A Breath of Fresh Air Part I

If you were following me on twitter this weekend, you would have seen that I busted out of DC and headed north for NYC.  It was so nice to get out of town for the long weekend and NYC is perfect this time of year.  I met up with some friends, spent time with family and indulged myself in eating whatever I wanted.  Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do on vacation?  Well I certainly did.  Now let me dive into the food fest.

Friday started out as a day of exploration.  I went to have lunch at a famous Chinese restaurant/take-out.  It is called Xi’an Famous Foods.   Their specialty is hand-pulled noodle dishes.  Everyone from Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern and Cooking Channel’s Food(ography) shows have eaten and praised this place.  The food is inspired by the spices of the Middle East and cooking techniques of the Far East.  Essentially these two regions were married by the Silk Road. In the city of Xi’an, the starting and/or ending point of the Silk Road, the food is very distinct.  I definitely tasted the hybrid of flavors and textures in the food.

This dish was the spicy and sour hand-pulled noodles.  There was a little anise in the spice mix which gave the dish a very interesting flavor.  At first you taste the spicy and sour notes but then there is a subtle licorice flavor. Very interesting.

The next dish was a spicy and tingly beef hand-ripped noodles in soup.  This was awesome. The broth was rich and warmed my belly.

Finally, this place serves cumin lamb burgers and pulled pork burgers.  Both were good but I thought that the pork burger was better.  Here’s a picture of my dad chowing down on the pork burger.

The food was so good.  Since the location in the lower east side is so small, we ended up eating in the park.  It wasn’t too cold and the homeless people proved to be very entertaining.  I’m serious.  I overheard one guy say to another “what day is it, Friday? Oh man I’m not going to go home, I’m just going to go out and rob somebody.” You’ve just got to love New York, am I right?  That guy cracked me up.

The next food spot was a personal favorite: Trattoria Dell’Arte.  If you love Italian food, like me, then Trattoria will be your next favorite restaurant.  It is a bit spendy but the wait staff are impeccable and the food is never short of exceptional.  I always get the Veal Chop Parmesan whenever I go.  It is the best Parmesan I’ve ever had.  They take a veal chop and butterfly it (with the bone still in) and pound the meat out until it is super thin.  Then they bread and fry it.  Top it off with a thin layer of marinara sauce and lots of fresh mozzarella cheese.

(I’m sorry for the quality of these pictures.  I only had my phone on me at the time and it was very dark in the restaurant).

The final product is a dish that is about a foot wide by a foot long.  The veal is crispy and there is the perfect amout of sauce and cheese accompanying each bite.  I told my boyfriend that in honor of his first time eating the veal chop parm, my dad and I would let him have the bone.  He thought we were kidding.  We weren’t.  Since he declined I figured someone had to enjoy that bone, so I went for it.

That thing was so flavorful, just look at how happy I look in the picture.  Trattoria is not the kind of place where people look at you sideways if you decide to take a veal bone to the face.  I know because clearly I did it and nobody seemed to care.  All that seemed to matter was the food, and it was damn good.

Stay tuned for the second half of this NYC food extravaganza.  Coming up: dim sum, cannolis and PIZZA!

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