Our last morning in New York arrived, and we had yet to get a bagel. Since we planned to go to the American Museum of Natural History, it made sense to check out H&H Bagels and Zabar’s which are also on the Upper West Side. You can’t get made-to-order bagels at either place, so we grabbed hot bagels from H&H and some toppings from Zabar’s. I’m glad we improvised, because cream cheese melting from the heat of a fresh bagel with salty lox is unbeatable.
En route to the museum, we stopped by Levain Bakery for a Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie. One of my few regrets from the trip was not trying one of each flavor. It was possibly the epitome of a chocolate chip cookie – it was the size of my palm, with a perfectly crisp exterior that yielded to a chewy center. It was so good, in fact, that HC requested a Levain-esque cookie for his birthday in lieu of cake. Levain specifically states it doesn’t give out its recipe, but links to several copycats. I gave this recipe a try and was pleasantly pleased with the outcome.
We saved Momofuku Ssam Bar for our last lunch. We ordered:
- A pork belly bun that was offered as a special that day. The meat was falling-apart-tender.
- Kimchee’d apples. These were spicy but sweet, and balanced by some crisp bacon.
- Brined mussels. I was hesitant because the waiter warned us these were served cold, but I loved the presentation in a glass jar and the brining liquid was unexplainably addictive.
- Rice cakes in spicy sausage sauce. The sauce was perfectly savory and the rice cakes were FRIED(!) so there was plenty of texture contrast going on.
Milk Bar is right next door, so I had to try the ice cream sampler even though we were bordering on running late to the airport. I clearly have my priorities. The flavors of the day were black sesame, dulce de leche, pumpkin pie, and cereal milk. The creamy soft serve came with tastes of chocolate graham cracker crumbs and candied cornflakes.
I also splurged on four slices of pie to bring home (I honestly couldn’t choose so the only solution was to try one of each). We ate the candy bar pie on the airplane later that night (my favorite of the bounty), and over the next several days we tried the crack pie (aptly named, and my second favorite), the grasshopper (not that memorable), and the cinnamon bun pie (only get this one if it’s fresh out of the oven – it got stale quickly).
Even with all that eating, I didn’t get to try everything I wanted. Next time I will definitely eat more pizza, try the speculoos at Waffles & Dinges, see what Mario Batali has to offer at Babbo (note to self: requires advance reservations), finally try Russ & Daughters for a whitefish sandwich, and spend more time in Brooklyn at Pies ‘n’ Thighs and Four & Twenty Blackbirds. I’ll stop here, because really the list could go on and on…
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