Photos and Words by Fred Chang
After a night of binge-eating, I decided the morning after, why not partake in even more binge-eating? Even though it was storming outside, I would sooner jump off the Empire State Building than throw in the towel and not continue my food adventure. So I hopped into a cab, and went back out for more desserts! I started with the furthest from where I lived, which was Dominique Ansel Bakery.
I was excited. This was the place where the cronut was invented! The cronut, a croissant-doughnut hybrid, filled with custard and glazed with a ring of royal icing, has been a hugely popular item since 2013, even being named one of the 25 Best Inventions of 2013 by Time magazine. Luckily for me, I was able to get two cronuts, both which were rhubarb flavored, as well as a passion fruit-matcha mousse cake, a black and white sesame cherry crane, and a cotton soft cheesecake. For the mousse cake, it consisted of a sphere of matcha green tea mousse, with a firm passion fruit center, a passion fruit soaked cake base, and a white chocolate feather as a garnish. For the crane, it was a triangular cake filled with sesame praline, garnished with white chocolate accents. For the cheesecake, it was a whipped ricotta mousse set on top of an almond cake base, bruleed lightly on the top. Everything I had was beautifully presented and, unfortunately, most are not pictured, due to the storm causing everything (sans cronuts) to become a jumbled mess. Regardless, they still tasted wonderful!
After buying my first round of desserts, I walked by a familiar restaurant, Jack’s Wife Freda, and remembered when I had gone previously; luckily, the menu displayed outside had the same food that I’d eaten before: the grilled haloumi, the Madame Freda, and an extra side of duck prosciutto. The grilled haloumi had been garnished with fresh grapes and basil, reminding me of summer in Greece; haloumi cheese is a dry cheese, similar to blend of feta in crumbliness and mozzarella in chewiness, but fairly salty. Grilling the cheese gave it a nice caramelization and smokiness that paired well with the juicy grapes and fresh basil. The Madame Freda had been similar to a lighter version of a croque madame. Also, it had featured duck prosciutto-- cured duck meat that was rendered crisp, was topped with a sunny-side up egg, layered with gruyere bechamel and parmesan cheese, and served with a crisp salad on the side. Both were great breakfast foods and had I not been carrying so many bags of desserts, I probably would have helped myself to another meal there.
I finally made my way to Dough, in the heart of Manhattan, a doughnut store that served several beautiful gourmet flavors; I got the salted chocolate caramel, passion fruit, nutella, and coconut. For the salted caramel, it was a sticky, rich chocolate glaze, whereas the passion fruit was tart, and not too sweet. The nutella was a powdered doughnut stuffed with the nutella, whereas the coconut was rolled in toasted coconut flakes, giving the doughnut a nice crispy exterior. All four were light, and airy, but not greasy at all, as perfectly proofed and fried doughnuts should be.
While I took shelter in Dough, I was able to get another recommendation for a cookie store, Levain, from an NYU student who was with her sister visiting from Houston. Unfortunately, I was too exhausted to go, but I will be sure to keep her recommendation, along with several of Enya’s -- Cocotte for the squid and cauliflower dishes, Tuome for pork belly and pate, and La Colombe for great coffee -- in mind for my inevitable next trip to New York.
For dinner, I was able to get a table at Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton, a chef whose cooking style I came to admire when watching The Mind of a Chef. I went with my high school friend and aspiring fashion designer, Vicky, where we were served fried chickpeas, which were surprisingly addicting and almost popcorn-like; a tripe course that completely altered my opinion of tripe for the better; a trout dish with snails that again, helped both Vicky and myself overcome another food fear; a delicious lamb shank with mint gremolata; and for dessert, a “plain white” tiramisu. The tripe, served in a Lyonnaise fashion, was cooked down in white wine and tomatoes, and just soaked up a delicious broth it was plated in. The snails with the trout dish, which initially scared both me and Vicky, tasted like a hybrid between a mussel in flavor and a mushroom in texture. They were not at all disgusting like we feared, and complimented both the herb butter sauce and the fish itself. The lamb shank fell off the bone and into another beautiful broth, and was paired with tender stewed carrots and a fragrant mint gremolata. Finally, the dessert was an all-white tiramisu, devoid of any cocoa powder, and was enveloped in a foamy, milk froth that was spiked with amaretto or rum. To finish the meal, the waiter handed us a check with two generous pieces of dark chocolate -- a bittersweet way to end a great meal, I suppose.
While I had already eaten dinner, I needed to plan ahead, since my bus ride back to Boston was going to be early in the morning. So on my way back to my hotel, I stopped by Halal Guys and got myself a small helping of their iconic chicken and rice platter to go. Across the street, coincidentally enough, was Artichoke Basille Pizza, a favorite of mine and my sister’s; I got a slice of that as well, just because I didn’t want to starve on my bus tomorrow; I figured that even if the pizza and chicken and rice were cold, they would both be delicious. In the chicken and rice dish, the chicken itself is crisped and shredded on a griddle; it’s served with chopped lettuce and tomatoes over a bed of turmeric-infused rice and some slices of na’an bread. It can be topped with either a spicy hot sauce or a yogurt aioli—I highly recommend just the aioli because it really brings the entire platter together by introducing richness to the plate. From Artichoke Basille, I bought a slice of white pizza, which features a cheesy béchamel stewed with pieces of artichokes. It is an addicting combination and one that I do appreciate greatly from time to time. Both were a great way to end my most recent, but far from last, trip to New York.
Jack’s Wife Freda (Carmine Location)
50 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014
54 East 1st St, New York, NY 10003
Halal Guys (East 14th Location)
307 E 14th St,New York, NY 10019
Artichoke Basille Pizza (East 14th Street Location)
328 East 14th St, New York, NY 10012
Dough (Manhattan Location)
14 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011
Dominique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring St, New York, NY 10012