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Street Food and Swag: My BlogHer weekend (part 2)

August 19, 2010

BlogHer10 took place in the NYC Hilton on the Avenue of the Americas at 56th street.  The hotel was glamorous, the workshops full of great information, and the women that I met all friendly, motivated and very talented.  The food at the hotel was pretty impressive.  Huge tables of sandwiches, fruit, beverages and what seemed like dozens of dessert options. I ate more cupcakes than any person should rightly be allowed in a 48 hour window.

When I wasn’t sampling the BlogHer bounty, I was dipping my toes in the NYC food scene. There was SO MUCH to see, to do, to taste.  Knowing I had little time, I made sure to hit my top three most important food places.

#1: Magnolia Bakery, suggested by my aunt Cathy (who, along with Ken, were our hosts with the mosts for the weekend). I HAD to have NYC cupcakes.  Never mind that I was eating all those BlogHer cupcakes- this was an almost compulsory need. Visit NYC bakery, eat NYC cupcakes, and revel in the glory. Magnolia did not disappoint.

We had one “cupcake of the day”, which was a caramel cupcake with caramel merengue frosting. HOLY MOLY. It was unreal. The caramel flavor snuck up on our taste buds, leaving a creamy, rich aftertaste that combined with our organic coffee in a way that can only be called divine.  The other cupcake was a vanilla number with a mysterious green butter cream frosting.  Imagine the best birthday cake you’ve ever tasted. It was like that, but BETTER.

Em clearly enjoyed herself.

#2: NYC hot dog from cart.  Oh yes, this was very important. I actually ate two.  The first I did not get a picture of, since I was rushing into the hotel after missing lunch.  I’m a bit sad about that, since of course it was the perfect hot dog. I mean PERFECT.  It was grilled on the cart, long and thin like a cigar, with exactly the right proportions of ketchup and yellow mustard. WOW.  The second was a couple of days later, right outside Central Park.  This hot dog was shorter, and had been boiled, but was nearly as delicious.  Em was with me and we got ALL the toppings.

We just don’t have street cart food like this in Madison.  We do have carts, but they are very different affairs, elaborately painted and pulled by cars onto the capitol square or by campus at lunch and bar time.  There is one hot dog cart in the city that I know of, right by the entrance to a St. Vinny’s parking lot.  Being in Madison, he also sells bratwurst and veggie hot dogs. It’s just not the same at all.

#3: Visit NYC Farmer’s Market. Check and check.  Em and I actually found two on our wanderings, as well as a flea market that also sold pickles and teas/spices.

I cursed my full suitcases for denying me the opportunity to take home some of those teas, salts and herbs. Emily seriously pondered over the portability of plastic containers of pickles (conclusion= bad idea).  These two booths at the flea market brought home to me, even more than the countless restaurants and grocery stores, how much variety is available to Manhattanites.  In New York City the world is literally at the tip of your tongue.  Go to one part of town and have amazing dim sum, go to another and eat glorious knishes. You can find all sorts of fruits and vegetables, plain or prepared any which way.  It would take a lifetime to eat at every restaurant.  It was astounding, inspiring and very very cool.

However, being a local foodist to my core, I really wanted to see what kinds of local New York state food we could find. To that end, we swung by the farmer’s market across from the flea market, the Greenmarket Farmers’ Market.

We found all sorts of goodies, but noticed that there were few organic stands.  Most sellers used sprays and other chemicals to grow their food (we asked, since sometimes food can be grown without any of the nastiness without being labeled organic. The certification process is really quite expensive, and many smaller producers can’t necessarily afford it.)  In the end we did find a few booths that were chemical free, and bought homemade beet kimchi (surprisingly sweet and very spicy), baby bok choi, a ton of salad greens, yellow romano beans, cherry tomatoes, carrots and sunflowers.

We got most of our bounty from the booth below. They had a dazzling selection of greens (admittedly at a jaw dropping price) and a nice selection of other organic produce (at much lower prices). They also made the fabulous beet kimchi!

We took everything back to Cathy and Ken’s apartment and made a salad to accompany the dinner they provided. Along the way we had a slice of NYC pizza (delish and as big as my head), and picked up some bread and cheese.  It was the perfect way to spend our last evening in NYC.

I hope we get to go back again soon!  There was SO MUCH MORE I would have loved to do.  All in all though, it was an immensely satisfying trip.

Back here on the home front, the Eat Local Challenge has begun!  Em and I have been eating nearly 100% locally for almost a week now, and it has been a great deal of fun. We made one of the best dishes of our LIVES last night- pork tenderloin braised in a tomatillo sauce with quartered golden potatoes, 100% locally grown.  Melons are in season, so we’ve been munching on those, and eating down the seemingly endless supplies of zucchini and tomatoes.  Summer is just beginning to spin its way into fall, but the hot humid days of August are very much upon us.  Peppers are coming into season full force, and the first winter squashes were spotted at the market last week.

Every summer it seems impossible that I can ever welcome fall, ever want anything than to luxuriate in the balmy warmth of June and July.  Right about now I start to remember with great fondness the feeling of cool air on my skin, long for scarves or even just shoes, to walk without feeling like I’m wrapped in a warm moist towel.  Mother nature knows her business. We get blasted at the end of summer with the most unbearable heat and humidity, til we are panting for fall.  I’m not there yet… but I haven’t minded smelling the change of weather, noticing the cooler nights.

How’s the weather where you are?  Eaten anything amazing lately?  Participating in the Eat Local Challenge? I’d love to hear about it!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2010 7:30 pm

    Cool pics from NYC, thanks for sharing. I wish I could have been there. The cupcakes look delish. That’s awesome you got to go to the FM, I love visiting ones in various cities.

  2. Sandy permalink
    August 22, 2010 5:45 pm

    Every time we wander the Union Square market and the little ethnic groceries we mutter, “if only we had a ktichen!”. How lucky you are to have friends in NYC! Thanks for sharing your travels.

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