The beauty of the solitary adventure finds a particular kind of expression in a day spent walking the streets of New York City in search of good things to eat. One of the many glories of this May, a month that seemed to go on and on, unfolding variously and with richness.
After a necessary trip to the Danish Consulate in Midtown to wrap up visa business, I made a stop at Num Pang Sandwich Shop and met up with C for lunch in Bryant Park. It is raining.
Roasted cauliflower, eggplant spread, chili-soy mayo. Carrots, cucumber, cilantro.
Roasted salt and pepper Japanese yam, swiss chard, cipollini onions. Carrots, cucumber, cilantro.
We also got some corn.
Grilled on the cob, with chili mayo, coconut flakes, and chili powder.
Everything is robust and very present.
We walk north to Rockefeller Center; C goes back to work. I walk down to Kyotofu on ninth 48/49 for a touch of dessert.
Another Japanese dessert bar. Why is this category simply the best?
They specialise in tōfu-based desserts, a tradition brought over from Kyōto (hence the pun-tastic name).
Much that is appealing but I have my sights set on the black sesame soft tōfu with hōjicha syrup and white sesame tuile.
It is still raining. The bar at the window is empty save for the chef meeting with a client in the corner. Passion Pit plays in the background.
It is divine. Soft, supple, like panna cotta but better because it walks that line between wobbly and creamy, springy and unctuous. Aromatic, just sweet enough and no more (like most Japanese desserts).
The syrup is flavourful as well, though serves more as a sweetness modulator than as a flavour complexifier – I would have liked this reversed, to have the savoury and bitter notes of the softly roasted tea come through more than the taste of sugar. But that is a slight slight against a sophisticated yet simple dish that is perfect for the drizzly afternoon.
The train down to 21st is a blessing. As is the pizza at Sullivan St. Bakery.
Thin, crackly, and utterly flavourful. Wide squares and harmonious flavours. Here we have the Zucchini with gruyère, breadcrumbs, and olive oil. Somehow it all makes the zucchini taste even more zucchiniy. I feel good about this because of all the walking, the wooden counter at the window, the rain, and the pastry case behind me.
Just up the street, on the same block, is je & jo, a unique little ice cream place I’ve been meaning to try since last summer. They use all local organic milk and cream, and exclusively whole food ingredients, and it shows. Each flavour is right up in your grill. They also embed chunks of house-made cookie dough, different pairings for each ice cream.
Their brand identity is also awesome.
I love the colour palette and the name burned into the little tongue sticks. The individual cups a great throwback to the good old school days.
Obviously, I have to get the cardamom ice cream with snickerdoodle cookie dough. It actually tastes like cardamom: complex, citrusy, grassy, and spicy; you can tell it’s ground from whole pods, because pre-ground just wouldn’t taste this way. The ice cream is good and I’d eat it by itself, but the dough also provides and interesting counterpoint that doesn’t feel superfluous or excessive. It has the consistency of toffee but without the tooth-sticking stretchiness, nor is it hardened from the cold. And with the cinnamon notes it all starts to taste like the beginnings of chai, which I think is part of the plan.
The ice cream itself has a delightful roundness; the quality of the ingredients really shines through. There’s also this surprising fluffiness to the cream which adds welcome contrast to the richness.
And now a walk, stopping in at Blossom Bakery, down through Chelsea and Meatpacking and into the West Village, to settle at Buvette, one of my fave little places. Perfect for any time of day, alone or with friends, summer, winter, you name it. Inventive, Gallic small plates, a great wine list, and a charming ambiance. I make a visit whenever I can. A place to sit, a good cortado, pleasant ambient conversation (a patron and the barman talk of Chinato) and a counter for a book while I make my wait for the evening.
What is in the evening? It shall be revealed.