Friday, March 22, 2019

New York: more posts about buildings and food

NYC is strange territory to me. I've not been there often; this was my first visit in over a decade, and its six days is by far the longest I've ever spent there at a time. I actually feel more comfortable in, know better, and have spent more time in London. But this visit gave me enough time to get to know at least Manhattan, which apart from going to and from airports I never left. For one thing I finally began to figure out the subways, and only found myself on the wrong platform twice in the whole trip.

Touristing besides the Morgan Library: Theodore Roosevelt birthplace. Exact replica of the original building, filled with original and period furnishings. Excellent tour focusing on the development of TR's political and moral philosophy (very liberal, by today's standards) from his parents' training. // Federal Hall. Site of the US capitol when that was in New York in the 1780s, but not the same or a replica building, but a tomb-like early 19C Greek temple. A few museum exhibits in the corner, but not much. // Fraunces Tavern. Original 18C building, major social center in its time, as explained in the fine museum upstairs. Lots of interesting period artifacts. One dining room is where Gen. Washington said farewell to his officers at the end of the Revolutionary War (as recounted in a memoir by Benjamin Tallmadge, his head of intelligence). Restaurant downstairs, serving modern (not period) bar food, good place for lunch.

Food: Besides 18C tavern and British-style pub, I ate Chinese, Thai, and Korean (all quite good), and soul food in Harlem (highly-touted restaurant, not good at all). But the function of eating in New York was to try the city's specialties and compare them to the versions available back home.

Delis: Not many of these left, actually. 2nd Ave Deli (no longer on 2nd Ave) had impressively soft and tender matzo balls, kishke (rarely seen, too big and heavy a lump to finish), brisket that was too dry, and was out of tongue pastrami, which I'dve liked the nerve to try. Not really a match for the good delis in LA; SF is more variable. Didn't get to Katz's this time, though I remember it fondly from past visits. The winner was Pastrami Queen, a tiny establishment oddly located on the Upper East Side. Claims to have the best pastrami in New York, and it was both tasty and impressively tender.

Bagels (a separate item): From a list of the five best bagels in New York, I tried two. Black Seed Bagel was no more than OK. Absolute Bagel, way up the Upper West Side, however, is as good as any I've had: crunchy outside, soft and chewy inside. Yes, more than a match even for Izzy's in Palo Alto, my go-to home for bagels.

Pizza: Of the seven great pizzarias in Jon Stewart's famous rant about New York pizza, so far as I could tell from their web sites only Joe's serves pizza by the slice,* so since I was on my own and have to limit my pizza intake, it was the place to go. And it was good, but ... better than the slices from Pizza My Heart back home in California? No. Just a light basic pizza, notable mostly for startlingly fresh tomato sauce, to which the toppings added little and even got in the way. Connoisseurs supposedly eat it plain, and I can see why.

*I wasn't going to tramp around and check in person, and phone them? And try to make out what's shouted at me unintelligibly over the noise of a New York pizza parlor? No thanks.

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