Places that I enjoyed:
Hummus Kitchen on 81st and 2nd - Oh. my. goodness. Thank you so much for taking me here and having me try the falafel wrap, Chelsea (my friend, not me) as it blew my mind. I can honestly say it is one of the best meals that I've ever had the pleasure of eating. The side of hummus and whole wheat pitas were also pretty amazing. The best part of the meal was its longevity. I took half of my wrap home to eat the next day, and lo and behold, it was just as crazy good, mayhap better, than when I tasted it in the restaurant. Just look at the menu and try not to salivate over the offerings such as Oven Roasted Cauliflower, Chicken Schnitzel or the Green Tahini Kebab.
Land, also on 81st and 2nd - Amazing Thai food. I had mouthwatering pad thai with chicken, as did my pal Molly, while Chelsea had pad soo ew that was just as delicious. To be honest, I wasn't previously a fan of Thai food. One awful drunken noodles experience four years ago left a sour taste in my mouth (you bet that pun was intended) and so the Land visit highhandedly made me a Thai food advocate. As I look back over the menu, I pine for the things that went unordered on my visit such as the Green Papaya Salad with cashews and lime? Yes. Wok Cashew Nut with Shrimp? Oh yeah. Grilled Skirt Steak with sauteed cauliflower, asparagus and tamarind-sesame sauce? I'm flying back to NYC right now to get some.
Side note: No matter how small some of the restaurants are in NYC, there are always tablecloths, candles and crystal pieces on the tables that make even casual dining scenes feel more intimate. I dig that.
Bouchon Bakery at Rockefeller Center - I'd never eaten a macaron before my trip to this bakery. Macarons, because they are not so easily come by in my neck of the woods, always seemed a bit mystical to me. I'd never gotten my hands on one, but I knew I'd like it once I finally did. Kind of like how I instinctively know that I would like Jake Gyllenhaal, a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 or a unicorn should I ever cross paths with one (or all, preferably) of them. But, I digress. I didn't want to be a macaron glutton and order a feast of them on my first taste, so I decided to buy only one. I narrowed it down to the Nutella macaron, though pistachio was a close second choice.
Once outside, I took a bite of my little treat and literally stopped me in my tracks. Crispy on the outside, chewy and gooey on the inside, delicious everywhere.
(Say hello to the most delicious treat in the world)
This only fueled my desire to eat as many macarons as possible whilst in New York as I knew there would be a bit of a drought once I arrived back home. Which leads to...
La Maison du Macaron on West 23rd Street - I wasn't lying when I said that I was sniffing Macaron places out of the woodwork left and right. I wanted to get a gift for my gracious hosts, and since neither of them had tasted a macaron before, a box of the treats seemed like a good choice. La Maison du Macaron came highly rated and was manned by two very nice ladies. It wasn't nearly as packed as Bouchon, probably due to its less visible location, but the experience was just as wonderful. There was a greater variety of flavors to choose from than at Bouchon, and I probably gaped at the menu for five minutes before finally deciding what variety of macarons to sprinkle into the delicate, daintily beribboned box. The chosen flavors were: coffee, Nutella, raspberry, nougat + lavender and white chocolate + raspberry. I chose a white chocolate + raspberry macaron for myself as well, and once again, the clouds opened up and the angels sang as I enjoyed my treat.
Crumbs Bake Shop - My friend Molly bought me a chocolate peppermint buttercream-filled ginormous cupcake, and it was so good (and ginormous) that a couple of us were even able to share it. This is the type of pint-sized fun that everyone could indulge in after a long day at work.
(For the record, Crumbs has good coffee too)
Alice's Tea Cup on 81st Street - I'd been eagerly wanting to visit Alice's Tea Cup since I first read about it a few years ago. Alice in Wonderland is, and has been, one of my top five favorite movies for years. Therefore, I desperately wanted to visit the little shop that combined the essence of the movie plus the ambiance of a tea shop. Before we traipsed off to hear carolers at Central Park, the ladies and I stopped in to grab tea and pastries (I had a banana butterscotch scone with cream and jam.) It made me so happy to see so many families sitting down at little tables, all of which were brimming with tea cups and tiered platters displaying pastries and finger sandwiches. I'd love to share a similar experience with my own family in the future.