Welcome to installment two of Page & Plate Travels, in which I take myself on vacation and then tell you all about it in hopes that you might find a new place to check out the next time you find yourself wherever I was.
This episode: New York City! There’s a rather defensive stance on New York around Chicago, which I think stems mostly from the fact that we play second fiddle to their “number one city in the US” song. So, when we took off for a weekend in the also-very-windy-city, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A quick stop at The Donut Pub before we made it to the Airbnb quickly assuaged those fears. Why isn’t every doughnut shop a 24/7 operation?
We opted to stay on Manhattan for this trip, since it was my first in a few years and Colin’s first ever. From the West Village, we were able to walk to most of what we wanted to see (and eat), starting with the Chelsea Market and the High Line. Touristy? Yes. Worth it? Very. We stopped for lunch at Miznon, a Mediterranean pita shop concept by Israeli chef Eyal Shani. Colin got the lamb kebab and I got the ratatouille, and they were both so good that I felt like I could have eaten approximately 14 more of them. They were served with roasted peppers, and honestly, it may be because I was starving, but I cannot remember a meal that instantly sated me as well as that one did. The market was also decorated for Halloween, which made it all the more fun (and actually very scary, people!).
After walking 11 miles (not a joke, as my feet will testify), we decided we’d hop around the neighborhood to a few spots that had been recommended to us by internet friends (hey, Infatuation), starting at the legendary speakeasy Chumley’s. At Chumley’s, you walk in and instantly feel smarter, more mysterious, and more indulgent than you did. It’s a great feeling, and it goes even better with the beef fat french fries and the whole roasted romanesco. Just an idea. Following our speakeasy moment, we grabbed a few cheap well drinks at Marie’s Crisis Cafe, where a singalong was in full swing and the Christmas lights were shining cheerfully, then headed to Atla, where we had some of the best ceviche of my life and some very necessary guac.
Sunday was perhaps the best eating day of my life, and it started with me completely missing a meal by sleeping in until 10:30 which was both horrifying and wonderful. After I finally managed to drag myself out of bed, we ventured out into Brooklyn to a neighborhood called Midwood, where the most magical pizza place in the world is located. At Di Fara, an 81-year-old man makes the pizzas one by one at his own pace and you wait forever for the privilege of eating those pizzas. But while you’re waiting, you don’t complain because it’s all part of the experience and you know that. And when the pizza finally comes out and into the little room where you’re waiting, you eat every little scrap of it because it is the most delicious pizza you’ve ever been lucky enough to put in your mouth and you need to appreciate every bite. And it’s wonderful.
On our way back into town, we stopped at the wonderful Books Are Magic and for a quick drink at Fawkner, the self-proclaimed “coziest new bar in Brooklyn,” and relaxed in front of the fire. When we got back, it was time for the main event: dinner at Blue Hill, where I took no pictures and only hyperventilated over bread once because I’m working on acting like an adult in world-famous restaurants. We went with the eight course tasting menu, and wow, let me tell you, that is not a dinner for the faint of heart. It’s an investment of time and money and I cannot recommend it enough to those who are at all interested in the farm-to-table movement, the future of food, or just having your mind blown by a simple pepper. If this sounds exciting to you, go read his book The Third Plate. You might never look at food the same way.
On our last day, we stopped at Levain Bakery before a walk through Central Park and enjoyed our chocolate chip brioche and butter and jelly baguette (which, by the way, might be the most genius menu item ever to grace a bakery) on the lake. We had planned to do a few other things, but when we walked into The Strand, it was all over. $70 worth of books and two hours later, we were airport bound. It was a great morning.