the best friend with great food recommendations you never knew you had

Union Square Market alone makes me long to live in New York City.  The impending threat of roaches and postage stamp-sized apartments aren’t enough to put me off the Big Apple when you witness the Square on Market day. Packed with stall after stall of hot peppers, ostrich eggs, stinky cheeses and artisan bread, the Market is an ideal place to pick up some fresh groceries or something a bit special for the dinner table. 

The joy of a lot of these markets also has to do with nibbling free samples, of course, and like a trained sniffer dog I went straight for the Caguya Pure Organics ‘Otis Stout Beer Bread’. The bread is hopsy and deep with a velvet, earthy undertone that leaves a gentle tang on your tongue.  Its tones are not that dissimilar to the Marmite yeast taste but without the sharp saltiness.   I reckon the bread would be perfect with a thick spread of butter or even peanut butter for extra richness.  The bread is so good in fact, it has it’s own NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/dining/09bread.html?_r=1

And what goes with bread?  Why, cheese of course, and Millport Dairy produce cheeses that your tastebuds can only dream about.  There’s little in life that I enjoy more than garlic, of which creamy dairy cheese is a fine bedfellow, not to mention the humble chive.  But oh, the horseradish cheese.  I may have only tasted a tiny cube, but it near knocks your socks off, albeit in an entirely welcomed way.  As I’m not a meat eater, any excuse to taste the zingy, gnarly root without the beef beside it, is an absolute delight - more places should make it!

Kirstin, Matt and I spent a while ambling through the stalls, Matt being particularly taken with the Ostrich Eggs that were as big as his head with shells like bone china.  It took all my might to resist the fresh pasta, but I’m not sure how it would have travelled in that wheely suitcase of mine back to Scotland…

As Kirstin responsibly composted by the crossroad, we saw entire pig carcasses wrapped in cling film being carried out of a truck to be sold.  I felt sorry for the pig, but the butcher by contrast seemed to be the happiest man alive:

Union Street Market having satiated our senses for the time being, we wandered pleasantly through the glistening Manhattan streets….to a hidden lane….

Links:

 
The New York morning brought heat in strong dry waves.  Packing the suitcase in our Glasgow tenement, it had been difficult to imagine anything apart from the inky skyline and mushy leaves, but there it was; the sun in plain sight.  I woke up to the crunch of a kitchen motor and was presented with a tall glass of freezing pink smoothie the colour of sherbet.  
"That, my friend, is the short work of the ninja!" said Kirstin.
I looked over to Matt, whose face was still smashed across the sofa cushion.
"I’m presuming you’re not referring to the tall Canadian over there….?"
She ran into the kitchen and came out with a small purple motor and plug, and presented it like a commerical.
"There are truly no bounds to what it can do."
"Impressive!"
I meant it.  The hummus from the night before was also courtesy of the Ninja, a small motor to which three rather fierce blades were attached.  Those chickpeas stood no chance, and neither it seemed did frozen banana.  
"The secret of a good smoothie." said Kirstin.
"That’s soy milk, frozen berries, a quarter cup of grape juice and the frozen banana, which makes it taste like ice cream.  Deceptively healthy ‘junk food’."
Which is precisely the reason that since coming home, the aforementioned smoothies have become a firm staple in my diet.  My cheapo UK Kenwood mixer is feeling the heat of embarrassment though.  It would blush if it could, I’m sure.  Try valiantly as it might, it’s no match for its North American counterpart, and threatens to burn out daily.  Sadly for us Brits, the Ninja is not available over the pond, presumably because it’s far too dangerously good for us.  I live in hope.
The Best Smoothie Ever (thick, creamy and summer berry sweet but with just the right amount of tang) was pretty much all we needed to set us up for the sweltering Manhattan day ahead of us.  Kirstin needed to get rid of her compost, so our first stop of the day was the farmer’s market at Union Square.
Kirstin’s magical breakfast smoothie – for two people
1x frozen banana
½ x cup of frozen summer berries
 - Mix in a blender, then add:
¼ cup of unsweetened soya milk
¼ cup of grape juice
Keeps you going for an entire day, I swear by it.  Alternately, if summer fruits are a bit too sugary for you, how about this?  I read an article on energy-rich foods recently, and this smoothie certainly gives you a wee boost, as well as tasting rich and delicious:
Anna’s (Slightly naughty but nice) Energy Smoothie - for two people

1 x frozen banana
1 x small handful of walnuts or plain whole almonds
1 1/2 x square of 85% dark chocolate
1/4 - 1/2 cup of soy milk
(Unbeatable!)

The New York morning brought heat in strong dry waves.  Packing the suitcase in our Glasgow tenement, it had been difficult to imagine anything apart from the inky skyline and mushy leaves, but there it was; the sun in plain sight.  I woke up to the crunch of a kitchen motor and was presented with a tall glass of freezing pink smoothie the colour of sherbet.  

"That, my friend, is the short work of the ninja!" said Kirstin.

I looked over to Matt, whose face was still smashed across the sofa cushion.

"I’m presuming you’re not referring to the tall Canadian over there….?"

She ran into the kitchen and came out with a small purple motor and plug, and presented it like a commerical.

"There are truly no bounds to what it can do."

"Impressive!"

I meant it.  The hummus from the night before was also courtesy of the Ninja, a small motor to which three rather fierce blades were attached.  Those chickpeas stood no chance, and neither it seemed did frozen banana.  

"The secret of a good smoothie." said Kirstin.

"That’s soy milk, frozen berries, a quarter cup of grape juice and the frozen banana, which makes it taste like ice cream.  Deceptively healthy ‘junk food’."

Which is precisely the reason that since coming home, the aforementioned smoothies have become a firm staple in my diet.  My cheapo UK Kenwood mixer is feeling the heat of embarrassment though.  It would blush if it could, I’m sure.  Try valiantly as it might, it’s no match for its North American counterpart, and threatens to burn out daily.  Sadly for us Brits, the Ninja is not available over the pond, presumably because it’s far too dangerously good for us.  I live in hope.

The Best Smoothie Ever (thick, creamy and summer berry sweet but with just the right amount of tang) was pretty much all we needed to set us up for the sweltering Manhattan day ahead of us.  Kirstin needed to get rid of her compost, so our first stop of the day was the farmer’s market at Union Square.

Kirstin’s magical breakfast smoothie – for two people

  • 1x frozen banana
  • ½ x cup of frozen summer berries

 - Mix in a blender, then add:

  • ¼ cup of unsweetened soya milk
  • ¼ cup of grape juice

Keeps you going for an entire day, I swear by it.  Alternately, if summer fruits are a bit too sugary for you, how about this?  I read an article on energy-rich foods recently, and this smoothie certainly gives you a wee boost, as well as tasting rich and delicious:

Anna’s (Slightly naughty but nice) Energy Smoothie - for two people

  • 1 x frozen banana
  • 1 x small handful of walnuts or plain whole almonds
  • 1 1/2 x square of 85% dark chocolate
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup of soy milk

(Unbeatable!)

This was our first meal on our first night in 75 Ocean Avenue, Prospect Park.  Ripe, cadmium red tomatoes from a farm in upstate New York, chopped roughly and fried with a glug of olive oil. A small handful of popcorn-sized kernels of garlic and dried birds-eye chilli seeds added some much needed warmth to our bones.  The rain from the hurricane was still hanging around the city a week later, making our summer coats damp and heavy - but it was nothing a hot mound of tagliatelle couldn’t fix.

Whilst we were cooking, Kirstin whipped up a neat batch of nutty hummous to go with the ‘fugly but delicious’ carrots she’d been gifted from the farmer.  Washed down with spicy Pumpkin Blue Moon Beer, both Matt and I finally began to warm up and wind down.  The flight from New Brunswick was stressful and 6 hours longer than expected, due to a minor crisis involving red tape, a particularly soul-less customs officer and some questionable airport scheduling.  Kirstin met us in the middle of ramshackle LaGuardia, clutching her journal and coffee and beaming, despite the delay.  

"So what do you want to do during your stay in New York?" she asked, when we were safely installed on the speeding Q train.  

"Touristy stuff like the Empire State, Statue of Liberty?  The Rockerfeller Centre is great, and the ferry to Staten Island is free you know…"

As Matt and I had been lucky enough to travel to New York in years gone past, we had managed to tick a chunk of the main attractions off our collective lists.  Fresh from his stint as best man to his brother in New Brunswick, entertaining relatives and performing brotherly duties, Matt was tuckered out from running about cities. I hit a new record in my meeting-of-boyfriend’s-relatives history, as the tally hit over one hundred, which was at once both delightful and exhausting.  Relaxing and eating therefore, were pretty high on the agenda.  Having the luxury of a friend who had an intimate knowledge of the city was too good an opportunity to pass up.  There’s no denying the glitz of a great Broadway show, but would our bellies ever forgive us if we didn’t follow the food?

"This might sound a little strange," I said, "but would you mind if we just ate our way around the city?"  

From Kirstin’s towers of ‘Delicious’ and ‘Good Food’ cooking magazines I had witnessed in Edinburgh where we’d met mere months ago, I’d had more than a slight inkling she was a pretty serious foodie.  Her reaction however, was even better than I’d hoped.  

"Are you kidding me?" she squealed.

"You’ve just said the magic words.  I’ve been so worried, wondering if you’d be wanting to rush all over the city!  Of course the tourist attractions are amazing (and we can still do that if you want) but New York….New York! It’s all about the food!  Right let’s see, I hope you’re ready for this!  You two are going to have the best week of your LIVES."

And so it was written.

And if a gym membership was to be the only penance for a week of jumping taste buds and a window into the real New York, then I was ready to get my trainers and sweatshirt on, and sign my life away.

Links:

http://www.bluemoonbrewingcompany.com/

http://www.brooklynbrewery.com/