Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Gang Of New York, Part IV: We Ate Stuff

Here's another post on New York! Try not to throw things at the screen - it's my last one. And cheer up - it's about food. Who doesn't want to hear about food? I'm only going to tell you about two of my favorite food experiences while I was there, not every hot dog and pizza slice I ate. That would be totally indulgent, like having a website where you talked about yourself and posted your vacation photos. This is nothing like that.
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Mommy Needs Her Crack

I have to confess that one of the real reasons I was eager to get to New York was this:

It must have been that first line, "She thought she didn't even like sweets..." that got my attention. That was me! The writer went on to say that she had fallen in love with something called Crack Pie, and by the end of the article I was ready to shell out $44 + shipping to have one flown across the country to me. Who pays almost fifty bucks for a pie and then has it mailed to them? This was crazy talking. I decided to wait and put my money towards something sensible, like those cute rainboots for my cat.

I was obsessed, though, so I emailed my hip, young, urbanite niece Allie and asked her to try it out for me. She did, and said it was everything it was cracked up to be. (No pun intended.) After that, that crazy pie was never far from my mind and when I found out I'd be going to New York, getting my hands on some Crack was all I could think about.

Which is why on our last night of our trip we found ourselves at Momofuku Milk Bar, having our first taste of Crack Pie, thanks to Allie.

It didn't disappoint. More like a cookie because of its denseness, it was a slice of buttery, carmelized sugar heaven. Check out those ingredients – when the first four are butter, sugar, brown sugar and cream, you know you're headed straight to hell. I think it was Allie who said, "If I feel completely sick afterward it will have done its job."

In fact, it was so worth every crumb of its $5.25-per-slice price tag that I'm still considering spending the cash to have an entire pie shipped to me, just so I can share it with my friends. Besides, I'm tired of the cat telling me how to spend my money.

Epilogue: When we were leaving our hotel the next day with our Momofuku bag stuffed with take-home cookies and pie, Kiyomi was pulling my suitcase and yelled out across the crowded lobby, "Don't worry mom - I've got your crack pipe." (Of course, she was saying pie, but no one knew but us.)

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Sphere Factor!

This might be old news to you foodies, but it was the first time for me. Spheres of food - really big caviar comes to mine - that sort of explode in your mouth when you bite into it. I had it my first night in NYC, at Asiate at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It sort of feels like a really soft grape when you first put it in your mouth, and then once you bite into it you get an explosion of cranberry. Having an exploding ball of food in your mouth might not sound exciting to you, but I was intrigued. Then again, I get all tingly when the McRib is back in town, so maybe I'm easily pleased.

We had the same thing the next night at the Nintendo event, except these spheres were made with mozzarella. I have to say this one wasn't quite as tasty – I would rather have had a really good piece of actual cheese – but this time I got to see how it was done. Also, just to get extra indulgent, these were served with tiny syringes filled with basil extract. I was almost expecting to be laid down on a feather bed and fed by a naked chef. (That didn't happen, but gave me an idea for my next birthday party.)

Lucky for you I made a video of the whole process! The technique is called Spherification and was apparently made famous by a chef at the legendary restaurant El Bulli in Spain. First the liquid 'essence' is scooped up and then put into a bath of what was described as a seaweed extract, and then put into another bath of cold calcium chloride solution that sets it. The result: a sphere with a slightly crisp exterior and a liquid interior.

Try not to get distracted by my awesome video and music editing skills.

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  1. Momofuku Milk Bar inspired my recent obsession with making banana bread with green curry paste in it. They were out when I was there, but it tickled my imagination. Two loaves down - first one had too little curry and the second was too spicy. Onward!

  2. Suebob: That sounds amazing. I'll be right over.


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