat)

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Dinner
as for lunch

Desert
White mango
Regular mango

Mango

Happy Bricks Foundation

Some of my dear friends know that last year Holly and I founded a charity called Happy Bricks and the time has come to see how our school building project in Tanzania is going. When I last visited four months ago with my friend Alex, it was great to see that the walls had gone up, the flooring was going in and the roof supports were ready. Since then, the roof has now gone on which will go a long way to weatherproofing before the long rains start, usually March to May, but weather patterns are as we all know behaving strangely, and last year the rains arrived late and didn’t last as long as usual, so who knows what will happen this time round.

The school is in a very remote location in a small sub village called Lukwambe, Bwawani, which is about 3 hours driving North West of Dar Es Salaam and has a population of around 250 people, 80 of which are small children of school age. The closest state school is around 4 hours walking through the bush and I came across it in 2013 after I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. So Holly and I decided to help them by building the village their own school, and then set about raising the cash to build it through our new foundation, Happy Bricks Foundation, for which we are just about to get our charity number (at last) ! Website to come very shortly.

So, we are nearly at the final stages, just windows, door and teachers and as soon as we get our charity number all you lovely people can help to finish it by running some wild and crazy fundraising events (see my chilli eating efforts on blog) and be part of a great thing in helping to enrich the lives of very poor people, who literally have nothing and are so grateful for what we little we give them.

When I get back next week I shall be cooking up what the villagers eat on a daily basis and lets see how long you could survive on that, it puts our lives into perspective!!

I would love it if you could give us a like on www.facebook/happybricksfoundation to keep up to date with our latest news

Happy Bricks

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Happy Bricks

Happy Bricks

Avoca Café

Avoca Café, Suffolk Street Dublin 4 Ireland

Every time I go home to visit my mum and sister in Dublin we always find time to visit Avoca. Perched on the top floor of a haberdashers in busy Suffolk Street and a stones throw from the popular Grafton Street, Avoca never fails to impress. Usually full of an eclectic group of Dubliners and better informed tourists you usually get a seat within 15 minutes and then you won’t want to leave.

Using the very best of Irish ingredients the chefs prepare everything from  a traditional Irish breakfast, the best you’ll eat in Ireland, to a lunch menu comprising such delights as Castletownbere crab salad with apple, fennel, pickled cucumber, a Middle Eastern mezze of spicy minced Wicklow lamb, hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanouj, beetroot tzatziki & pita and Confit duck leg salad with pears & blackberries, feta, mixed leaves & blackberry vinaigrette.

avoca