NYC Foodie Date: Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Kyle and I went on a summer vacation to New York City last week, and I’m excited to show you all the fun foodie dates we went on while we were there. Some were budget friendly and some were splurges, but all of them were a great time. On our first morning in New York, we went for a budget option. This was one of my favorite days of the whole trip because it was filled with miles of walking and exploring and a lot of great food.

We started with bagels at Montague Street Bagels in Brooklyn Heights. This was Kyle’s first NYC bagel!

These weren’t the best bagels I’ve ever had, but they’re better than anything I’ve tried in Richmond, VA. They were delicious, and you can’t beat the location. Montague Street Bagels is just a few blocks away from this beautiful view. . .

Call me sappy, but it’s true: I never get tired of seeing the Statue of Liberty.

From the bagel shop, we walked through Cadman Plaza Park and entered the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian path from the stairs on the Washington Street underpass. Together we walked the 1.3 miles across the bridge, stopping to read the bronze history plaques and to take some pictures along the way. The pedestrian path is divided with cyclists on the right and runners and walkers on the left as you travel from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

The views are incredible and the walk is fun! This is an activity you can enjoy in the cooler months as well as the warmer months, although the winter walk is a bit breezier.

March 2008

Hey there, Melissa!

When you enter Manhattan from the bridge, you are near the NYPD headquarters. From there you have easy access to the financial district, TriBeCa, and Chinatown. On this trip, Kyle and I headed north towards Chinatown and stopped in at RBC NYC on the way. RBC has amazing espresso from a super fancy machine called the Slayer. One of these machines will set you back $20,000. The java did not disappoint.

Kyle traveled to France once and started every morning with an espresso and a pastry. He said that this espresso was the closest thing to European espresso that he has had in the United States. It was rich and oily, which sounds gross but it was actually really tasty.

I started talking coffee with the guys behind the espresso bar and they told me all about what makes the Slayer so special. This machine applies the pressure to pull the shot on a curve, gradually increasing and then decreasing the pressure from the beginning to the end of the extraction. Most espresso machines only have two pressures: on and off. The theory behind the Slayer is that the pressure curve pulls a better shot. The barista can also manually control the rate at which the pressure changes while the shot is being pulled.

After a little cawfee tawlk, they let me behind the bar to take some pictures of their fancy machine!

The barista controls the pressure by sliding the brown lever above the portafilter from left to right during the extraction. It was really cool to get the behind-the-scenes tour of how everything worked. After coffee, we took a walk through Chinatown. We found this vegetarian market that had rows and rows of vegetarian food, some dry goods and some frozen.

After walking around crazy Chinatown, we landed at Vegetarian Dim Sum House on Pell Streeet for lunch. I had heard great things about this place, and all the reviews were right. The food tastes fantastic and it’s a great value for the money.

We started with complimentary tea and then had five amazing dishes. . . for eighteen dollars! Wow, we ordered way too much food. We could only eat half of it and took half home to snack on over the next couple of days. This is definitely a pick that you should not miss if you are a hungry vegetarian wandering around lower Manhattan.

To conclude our budget friendly date, we hopped on a train to Midtown and did some window shopping before heading home to freshen up. We had a pull-out-all-the-stops super fancy date that night at Candle 79. The mood lighting was not conducive to food photos so you’ll have to take my word for it. It was an amazing meal.

Whether you go over the top with a fabulous date at Candle 79 or you go budget-friendly with a make-your-own fun value date, there are plenty of places in Manhattan to have a tasty foodie date. Check back later this week for some more of my favorite spots for delicious dates in NYC.

Bok Choy

I’ve been saving this post for awhile because every time I got to researching bok choy, I ended up getting intrigued by some other Chinese cooking ingredient and reading myself way off track. So while this is no longer the seasonally relevant post I had hoped it to be, I’m not waiting until bok choy reappears in my local farmers market to talk about it, so here we go!

This is not my photo. I snagged this one from milwaukeeadventurebootcamp because every picture I took of my bok choy turned out to be horrible. The shot of my springy, green, freshly washed Chinese cabbage came out looking like dark, wet, soggy lettuce. And that is not the most appetizing thing to look at, so I have omitted the un-sexy vegetable photo.

Bok choy has always scared me. I didn’t understand it, I didn’t know what to do with it, and I felt it was best to leave it to the experts down at the Chinese carry-out place around the corner. When I saw it at the grocery store or at the market, I admired it from a distance while picking out a nice bunch of kale or spinach leaves instead. Then one day I saw it while perusing the produce at the South of the James market and I decided to go for it. I don’t know if it was the extra shot of espresso in my iced latte or the fresh cash burning a hole in the pocket of my jersey cotton sundress but something made me think, “oh, what the heck.” And so began my adventure.

Bok choy originated in China, and then was introduced to Korea and Japan in the early 20th century as a result of war in the region. It was then that bok choy became the main ingredient in kimchi (yum!). It was introduced to Europe shortly thereafter and it is now available in markets around the world. While it is available year round at the grocery store, I have seen bok choy in the local farmers’ markets mainly in the Spring.

The crop has tender white stalks and dark green leaves. Its name comes from “pak choi” which means “white vegetable” in Chinese (according to chinesefood.about.com, so take that with a big grain of salt, or soy sauce if you prefer). Bok choy is rich in calcium and vitamins A, C, and K. This was definitely one of the more healthy decisions I have made as a result of a wad of cash burning a hole in the pocket of my sundress. Three cheers for maturity!

I wasn’t too adventurous on my first attempt at cooking bok choy because I wasn’t sure how it would taste or how it would behave on the stovetop, so I made a nice stir fry. Somewhat vague instructions follow because my soy sauce stained notes were made hastily as I chopped and sauteed my way through this simple and improvised recipe.

1. Press one 14 oz block of tofu until water is drained.

2. Cut tofu into small rectangles and saute in oil over medium-high heat, turning to brown all sides. Remove tofu from pan and onto paper towels.

3. Add 8 oz of thin spaghetti to a pot of salted boiling water. Cook according to package instructions while stir frying the vegetables.

4. Add one small onion, chopped, to the stir fry pan and saute until translucent. Add 3-4 bunches of chopped bok choy (stalks and leaves) and a few chopped carrots to the pan, adding more cooking oil as necessary. It is okay to chop the vegetables into big chunks; I like it better that way than a fine dice.

5. Stir fry vegetables until bok choy is bright green and nearly wilted.

6. Mix together and add to the stir fry pan: 1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons of oil. Return the tofu to the pan and simmer 1-2 minutes.

7. Add 1 jalapeƱo, minced, with ribs and seeds removed, to the pan. Also add 2 teaspoons of chopped ginger and 2 teaspoons of minced garlic. Simmer an additional 2-3 minutes.

8. Toss tofu-vegetable mixture with drained spaghetti and serve on adorable little square plates.

I think we ate this with mojitos, but in the future I would have it with a lager for a better pairing. But hey, when you need a minty sweet cocktail, you gotta have a minty sweet cocktail, so pair it with whatever you would like and choose your own adventure.