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Monday, April 9, 2012

NYC Weekly Blog Post - 4.9.2012

Breakneck Ridge Trail

So this week I actually have some TRAVEL news! Yes that's right I managed to make it out of the lovely city of Manhattan about an hour north along the Hudson River to Breakneck Ridge. Aptly named this trail starts with a harrowing climb up a smooth rock face (hiking shoes definitely recommended) that ends with a gorgeous view of the Hudson at the top. Continue along the ridge through a forest of deciduous trees (no leaves this time of year but must be beautiful in summer and fall). There are a ton of trail options but below you can see the path that we took. All-in it was about a 4 hour hike.

Basically you take the train from Grand Central station and get off at Breakneck which is literally just a tiny platform on the side of the railroad. You have to make sure you go to the back train compartment or you will miss it as they only open the back two doors. Jump down onto the platform and walk up to the road and turn right. The trail head is just up the street.

The route we took was the white trail up to where it meets blue. The white trail is primarily the rockclimbing-esk portion of the trail. Once you hit blue you are just meandering through the woods primarily. Keep an eye out at this point because we must have missed a sign and ended up by the bigger lake at the top of the image. If it weren't for iPhone service we would've gotten lost for sure. Take the blue down along the side of the smaller lake and hook a left across the ridge. Once you hit green follow that all the way down into the town of Cold Spring.

Below is a view from the top of the first dicey rock climb.

Once in Cold Spring wander around the town looking at the antique stores, little churches and quaint houses. You definitely aren't in Manhattan anymore! I literally felt like I was on vacation somewhere and all I had to do was a take a train an hour north.

For lunch we ate at the Depot which is a fun restaurant right next to the train station. The train back to Grand Central passes through almost every hour so you can time which one you want to jump on. For lunch I had the southern-style fried chicken which was very tasty and I followed it up with a scoop of delicious, refreshing chocolate ice cream.

Thanks to the beautiful weather, my hardy hiking buddy, iPhone service and a delicious lunch, I will definitely be back here again!


Frying Pan
Everyone's been telling me I'd love this place. Turns out; I do. The Frying Pan is literally a boat docked at Pier 66 on the Hudson River which is at West 26th street. They have a bunch of table seating and a little bar that sells pitchers of beer and buckets of Coronas. Be warned those with uneasy stomachs as the boat does roll and pitch a bit so if you have one too many you may be running for the bathroom stairs. With the sun shining down on you and a beer in your hand it's like the Manhattan version of a Corona commercial. This will clearly be a summer favorite although you gotta get here early or bear the massive line to get in - it's not a big place.


Family Recipe
The name of this little restaurant echoes the origins of Chef Thurnauer's passion for cooking. The food here was delicious although ended with a potentially fatal accident.

We started with the kale salad with pomegranate and candied pistachio. It had the perfect amount of spicy dressing and was a large portion making it a great start to our dinner.

Next came the fried cod tacos with mango salsa and guacamole. The fish was fried crisp on the outside but was flaky and soft on the inside. The presentation was nice and the mango added just the right dose of flavor. Another win.

Then came the okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese thick pancake filled with different ingredients. This restaurant changes it up every day and on the menu this week was a turkey bacon and egg and a rock shrimp okonomiyaki. We ordered the turkey bacon one due to my deathly shellfish allergy. It showed up piping hot and covered in fish flakes. YUMMY. I loved these things ever since my trip to Japan. I dived right in. We were halfway through the pancake when my friend poked at something with her chopstick. It was a full shrimp. We both freaked out and began clawing through the remaining pancake were two or three other shrimp appeared.

This devolved into me having a panic attack while my friend researched nearby hospitals. I keep trying to think back as to whether I'd eaten one (I'm terrible with chopsticks and have to concentrate really hard on what I pick up and so I felt like I would've noticed if I'd eaten one).

After 30 minutes it appeared that I hadn't eaten one because I wasn't dead yet so we both picked at the final plate that came which was slow-cooked grass-fed short ribs with s
pring onion and hot sesame miso sauce. It tasted like sawdust thanks to my near death experience.

All that being said you'd think I would never come back here. HOWEVER, the food was amazing and the staff upon realizing their mistake apologized profusely (as they should), offered to take me to the hospital and then finally comped our entire dinner. Smart move. So, in closing, I would certain suggest this restaurant although be aware of what you eat!

Los Feliz
My friend suggested this place on Saturday night and I thought it was one of the cooler looking places I've been to in New York City. There are three levels essentially - a bar up top, a restaurant with bar in the middle and a club-esk lounge at the bottom. You have to check your coat to go in the lounge I'm assuming because it is so small.

My favorite hangout with the bar/restaurant area (they clear out the tables as it gets later) because the decorations make you feel like you are in a Spanish cave. It felt dark and mysterious yet cozy. Weird right?

The margaritas are also delicious, interesting and STRONG. I tried the Strawberry + Ginger Margarita with house infused Herradur blanco tequila, strawberry, ginger, organic raw agave, and fresh lime juice. Tasty. I will definitely come back here although the crowd that night was a little strange...

Photo Credit: Los Feliz Website

This place is right on the corner of Houston and Allen St right when you get off the subway. I passed it last week and the cozy, fun atmosphere immediately attracted me so we decided to get dinner there this weekend.

Photo Credit: Macondo Website

We had the carne con yuca (grilled skirt steak, yuca fries, cabrales cheese and chimichurri), the cocas tuna (sliced sashimi tuna, white bean puree, sesame soy oaxaca cheese, white fish roe, onions and jalapenos on flatbread) and the arepas pato (duck confit with collard greens, figs and guava demi sauce on a sweet corn pancake).

The skirt steak was well-cooked but there wasn't enough chimichurri sauce and the overall dish sort of lacked flavor. I felt like I was eating it because it was there and not bad but not memorable either.

The next dish was the tuna flatbread which was a step up! The bread was a little too soft for me, I prefer crispy flatbread, but I thought the combination of the tuna with the jalapenos and the sauce was good. I just wish there was MORE toppings.

The last dish, the duck arepas, was delicious!! It was definitely the perfect finale to this meal. The duck was so succulent and matched the sweetness of the pancake. I wish there'd been more than one fig though. I was already relatively full by the time this came and still couldn't stop myself from shoving more down my throat. A must get when you come to this restaurant!

Lastly, I don't usually comment on prices at restaurants. This is because most places in NYC I feel like are outrageously priced as is so I feel like if you are going to eat in Manhattan, get over it. That being said this meal was really good and only cost $44 a person which I thought was a great price considering we got three dishes and shared a bottle of wine!

La Montanara by Forcella
This place is so new I don't even think it has a website yet (located at 168 Ludlow)! It's gotten some press recently and after trying the pepperoni pizza I can see why! The pizzas here are "fried" but not in the way you think! Basically the pizza dough is "flash fried" in hot sunflower oil and then baked a brick oven with toppings. This pizza was MOUTHWATERING...and open late.

No Fun
Another brand new opening, No Fun (yup that's actually the name) was a ton of fun! They had some random good beers on tap and lots of seating which was nice. It was a Tuesday night so the vibe was pretty neighborhood-y but they do have a dancing room in the back that looks like it could heat up on the weekend. I'll probably hit this place up again.

Photo Credit: No Fun Tumblr Page


Boat Basin
Another place that has been touted as a go-to for summer, Boat Basin is ALLLLLLL the way up at West 79th street. You can access it easiest by walking along the Hudson until you literally run into the outdoor cafe area. I was there a little early in the year on a Sunday so not a huge crowd yet but as the weather gets warmer I will definitely be back for some day drinking. The strawberry daiquiris are fully blended into a frozen smoothie consistency that you need a spoon to eat but it masked the rum which was a bonus. I ordered the grilled, marinated Mahi Mahi with shredded cabbage and salsa verde in soft tacos, which were kind of soupy and made me feel sick to my stomach later. The burger and the chicken fingers looked like better options...

Photo Credit: Boat Basin Website


Wilfie and Nell
A local hangout near my house I feel like I always end up here late night. This time I actually ordered food which took forever (I almost forgot about it and left!). I ordered the Guinness lamb shepherds pie with a mashed potato crust which was sooo good. In fact I brought the rest home and poured it over pasta for a gourmet "Hamburger Helper" style meal the next day. Beware it comes in HOT - I burned the crap out of my tongue so be careful!

On a total side note I've also tried the corned beef & Gruyere sandwich with cabbage slaw and mustard and it too is delicious. Hands down some of the best bar food I've had in Manhattan.

Photo Credit: Mark G. on