NYC Carb Tour

Continuing with this week’s food theme, I thought I’d wax poetic
about some of my favourite eats here in New York. For me, eating out
means eating starch. When I go to a restaurant, it’s because I’m
craving the ooey, gooey serotonin coma that rarely results when I eat
my own cooking. Seriously, I can have vegetables at home! So in no
particular order, here’s where I head when the carb monster calls.

Best Pancakes: Clinton Street Baking Company

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I have to agree with the masses on this one. CSBC owns the
title of ‘Best Brunch in NYC’ for good reason. Their pancakes are
golden, fluffy works of art, an ideal vehicle for the melty maple
butter you get on the side. And unlike most of their ilk, these ‘cakes
don’t sit in your stomach like a lead balloon for the rest of the day.
Of course, in New York everything worth having requires a three hour
wait in line, and brunch at CSBC is no exception. But I love bringing
out-of-towners here to show them the horrors we put up with in this city. The perfect sympathy ploy and the perfect pancake? Score! (4 Clinton Street, Manhattan, photo courtesy of gtmcknight’s flickrstream)

Best Pasta: Pepe Rosso

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Nothing quells shopping-induced hunger pangs like lunch at Pepe
Rosso. You’re lucky to get a seat at this little SoHo hole-in-the-wall,
but I’d happily sit on the curb for a single taste. My husband mixes it
up depending on the specials of the day, and my dad swears by the
lasagna, but I’m loyal to my gnocchi with pink sauce and sausage. The
sauce, which achieves that delicate balance of tomato and cream, coats
the pillowy little gnocchi without overpowering their straightfoward,
starchy goodness. Mop up the last remnants of sauce with a scrap of
their awesome (free!) bread, then head to the Apple store for a
bathroom break and a snooze in their comfy auditorium chairs. (149 Sullivan Street, Manhattan, photo courtesy of Lunch with Front Studio)

Best Pizza: La Villa Pizzeria

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When it comes to pizza I am a rarity in New York: I prefer deep dish
to the thin (wimpy!) crust that populates the city’s ‘Ray’s’, ‘John’s’,
‘Rocco’s’, and other assorted pizzerias of masculine moniker. La Villa
more than satisfies my deep dish requirements. The crust is soft but
never soggy in the center, crisp with a touch of cornmeal around the
edges, and holds up admirably under a pile of succulent toppings. My
favourite is the Speciale, with three kinds of meat, caramelized onions
and roasted red peppers. Or try the ‘Quatro Formaggi’, which is Italian
for ‘I’ve died and gone to heaven.’ (261 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, photo courtesy of ranjit’s flickrstream)

Best Chocolate Chip Cookie: City Bakery

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Another treat that’s won the accolades of many (including today’s New York Times), the City Bakery chocolate chipper wins my nod for best in town. (To be fair, I haven’t had a Levain cookie
so perhaps I should reserve judgement.) But still, these cookies from
CB have everything a cookie fetishist could want. They’re wide and flat
but not floppy: a rugged terrain of craggy buttery peaks and deep
chocolate valleys, a golden ratio of
crunchy-on-the-outside/practically-raw-on-the-inside. The photo above
pretty much says it all. These offer an intense eating experience, so
you’ll want an extra-large order of the Bakery’s freshly brewed iced
tea to wash it all down. (3 West 18th Street, Manhattan, photo courtesy of salty/savory/sweet)

Editor’s Note, 6 hours later: I’ve realized that no NYC Carb post is complete without a discussion of bagels. How could I forget bagels? Blame it on insulin shock from the above cookie…

Best Bagels: Bergen Bagels

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Okay, maybe I forgot bagels because in general I’m not a big bagel eater; I’ve definitely fallen prey to the ‘one bagel equals five slices of bread’ hype. But when I do decide to throw caution to the wind, no bagel but Bergen’s will do. NYC Bagel purists might claim that these yeasty creations lack the density of an old school bagel–a debate rages over whether modern day NYC bagels are nothing but glorified rolls–but I find their crusty outer shell belies just the right level of moist, tender chew. As is only proper, they’re always hot from the oven and steam when sliced open. Cream cheese is a delight, of course, but I go ‘hole’ hog and order my sesame with only a generous schmear of butter. Mmmm, butter…maybe a post on fats is in our near future!

473 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, photo courtesy of leuwam’s flickrstream)

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