I went home to the New Jersey to surprise my Mom for her birthday last week, and in between wiffle ball games with my brothers, I scavenged for food in the area, including a brief trip to New York. So, here are the food highlights… and then some.
At Momofuku in NYC, the Fried Green Tomatoes with Anchovies, Chervil, and Kimchi was one of the most boldly delicious plates of food that I’ve had in a long time. The perfect bite involved the cold and spicy kimchi hitting your tongue first, followed closely by a piping hot wedge of green tomato that crunches open to let loose its almost molten interior, and then finished with the sharp salty tang of the slightly chewy anchovies and chervil. It reminds you how much flavor food can have. Even though most dishes contain elements of crunch/chew/salt/hot/cold, this was one of the few that made it seem special, like an elaborate balancing act. And now I much prefer the wedges of fried green tomatoes to slices; there’s more room for flavor and texture that way.
Unfortunately, my Momofuku Ramen, which ironically came out in better focus than the FGT’s, was insipid at best. Everything in it seemed over-cooked and tired. During last year’s visit, my bowl had been perfect, bordering on transcendental.
And I got to sit at the counter directly in front of the cooks, which was great entertainment.
The caramel ice cream sandwich from ‘Wichcraft in Bryant Park was boring and very sweet… though there was a ballerina for entertainment.
I went to Columbus Circle to get something from Bouchon Bakery at 5pm on Sunday, but the prices stood out more than the small variety of food remaining ($4.75 for a donut, $3.75 for a linzer cookie??). I didn’t get anything.
I was amused that Per Se had ratatouille on the menu, echoing Thomas Keller’s involvement in the Pixar movie.
Back in NJ, Umberto Pizzeria in Fair Haven is my pizza of choice. It’s a mom & pop pizza shop with a Sicilian pizza that has a gooey top, pillowy middle, and crunchy bottom. They don’t deliver, but we’ve been taking it out for years. Their NY-style is also quite nice.
The Steak au Poivre at Avenue in Long Branch was velvety and juicy, and satisfied my steak craving.
The restaurant is on the water above the beach that now has palm trees (!).
I also wandered into my parents’ garden and yard, in search of any and all things edible among the beguiling greenery and flowers.
I was delighted to discover that the cherry tree that I used to be only vaguely aware of is actually a sour cherry tree.
My parents had already picked most of them for liqueurs, but I had plans to make a pie, or compote if need be, the next day with the rmg few… but they disappeared overnight! Either by the birds or spoilage, I guess.
At least this one will be forever in mid-bite…
Then there were the black raspberries…
And the wild black raspberries. The immediate gratification of impromptu berry-picking is one of the greatest pleasures I know of.
There were blueberries in the making.
And there are always more flowers…