Tag Archive for: NYC

Rustic Pizzeria

18 Dec
December 18, 2010

It was the last night in New York.  A full day of walking, playing tourist and basically trying to fit in as much as possible.  My feet were hurting.  Flu had completely wrapped it massive germy infested arms around me and I was not feeling great.  One thing on my list I still really wanted to do and had not achieved as yet, pizza.  I wanted to try New York style pizza.

Not really feeling like venturing far, with luck, Rustic Pizzeria was just a couple of blocks away from my hotel.

I love the way New Yorkers do pizza, Aussies have a lot to learn.  The fact you can buy by the slice is awesome, no need to buy a whole pizza.  Pick and choose as your taste buds desire.

The pizza is pre-made, you choose which slices you would like and they are popped back in to the pizza oven to finish cooking.  Pizza the way I love it, not heavy on toppings, served piping hot with a thin and crisp base, perfect!

I decided two slices would totally fill me up.  The slices are like they are from a pizza made for a giant.

I chose a slice of nice simple mozzarella, basil and tomato and a slice of pepperoni.  Simple and totally delicious.

Sara xxx

Pizza Rustica on Urbanspoon


Russ & Daughters Appetizers

08 Dec
December 8, 2010

Yes, still New York posts heading your way with a couple more to come.

Russ & Daughters was on my definite hit list when I was planning my trip to New York. I had seen Russ & Daughters on various food shows previously but it was a pod cast that I had subscribed to, “The Bowery Boys”, that really made me want to go visit.

If you are heading to NYC I strongly suggest their pod cast. The Bowery Boys are about the history of NYC which is presented in an entertaining way. The history to NYC is amazing and I really had a great feel of how the city was built after listening to them, and will admit my favourite ones were their Halloween specials, spooky New York, very cool.

There are two main things I love about Russ & Daughters beside the food, the rags to success story and the fact that “Daughters” appears in the business name.

Joel Russ emigrated to the USA from Europe, like so many Eastern European Jews, in 1907 and settled in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This area was the centre of immigrant Jewish culture in NYC. He started his business selling polish mushrooms which he would cart around on top of his shoulders and sell. Eventually enough money was saved to buy a pushcart, then a horse and wagon.

He married Bella and they had three daughters, no sons. In 1904 Joel can finally afford to open his first store and then starts to sell salted/cured herring/salmon along with other produce. He does well and moves to larger premises in 1920, Russ & Daughters current location, but the store is called J Russ National Appetizing Store.

His three daughters learn the business and work with their father. Apparently men would come to see Joel’s beautiful daughters just as much as the great produce, and they all meet and married their husbands through the business.

Now this is the part that I love about the history of Russ & Daughters. In 1933 the business name is changed to Russ & Daughters Appetizers. It is the first time, it is believed, in history that the word “daughters” is used in a business name. As a woman I really appreciate what Joel did. Nobody acknowledged their daughters in business back then, but Joel Russ having three and no sons, did. Back in the day it was preferable to have “sons” in the business name, even if that resorted to referring to your son in law.

Russ & Daughters is still a family business run by the Russ family. The fourth generation is now working there. The Smithsonian Institute declared Russ & Daughters a part of New York’s cultural heritage in 2000.

Enough with the history lesson for today, but I do appreciate a good success story.

I visited on a Sunday and the place was packed. Packed with people and packed with produce. Quite honestly I was blown away with variety.

They have a range that I have not seen elsewhere, caviar, smoked/cured salmon, specialty smoked fish, herring, bagels, salads as well as dried fruit and sweets. Plus they stock other deli items to accompany your fish purchase.

I was gobsmacked by the range of cream cheese alone, plain, scallion (spring onion), vegetable, green olive, horseradish, caviar, lox, plus a tofu range of cream cheese that includes plain, scallion and lox.

Caviar, they have the real deal, plus trout roe, salmon roe as well as green wasabi roe. Blinis and crème fraiche are also available to accompany your caviar purchase, and why not pick up a mother of pearl spoon to serve with while you are there.

So many different types of smoked salmon, Irish Organic, Gaspe Nova, Danish, Scottish, Norwegian, belly lox, gravlax, pastrami cured, kippered salmon, Western Nova and pickled lox.

Their specialty smoked fish includes sturgeon, trout, chubs, sable, whitefish, mackerel and tuna.

The shop itself is not that big, it is actually quite long and narrow, but it is packed with an amazing range of smoked, cured and pickled product.

Of course I could not visit Russ and Daughters and not buy a bagel. As tempting as it was to try some of the produce I hadn’t seen before, I decided to keep it basic. Smoked salmon, horseradish & dill cream cheese and red onion. The bagels are made to order and the salmon is thinly sliced off the main fillet for you as the bagel is made.

I can honestly say that this was the best smoked salmon bagel I have ever had in my life. The bagel itself was wonderful. The salmon, incredible, so soft, flavoursome and just melted in your mouth. The dill cream cheese and onion, delicious. Also add to the equation that I am sitting on a bench in front of the store on East Houston Street while I munch away. Magical, pure pure magic. Special memories are made of this.

Sara xxx

Russ & Daughters on Urbanspoon

Sakagura NYC

16 Sep
September 16, 2010

I sit, ponder and plan where I will eat, what I will see and do before I head overseas.  Even when it is for business I try and work out what I can fit in. Of course my research is just a guide and some things are achieved and others aren’t.The joyof travel is finding something not expected. I expected fantastic food in NYC and I had plenty of it, but a chance conversation lead me to a restaurant that is regarded as a hidden jewel, and well hidden it is.

Sakagura was established in 1996 and is now one of the top sake bars in the USA. If you didn’t know it was there you would just walk right past it. Why? The entrance is actually an office building which looks like it is closed in the evenings. You walk in to the foyer and wonder where on earth you are meant to go next. You then find the stairs that you are to proceed down, walk along a corridor and then find this magical oasis. Tokyo in the basement of a NYC office building, amazing.

S4 S5Funnily though once I returned back to Sydney I saw Sakagura on an episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain was discovering the non touristy side of NYC that he loves. Well done me for finding it before being told about it by a celebrity chef.

Besides having a reputation for sake they also take that care and pride in their food. This was an unexpected treat of a meal and I would have to say some of the best Japanese food I have had.

The staff are very knowledgeable in regard to sake (which would be expected) and more than willing to help the novice decide what would best suit their pallet. Myself being a novice with sake I tried their sample set which included three sakes they thought I may like. It is fun to compare the different sakes and then decide which one you prefer. I settled on a dry sake served cold.
S9It was so hard to decide what to have to eat as everything on the menu sounded so fantastic and a little bit different.S10Kamo Roast Negimaki: Sliced chilled roast duck wrapped around scallions with an accented basil sauce.

Holly molly this was to die for. The duck was just seared and served thinly sliced. It had a slight smokey flavour to the meat and the finely sliced green onion cut beautifully through the layer of fat on the duck.
S1Tatami Kwashiorkor: Dried sardine crackers, fried crisp and served with a spicy mayonnaise dip.

The spicy mayonnaise was sesame based and I didn’t find it at all spicy. The crackers reminded me of a Japanese style prawn cracker, nice and fishy, but not overpowering of sardine. Even though the mayo was not spicy it made a lovely companion to the crackers.

S2Uzaku: Grilled eel vinaigrette served with thin cucumber slices and wakame seaweed.
A mouth-watering balancing act of fatty eel with a slightly smoked flavour and crunchy cucumbers. The eel was soft and melted in your mouth, it wasn’t grainy as it can sometimes be.

S8Sakagura Special – Stewed Diced Pork: How can you go past the words special and diced pork?

This was the most tender pork belly I have ever eaten, melting in your mouth <Homer drool>. The broth was a light cleansing pork broth, with a hint of wasabi, which suited the richness of the pork belly.

I had no room for dessert, but I just had to have some anyway. As I had noticed Black Sesame Crème Brulee with Black Sesame Ice Cream on the menu. Bwaaaaaaa!!! They had just run out. So I opted for my next choice.
S7Sake Manju:  Sake Lees Bun stuffed with Red Beans served with Green Tea Sorbet.

The dessert was beautifully presented and the black sesame twist in my sorbet was a pleasant surprise and visually stunning. Sadly this was not my highlight of the meal and I sulked slightly as I watched the person next to me scoff down a delicious looking crème brulee, bwaaaaaa!!!S6If you do find yourself in NYC, Sakagura is well worth the visit.


211E 43rd St B1F
New York NY 10017 [Between 2nd& 3rd Aves]
Tel: 212.953.SAKE [7253]
Fax: 212.682.1951

Sakagura on Urbanspoon

Momofuku – Ssäm Bar

03 Jul
July 3, 2010

A very belated post from my New York trip back in January this year and there are more to come!

My foodie world has been, and still seems to be totally in love with David Chang and his baby Momofuku.  When I was in New York I decided I had to eat at one of his establishments, seemed a very obvious thing to do, so I decided the Momofuku Ssäm Bar would be my target.

This place is renowned for their bo ssäm, which consists of a whole butt of pork, dozen oysters, kimchi, rice and bibb lettuce.  The dish is designed to be shared with a minimum of 6 people.  Sadly I wasn’t going to be trying it, but the table next to me was, so at least I got to see what it looked like.

Momufuku Ssam Bar kitchenI had high expectations of Momofuku, for me it was a bit like a hyped up movie you go to see, it’s a good movie but you walk out wondering what all the hype is about.  Sadly that is what I thought of Momofuku’s Ssäm Bar.  The food was great, please don’t get me wrong in that respect, but it definitely wasn’t my best meal in New York.

Momofuku Ssam Bar CrabTo start off with I had the cracked Jonah crab claws.  The crab claws were sweet and juicy and they were accompanied with harissa mayonnaise which had a nice deep flavour to it.

Momofuku Ssam Bar Pork BunsThere was no way I wasn’t going to order these babies, steamed buns.  Light and fluffy steamed buns filled with pork belly, hoisin sauce, cucumbers scallions.  They come with chilli cause on the side which I actually forgot to put on.  The pork was melt in your mouth, loved them.

Momofuku Ssam Bar KimchiHoney crisp apple kimchi, jowl bacon, maple labne and arugula.  The apples were delightfully crisp and infused with the kimchi flavour.  The maple labne was mapley sweet but not overly so. The bacon was crispy with lines of fat through it.  The dish was a lovely combination of sweet, savoury and salty.

Momofuku Ssam Bar beef shinSichuan beef tendon served with green mango and peanuts. I really liked the concept of this salad.  The beef tendon was paper thin, there were lots of peanuts, but for some reason the dish was slightly lacking.  Maybe if they hadn’t been so light handed with the mango, I think this may of helped as the dish really relied on it.

When you dine out it isn’t just about the food, service is also a major point.  Sadly even though the restaurant was not that busy I felt rushed my whole meal, plates being cleared before finishing, that sort of thing.

Would I recommend the Ssäm Bar?  Sure, the steamed buns are wonderful, the food is good, but sadly did not live up to the hype.  If I was there with a party of 6 I would really love to try the bo ssäm

Sara xxx

Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 2nd Ave. NYC 10003 | corner of 13th + second

Momofuku Ssäm Bar on Urbanspoon


13 Apr
April 13, 2010

This was “the” restaurant on my eat list for New York and when bookings opened 1 month prior to my arrival I booked.

I was surprised when I mentioned to foodie friends of my excitement of visiting WD-50, that a few of them had not heard of the restaurant nor it’s chef Wylie Dufresne. I first caught wind of Wylie on Top chef where he introduced contestants to molecular gastronomy. To me he is the American version of Heston Blumenthal, he is part scientist, part artist and pushes the boundaries to create incredible food.

Wd 50 signSince then I have seen him appear on many programs including Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, where Anthony commented he was quite surprised that Wylie was working in the kitchen still as he could quite easily have his own tv show, book deals etc. He is a hands on chef and is generally at the pass of his restaurant most nights. He loves what he does and that is reflected in his food. Read more →