Wednesday, September 01, 2010

NYC 72-hour Plan, pt. 1, rev. ed.

Any excuse is a good excuse to slip down to New York City, but a wedding’s a pretty great one. Especially when you’re really, really excited about the couple that’s getting married (!), you’re going to get a chance to hang out with old friends, and the weather is slated to be perfection. And if the wedding’s in Bushwick and Roberta’s is literally half a block away, well, all the better!

figs. a & b: The High Line, before and after

The High Line

The High Line was already a thing of beauty. Now, fully redeveloped, fully landscaped by our good friend Piet Oudolf,* and pedestrian-friendly, it's just a different kind of thing of beauty.

standard, high line fig. c: The Standard, as seen from The High Line

It's a great place to take some sun, do some people-watching, get some amazing views of the city and the river, check out some of the city's most daring new architecture, even take in an art installation.

an-ti-ci-pa-tion fig. d: an-ti-ci-pa-a-tion

It's also a great place to grab a popsicle or a shave ice, now that People's Pops are on the scene. We didn't realize it at the time, but it turns it out it was People's Pops' Day 2 on the High Line. What we did realize, instantly, is that we're definitely some People's Pops people.

people's pops people fig. e: People's Pops people

We loved their bright, beautiful, refreshing watermelon shave ice. We were totally ecstatic about their golden plum & mint pop. They were reasonably priced too. Power to the people!

milk! fig. f: outside Momofuku Ssäm Bar + Milk Bar

Momofuku Ssäm Bar + Milk Bar + Beer Table

They said it couldn't be done, but we showed up for our glorious return to Momofuku Ssäm Bar at 8:05 pm on a Friday night--a beautiful Friday night--and we got seated in under 3 minutes! A party of four, too. We were fully prepared to wait a good 60-90 minutes, too. It was almost too easy.

And, god, was it good.

Vermont quail with sticky rice, shiitake mushrooms, and mustard greens sounded awesome--little did we know that that plump, beautiful roasted quail would come stuffed with the sticky rice and mushrooms and that it would be the quail of our dreams.

But the dish that blew our minds was one that sounded vaguely mysterious. When Michelle saw the buttermilk dish under the list of seasonal specialties she knew she had to have it. I asked her why and she told me she was convinced that the buttermilk would be served lightly set, like silken tofu, and she just had a feeling that it was going to transcend. Transcend, it did. What arrived was lightly set buttermilk (!) surrounded by a Fuji apple dashi, with toasted pine nuts and a mixed-herb salad as a garnish, and the combination was otherworldly.

Everything we had was stellar--including the simple pleasures of our Kentucky country ham plate--but that quail plate and that buttermilk bowl were the work of a team that's at the top of its game.

Afterwards we paid the mandatory visit to Ssäm Bar's little sister, Milk Bar. 1 Cereal Milk soft serve and a few cookies later, we were ready to roll. Literally.

beer table fig. g: the menu at Beer Table

We had our car with us, and this being a Bushwick wedding, we were staying with friends in Brooklyn. So after dinner, we made our way across the bridge and had a drink at Beer Table. What exactly is Beer Table? Well, have you ever been to an intimate little wine bar? One that has a good kitchen? How about one that has a good kitchen that serves 3-course meals for $25? Well, get rid of the wines** and replace them with a well-curated selection of beers--bottled, draft, and casked, European and North American.

I'm not sure I want to pay wine bar prices for my beer (at least not regularly)--I lean towards the model of countries like Germany, Belgium, and the Czech Republic, where drinking the finest beers is a popular pastime--but the selection was definitely highly impressive. Just look at that menu. Just look at those write-ups. And I loved the honey notes of my Popperings Hommel ale.

People's Pops, various locations, including The High Line

Momofuku Ssäm Bar + Milk Bar, 207 2nd Avenue, New York, (212) 254-3500

Beer Table, 427B 7th Avenue, Brooklyn (Park Slope), (718) 965-1196


p.s. Many thanks to L & T for the occasion and the inspiration.

* We wish.

** Yes, you can go ahead and drink them.

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