New York City and Brooklyn Dining

blueberries yogurt and granola

Just got back from a covert trip to New York. It was so top-secret that even I didn’t know about it. The trip happened in a flash and I barely got to see anyone. It was work, work, work. But a guy has to eat, right? And I think it says somewhere in the constitution of the United States that we all have the right to have abundant access to corn on the cob in the summer. And I dove into as many ears of it as I could, as well as heirloom tomatoes, that I picked up at the resplendent New York City greenmarkets.

sweet corn

After my memory card failure from my last trip, I decided to go camera-less, and go light – and safe(r) – and only brought along my trusty iPhone. I indulged in blueberries by the handful, sweet corn on the cob slathered with butter and salt, cheddar cheese, Korean food, and Concord grapes.

Niabell grapes

Sharp-eyed botanists, or would-be botanists, will see they weren’t quite Concord grapes, but Niabells. I used to work with a French chef in California, and when he saw me making something with Concord grapes, he looked at the bunches in the crate, and said, “I do not like those.”

These native North American grapes, and wines made with these grapes, as said to have a “foxy” flavor, a term used to describe the robustness of vitus labrusca grapes. Which probably explains why they’re not so appealing to European palates, where the idea of having flavors reminiscent of a four-legged creature doesn’t quite sound so appetizing.

blueberries

For the first part of my trip, I stayed in midtown Manhattan, right next to Koreatown, a few blocks of tightly packed Korean restaurants. In other words, my favorite places in the world. I’ve been to Kyochon and Mandoo Bar (2 W. 32nd St) on previous visits, but since I was solo, I went to the fun Woorijip (12 W. 32nd), where the food is served buffet style. So you can help yourself to pajeon, kimchi, kimbap (Korean sushi), and anything else you can imagine. It’s a real slice of New York, with everyone from students, personal trainers, and Americans from Paris, getting their Korean fix.

halvah ice cream at russ & daughters

Ever since I’d heard about Russ & Daughters Café, I knew that I needed to make that one of my first stops on my next trip to New York City. Russ & Daughters, just a block or so away, is the preeminent purveyor of smoked fish in Manhattan, and is a New York institution. The owners did an amazing job with their restaurant, creating an up-to-date experience, while retaining a vintage feel of old New York and the lower east side, without being twee.

Cocktails and shrubs (non-alcoholic, vinegar based fruit drinks) are on offer, and my gin-based Lower East Side cocktail spiked with dill was not perhaps something a Jewish grandmother would serve, but it was the perfect accompaniment to Holland herring and smoked sturgeon with rye bread made especially for the restaurant. The beef brisket I had for a main course was excellent. And if you go, don’t wave away dessert because the Halvah ice cream with salted caramel sauce was perhaps the only way to improve on halvah, as it is. The staff was great and very friendly, something I noticed a lot in New York. And Russ & Daughter’s Café is great place to experience the old and new New York, all At once. (Apparently it gets quite busy at lunch and during weekend brunch. So try to go at off hours if you can.)

Harlem Shake

Fried chicken seems to be the rage right now in New York City. And it seemed fitting that when I was up in Harlem, I had a jumbo fried chicken sandwich with cole slaw at Harlem Shake. The friendly staff (…which I keep saying; I always forget how customer-fixated the service is in the states…) made the experience in this indoor/outdoor eatery, extra fun. The burger was really good, too. If you go, check out the gorgeous vintage tile work, and magnificently refinished bathroom fixtures, in the restroom.

vegan lip balm

Even though I live somewhere where every restaurant that opens seems to be striving to be très Brooklyn (exposed brick walls, single-word restaurant names, light bulbs with filaments exposed, etc), nothing beats the original borough. And I found myself in Williamsburg, where all the clichés are true. It’s hard to walk a few feet without passing groups of your people dressed in the Brooklyn-hipster garb of knit caps, vintage-looking eyewear, rolled up skinny jeans, beards, and gangly t-shirts. (Although as an “American in Paris,” I should talk about clichés…)

horchata

I felt right at home, because just like in Paris, it’s de riguer to serve drinks in Mason jars in the “real” version of Brooklyn as well.

Breakfast cup

Brooklynites seem to have gone beyond organic, and signs promoting local, vegan, gmo-free, and kale-enriched, seemed to also be de rigeur here.

brooklyn bbq

Except for the vegan part, Humo Smokehouse (336 Myrtle Ave) uses sustainable meats. And when I found out I was nearby, I stopped in on a Tuesday evening. The place was empty, but the ever-friendly staff explained that most of their business during the week was take-out. And since I was on foot, and wasn’t into lugging things back to where I was staying (and honestly, it’s hard to carry bbq because when you get it, you just want to dive in), I ordered at the counter and pulled up a seat. The brisket was very good, and I know the no-sauce traditionalists will have their boxers in a knot, but the tangy sauce was a good accompaniment. The pork ribs weren’t quite as tender as the brisket, and the cole slaw could use a makeover.

saltie

Saltie was highly recommended by a Williamsburg local to me. And when I walked in and looked at the menu on the wall, I thought (politely, rather than saying it out loud, because this is America), “Sh*t, a $12 sandwich!” However my Scuttlebutt sandwich came out overstuffed, and it was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. Loaded with olives feta, hard-boiled eggs, pickled beets, and capers, it was bathed in some sauce that must’ve been the result of a unicorn lifting its leg over it. Holy horn of the unicorn, was that a great sandwich.

peruvian chicken

Queens, which people keep saying is going to be the next Brooklyn, doesn’t appear to be headed in that direction. And that’s fine because I love the little hole-in-the-wall places in Astoria and Jackson Heights. I passed a lot of Mexican places. However most of what I saw looked a bit suspect (and not very tidy), and because I’m one of those people from California that complains about Mexican food anywhere else (except in Mexico), I have pretty high standards for Mexican food. But Peruvian in Queens? Count me in. At least at La Casa del Pollo Peruano (8112 Roosevelt Ave, Jackson Heights), when there is charred roasted chicken, ribs, and pork fried rice. And a glass of spicy aji verde (green sauce) livened everything up. I could only eat one-third of my meal, and since I was staying put for a few days – at last, I took it home and turned that one plate into two more meals.

schwarmania

In Astoria (also in Queens), I couldn’t resist a place with a name like Shawarmania (22-49 31st Street, Astoria), a fast-food style place where the friendly fellows talked me out of over-ordering. Which was much appreciated, because I could barely eat all the food they gave me. A giant heap of rice, pickled turnips, salad, and two kinds of sauce – a garlic-yogurt sauce, and a spicy red sauce – were great accompaniments to the flame-roasted chicken shawarma. I also ordered what I thought was a single side of tabbouli, a portion which could have fed a family of four, and was made the Lebanese way, with plenty of herbs, and just a scattering of bulgur.

Nunu chocolates

No trip to Brooklyn would be complete without took a trip to one of my favorite chocolate shops, Nunu. I wasn’t able to get to the ice cream shops that I’d heard about in Brooklyn, because I was traveling on foot. But chocolate was a non-negotiable part of the deal. Along with great coffee, favorite chocolate were the ones filled with rye whiskey ganache and peanut praline.

baked box

And the boys from Baked made sure I didn’t lack for cookies and cakes, and gifted me a copy with the brand-new cookbook, Baked Occasions, just in time for the holidays.

Samurai Mama tavern and noodle bar, was recommended to me for its cold udon noodle soup. When I sat down at the bar and saw the sushi the people were eating next to me, I caved and ordered that. Starting off, I had a seaweed salad that was a little challenging to finish as it was quite, um, “sea-like.” And that’s coming from someone who likes seaweed. The pork gyoza (dumplings) were superb; boiled, then baked in a skillet with a thin, crisp, crêpe-like batter crackling over the top. The sushi didn’t disappoint, and neither did the two glasses of sake that I’d ordered from the extensive sake list. Which is why there are no pictures. Blame the sake.

falafel kimchi rice bowl

I walked past Kimchi Grill and realized that I’d never had a Korean taco. (And I wasn’t sure that I needed to remedy that.) But there I was, in front of Kimchi Grill, and it was lunchtime, so I ended up inside, going cross-cultural with the falafel kimchi rice bowl. I opted out of the guacamole, not being able to imagine guacamole alongside kimchi. (Sometimes, you just have to go with your instincts. Just because you can do something, doesn’t always mean you should.) My kimchi bowl worked and I scraped the bowl clean. I also spent the rest of the day apologizing to everyone for smelling like kimchi and falafels.

Lobster rolls in Red Hook

I love me some lobster rolls. But hold the mayo, s’il vous plaît! I like ‘em Connecticut –style, drenched in melted butter. Most places in New York add the eggy dressing, but when I found out Red Hook Lobster Pound did ’em right, I went with some Brooklynites and one, who was not a New Englander, went with the lobster roll in basil vinaigrette. The fries were outstanding, and the lobster rolls fine. But nothing beats sitting on a picnic table on the coast of Connecticut, eating a lobster roll, drenched in hot butter, of course. Without mayo.

Franny's pepperoni pizza

I’ve been hearing about Franny’s pizza but never made it there. So even though we’d just had lobster rolls, French fries, and potato chips, pepperoni pies were calling. Since my friend were squiring me around in a car, and I wasn’t on foot, I accepted the challenge, and we stopped by for a thin-crusted pepperoni pie.

rose at Franny's

And, being Brooklyn, we poured some rosé into our glasses from upstate New York, because we wanted to drink local and vegan.

chicken mole and squash blossom quesadilla

New York gets a bad rap in general for Mexican food. And I dislike constantly saying (well, somewhat…) that I’m from California, and I that know Mexican food. But even locals in New York aren’t over enthused about their Mexican options. But I walked passed Chavela’s and saw what looked like some pretty nice-looking Mexican fare on the plates, and stopped in for lunch. My horchata (in a Mason jar mug, of course) was awfully sweet. The bistec taco didn’t look like much, but was excellent. And because my trip was winding down and I didn’t know when I’d get Mexican food again, I order both a chicken mole tamale and a squash blossom quesadilla. I loved the quesadilla, with its crisp tortilla shell with melting Mexican cheese inside, and the tamale was fine, although I like big chunks of chicken in my tamales, rather than a puree. And a little more mole. But I would definitely go back to Chavela’s for my mexi-fix.

Rye cocktail

Rye was on my list, and not just in the chocolate ganache from Nunu, above. But from Rye restaurant, where I did a solo sampling of rye cocktails along with a great meatloaf sandwich smeared with bbq sauce and deep-fried onions. The bread was a bit much, so I did the French thing and did a meatloaf tartine (open-faced sandwich), which I ate with my knife and fork. It was excellent. So maybe while Paris is going très Brooklyn, Brooklyn could go un peu français?

M Shanghai

As the trip wound down, I was losing steam. But two trusted sources insisted that I go to M Shanghai, one even sending me a text message detailing exactly what to order when I got there. (Fortunately it’s also de riguer in Brooklyn to be glued to your smartphone.) So I pulled up a stool near a couple of tattooed Williamsburg-style “bros,” who were drinking beers and complimenting themselves on what good foodies they were, and ordered pork wontons with peanut sauce and beef with scallions and onions. The wontons were wonderful. The peanut sauce was light, and peanutty, not thick and gloppy. And a spoonful of chili oil perked it up to my spicy liking. The beef was great, too. But next time I go, I’ll gather up some bros’, so I can order more, and share.

Pies n thighs

For some reason, through all the interviews I’ve had in my life, no one’s ever asked me “What would be your last meal?” – which seems to be the eternally popular question. Since I’m tired of waiting, I’ll tell you: fried chicken. Yes, that’s my all-time favorite food. And because I was flying out that evening, just in case anything happened on the plane, I didn’t want my last meal to be a reheated dish of “pasta-or-chicken.”

I was wandering the streets of Williamsburg, looking for padrón peppers to bring home, which I wasn’t successful at finding. But I did find Pies ‘n Thighs, which was kismet.

fried chicken

The super-friendly waiter did call me “dude” and confirmed that the fresh ginger drink I’d ordered was, indeed, an “awesome” choice. But when in Rome – or Williamsburg – you do as the Williamburgians do, and eat and drink very well.

pies and dessert

It was hard not to order the house-cured corned beef hash or reuben sandwich on the chalkboard, but it was fried chicken I was after, and it was fried chicken I was going to have. And I was glad I did. The very crispy fried chicken skin brought back a Proustian cavalcade of fried chicken memories, from the Swanson dinners I enjoyed in my youth (before we had farm-to-table fare, and people were scolding me on Instagram about avoiding gmos whenever I post the photo of me about to enjoy the rare, precious pleasure of biting into an ear of sweet corn on the cob), to eating real fried chicken in various venues across the United States.

I wolfed it down, along with a light ‘n flaky biscuit, and an heirloom tomato salad with barley. I wish I had room for a slice of the Concord grape pie. But if I ate anymore, I would have been considered oversized baggage on the plane. And it was time to get on the plane, and fly home.


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88 comments

  • September 18, 2014 4:48pm

    Terrific recap. I’m starving now. How would you rate NYC on a global scale as a food mecca?

  • September 18, 2014 4:49pm

    It’s looks super delicious. Btw, I am Malaysian and will be visiting New York in mid October. Do you have suggestions of “must eat New York foods”?

  • Eric kinman
    September 18, 2014 5:04pm

    So glad you were able to enjoy some sweet corn.

    Being the husband of a corn farmer’s daughter in Iowa, I’ve been privy to the finer points of sweet corn and sweet corn selection. The secrets need to be shared.

    While your sweet corn pictures look delicious, the corn wouldn’t pass my father-in-law’s visual test. Good sweet corn kernels should be plump, almost free-standing, ready to burst their sweetness. The corn in your picture is, what we call, “too far along” and likely a bit starchy tasting. The kernels should not be pushed up against one another. This may seem like a minor point, that is until you dig your teeth into truly fresh Iowa sweet corn.

    I invite you and your mates to Iowa next July (prime season) to taste fresh, Iowa sweet corn – thereby giving you a new standard by which to measure all other sweet corn.

  • laline
    September 18, 2014 5:05pm

    I love your post and will use your restaurant tips on my next visit to NY. You take great photos with your iphone! By reading your blog, I’m finding that we share some same favorite foods such as: fried chicken, corn on the cob, concord grapes, chocolates, seaweed and ice cream! I also love Peruvian roast chicken and Korean food.

    Since I first met you this year at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s market in DC, I’ve been returned there many times to get organic produce and proteins. There is a variety of non-GMO corn, called “Mirai” corn grown in PA by Toigo orchards that is the best I’ve ever tasted and is so sweet that it can be eaten raw. I LOVE fresh corn. Please look for it on your next visit.

    If you had to make your last meal and could have anything you wanted, aside from the fried chicken, what sides and dessert would you like to have with it?

  • Chandler in Las Vegas
    September 18, 2014 5:06pm

    Daveed, are the pictures in the proper order?

    • September 18, 2014 5:49pm
      David Lebovitz

      There wasn’t really much order to the trip, as I was criss-crossing the boroughs.

  • September 18, 2014 5:06pm

    WOW! You lead an awful life, but I guess someone has to do it.
    My mouth is watering from all the good food you ate while in NYC.

  • kate
    September 18, 2014 5:08pm

    I’m reading this with my morning coffee in hand pre-breakfast. I feel stuffed and full after digesting all the meals you just shared. Yum.

  • Lyn
    September 18, 2014 5:12pm

    I found padron peppers at Central Market in San Antonio last week and tried sauté them whole, hoping they would taste like the ones I had in Barcelona — no such luck but they brought back wonderful memories…. :)

  • Katya
    September 18, 2014 5:13pm

    This is so cool! I live about a 1 minute walk from Chavela’s and Breukelen Coffee (home of the breakfast cup, which is indeed delicious). I wish you could have had the Chavela’s special avocado margarita. I’ve been meaning to try Pies ‘n’ Thighs for over a year now – I’m glad you liked it! It’s so hard to enjoy New York when you don’t have a lot of time, but it looks like you did what I always tell people who ask me “I only have two days! What should I do??”: eat, walk, and eat some more.

  • September 18, 2014 5:20pm

    You captured the essence of New York and what makes it great. I live in Santa Fe (the cuisine is New Mexican (not Mexican) and features some tip top menudo and quesadillas. My daughter Victoria Freeman (and chef/husband Marc Meyer) will be opening Rosie’s, a Mexican restaurant in the East Village next month. They have pioneered farm-to-table cooking at their Cookshop (which Alec Lobrano loves) and Hundred Acres restaurants in Manhattan and Rosie’s will have the same philosophy. Son Jeremy, a true Brooklyn hipster, likes your Brooklyn dining choices. Samurai Mama is run by a friend so he regrets your lack of photos. David, your blog and books keep getting better and better. Stay healthy. We need you.

  • Diane Cooper
    September 18, 2014 5:21pm

    OMG, I cant “eat” another word!! I am going to have to roll myself away from my desk after that marathon!
    Every morsel sounded divine though, and I would follow this trail if I ever find myself in NYC!!
    Thanks David!

  • Tatyana G.
    September 18, 2014 5:26pm

    OMG, David! Even tho I live in NYC I just got so excited reading about all the great places where you ate. Putting lots of them on my list right now!

  • Nupur
    September 18, 2014 5:26pm

    This comes just at the right time David. I am in New York for a business trip and have a weekend at hand to do a round of some of these places;) So thank you!

  • nathalie
    September 18, 2014 5:27pm

    “Holy horn of the unicorn” …. that’s good.

  • September 18, 2014 5:33pm

    My NY trips tend to center around meal itineraries and considering this was a work trip you did pretty good sir…

    It seems like you tend to go for the more down home/casual restaurants as opposed to the fancier Michelin star and whatnot type places when visiting the States?

    • September 18, 2014 5:49pm
      David Lebovitz

      One thing that’s great about the US is that there are usually lots of restaurants representing other cultures in cities, which isn’t the case in Paris. So it’s more interesting for me to eat Mexican, Korean, Peruvian, etc foods when I’m in New York (and other places in the states) than some of the more upscale places.

  • Gina
    September 18, 2014 5:33pm

    Didn’t you have to book two seats, after all that food?

  • Mary Askew
    September 18, 2014 5:33pm

    A Mason jar with a handle? Yup, sounds like Brooklyn.

    The blueberries look wonderful.

  • debbie in toronto
    September 18, 2014 5:36pm

    ok I’m starving now.

    fried chicken please…stat.

  • Deanna
    September 18, 2014 5:44pm

    Just a heads up, the Scuttlebutt recipe can be found on Food52 and I think Louisa has it too.

  • September 18, 2014 5:55pm

    I think Brooklyn would approve of the phrase “a Proustian cavalcade of fried chicken memories.”

    We are going to be moving there soon so I’m bookmarking this for future reference. mmmm.

  • September 18, 2014 5:55pm

    Daveed,

    what a post ! I could have indigestion just eating the photos.

    About grapes, je suis française, le Muscat du Mont Ventoux is the finest (I agree with your ex-colleague).
    About super nice waiters, it is happening in Paris too and just as suprising. Je crois que c’est parce que c’est la crise ….

    Let’s have dinner once you have recovered and we need to talk about all these american bakeries opening in Paris

    Paule

    Paulexx

  • September 18, 2014 5:59pm

    Well, I’m definitely bookmarking this for my next trip to New York!

  • Gene
    September 18, 2014 6:04pm

    As an ex-Brooklynite all I can say is wow….my mouth was watering while I was sipping my morning coffee. My faint recollection of Brooklyn in the 50’s was deli’s, pizza parlors, Chinese restaurants and Lundy’s in Sheepshead Bay.

  • Kathleen
    September 18, 2014 6:05pm

    “Work, work, work.” Ha-ha, David. You’re funny. It looks like it was “Eat, eat, eat.” :)

  • Lisa
    September 18, 2014 6:05pm

    Wow. You did a lot of eating! How many days did you cover? What a tour!!

  • Terry
    September 18, 2014 6:16pm

    Good God, I gained five pounds just *reading* that! It all sounds delicious. I hope your NYC visit was at least four days, though – otherwise I’d accuse you of time-travel, to be able to get all those meals in! Hope your trip was a success, whatever it was. And thanks for sharing those wonderful eats!

  • Liz
    September 18, 2014 6:26pm

    I live literally twenty feet from Nunu and am there at least once a day (that coffee is amazing). On your next visit, you should stop in on Saturday or Sunday morning for a mind blowing chocolate almond croissant. Insanely delicious.

  • September 18, 2014 6:27pm

    Wow it’s hard to pick but I think the best-looking thing of all is that biscuit.

  • September 18, 2014 6:37pm

    You came to NY and didn’t stop by to say hello??? Just kidding. You hit all the hot spots… Thanks for sharing those great photos!

    regards,
    Emily

  • Anita
    September 18, 2014 6:45pm

    Wow, you sure put a lot away. Your trip made me hungry!

  • September 18, 2014 6:55pm

    Wow, all that food – much weight did you gain on this trip?! I’m with you on the lobster rolls, definitely with butter…no mayo!

  • Dawn Lahr
    September 18, 2014 6:56pm

    David,
    I just wanted to say that my daughter (Katherine Thompson) and son in law (Gabe Thompson) are the Executive Chefs for four NY establishments. Dell”anima, L’Artusi,
    L’Apicio and a wine bar called Anfora. Three are in the West Village and one in the East Village. They also have a cookbook coming out Oct. 7th called Downtown Italian. Next time you are in NYC you might think of giving them a try. Really wonderful food.

    Thanks,
    Dawn

  • September 18, 2014 7:07pm

    That’s what I always say. Just because you are traveling it doesn’t mean that you have to resort to fast food (unless you want to). Great finds!

  • September 18, 2014 7:48pm

    Great to have your recommendations! I wish I could have read this before my trip to NYC in July :).

  • Barrie
    September 18, 2014 7:50pm

    If you go back to Queens, I would recommend Nixtamal in Corona for Mexican. They make their own fresh masa tortillas and they supply many of the restaurants in Manhattan. They have a great shrimp/mango taco, along with other delicious traditional offerings.

  • September 18, 2014 8:10pm

    ouff…. what a ‘working marathon’ :) …. or may I : Two minutes in my eyes and twenty kilos on my hips! I don’t know how anybody can cope with this fab eating programme but it sure feels excessively great!

  • Kimberly
    September 18, 2014 8:30pm

    sorry you missed the ice cream in BK. ITS FANTASTIC!
    PS…don’t forget the other areas of BK besides Williamsburg. next trip, look into Locanda Vini e Olii in Clinton Hill. It’s open for dinner and now brunch. the restaurant is a converted drug store. And for fried chicken check out Marietta’s.

  • September 18, 2014 8:47pm

    Such a great post! All those dishes make my mouth water!

  • Tallybalt
    September 18, 2014 8:52pm

    I hate to say this, David, because the food looked so wonderful but I have to admit I did start thinking, “my god, think of all the salt, sugar and fat in these oversized portions!”

    As an American expat living overseas for eight years now, when I return to the US and rediscover all the wonderful American produce and meat and huge range of restaurants, I am very happy, but it’s still undeniable that American restaurant food has much more of the dreaded salt/sugar/fat and gigantic portions. I’m all for them in moderation and I’d happy go on a chow tour with you and the rest of your fans, but I still had to laugh at the pictures and say, yep that’s dear ol’ America!

  • Stephanie
    September 18, 2014 9:21pm

    What a wonderful food vacation!! I totally agree with you about eating exotic foods while in NY, bc in France you can get all the fine dining you want. I don’t see any food trucks though so either you prefer to sit down an eat in a civilized manner (surely you did enough standing up while you eat in your chef days) or the fad is over. Either way, thanks for this list and I will certainly refer to it if I make it to NYC this year.

  • September 18, 2014 10:00pm

    Halva ice-cream is a thing? David, you haven’t possibly worked out a recipe for it you could share with us, have you? It sounds lovely, although I’m really the only person in my family who likes halva, so I don’t buy it often.

    (BTW we have the most fabulous gelateria here in Brixton, I wish you would come over so I could take you there!)

  • Clarisa Penzini
    September 18, 2014 10:36pm

    Next time in Williamsburg you have to visit my shop “The Sandwich Shop” to try an Awesome Cuban sandwich. Pernil is made with my venezuelan mom’ s recipe and slow cooked for 8 hours.
    Hope to see you soon!
    I’m a big fan of your books and your blog.
    Regards
    Clarisa Penzini
    Chef and Owner

  • September 18, 2014 10:56pm

    I visited NYC for the first time this past summer, and I also ate at Pies ‘n’ Thighs. It was just as amazing as you said! Fortunately, I decided to order some pie to take away, as well as some cookies, and the desserts were all equally as delicious as the chicken. The customer service was delightful and they even recharged my dead cell phone for me while I ate. Totally recommend them to anyone in the area!

  • lulu
    September 18, 2014 11:15pm

    “It was work, work, work.” Really? Obviously I’m in the wrong field! (you really are the best)

  • AMy
    September 18, 2014 11:45pm

    I’m confused. Concords are also labruscas, i.e. American natives. Do the French feel differently about Concords vs. other labrusca varieties? That would be fascinating.

    You have me heading on a craving binge on all manner of favorites now. And given where I live, that means whipping it all up at home. First that beet-egg sandwich, then some Korean?

  • Sandra Myers
    September 18, 2014 11:57pm

    It was interesting to hear a mention of Connecticut and New England seafoods etc.
    There are some great places that you would truly enjoy for outside casual fresh best foods on Ct shore. Bills Seafood ( and not just) in Westbrook is great. For Italian in Old Saybrook, are the old standard and still great–Luigis, and newer standard of AlForno. And in the heart of the state in West Hartford is a restaurant mecca—inside and outside dining up and down Farmington Ave and LaSalle Road are always packed–take your choice of great and varying cuisines–and a bit north in Bishops Corner the newer upscale diner–Blue Plate Kitchen, and south in Elmwood Center some more places, including a branch of the famous New Haven pizzeria–Frank Pepe, and more. We also have great local corn from Wade’s Farm in Bloomfield that could easily give Iowa corn a run for its money—picking until well into October–some of the largest sweetest ears this side of the Mississippi…
    You could and should come back and do an “on the road” blog and video tour of US places….just saying…

  • Ruth S
    September 19, 2014 1:11am

    I’m visiting NYC from London. I got onto the G train in Brooklyn on Monday evening and sat near someone I assumed to be a New Yorker who looked really like you. Now I know that it wasn’t the jet lag making me delirious and I wish I had said “hello”!

  • September 19, 2014 2:08am

    Thank you! You gave me some great places to add to my list. Brooklyn is all about the craft beers now. Next trip check out Spuyten Duyvil and Fette Sau. WADR Any New Yorker who thinks we don’t have great, authentic Mexican doesn’t know where to go. Tortilleria Nixtamal is a good place to start.

  • September 19, 2014 2:40am

    So funny! I work in Williamsburg and thought I saw you walking around recently, but thought to myself, “Not a chance! He’s in France stupid”

  • George Parr
    September 19, 2014 2:46am

    Come to Portland Maine. I’m Sam Haywords fish monger as well as most of the best restaurants in town. You crack me up with your writing. I’ll let you feed my pet seal, that has been coming for the last four years. Been in the fish biz for over 35 years.

  • September 19, 2014 3:12am

    I really hate that “good, friendly service” here in the States.

    If you need to teach (repeatedly) someone to do it (to be “friendly”)…then to hell with it.

  • Farmer Susan
    September 19, 2014 3:18am

    OK, unicorn whiz, give me a hint so I can make the sandwich with my homecured olives, feta from up the road, and all the rest except capers very local: the unicorn has me buffaloed.

  • Deborah
    September 19, 2014 4:24am

    What perfect timing! I’m an American in Paris too — in NYC on business and plan to visit Brooklyn for the first time this Saturday. Now I know where to go!

  • Linda H
    September 19, 2014 5:23am

    Wow! Now I’m exhausted and hungry!

  • Elaine
    September 19, 2014 6:23am

    I agree with Kevin about the corn – the ears you pictured would be rejected at my table as being overripe and starchy. Fresh corn kernels should pop when bitten into and should taste sweet and fresh.

  • September 19, 2014 9:05am
    David Lebovitz

    Farmer Susan: The recipe for the Scuttlebutt sandwich is online, so you can make it yourself! (Thanks Deanna, for the tip off…)

    Elaine and Kevin: Sorry you didn’t like them : (

    Tallybalt: Yes, portions in the U.S. can be enormous. I’ve learned to stop eating when I’m full, rather than trying to finish everything on the plate. Fortunately they are always happy to give doggy bags so you can take the rest home.

  • E
    September 19, 2014 9:47am

    Oh goodness, Swanson fried chicken TV dinners! with the glue-y mashed potatoes, and the baked-in-the-tin “brownie”! You’re bringing back memories of my childhood now :)

  • treacherK
    September 19, 2014 2:31pm

    Hello David,

    As someone whose family has been in Astoria since the 1950s and who lives there now, I was tintillated by your comment about how Queens is NOT becoming the next Brooklyn. I would love to hear what makes you say that! What do you think it is becoming, if not yuppified/gentrified/hipsterfied.

    (My impression is that the Brooklynification of Astoria is happening as we speak, for better or worse.)

    Thanks and keep up the great work.

  • Bebe
    September 19, 2014 2:51pm

    That Mason jar with a handle reminds me of the stir it created when I served gazpacho in Mason jars as a first course for a Hollywood Bowl home fried chicken picnic in the 70s. My husband had become enamored of drinks served in Mason jars when he visited The Mason Jar in the Memorial area of Houston. Thought them so clever. They turned out to be the perfect containers for cold soup-to-go, lids and all.

    Enjoy your food tours – like this one of New York – so much. Our travel wings have been clipped, but we still enjoy reading about wonderful places.

  • Bebe
    September 19, 2014 2:55pm

    PS. Our Mason jars were the real deal. No handles.

  • witloof
    September 19, 2014 3:57pm

    I practically live at Woorijip! Too bad I missed you.

    Great post!

  • shelley
    September 19, 2014 7:19pm

    Oy, that fried chicken sandwich. Re: my last meal, I’d be torn between that and a butter drenched lobster roll.

    What was the drink in the mason jar. Iced milk?

  • johanna
    September 19, 2014 11:01pm

    absolutely LOVE concord grapes–‘foxy’ or not–i never understood what a ‘foxy’ taste is actually..makes me think of fox must/musk–which these grapes certainly do not taste of! :)
    concords are the BEST eating grapes–the flavor is brimming with wildness and freshness. very different from most overly sweet and somewhat flavorless table grapes that we buy here in the USA..

    in fact we are growing a couple of vines in our patio, just for the eating..

    they also make AMAZING granita and sauce for panna cotta…

  • September 20, 2014 12:09am

    You just praised a sandwich by saying a unicorn pissed on it.

    Greatness. “Awesome, dude” greatness, for sure.

  • berti
    September 20, 2014 8:16am

    lovely blog post that made me hungry.
    you americans are so lucky to have all those treasures at your doorsteps!
    by the way, breukelen is a place in netherlands (where I live).
    made me thinking how the name brooklyn came to be….sounds familiar, doesn’t it.

  • Piper
    September 20, 2014 9:35am

    David,

    Love your posts and travel adventures.

    Question, does anyone else hate drinking out of Mason Jars? Trendy, but not comfortable!

  • Bebe
    September 20, 2014 3:26pm

    No, Piper. Mason jars are not especially comfortable.

    The funny thing to me is that this outrageous “new” thing that was so trendy in the 70s (yes, way back then!) is still trendy or retrendy or whatever now.

  • Becky
    September 21, 2014 1:01am

    Hi David, I also just got back from the US, I live in Lima, Peru, and also had to have my fill of corn on the cob. I just wanted to tell you that the only book I lugged back in my one suitcase was My Paris Kitchen. I made the steak with mustard butter and frites today-outstanding. I already love this book, the cover is gorgeous, the heft of the book, the feel of the pages and of course, your recipes and stories, make for an excellent cookbook. So, thanks for helping to keep my love of cooking going!

  • September 21, 2014 1:16am

    David, most of those things look lovely! (Obviously one can’t love everything, and as a Québécoise, I think those blueberries look cultivated and far too big. We still have a few wild ones, but they are coming to an end.

    Well, you were there late for fresh corn (which I can’t really digest; an Argentine friend bought an ear to put in minestrone so I’ve been doing that – a different kind of “Italian-American” dish from the other end of the continent – as you know Argentina has a huge Italian population and a very large Askenazi Jewish contingent – this friend is of Ukranian Jewish origin).

    I adore the Middle Eastern place, though you can also get good Levantine food in Paris. Suppose the servings are much smaller in restaurants there – I’ve usually had it chez des amis of those origins.

    One thing that interests me is the New York State rosé. I remember when wine from there (and from Ontario) was horribly sweet and not very good, but the Niagara wine from Ontario has greatly improved, especially the whites, and I imagine the same may have come to pass in the Finger Lakes area as well? Unfortunately we don’t get any of those wines here in Québec. The only US wine we get other than Californian – obviously – is from the Pacific Northwest.

  • September 21, 2014 1:48am

    I forgot Breukelen! Berti, yes, of course the NYC borough is named for it; many NYC and nearby places in New York and New Jersey have Dutch names. And many “English” names in the former New Netherlands are translations from the Dutch. Obviously, Harlem is also named for a Dutch city.

  • farmerpam
    September 21, 2014 3:18am

    Seriously, how it is that you don’t weigh a ton? I think I gained a few pounds just reading this. It all looks so good. Thanks.

  • Gavrielle
    September 21, 2014 4:58am

    Red Hook Lobster Pound converted me to lobster. I tried to save the trip to Red Hook last time I was in New York by getting a lobster roll from their food truck, but it wasn’t as much fun. I think I missed the “Secret Lobster Business” sign too much:).

    The mason jar trend, on the other hand, can be over any time now, thanks. Aaaaany time now.

  • Jill
    September 21, 2014 7:18am

    Doug outed your under the radar trip – I was checking Instagram and saw you in the BGIC feed. So glad you found Woorijip! Another place closer to 6th and across the street just opened up – slightly different choices, and not as many, but they also make a damn fine Takoyaki. On a separate note, ever since the Tasting Table signing event that I attended (and made sure you tried the bourbon drink) I’ve been trying to hunt down a bottle of Widow Jane. The show I work on shot near the distillery and I ran over and melted a credit card picking up the 8 year bourbon, the amazing chocolatey Cacao Prieto rum, a pound of cacao nibs and some bars. So, thanks for turning me on to Widow Jane! However inadvertently – I know the TT people picked it, but it was your event. Looks like you had a great time and did some damn fine eating. And the unicorn comment? Stealing it

  • Kathryn
    September 21, 2014 2:30pm

    Hi David
    I just received your beautiful book ‘My Paris Kitchen’. I ordered it online as it is quite expensive to buy direct in Australia. We will be in Paris in November and if I see you around I hope you don’t mind if I say hello.

    Thank you so much for your continual generous posts and sharing your experiences in the most funny and engaging and informative way.

    Merci et tres s’il’vous plait.

    Kathryn

  • September 21, 2014 2:34pm

    I love it when you travel and share with us. And I just happen to be heading to New York next month (for my Baked boys book launch). Just a little jealous that you got an advance copy, before I got mine! :)
    I am hooked on Korean food and will try to get to a few of the places you recommended. I can’t wait!
    Thanks again for sharing all your travels.

  • Andrea
    September 21, 2014 6:56pm

    Yay – you hit spots I love, spots I’ve been looking to go to, and a few spots I don’t know yet. But I’m always happy to see some Astoria love, as this nook in New York definitely does food right. A right turn up Ditmars would have shown that yes, we are in the midst of gentrification (3 high end coffee shops opening within 4 months in a 5 block stretch) but the neighborhood still has a great blend of long time residents, immigrants, young families, and working artists.

  • Jenny
    September 22, 2014 2:34am

    So glad you enjoyed your trip to Brooklyn and Pies ‘n’ Thighs is one of my absolute favorite places to go! Anyway I just wanted to write a comment to say that I got My Paris Kitchen yesterday and have already made the lentil salad and chicken with mustard and both were amazing and easy to prepare! It was so much fun to read through the book and then go back and re-read your post about the behind the scenes preparation. Thanks for writing such a great book and blog (and also for simplifying my holiday shopping as I now know what to get all the foodies in my life)!

  • September 23, 2014 9:43pm

    I wish I lived next to Koreatown, I miss Korean food so much! Your weekend trips definitely focused on food, I’m incredibly jealous. I guess I need to take advantage of the culinary diversity and excellence in New York more!

  • Jeanne
    September 24, 2014 5:53pm

    As an expat of over 50 years, I NEVER thought I would say this, but I do think European food looks better.

    Please continue the good work here!

  • October 1, 2014 8:27am

    This is hilarious. I’m in Rome, looking at some of your recs from a few years ago, and you were in Brooklyn eating everything I was eating a few years ago. (I still eat at some of those spots, but used to live directly around the corner from M Shanghai, then moved to Franklin Ave. a few years before Chavela’s opened in that location, and now am just a few blocks from Humo). I have to put in a word for the vegetable dumplings at M Shanghai–many places in town can fry a fabulous pork potsticker, but M is absolutely my favorite veg–beautifully shaped, steamed, and subtle. I always have to have a whole 6 piece order for myself. Also the Austin-style (I think) tacos at Guero’s up the street from Chavela’s are outstanding, especially the fried avocado & jalepeno. Happy to trade Brooklyn ice cream obsessions just as soon as I finish all this gelato. Come back soon, David!

  • October 1, 2014 8:29am

    This is hilarious. I’m in Rome, looking at some of your recs from a few years ago, and you were in Brooklyn eating everything I was eating a few years ago. (I still eat at some of those spots, but used to live directly around the corner from M Shanghai, then moved to Franklin Ave. a few years before Chavela’s opened in that location, and now am just a few blocks from Humo).

  • October 1, 2014 8:30am

    I have to put in a word for the vegetable dumplings at M Shanghai–many places in town can fry a fabulous pork potsticker, but M is absolutely my favorite veg–beautifully shaped, steamed, and subtle. I always have to have a whole 6 piece order for myself. Also the Austin-style (I think) tacos at Guero’s up the street from Chavela’s are outstanding, especially the fried avocado & jalepeno. Happy to trade Brooklyn ice cream obsessions just as soon as I finish all this gelato. Come back soon, David!

  • jill
    October 2, 2014 6:36am

    ps: I’m eating a slice of that Concord grape pie right now

  • Careyanne
    October 3, 2014 7:50pm

    I love your site and books David and to think you were in my neighborhood (Shawarmania)! I could have caught you as I bought an after-work falafel. Next time!

    Thanks for coming to Astoria!

  • SM
    October 5, 2014 2:42am

    If you’re looking for Mexican in NYC, try Tortilleria Nixtamal in Corona (Queens). They are the only place in town that grinds their own corn meal to make tortillas and then goes from there to produce absolutely outstanding food. Beats Chavela’s by a long shot!

    And, the next time you’re in Jackson Heights, try Phayul for Tibetan food. Truly amazing.

  • Jim
    October 5, 2014 5:54pm

    David, were you walking down 4th Avenue south of Atlantic Ave (near barclay center) around 6pm-7pm on one of the days? I was walking home from work and passed someone thinking “oh that guy looks like David Lebovitz but it surely couldn’t be him since he’s in Paris” on one of the days you were here. If so I wish I could have said hi!