Last day in NYC today – I’ve had a killer (but fattening) time.
Brooklyn is a lot bigger than I realised. When I organised to stay down south on 68th, I didn’t realise how far it was from Williamsburg, the hip place to be in Brooklyn.
I head up to Metropolitan Ave in Williamsburg to spend the day wandering the streets. There were so many little boutiques, designers and stores to see. There was a kitchen store, a cheese shop, a cotton candy store – and the famous Mast Brothers Chocolatiers. All through California we would see the Mast Brothers Cookbook, and then when I was pitching my next batch of articles to my magazine I thought – why not a sweet side of New York story, so I can go and visit the Mast Brothers factory….
As soon as you step in the door you are hit with the rich scent of chocolate. They had chocolate tastings from their different origin cacao beans, with samples from Papua New Guinea and Belize among others. It was interesting to eat them one after another to really detect the difference between flavours. I worked out that I liked the Papua New Guinea bean best, with a rich, almost smoky flavour. I also bought a vanilla smoked dark chocolate hand rolled truffle, that had just a hint of smoke.
Starting the day with sugar probably wasn’t the best idea, so I head around the corner to popular Cafe Mogador, a Moroccan cafe with a gorgeous heated patio. It was nice to sit outside and still be warm, when the actual outside was foggy, crisp and biting.
I ordered the fantastic value lunch special, which for US$12 started me with a Kale and Tuscan Bean soup and a pita, and went on to my choice of tagine or pasta. I chose the chicken chermoula tagine with couscous – and it was sublime.
I wandered a few more boutiques along Bedford Ave, until it started to rain. I ducked into Blue Bottle Coffee for a latte to wait for the weather to die down. Blue Bottle is one of my favourite US Third-Wave roasters, being based in Oakland they are one of the main roasters I drink at when I am in San Francisco. They now have a roasters in Oakland and Brooklyn. While not a strong as some of my other favourites, they are closer to a Melbourne latte than you will get most other places – just order a double shot.
After an hour, the rain died down and I head out into the street. It was time to wander and call Mum – I hadn’t called her in a few weeks and it was high time for a catch up. I wandered around and kicked around in the snow while we were talking, and when we were done it was time to meet up with some friends from Melbourne and some other people they knew from Melbourne who now live in Brooklyn.
We started in the Commodore for some happy hour $5 Tom Collins. Like a good group of Australians, we filled the table with empties fairly quickly.
We got a little peckish so decided to head to Pies ‘N’ Thighs, a southern style trendy cafe for dinner. While there is normally an 1 hr + wait, we got lucky and got a table in the window straight away.
We were so excited about the food I couldn’t catch anyone sitting still.
We ordered up on the carbs, thats for sure, with fried chicken, biscuits, mac n cheese, chicken and buckwheat waffles with poached pears abounding. They had awards, articles and accolades posted up everywhere for their doughnuts, which we were unfortunately too stuffed to try. But they looked really, really good – so I would save some room for them if you can bear to not eat all of your delicious main.
I had a chicken biscuit with hot sauce and honey butter (perfect combination of savoury and sweet), and a side of their creamy mac n cheese.
I had one more sweet stop to hit for my next Taste & Travel article on the Sweet Side of New York – Momofuku Milk Bar. The bakery and dessert part of David Chang’s Momofuku empire, their creations have been making international waves for years. Back in pastry school I one day dreamed of visiting – and here I was, sitting there, eating a cup of cereal milk soft serve with cornflake crumbs with a bunch of Aussies. We ran into another Aussie from Melbourne here – I am going to go ahead and call Williamsburg ‘Little Australia’ now, because we seem to be everywhere.
I also went ahead and bought one of Momofuku’s compost cookies and a slice of crack pie (so much sugar compacted into a small slice that it’s like crack). These three are perhaps the three most well known Milk Bar items, so I had to try them. It was all good, and interesting. After trying the soft serve, my response was ‘Well. That.. tastes like cereal.’ I don’t know what I was expecting but it definitely just tasted exactly like a bowl of really cold cereal. It wasn’t disappointing as such, but I was expecting some seriously incredible flavours – but it was really just sugar and cornflake infused milk. In that sense, it WAS really good, as it achieved the flavour it set out to. Chris had two slices of pie – he was a better man than me, I couldn’t even eat my one slice – it came home in my handbag and is sitting in the fridge waiting for me to get up the guts to tackle it again.