Holy Week this year I finally got some time off to visit my Mom in the East Coast. Also I have always promised our graduates Felix Villanueva and Dudut Dolorfino I would visit them one day in the Big Apple. Felix now works at the front desk of the very posh Jumeirah Essex House along Central Park. Dudut worked as a chef for Boulud and once promised me he would take me to Daniel’s if ever I was in town. Too bad Dudut was in another state when I came to visit…. but I will still hold him to his promise! Surprisingly I was able to meet up with our other alumni and now New York chefs Salvador (JS) Biadora and Cyndrick Tiu. Sal is now a sought after pastry chef, Cyndrick who now works in Oceana was formerly connected with Jean-Georges.
I only had less than a week to go on this adventure. Luckily Felix, Sal and Cyndrick were the perfect hardcore epicurean guides. The first requirement for this NYC food trip was the $27 seven days unlimited subway metro card. It was super sulit because we were everywhere!!
Thomas Keller’s famous restaurant in NYC is Per Se, on my first day for a light snack and pastries Felix took me to another Keller restaurant the Bouchon Bakery at Columbus Circle. The pastries are soo good!!! And I couldn’t stop eating the parfait!!!
Columbus Circle also houses Masa which is known as one of the most expensive restaurants in the world. There is no fixed menu and you don’t know the price of what is served to you. Chef Masa Takayama prepares the dishes himself. The rule is you have to be ready to spend because you will just get the bill afterwards. So I did not dare eat in Masa because I am not willing to spend $600 for a meal (unless someone else is treating!). I’m sure eating there would have been quite an experience. Columbus building is also home to a Dean& Deluca cafe, William Sonoma, and the glorious Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods is a fantastic gourmet grocery with a wide selection of healthy and organic food.
Then I had to do my daughter duties, so my mother thinking that I am like most typical American tourists brought me to Dallas BBQ in Times Square for ribs and chicken. Anyway for this trip I spent the days with mother and the late afternoon to evenings on gastronomic adventures with our graduates.
I met up with Sal and Felix again the next day hitting Magnolia Bakery at Grand Central Station to try the red velvet cupcake topped with cream cheese. I think Magnolia is overrated. I like Crumbs’ cupcakes better but Magnolia has the media hype .
Then we headed to bohemian Greenwich Village or “the Village” for some yakitori at Oh! Taisho! along St. Marks. What is surreal is I felt like I was in Japan. After a couple of sake shots and Kirin beer we went to Artichoke Basilles for Italian Pizza along 14th street. This tiny shop in the East Village always has a long line. They have only four pizza flavors: artichoke, Margarita, Sicilian and crab. Chef recommends the artichoke pizza. For dessert we went to the legendary Italian restaurant called Veniero’s Pasticceria. Part of my bucket list is to have New York Cheesecake in New York so this is were I got my fix.
Another graduate Cyndrick Tui is so so passionate about being a chef. After CSB he went to CIA and graduated top of his batch. His adobo recipe was filed and is now the official recipe in the CIA manual. He is so fired up and I just love being with him talking endlessly about food. He finally gets a day-off so we can meet up. First he takes me to my favorite food shop of all…the original Dean and Deluca in Soho!!!! Yehey!!!I enter the shop and am in complete euphoria! We go through the store in an animated discussion of their products. Oh how I have so dreamed of taking this concept to Manila !!! Then he takes me to Ceci Cela for coffee and artisan French Pastries. Tourists will go to popular Balthazar’s but my die hard gourmet guides takes me to Ceci Cela which is the tiny shop just around the corner. The croissants and viennoiserie are the best in the city.
Later we take the subway uptown to meet up with Sal in search for the best cookies in Manhattan. Levian cookies at the Upper West Side is rated the best for cookies. So we tried the chocolate chip walnut and the dark chocolate chip cookies. Chewy with intense decadence!!! And to complete the sugar rush we took the cookies with us to the nearby Jacques Torres chocolate store and had some “wicked hot chocolate” (hot choco with chili peppers) to drink. We took the subway again to explore Chelsea Market for their gourmet shops. For dinner Sal brought us to an authentic Greek restaurant in Astoria Queens. Here I had the most tender grilled octopus meat I have ever eaten. Funny we all took the E train back home.
Another day and place with a great concept worthy of mentioning is Shake Shack. They serve gourmet burgers and hotdogs. They are also known] for custard and even have wine on their menu. Here the items are prepared fresh unlike most fast food joints in America. The burgers reminds of the west coast’s In-N Out burgers. This trip I skipped Gray Papaya’s (Anthony Bourdain’s favorite) and had a Shake Shack hotdog on poppy seed bread instead. New York hotdog also on my bucket list. In the late evening my friend Nikko took us to a yuppie tapa’s bar called Pipa’s in Midtown.
Part of the adventure I also went as far out to Korea town in Flushing Meadows for Korean Barbecue. Then on my last day mother brought me to the New York Farmers Market. Here the farmers from upstate bring their produce and organic products to market. It is supported by the local restaurants and city dwellers. Which reminds me when I was upstate I had the most incredible 16oz striploin steak topped with lobster meat and Hollandaise sauce in a restaurant called Tony’s during the first leg of this US trip.
I can’t believe I did all of that in such a short span of time! Thank you Felix, Sal, Cyndrick, and Mother dearest for helping me complete a bucket list. Until next time….