A Quick Trip to New York City

La Parisienne

Last week, I had to make an unexpected trip from Paris to New York City. It was kind of a last-minute affair, But I’m always up for a trip to New York, even in the winter, which I remember from my years living on the east coast, how brutal they could be. Fortunately we hit a sweet spot and people were actually wearing t-shirts on the streets – in December!

pastries at Robert

Unlike being able to forget that bitter cold I’d experienced for so many winters in New York, I did forget how civic-minded Americans are and actually saw two people pick up trash on the sidewalk (that wasn’t theirs) and toss it into a nearby garbage can. People are polite, holding doors for one another and excusing themselves when they’re in someone’s way. I also forget how blue the skies are in New York, even when it’s cold, in the middle of December. New York City can be brutally cold, but there’s usually a cheerfulness in the air that’s unmistakably très américain.

blue sky

And I also forget how eager people in stores are to help you, and when I asked at Bergdorf Goodman if they knew where the display of candies from Fouquet in Paris was (the owner asked me to take a picture for him), the person I asked on the ground floor actually took a personal interest helping me, and insisted on taking me up to the top floor and asking everyone up there to find out where they were.

(Interestingly, they said the shipment had arrived a little late and were being put on display the next day, so it’s nice to know that even in America, where Romain marveled a few times, saying “People make sure things work here!” – they still have troubles with deliveries.)

Then there’s that goofy sense of humor in the states, and if someone could explain this sculpture to me, I’d really appreciate it. Bonus points if you can translate it into French since I’ll need to do that afterward.

weird scultpure

It always amuses me when folks tell me that I need to visit the latest outpost of some Parisian bakery that’s set up shop in Manhattan, until I remind them that they probably wouldn’t want to go to a bagel shop or Duane Reade in Paris. Although on second thought, that store has everything you could need, so perhaps they do.

flagel

I skipped the croissants and macarons, and rekindled my love affair with flagels, or flat bagels. I happily had one every day from Pick-a-Bagel, except the one morning, when my French traveling companion came home whole wheat bagels (which is hard to describe since the “wh” in French is silent, so it comes out as ‘ole ‘eat bagels.) And I also had to mention that in America, people let other people pass by when walking, and the sidewalks aren’t places where people play “chicken” with other pedestrians. Which is probably why all my back problems miraculously cleared up during my trip*, because I wasn’t twisting and contorting myself to avoid people coming at me, seeing who would get out of the way first. (And I had to explain that people don’t play that game in America. And if you did in New York, you’d probably get decked.)

I didn’t really have time to make any grand plans or see many friends but did plan a few spare minutes (and I do mean minutes, not hours) to restock my larder with pecans, dried sour cherries, unscented lotions and shaving cream, heirloom beans, a winter’s worth of DVDs, toothpaste that doesn’t have fennel in it (bleech!), vintage cookbooks from the Strand – where I thought I had scored when I found a classic Lenôtre pastry book, until I had dinner at a friend’s place and she told me that she sold it to the Strand just a few days before.

I did run into Andy from Nunu Chocolates, in Brooklyn, which had set up a stand at the Union Square holiday market. So if you live in New York, run over there and get some of that gift shopping out of the way. And don’t forget yourself, too. I’m still working on him to open an outpost in Paris. And if you’re from Brooklyn, and you come to Paris and I tell you that there is an outpost of a Brooklyn chocolatier that you simply must visit, you are welcome to roll your eyes at me.

Here are a few places I hit:

The Spotted Pig

Even though I’d heard The Breslin was quite good, though a stroke of luck (which I won’t divulge), I didn’t have to wait the usual lengthy waiting time for a seat in this “hot” gastro-pub. Inside it was ear-banging loud and I’m not sure why so many places in the states are so noisy. Folks, keep your voices down! Perhaps it’s a chain-reaction and the first people to arrive are loud, so the next folks have to talk louder, then the next table has to talk ever louder. And by the time I arrive at 9pm, it’s hitting a fever pitch?

(And now that they’ve banned jumbo soft drinks in New York, next they should ban music in restaurants. And then the tip system, which has jumped the shark – yes, I saw tip jars in dry cleaning shops. Can’t they just raise the prices a bit and pay people that much more, ensuring them a decent and assured rate of pay?)

By the end of the meal, I wanted to find the nearest isolation tank. The famous burger was fine, but the highpoint for me were the chicken liver toasts that we started our meal with. They were unbelievably delicious, as were the griddled prunes – called Devils on Horseback – with smoked bacon. I know you’re not supposed to use the word “yum” on a food blog, but since I’m jet-lagged, that’s the first word that comes to mind. I’ll try to change it later, when I think of a better one.

grilled pork salad

Republic

Romain loves this restaurant and last time we were in New York, we ate there at a reader’s suggestion and he said, “Why don’t we have a restaurant like this in Paris?” So he insisted we go there the very first day. Republic is equally noisy, but fortunately we were able to eat outside and had vegetable dumplings, grilled bbq pork salad, and an excellent Asian chopped vegetable salad with little nubbins of tofu scattered throughout while we watched people bustle around Union Square.

chopped vegetable salad

The Meatball Shop

Also on my last visit, we tried to go to The Meatball Shop and it was so mobbed that the host told us the wait would be well over an hour. I like meatballs, but I ain’t waiting no hour for a sandwich. (Unless Daniel Craig or Tilda Swinton is serving it.) So I stopped in midday around 2pm, found a seat at the bar, ordered a meatball sandwich and a cup of pomegranate lemonade.

(Just after I sat down, the man next to me was really excited to see that they offered a lemonade of the day. “How cool is that?!” he said to his friends, with wonder and amazement when he learned about the daily change. I did not realize that New Yorkers were so easily impressed! Or how excitable Americans are! And to get into the spirit, here’s another exclamation mark – !)

My sandwich was fine, but the torpedo roll that my meatballs were on was soft instead of shatteringly crisp, and 47% of the enjoyment of a meatball sandwich is the über-crispy bread, which works in contrast with the saucy, wet meatballs. Part of it may be ma faute since I think I may have ordered a whole wheat roll, feeling that I need to counteract all the Black & White cookies I had that week, and whole wheat breads don’t usually get crisp enough. However since I live in France, I’m going to blame someone else and say it was their fault for offering an ‘ole ‘eat option in the first place. They should not be offering an ‘ole ‘eat option because someone might order it.

On the plus side, I no longer have to explain to Romain what a ‘ipster is, because there were plenty on parade.

soup dumplings

Grand Sichuan

I had a quick lunch with Adam Roberts of Amateur Gourmet and I first off congratulated him on his new book, which is terrific, then when I saw the food at the neighboring tables, and it was relatively calm, I was happy that I nixed trying to go to Mission Chinese (although I did have a very good dim sum, and pea shoots, which I adore, for lunch at Oriental Garden.)

crisp chicken at Grand Sichuan

We had soup dumplings, which are meant to the slurped, stir-fried green beans, and spicy crisp chicken, which were served with a couple of chili peppers here and there.

smoked coconut cheesecake

Spot Dessert Bar

Afterward we headed just next door to Spot Dessert Bar, which specializes in – you guessed it – desserts. I think it was founded by pastry chef Pichet Ong, although is name isn’t on the website, but if he is responsible for the spectacular French toast-style dessert, of caramelized brioche soaked in syrup, then he deserves beaucoup de accolades.

caramelized brioche

Oddly a few of the desserts had strawberries and blueberries on them – in December – and I couldn’t discern any smoky flavor in the otherwise tasty smoked coconut cheesecake, but we could not stop digging our forks back into the caramelized brioche. But fear not; Adam said that he would get the recipe for you and put on his blog if you all go over there and leave a comment requesting the recipe. Double points if you buy his book. Heck, if you buy a stack, he’d probably come over and cook it with you. Buy a case (and plane ticket for me**), and I’ll come make it with you, too.

JG Melon

What’s so appealing about this place is that they’re not trying to do “The Burger.” It’s just an especially crusty patty (oh, have I’ve missed those) – and real bartenders who know what they’re doing. It was funny because when I was looking for a place to eat on the Upper East Side one night, JG Melon was recommended to me, and when I looked up the address online on one of those restaurant review sites, I was surprised people complaining about a $10 hamburger.

Those folks need to come to Paris where cafés regularly charge €15 and up for one. And often not a very good one. (Although I also saw on the same “review” site that people were reviewing public bus lines in Manhattan. Really? A bus line? I guess flavored lemonade is just the tip of the iceberg…) I like that it’s a holdover from another era and the bartenders really know how to mix a classic cocktail, and the friendly host likes the banter with customers. And you can actually hear him talking to you.

eatlay

Eataly

I kind of walked through here a few years back, and found it interesting. But figured I’d rather go to Italy and get all that stuff, rather than in a shopping center in the middle of New York City. But I saw people drinking what looked like real espresso (which they pretty much were, although they didn’t taste quite the same as Italy), but I was pretty impressed by the selection of Italian cheeses and salumi, and the Italian breads, which I dare say looked better than anything I’ve seen in Italy.

espresso lavazza

Strolling the aisles and looking at all the amazing Italian products, and seeing this wonderful showcase for Italy, it struck me how great it would be to have something similar with French products. Considering all the cheeses, breads, pastries, olive oils, and chocolates, shouldn’t someone be launching something like this to promote and the hard-working producers of La France? Imagine a cassoulet or duck confit bar, bins of haricots Tarbais, French coffee, chocolates by Patrick Roger and Jean-Charles Rochoux, a green tea Napoléon from Sadaharu Aoki

5 Napkin Burger

A reader directed me here the last time I was in New York and I’d been thinking about it for well over twelve months. (Although I’m jet-lagged, so I might be off on those numbers. Someone is welcome to correct me on that.) The burger was just okay. I don’t know why, but with a name like that, I think I was expecting the most amazing burger ever. I had an excellent cocktail, although was surprised when the waiter asked if I wanted my Manhattan “on the rocks.” Ça existe?

Cobb Salad at Robert

Robert

With a spectacular view overlooking Columbus Circle, I had lunch at Robert on the top floor with a friend who is part-owner. I wanted a Cobb Salad, which I got.

Cobb salad grilled cheese

And when I saw a neighboring table eating one, I knew that it was time for Romain to have his first-ever grilled cheese sandwich. And admittedly, it’s been a while since I had one, too. Which is odd because I live in the land of good bread and cheese. I made a mental note to put those in my lunch rotation when I got back to my place in Paris, sans the view, malhereusement.

grilled cheese sandwich at Robert

But on buttered white bread, with a cup of very good steaming-hot tomato soup alongside, and a view of yellow taxis circling Columbus Circle, it’s hard not to fall hard for New York City, again.

columbus circle

Before we headed to the airport, there was a quick stop at The Pastrami Queen for an overstuffed sandwich and half-sour pickles, an espresso at Joe the Art of Coffee, a few bagels to take back to Paris for friends, and a couple of Black & White cookies for me.

Black & White Cookies



*I am thinking the sculpture may have something to do with a remedy for back pain. But it’s not exactly a convincing argument for the treatment, if it is.

**It has to be a ticket for one of those fancy bed-seats if you want me to come, because I just got off an overnight flight where my seat didn’t recline nor did my television/movie system work, and we got stuck in a massive 2-hour traffic jam on the way home from the airport in Paris, so I haven’t slept for 37 hours and I’m not quite ready to climb back into a plane quite yet. Although if I had one of those beds, I think I could be convinced.

159 comments

  • Great photos! I love the weather here in NYC right now. JG Mellon is still on my list of burgers to try. I’ve only ever heard raves.

  • Sorry I missed you on my trip to Paris but NYC is always the best substitution :) I went to Republic on my last trip to NYC and really enjoyed it (though I remember it being incredibly loud, too). I definitely wish we had one here in Milan :(

  • I love making devils on horseback for brunch guests or to take to a potluck – they’re so easy and everyone loves them! I make them with prunes, not dates, and everyone is always like, “yuck, prunes, really?” as they gobble them down. The past few times I’ve stuffed the prunes with goat cheese before wrapping them in bacon…

  • How funny. I was in New York just a few days ago (I know the city pretty well but had not visited for a few years,) and my blog post mentions almost exclusively French eateries – and there are many all over Manhattan – Then again, what do you expect, from a French Girl living in Seattle? :-) I, too, was surprised at how blue the sky was, as I took a long walk through fall-colored Central Park. As for people, yes, they are more civic-minded than the Parisians. But I also found many similarities between New Yorkers and Parisians (and other big city folk,) especially in the streets and in public transportation. In fact, I am going to recommend that anyone planning to spend a significant amount of time in Paris comes and spends a week in New York first. This should help “set” reasonable expectations – and ensure less whining about “the rude Parisians” – , don’t you think? :-) Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  • I think your sculpture is a chiropractor working on a patient. The sculptor obviously had been in pain and had a “treatment” by one of these health care providers. You might want to make up a term for the chiropractor using the French for body adjustor or back re-aligner, or something along those lines.

  • Wow – you sure did pack a lot of eating into your trip. Even though I’m in NYC more frequently than you are, I’m finding myself taking notes from your post on where in NYC I have to go next time. Next time you’re there, if you haven’t been already, check out Sahadi’s on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Although it would require leaving Manhattan, you would be well rewarded and could fill up your larder with incredible dried fruit and lots of other goodies – plus the sandiwhces and pastries from the prepared food counter (alas no seats) are amazing.

  • I’m pretty sure (especially judging by the knobs on the table) that the sculpture is of a chiropractor and patient. The sculpture isn’t that far off from what really goes on . . . (just slightly exaggerated :-) ).

  • RE: the sculpture – it looks to me like a chiropractor treating a patient. The chiropractor is giving the patient a back adjustment. I have treated with a chiropractor before, and remember the chiro did a maneuver like this.

  • Véronique: In spite of their reputation, I don’t find New Yorker’s rude. But you’re right that in major cities, people are more likely to be brusque. (Which is why I tell people coming to France to visit some of the smaller cities and towns.) On the streets and in stores in NYC, people move around each other, and if they are in someone’s way, they’ll move or apologize. Romain was stunned the clerk at the department store personally took us to the top floor and insisted that he help us find what we were looking for. And no one tried to jump the line, which made waiting for things & shopping a little more relaxing!

    Sara: It’s easy to forget how fluid Americans can be with foods from other cultures. True, there are other (and better) noodle bars, but it’s great that such an option for healthy, pretty tasty, and well-prepared food is. The noise is a problem and I notice a lot of people in America complain about noise in restaurants, but I usually find it’s other guests rather than something the restaurant can control. (Although I do with they would turn the music off – what’s the point of going out with friends if you can’t hear them?)

  • Someone is getting a chiropractic adjustment. No French here though, even though I am Canadian.
    Did you see the scaffolding around Christopher Columbus – did you go and see it?
    http://www.publicartfund.org/view/exhibitions/5495_discovering_columbus

  • Yes I think the sculpture is either a chiropractor or a boxing coach who is very much enjoying adjusting the boxer’s spine.

  • I stopped by and I realized I HAVE TO comment this post:
    1- about the sculpture… I do not really understand it… I mean: It is a doctor, which does some physiotherapy to its patient… in france you would say it is a “kineterapiste”… what I do not really understand is why it should be cominc, neither why there is a little ganesh statue near it…
    2- Eataly in NY. I have been there a month ago, just days after sandy turned NYC off, actually electricity was off on the whole part of manhattan south of it… and I did found some cheese thar are made not far from my home in italy :) it was nice. I didn’t have time to taste the coffee, but as in your picure I would say it looks really good. Finally I want to tell you (but maybe you already know) that eataly is an italian shop, I mean the first have been opened in Italy, Turin, at lingotto a few years ago, and trust me: it is a must to see! They opened also in milan genova and rome in italy (these I know for sure) and in tokyo you can find some info here http://www.eataly.it/.

    If you need someone to go with, at the one in Turin, ask me :) it would be a pleasure.

    Really last but not the least, If you need to search for some nice cheese shop ask me :) I will be happy to give you come advices, and look also at the cheese shop of eataly in turin. you will love it.

    bets Guglielmo

  • LOVED JG Melon! Great list overall. Also, jealous about those black & white cookies!

  • A French version of Eataly is a seriously good idea! I love New York (live in Jersey now) and I’m warmed by your positive comments. What did you think of the grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup? Bouchon Bakery, I assume… I love it and just wondered what you think.

  • gu: I’ve been to Eataly on a trip to Torino, although in a country where all those things are pretty easily available, it’s interesting to see so much of the “good stuff” in New York, rather than some of the things that usually get exported. The coffee was fine, but nothing like the good coffee you get in Italy. There are a few coffee kiosks in Eataly, but in general, the coffee is much better in New York than in Paris, so I was happy to try as many as I could : )

    cindy, rona & annamarie: Yes, we figured that’s what it was. But it was so weird, I had a hard time explaining why such a sculpture existed – to me, it’s a little frightening.

    Carol: Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go to museums as it was a pretty quick trip. Although we did have to eat.

    Lindsey: It’s a funny place, and I like the fact that it’s not trying to be fancy. Romain loved it and wanted to go back every night.

  • Great trip and great post! Happy Holiday David, to you and Romain!

  • Oh my gosh, that “sculpture”! Rodin – style americain!

  • david: and you was speaking about Francily alreasy in that post (at that time I was not yet in paris, and I did not followed your blog, that’s why i missed). Nevertheless I found pretty amazing to see my beloved cheese, the ones made in my very valley, in a shop in the centre of NYC ;)

  • When you come from a country that really doesn’t have tipping, the US can be confusing. How much are you supposed to leave, a service charge would most certainly help rather than being confused over how much to leave. Travel guides says 15 per cent so tourists that have read those guide books leave those 15 per cent.

  • the sculpture… “oh my aching back” the off off off broadway musical sequel to “how green was my valley” starring danny kaye and roddy mcdowall.

  • I love reading about NYC and learning about new places. Can’t wait to try Republic on my next visit. Thanks for the great read and a picture of your spicy crisp chicken – too funny!

  • Re: the sculpture – I believe the term in French for a chiropractic adjustment, which is what is being represented, is “manipulations vertébrales.” So you might try using that as at least the opening of an explanation of what the sculpture is about. I’m not sure what the French word for “kitsch” is but I think that would have to be a part of the expanded explanation.

    Thanks for the heads up on Robert, I live close by and will definitely keep it in mind for for future lunch/brunch dates.

  • I think this chiropractor is looking at you (or whoever the viewer is) and asking, “Want to be next? Look – this is fun! My “patient” is smiling while I torture him. And in the meantime, why don’t you just take your shirt off?”

  • If you want good burgers, you really need to go to Bare Burger. (http://www.bareburger.com/) Originally started in Astoria, but now has outposts across Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Its my favorite place for a truly juicy, meaty burger. Not for wimps at all! I recommend the Roadhouse or the Maple Bacon Cheeseburger with bison. Also if you go, the order of fries is better shared than eaten alone. Let’s put it this way, it is not a french portion size!

  • If I’m in France for any length of time, the food I crave most on my return to the states is a vat of fiery salsa and chips. I always pine for good salsa in France. Loved your NYC food photos.

    • The first thing I do when I get back to France is get a baguette. I love bagels and other American breads, but there’s nothing like a French baguette (and they do taste different in Paris than baguettes made elsewhere..) In fact, I’m having one for dinner tonight!

  • Not to take up more of your time, but this is not a museum but a scaffolding erected around the statue and you can go up the stairs and sit in this fake room that has been built around it way up high above the street and get a view of C.Columbus that ordinarily only the pigeons get. You can see this in your pictures. I thought it was brilliant.
    I am going to NYC next June and I have bookmarked your post, I’ve been to several of the places on it, but not all.
    My husband and I just went to Momofuku in Toronto (I’ve also been to Noodlebar in LES) and both places are incredibly noisy. I couldn’t hear my husband at all and we had to resort to screaming at each other. I wondered if I was just getting old but restaurants are always so loud and dark now.

  • “Can’t they just raise the prices a bit and pay people that much more, ensuring them a decent and assured rate of pay?”
    Oh David, how French you’ve become :p

    • It’s funny because it’s hard to fathom how odd the US tip system is, until you move away from it. I worked in restaurants for 30+ years in America and it’s just something natural that we do. (Although 2 of the restaurants I worked at in the San Francisco area went to a European-style service compris system.)

      But now, when I get a check in the states, I have to sit there and really think about it – and do some math in my head, which is confusing. Where they give you ‘suggested’ tips when you get the check, based on 15-25%, etc, so it’s figured out for you is always helpful. But all those tip jars in coffee shops and so forth. I’d just rather have them raise the coffee prices to whatever the people who work there are worth, and ensure they will get paid that for their hard work.

  • Your sculpture (read tchotchke) depicts a transplanted Parisian fellow who, after many years circumventing the pedestrian traffic in large cities, namely Paris has succumb to the maladies of back pain which could only be remedied by a Dr of Chiropractic care wherein the Dr manipulates said persons spine and limbs until popping and cracking noises are audibly heard and considers this an adjustment and not treatment and will tell you to come back several more times just to be sure. Voila!

  • The French word for chiropractor is either “chiropracteur/se” or “chiropracticien/ne”. But I gather it’s not much chiro-practiced in France, huh?

  • Thanks for the NYC roundup!

    I can’t believe you never eat grilled cheese in Paris. My fav sandwich in the whole world is Comte cheese on Pain Poilane – which is much easier (and cheaper) to make in Paris than here.

    On a (another) side note – are you going to do a cookbook round up this year? I always enjoy reading about your picks.

  • I’m glad you put a photo up, David, of those ‘black and white’ cookies. They look like Aussie ‘neenish tarts’, except from your photo, your cookies don’t seem to have a thin layer of cream between the icing and the biscuit?

    Interesting about how people walk on the sidewalk/footpath. We’ve noticed the same over the past year that people seem to have forgotten to walk down the street the same side as they drive – to avoid that need to dodge!

  • This article makes me long for NYC and its foods of glory. And i think thats a doctor whose trying to ‘fix’ and ‘help’ someone’s back problem when really it looks more like a deathlock position. Perhaps satire of american healthcare which, despite being supposed to help, holds you in a ‘financial’ deathgrip? does more harm to your financial stability and necessity than actual wellbeing? Probably not quite. But thats pretty much all I can think of which would remotely make any ironical sense.

  • Man, I don’t know who is giving you restaurant recs, but 5 napkin burger is like an upscale TGI Fridays. The meatball shop is good but I think there are far more worthy places to eat, Mission Chinese is defiantly among them.

    I also don’t know anyone who actually lives in NYC who would be impressed by a seasonal rotating beverage. This whole account was so different than my reality…

  • I would suggest Shake Shack over 5 Guys or 5 Napkin Burger any day. JG Melon is about the experience more than the food for me.

    I went to Mission Chinese a week ago and wasn’t so impressed with it. Good not great and it wasn’t very spicy.

  • Excellent post! I must try out Republic next time I am in the city. As a native New Yorker, I can attest New Yorkers are generally not rude unless you get in their way. As long as you stay out of their way, they are generally quite cordial and friendly. I think the rude reputation comes from the action of tourists who often get in their way,tourists standing around with heads in air looking at buildings blocking flow, and moving too slowly blocking the sidewalks. If one commits any of those acts, most New Yorkers will lay on a loud and often harsh comment in return. Hence, the reputation of rudeness.

    Also, I have noticed that New York restaurants tend to be quite loud compared to other locales and that is likely due to New Yorkers tending to be loud speakers. The city has lots of noise pollution and citizens get accustomed to speaking louder to be heard.

  • Aw this brings memories – my partner and I saw you eating at Republic last time you were here but I was too shy to approach and say hi, although it’s considered gauche in New York to accost celebrities ;) unlike say, L.A.

  • “chiropractors do it better”

    chiropraticiens faire mieux

  • David, I think your idea of opening a French ‘Eataly’ is brilliant.Definitely needed (or should I say, desired). I would fly from Denver to NYC just to go there. And with your knowledge of French foods plus of American culture, you would be the perfect person to design and stock it. One of your first posts I read was about what to buy in a French supermarket – I still refer to it on trips to Paris. And you could stock it with your cook-books! I can just see a display of them surrounded by the ingredients you use to create the recipes.

    Your friend Sarah took us around St Germain on a food walking tour ten days ago. Loved it and loved her. On my request (and with the enthusiastic approval of the others in the group) we did a detour to Patrick Roger where I picked up some of his caramelized almonds. In fact in my bags was a mini-tour of the chocolatiers of Paris. I would have loved to have come to your book-signing the next day, but unfortunately I was booked to fly out.

  • It would be nice if places with tip jars simply paid employees enough to allow the tip jar to disappear – but! – having worked those jobs in the past, I’ve always admired the genius that inspired the person trying to make a living on the $8 or $10 an hour to ask for support from the crowd.

    It’s Brilliant, can-do and pure ingenuity at work. The tip jar brought my wages up to more like $15 an hour, allowing me to actually barely scrape by with at least a shred of human dignity instead of literally starve to death for the dubious privilege of working all day long. The whole point of work is that it provides a living. When people offer jobs that do not do provide a living, then they should be either embarrassed by the tip jar into giving their employees a living wage or, if they are truly a tiny business, they should be extremely grateful to their customers for the support. Whew, wee rant there, sorry! But it’s a fun topic!

  • Visiting NYC is always so much fun…yes those New Yorkers are a friendly bunch — I never feel alone when I’m there, everyone is so friendly! I’ve never had a bad meal in NYC either. Yea that Romaine tried grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup — bet that was amusing to watch :)

    I was in France this past summer and it was wonderful to be in a restaurant and actually be able to talk in a normal voice with my companions. In the US my friends and I looks for restaurants to meet at for lunch where we won’t have to scream at each other. Mostly we have to eat outside on the patio to get a normal decibel level — lucky for us we live in south Texas and can eat outside most of the year.

  • David,

    vicarious nyc with food. thnx.

    I was in NYC a couple of months ago, and like you appreciated the genuine ‘niceness’ of almost everyone there. I had an excellent time, without exception people were helpful, cheerful, and decent. My favorite food spots this trip were Buvette, Momofuku Noodle Bar (Milk Bar for dessert), Red Hook Lobster Pound, and a nice lunch at MOMA. Visiting the High Line Park was also a treat.

    Cheers.

  • Yes to the incomprehension about the noise level! During a recent trip back to NY, we had to leave one restaurant before finding ourselves in another just as noisy. We asked the manager to turn the music down so that we could hear each other speak — nothing doing. I lived in NY for almost a decade before moving to Paris, and I don’t remember this being such a problem before.
    I have read that the loud music is designed to keep people from getting too comfortable and lingering, which is counter to every conceivable notion of “the hospitality industry”. You DON”T want people comfortable in your restaurant?

  • Hello David, my name is Mark Lee, GM of Spot Dessert Bar.
    WOW thank you so much for this wonderful post.
    Hope you enjoyed all of our desserts and the experience at Spot.
    Since last October, all of our desserts are designed by the world
    renowned Chef Ian Kittichai. Wished that you try our famous Chocolate Green Tea Lava Cake as well! Please let me know on your next visit at Spot! I will gladly introduce to our new desserts!
    THANK YOU!

  • I looked at the sculpture and saw brothers wrestling. Looks like what happens in my living room on a daily basis, if you subtract thirty or forty years from the ages of the men in the sculpture!

  • Hello David,
    Well, you may of seen me picking up someone’s takeout container on 2nd Ave. around 4th St. Sometimes I feel like a complete freak picking up litter in NYC (then again, maybe I am) but when there is something that isn’t too disgusting and I know what trouble my neighbor with MS has negotiating a clean sidewalk much less one with litter, I pick it up.

    NYer’s not playing chicken on the sidewalk? With the influx of the very entitled it seems that that lovely social convention of respecting others space on the sidewalk is diminishing, particularly downtown, home of the hipster (poor dears, they try so hard.)

    Forget Eataly by the way, the crowds are surreal and why not support small and local businesses, particularly when they have a lot of old time character. What about the real deal? Dipalo’s on Grand Street. By the way could you start a campaign on the joys of flat bagels? Not as easy to find here as you would think. (Russ and Daughters would be a great place to start.)

    As a long time NYer of course I could rant on.

    Come back to NY soon. (Where we are all very nice but you people from elsewhere: walk faster and not 4 abreast on the sidewalk. Thank you.)

  • What a great post. Actually, I’m exhausted from reading all that you did, saw and ate. I need a nap.
    I’m going to be in Paris for Christmas. Any chance you are doing a book signing between Dec 21 – 28? I’ve made Google maps noting lots of the places you recommend in “The Sweet Live in Paris”.
    Happy Holidays

  • I love devils on horseback! Delicious and sort of healthy!

  • I never usually comment on things, but that was an awesome article. “French coffee” – ha!

  • David,
    Glad you enjoyed the city……can’t stand the noise at The Spotted Pig either, I’m getting old.

    Next time try flying OPEN SKIES (owned by British Airways), they have affordable biz class, reclining seats, 2 x 2, and an ipad entertainment system (only Orly and NY), so comfortable, you arrive home or there feeling mostly human.

    PS love the flat bagels (like a bialy with a hole).

  • i am laughing at your choice of photos with the la parisienne coffee shop. it is right by my home and has got to be the complete opposite of anything actually parisienne. i am, however so excited to hear about the fouquet collection at bergdorf’s. i will be there tomorrow to purchase some goodies.

  • I’m intrigued (okay, maybe crazed for a taste is more accurate, but I’m trying to show some restraint) about those eggs encased in something that must be deep fried (re: good) on the Cobb salad.

    Another long winter here in Alaska- stumbled upon this blog last weekend after rummaging around my pantry and finding a lost can of almond paste, so I made Mr. Leibovitz’s almond cake and ate it with raspberry jam while I enjoyed his other posts.

  • A week in NYC is my limit…especially if it is raining. The last time I was there a dog pooped right in front of me in Soho in the rain — ugh and I said “get me out of this city!”
    And New Yorkers are not always friendly. I remember going from NYC to Montreal and what a pleasant surprise to be among soft spoken people who were not in such a big hurry as NY-ers But it is exciting to be there and food is always good. Just can’t stay too long…guess I’m a country girl at heart…

  • Welcome back to the states David, even if only for a quick trip. Looks like you got to eat at a lot of great places. My wife and I definitely want to get to the Spotted Pig soon, heard it is amazing.

  • i say this with a great love for france in my heart, but things in paris must be pretty bleak if new yorkers seem polite! :) did everyone else already say that?

  • I think that sculpture is depicting some sort of intense deep tissue massage. Though I’m not sure what all the knobs on the massage table are all about.

  • Let me know if you need anything from SF next summer. We are doing a house swap with a family in the 17th arrondissement next August and I would be happy to pack you a thing or two!

  • Great article, really want to visit America, NY in particular! Lately i’ve been testing a lot of your recipe I tried the Racines chocolate cake, Chez Pannise Gingersnaps, Chocolate Biscotti and your Salted Butter Caramel Ice-cream. All turned out EXCELLENT, even though whilst making them I made some major blunders (got egg yolks in the whites for racines cake – egg whites didn’t reach desired volume and I misread TABLESPOONS for teaspoons whilst making the gingersnaps, I managed to scrape out a little but most remained yet they still turned out fabulous and surprisingly not overly heavy on the spice)
    PS i’m only 15 and your a great inspiration for my baking adventures, I will continue trying out your recipes :)

  • I hope next time you’re here in NYC you’ll have enough time to do a book signing or something so I can say hello (and can we persuade you to come uptown some more?). I have to say, though, that you got a bad tip from someone–I’m vegan and even I know that Five Napkin burger isn’t anything to be excited about. Come back soon!

  • Hi David, been following your blog for almost 10 months now and I wait for it every Sunday night (I am in India). You’ve also been a huge inspiration for all the baking that I do. It’s amazing that an American like you, also notices the friendliness and the sense of humor when he goes back. I am guessing Paris isn’t anywhere close to that. The couple of occasions I traveled to the US, I was struck by how friendly people are and how they seriously they take their jobs and go out of their way to help you.

    Do you plans to travel to India?

  • What I would like to know is, how do you stay so thin eating as well as you do?

  • It sounds like a fantastic trip and makes me want to go to NYC even more. But I can’t get past toothpaste with fennel. I mean I like fennel. A lot. And I like brushing my teeth. But I now want to post you the largest amount of toothpaste without fennel – if it wasn’t for your stories of receiving parcels that is.

  • Your blogs always put a smile on my face! :) As for the statues, I came up with “un peu plus que vous négocié avec le chiropraticien” (a little more than you bargained with the chiropractor).

  • nicole: I like the contrast, too!

    stacey: I have flown Open Skies and interestingly, the only time I took it, my in-seat entertainment tablet didn’t work either (I hear now they had iPads..) I used to bring movies for my computer, but the 7-9hr flight is a fun time to catch up on American tv shows for me…when it works : (

    Ann: I only eat fresh food, and avoid junk food. (Except peanut M&M’s…once in a while.) Here’s a post about it: What I Eat.

  • I always get that chicken dish at Grand Sichuan when in NY. Love the few chilis here and there! And yes, I settled on a chiropractor when I saw the sculpture, after other initial thoughts.

  • Your funny little chiropractor sculpture is very similar to pompier (firefighter) ones I bought in a brocante in Languedoc Roussillon last Easter. Long story – friends had escaped a fire in their Paris apartment block on the first day of their holidays, the statues were a stress-busting memento, still displayed in their kitchen in Sydney. About 6 inches high, resin? Plastic? Maybe there’s a whole world out there of little statues of various metiers? But why?

  • A French version of Eataly? You just made my day with just the thought of that being a possibility. Eataly is good and fine, but to see Patrick Roger chocolates, Jacques Genin caramels, and oh so much more would be heavenly!

    And I totally agree with you on Five Napkin Burger. A place with the word “burger” in the title should have really outstanding burgers… but it’s just not the case.

  • My Midwestern 72 year old mother imbibes a VO Manhattan on the rocks every day at 5 o’clock. I blame Ohio.

  • Reading your posts always makes me feel like I’d like to travel around with you

  • A French version of Eatly would be great! Also, as a New Yorker constantly fed up with how clueless and self-centered people in stores and streets are, I was glad to be reminded that those behaviors are way more indulged in other places. And I hope you got Buddha’s Head at Chelsea Market while you were in NYC; I picked some up and made citron, per your recipe.

  • Just ran into a Parisian who was flying home the next morning — my first thought was “Oh, I should ask him to mule a few pounds of pecans for David.” Then I had to explain what a pecan was. Glad you were able to stock up.

  • Sounds like you had a great whirlwind trip! We’ve been lucky to have a mild winter so far. February the snow will come. Maybe I will get to escape to Paris then! I love the idea of a French Eataly! But I think I’d still rather be in Paris. I was happy though that they actually had everything I wanted from my summer trips to Italy but didn’t buy there. There’s only so much one can pack into a suitcase!

    I also used to really like Republic, but it’s so crowded and noisy, its sensory overload. So taking out is a great idea!

  • Another great informative post! Glad you had such a good time……

  • I thought I recognized those images from Columbus Circle as Robert! Did you get to see the Columbus ‘living room’ installation. Unfortunately, we were in NYC too early and it will be gone before we return.

    http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2012/09/20/columbus-circles-iconic-statue-centered-in-living-room-art-exhi/

  • David, I was wondering where you bought the black and white cookies that you brought back to Paris with you? I’m always on the lookout for the best version whenever I’m in NYC. My favorite (so far) is from William Greenburg Desserts. I treat myself with a box every year for my birthday (which is this week!).

  • New York sounds as friendly as I remember it!

    I own that Lenôtre cookbook in French, and in fact on Saturday I’m making my own birthday cake — “Le Concorde” — from it.

  • Sorry, it should be William Greenberg desserts.

  • You make it seem like so much fun to be you! Thanks for sharing.

  • David, the ceramic? Really? Honey, you better turn in your Gay card. Looks like Sean Penn wrestling with I don’t know whom. I was in New York recently too but between seeing friends, museums, a play, a book event, and meeting re the next I felt almost too tired to eat at night. Friends steered me to quiet neighborhood places they wanted to go to.

  • forget the chiropractor guys.

    clearly the patient is due for his prostate exam.

    the only question is-

    does the wrestling add or detract from the procedure?

  • I was thinking chiropractor! Out of all those scrumptious looking things, the grilled cheese with tomato soup spoke the loudest. It was our weekly Sunday night supper after the proverbial roast beef and potato post church dinner.

  • Hi, lived in NYC for 38 years. After 9/11 moved to Newport, RI. Read every blog piece they are great fun! Will be in Paris in Feb for over a week. What to do? Winter in Paris, sounds lovely to me.

  • Oh how I miss New York! You hit tons of my best spots as well. :) It’s interesting how in NYC (maybe the USA in general) one demonstrates one’s influence by showing your ability to make things work, to get something done for someone. While in France I have a certain sense that influence is demonstrated by showing one’s ability to be a roadblock if so desired. Haven’t totally worked out the sociocultural analysis yet, but the difference in philosophy is palpable here in France vs. NY. That said, the fromage is definitely better here, and the wine cheaper :)

  • A few times, I’ve read something about how Lyons has the best charcuterie in the world, yet I never see anyone advertising anything from there, or even in that style. It seems that nobody wants to sell cured meat without attaching the word “Tuscan” to it. Seems a shame that Americans can’t try the best ham or dry-cured sausages without a plane ticket.

  • There was a realist painter named George Bellows who worked at the turn of the century and was known for his bold depuctions of urban life in NYC, mostly violent fight scenes. The little sculpture you saw may be a take on his work.

  • should have been …bold depictions …sorry typo!

  • Aw….now I’m all sad we’re not going back to the States this year for Christmas. One of the first places we head to is Republic. I usually don’t even notice the noise, since I’m so tired from shopping.
    You’ll have to come down to Rome to see the Eataly here. I know. You’d think it would be overkill, but this one’s really great. A totally different animal from the ones in Torino and NYC.

  • Regarding playing chicken in the street with oncoming pedestrians, have you tried the “looking down as if you’re not paying attention” method? Not sure about the rest of the world, but here in the USA it works nearly every time. Say you are walking alone and a group of four are walking and talking while coming at you. Just avoid eye contact, look down sternly, and keep your path. It’s amazing how people clear the way for you.

  • That was some”short trip!” Seems like all you did was eat! (exactly what I did in Paris 3 weeks ago). I enjoy reading your posts.. You have just the right tone ( voice) that makes each a pleasure to read.

  • Love your writing style. Life is too short not to enjoy yourself.
    Cheers!

  • are you sure you don’t want the demitasse translated???? Because I sure like anything have no clue what the statue has to do with the über-kitsch demi-tasses!!!
    your writing style is so overwhelming that I feel like booking a flight to NY myself just on the strength of your prose AND of course the photos featuring croissants, Lavazza caffè and not last the delicious looking bagel… Thank you so much – and if you’re really into demi-tasses, forget it – they are really bad taste, so unlike you.

    Hearing you rave about all things French I’m rather pleased in a strange way that you too get still upset about the missing manners of Parisians. I came back from Switzerland late on Friday and I had my cultural shock in Switzie when every bus- and tram driver greeted their passengers and wished a good day, or when a sales lady accompanied me – same as you – to a different floor in a Globus store, or when people greet you on the street. It’s a shock I will easily get used to again once I shall be back in my home country.

  • Ok, after so many posts, I wasn’t going to add, but I was so moved by your description of NYers. As a native to Manhattan, I have been more impressed than not by the way people interact. That’s not to say there aren’t exceptional days, of course.

    The subway is a good example- the only “underground” where I am not completely intimate with fellow riders.

    After 9-11, this was even more apparent. The level of concern and courtesy was at an all time high. Much needed in those weeks.

    I have also found that the reputation of the French has been a bit over exaggerated- I have found with a little effort to speak in their language, the French, even in Paris, have been delightful. Perhaps not on line, though…

  • United.Airlines.Sucks.

  • Great post!

    “I just got off an overnight flight where my seat didn’t recline nor did my television/movie system work”
    I didn’t think Air Canada flew from NY to Paris ;-)

  • What is this rambling about rude Parisians and their “missing manners” ?
    I have lived in Paris for some 15 years now and Parisians strike me as kind, attentive, helpful. Taxi drivers are real darlings.
    My busdriver always says bonjour to his passengers.
    Your taxman is a nice fellow if you arrange a rendez-vous and address him kindly.
    Indeed Paris is a mild hell so comfortable that it resembles heaven.

  • I think that bizarre statue is a chiropractor and patient.

  • The weather has been wonderfull!

  • That bizarre statue looks like a chiropractor and his patient.

  • I also had to mention that in America, people let other people pass by when walking, and the sidewalks aren’t places where people play “chicken” with other pedestrians.

    I got so tired of this when I lived in Chile that I got to the point where I would just come to a complete stop on the sidewalk and force the oncoming traffic to walk around me. Chileans blesstheirhearts think nothing of walking three abreast on the sidewalk.

  • About the noise in restaurants–I saw a feature on TV recently on that subject. The owners are behind it. They want a “buzz” and some actually have devices that recycle dining room noises back into the place to keep the noise level up. Crazy. Chicago also has some popular places where you can’t talk over the noise.

  • David,
    The curious little statue in the photo offering bargain demitasse sets is of a chiropractor engaging his trade on a patient’s spine. Although it may seem somewhat suggestive, it’s just an exaggerated portrayal of a-day-in-the-life of 2 guys taking care of business.