Wednesday, July 15, 2009

NYC 2009 or High Life on the High Line

This past weekend, P and I went to New York City for a wedding. It'd been a while since we were in the City, and we had an excellent time. Being busy with wedding activities, we did not go crazy and eat ourselves through the five boroughs; but, we did have a few culinary adventures.

The most exciting for me was my first visit to Zabar's, a gourmet delicatessen and food emporium in the Upper West Side (Broadway and 80th). I think P was very excited, too, since he has fond memories of going there as a child with his mother.

When you walk in, you are immediately struck by the wonderful scent and sight of olives and other briny things waiting to be plucked from their large buckets to become some lucky person's hors d'œuvre. 
But then, your attention is quickly drawn to WALLS of cheese. It made me cry a little. The prices seemed very reasonable and the selection unending. We tasted an excellent domestic smoked blue, but sadly, we did not take down its name in our hurry to see what was waiting for us around the next corner.

It was meat! And lots of it. Whether it's cold cuts, hot and cold entrees, and sides; salads; or fish, Zabar's has a lot to choose from. We decided to get some lunch from here and chose servings of chicken parm, chicken cacciatore, and pesto pasta. For me, the chicken parm was different than any I'd ever had in that the coating was quite eggy—as opposed to the crunchy breading I'm more used to. They also had a Chicken Milanese, which, I'm sure was crunchier.

Through to the next room, we found a small produce section and the bakery. Again, they had a large number of breads and baked goods to choose from (produce: not so much). They all looked very nice—the challah seemed to be going very quickly—but we were most excited to try their rye bread. Theirs is a nice seeded rye, and P & I were very happy to make a sandwich out of it. In fact, we snacked on the remainder of the loaf all weekend.

Zabar's also has a quite extensive array of fruit preserves, jellies, and jams. Some of my favorites—including ginger preserves and three citrus marmalade—were right there! (Coincidentally, we had gone to the Titanic exhibit the previous evening and seen actual Dundee preserves jars that had been on the Titanic and served to its guests during that fateful voyage. Zabar's preserves selection included today's Dundee preserves jars for contemporary New Yorkers to enjoy.)
As if that weren't enough, Zabar's also roasts their own coffee, and it smelled wonderful in the coffee section as customers' beans were freshly ground for them. Oh yeah, behind and around the coffee were spices, and we found there to be a nice selection there, too.

That's just the ground floor, folks! The 2nd floor at Zabar's is a large kitchen supply store. Their trendency to have a large selection of items (as I found myself repeating above) was certainly continued upstairs.

So, we purchased our items and headed to their café just next door to eat our lunch—opting out of a lovely lunch in Central Park due to P's extremely unfortunate abhorrance of picnics. (One can buy foods in the deli and take them next door to eat at a proper table or counter.) The café also offers panini and cold beverages—as well as tart frozen yoghurt they call ZA-Berry. I had to have some of the latter; so, of course, I did (my justification: "It's for the blog!").  It was actually fantastic. We've had this tart frozen yoghurt at other establishments (cf., Jeff's post) and have enjoyed it very much but could see why some people might disagree. ZA-Berry was just the right balance of sweetness and tartness that I believe should make it popular even with ice-cream-only folks. I got the Za-Berry Special ("It's for the blog!") and chose blueberries, pineapple, and strawberries as my toppings. Man, I want another...

Zabar's Café on Urbanspoon


We went to a wedding later that evening at the NY Botanical Gardens. It was gorgeous, and the food was amazing. We have an unfortunate lack of photos (probably due to our overzealous enjoyment of the drinks and inspired hors d'œuvres); so, you'll have to take our word for it: the food really was very good. At cocktail hour, there were carving stations! There were also other hot and cold offerings at the stations as well as beautiful passed bites. Filet mignon for dinner was followed by a delicious dessert dubbed "Espressomisu" (pictured below). Some photos follow.


One day, we took a stroll on the High Line, a new park in NYC which was built on an old elevated train track structure. Section one opened recently, and it is a must-see; it was beautifully conceptualized, designed, and excecuted. (Check out for info.) Many fun restaurants have sprung up in the vacinity—perhaps most notably in the meatpacking district in which the High Line ends (@ Gansevoort St.). You really should see this for yourself. Until then, here are some photos.


On our way back from the High Line, I wanted pizza, so we stopped at Ray's—ahem—"Famous Original Ray's Pizza" in Chelsea. I love eggplant pizza, and I knew Ray's had it. Luckily, I got the last slice as well as a slice of Margherita. P got a slice of bacon and a slice of sausage & pepperoni. (We also splurged and got a few garlic knots: "It's for the blog!") My pizza was exactly what I wanted. They were nice and crusty, and the eggplant was tasty. It was not the best pizza I've ever had, but I was satiated and satisfied. Peter was less happy with his choices:
"I hardly thought Ray's was memorable pizza.  I felt it was too heavy on the cheese, not enough sauce, and the crust was just okay.  Maybe my expectations were too high but I've had much better at chains like Papa Gino's.  Growing up in the area, I know NY/NJ has much better to offer."

Famous Original Ray's Pizza on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. za-berry: now that's a cool name for froyo

    you should definitely submit some of your photos to their goal is to create a visual restaurant review site with a template similiar to that of tastespotting