Monday, April 18, 2011


Though I do not think I could ever call myself a "New Yorker," I have been there enough times that I can safely say, I know my way around. This food mecca of the east coast is a carnival of options for foodies and fatties.  While in town, I decided to take my normal "Sunday drive" by foot in the Big Apple.

Manhattan is only about 20 square miles, but with a population of over a million, the sardine-packed island bursts at the seams with "block specific" themes inspired by food.  I always come into town via Penn. Station at 33rd and 7th Ave.  This entry is just a stone's throw away from Times Square and with a cheap cab ride to The Village and a healthy walk to Union Square, I have every food alternative at my finger tips.

For every block in Manhattan, there are markets lined with organic produce and eclectic odds and ends.  I jumped into the hottest market around: Hell's Kitchen.  A junkyard collection of antique pottery and flatware litters one of the most legendary markets in New York.  No two vendors are alike in Hell's Kitchen.  Only here can I find a pristine violin or a collection of vintage china.


I had skipped breakfast and the rumble in my stomach was a sign I was not going to make it to lunch.  Thank GOD they invented brunch, my second favorite meal of the day. I found my way to the Flatiron District and Park Ave.  I could virtually put a blindfold on a pick a place to eat.  There are more quality restaurants here than most towns have.  I flipped a coin and wound up at Barbounia at the corner of 20th and Park.

The Mediterranean-influenced spot charms the locals and wows the tourist.  Lit archways and sunburst drapery provide an inviting warmth.  I lucked into a table next to Keenan Thompson.  Apparently his night job at SNL didn't keep him getting up to enjoy brunch.

Beyond hungry I doubled up on entrees. First a thick cut Challah bread with creme fraiche and reduced blueberries.  Admittedly I am a sucker for carbs.  But this Challah did not have the texture I'm use to.  I found myself trying to mask the overly dense bread with the berries and creme fraiche.

 I cut that sweetness with a spicy dish called Moroccan eggs.  Is there anything sexier sunny side up eggs?  I added heavily spiced lamb that bathed in a paprika highlighted tomato sauce.  There is a fine line between spicy and burn your tastes bud.  Fortunately Barbounia does not fall on the wrong side of the fence with this dish.  EN FUEGO!

I had to walk off those spices so I perused another flea market.  The Showtime Market did not quite offer the raw aesthetic that Hell's Kitchen market had, but it is worth a mention.  Housed in a 3-story building, Showtime has a directory of vendors with everything from gaudy jewelry to restored silverware.  After leaving I did manage to resist the "Hot Tamales" stand out front.

My internal compass led me further downtown to a zany shop called "NutBox".  You can scoop some of the the most diverse shelled, shucked and seasoned nuts around.  There are floor to ceiling display of spices, walls of grains and even fresh gelato.

Curry cashews, Turkish apricots, white mulberries and adzuki beans were just some of the specialties attractively packaged for retail.

My fuel tank was have now half empty and I needed a boost.  As I came out the NutBox a subtle scent of "home" grabbed me.  Mom's Cooking, right next door had the door wedged open as an invitation.

As big as your mom's kitchen might actually be, the only thing that lets you know they are in business for profit is the cash register.  There are a fortress of black kettles bubbling with house made fresh soups and stews.

I had a bowl of the mushroom meatball soup with an order of the greek favorite boreka.  Every spoonful of the soup was like a thoughtful gift of love.  Boreka, which is a filled pastry was a savory pocket of minced sausage and turkey.  At some point I know I closed my eyes with a grin and I reminisced on times in the kitchen with mom.

With the sunset eminent I headed back to the electric lights of Times Square.  No matter how many times you see it, there is always something new to make you stare. Where better than to skyrocket up for a bird's eye view than The View in the Marquis Hotel.  The 360 degree view is enough risen to bury your fear of heights.

One of the few rotating hotels left in the country, guests are treated to an ever changing view of Times Square and it's surroundings.  And the view isn't where the treating stops.  There is a dessert buffet that any fatty would enjoy.

Still full from Mom's Cooking I decided to wet my palate with one of their signature drinks instead.  The View Fizz combines a tropical stimulant of mango puree, mango schapps, lime juice, vodka and a splash of clinton vineyard cassis  for just the right amount of sweetness.


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