US: New York

Events: New Taste of the Upper West Side: Local foods in delicious abundance

As fairly new residents of Manhattan's Upper West Side, Jay and I have been trying to sample as many of the local restaurants as we can. So what better way to try a lot of restaurants in one place than by attending the New Taste of the Upper West Side?
I've long been a fan of red wines from Austria -- in fact, I usually order Zwiegelt whenever I see it on a wine list (which, sadly, isn't as often as I'd like). No matter the producer, it's usually a reliably juicy, slightly spicy wine with cherry and red berry flavors, sometimes aged in oak but sometimes not. However, Austrian wine is still rather difficult to find...
If you haven't heard of Txakoli (sometimes, confusingly, known as Txakolina or Chacoli), or the grape hondarrabi zuri, you're not alone. But this tangy, low-alcohol wine that's popular in Spain's Basque regions (especially in and around San Sebastian) is gaining popularity in the U.S.
I dug around the NYC event sites and the dozens of email blasts for something to do on a waning summer (yes, its still summer damnit!) weekend and found The Last Supper Festival 2010. It purported to feature live bands, DJs, new media artists installations, experimental films, a writing salon, and other random performance art - sounded perfect. Liz and I would find these events throughout SF - many of them being Burning Man derivatives - and have been hard pressed to dig up the same type of ADD-inducing nights in NYC. I'm sure we're just not in the right crowd.
After hitting several North Fork wineries on a rainy Sunday morning, Jay and I needed some fortification before hitting several more. Being by the ocean, we knew we wanted to eat seafood, so we decided to try out a newish small plates seafood-oriented restaurant called Noah's in Greenport.
Just 50 years ago, some of the only things growing on Long Island’s North Fork were potatoes. But now this area just north of the Hamptons and only an-hour-and-a-half east of New York City is home to more than 40 wineries, some producing very high-quality wines.
On our 11th anniversary weekend in Long Island’s North Fork, Jay and I wanted to try somewhere new for dinner. Luce & Hawkins, at the historic Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport, seemed like a promising choice. This new restaurant focuses on seasonal, local cuisine, with many herbs and some veggies coming straight from the gardens outside the inn.
We only visit L.I.C. for two reasons - babies and backyards, but tonight we found another one. This petite bar right next to the (7) train subway entrance is reason enough to cross the filth of the Newtown Creek or venture towards the glow of the Pepsi sign like a wayward moth.
After Sam Sifton of the NY Times wrote that Motorino "serves the city's best pizza" on February 17, I had to give it a try to see for myself. I'd been to a couple of the other trendy New York pizza places – Company, Keste and, of course, Franny's, which is just down the block from our Brooklyn apartment – so while I'm by no means a pizza expert, I at least had some basis for comparison.
I had expected the Mermaid Oyster Bar, on the edge of Greenwich Village, to look more like a ramshackle fish shack. Instead, it reminded me of an upscale Nantucket restaurant, its white walls covered with pictures of beachy-looking scenes and a specials board announcing the day's oyster selections.
Jay and I are a little obsessed with uni. So we were really excited when we first went to Soto a couple of years ago for my birthday: The chef, Sotohiro Kosugi, ran a successful sushi restaurant in Atlanta before opening this intimate place in the West Village that specializes in uni in many guises.
Jay and I have never been that happy with Manhattan Chinatown dim sum. In our experience, it tends to be greasy, heavy on the fried items and not as fresh tasting as meals we've had in San Francisco, Vancouver and Hong Kong.
The restaurant is named after the crunchy, slightly caramelized rice that sticks to the bottom of the paella pan. Your server comes back at the end to scrap off the socarrat for everyone to enjoy -- and it truly is the best part, crispy with a yummy nutty flavor.
I hadn't eaten at En Japanese Brasserie in several years, during a New York Restaurant Week where all I remember is that we were served tastes in a Bento box and we saw Zac Posen. This time around, Jay had just eaten at En the week before and raved about the yumminess of the food, saying we needed to go back – and soon!
I think this bottle is from one of our first visits to Shinn in Mattituck on the North Fork of Long Island. We were lucky enough to arrive on a slow day and Barbara walked with just Liz and me out into the vineyard to chat about the types of grapes planted and planned and the biodynamic grape farming processes they employ (She does this as a paid tour now and so worth it)



“I just don’t see Big Wine allowing labels on wine reading something like this: This wine was dealcoholized by reverse osmosis and smoothed out with micro-oxygenation. Ingredients: Water, alcohol, grapes, chestnut tannin, oak extract, oak dust, genetically modified yeast, urea, enzymes, grape juice, tartaric acid, bentonite, and Velcorin.” – Alice Feiring, The Battle for Wine and Love or How I Saved the World from Parkerization

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