Monday, May 23, 2011

NYC Part 1: Stuff I Ate: Momofuku, Lombardi’s Pizza, Rice to Riches & Celeste

Butter was clearly the first ingredient
in the Momofuku cookies
As I've said before, I’m not a foodie. Give me a bag of dark chocolate M&Ms and I’m happy. But on my recent trip to New York City I ended up doing a lot more food-related things due to the presence of my cousin Alison, who, as she will happily say, will eat just about anything.

Here’s a quick look at some of the things we tried:

Momofuku Milk Bar –  251E 13th St
I think “Momofuku” is going to be my new term for “over-hyped”. We went to this heavily hyped restaurant’s tiny, bakery storefront excepting to buy pieces of baking heaven. Instead we bought buttery cookies that while yummy, tasted like something I could make at home, and candy pie that was mediocre at best.

And unlike pretty much everywhere else in NYC, the portion sizes were small and the prices expensive.

I heard that Momofuku is coming to Toronto. Initially, this news (rumour?) made me excited but now I could care less.

Lombardi’s Pizza –  32 Spring Street
We went here because Lombardi’s, America’s first pizzeria, is supposed to be one of the best in the country (plus we were really hungry and I needed a bathroom). “Best” might be stretching it a bit but if you’re hungry and in the area, I would definitely checking this place out.

We got a “small” margarita pizza and at 14-inches, it more than feed myself, Alison and my sister. It had an appropriately thin crust and was loaded with some quality mozzarella but something was missing to make it the best pizza ever. Also, the service could have been a little happier (the pizza stand was practically thrown at us).

The pizza together with three pops, I mean sodas, came to just over $20 so this is also a pretty cheap place to eat.

Rice to Riches  37 Spring St
This was a place Alison wanted to check out and I’m glad she did because I now have a new appreciation for rice pudding, which is all this place sells. I used to think that rice pudding was slimy and disgusting but I now I know that if done correctly, it can be amazing.

Thanks to Alison for the photo!
Rice to Riches offers around two dozen flavours and yes, you can sample all of them. I ended up choosing a chocolate hazelnut flavour and just writing about it makes me wish that I had a bowl of it sitting beside me; it was the perfect balance of chocolate and hazelnut with rice that was just the right firmness.

A small serving runs just under $7 which sort of seems expensive but this stuff is so rich that you can easily make two, even three snacks of it. Plus you get a fun bowl and spoon-like thing to take home.

Celeste  502 Amsterdam Ave
My sister took us to this little West Side gem that’s home to some very tasty, and authentic Italian food (the owner, who was working when we were there, regularly travels to Italy and brings items back to him).

I dined with four other people and all of us were more than satisfied with our simple but wonderfully prepared dishes. I had the very yummy ricotta-and-spinach ravioli and I would happily order it again.

But as good as the starters and the mains were, the real standout was the tiramisu. Now, I’m not a foodie but I am a chocoholic and without a doubt, this was the best tiramisu I’ve ever had because it contained chunks of dark chocolate. So no, it’s not a traditional tiramisu but who cares because it’s way, way better.

As per classic New York City-style, the portion sizes were all generous while the prices are quite reasonable (I think my pasta was something like $10).This place can get pretty busy so if you do go, be prepared for a wait but trust me, it’s worth it.

OK, this entry is getting a bit long so more about the stuff I ate in NYC tomorrow.

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