New York City (Part 1): Pork Belly, Caviar and Strawberry Fields

About two weeks prior, sitting in my boss’s office, we decided that I should also attend the upcoming Skin of Color Seminar in NYC with my friend/colleague Lora (basically a dermatology meeting specifically focused on treating skin of color.) And to squeeze in on that trip as well, schedule a meeting with one of the physicians and conduct a site visit. Since he was only available the Weds following the weekend meeting, my entire trip would be a full week.

Now usually my first thoughts are hesitant–I greatly treasure my “flop around at home with cubbie” time and being away for a week, I’d miss him and home a lot. Plus the added thing that work trips can be quite tiring–and isn’t always the “glamorous” concept that those who don’t have to travel for work, imagine.

But then of course, I do love to travel, and combined with my ever persistent belief that you must make the most of every moment beit work-related or personal, pretty soon those initial hesitant thoughts faded away and more cliche phrases like “variety (of scenery/places) is indeed the spice of life!” come into full effect.

So this and the next posts are just random somewhat chronologically ordered snippets and blabs of my thoughts and experiences while in NYC. Overall man….I truly fell in love with this city. I’d been previously back in 2007 for with nuttie visiting a friend and that was my first introduction. And then in 2009 for a short work trip (not as inspiring). And this time, wow this time was awesome—One of those trips from start to finish where you feel absolutely blessed to have experienced it all. HAh and all from a “work trip”! Enjoy 🙂  (and to be honest, this is perhaps more for my own enjoyment in the future as I look back and read and re-experience this lovely trip 😉

PORK BELLY

So the first night we had free from the conference, Lora and I met up with her son and his gf at the nearby (we were staying in Times Square) Mr. Robata restaurant. I gotta tell you, my initial thoughts on the restaurant was a bit (again) hesitant because #1, it was near Times Square (and I’d heard repeatedly, and it made sense, that places to eat near this mother tourist attraction would be the cliche, overpriced, mediocre blah food to please the hordes of masses visiting this area. #2, hello…wasn’t there a song called Mr. Robato…Arigato? and though I am myself full of cheese, believing this restaurant to be named after such song, I couldn’t help but be a bit skeptical (like oh great this must be a Japanese themed restaurant catered to non-Japanese whose only reference to that far east culture is through that 80s song…yahoo..). Although on second thought looking at the spelling…it is different “robata” vs. “robato”–and thus…would no longer rhyme with “arigato”…which perhaps means I was completely mistaken about this connection with that 80s song…or not 🙂

BUT what lead me to suspect I may be incorrect, or rather encouraged me to keep an open mind, was that heh #1, Lora herself had been there (she’s been to NYC multiple times) and proclaimed she had the most delicious dish there and #2 Lora is also a great appreciater of delicious foods and loves travel etc. and fine things of life.  Thusly, I was very happy when my initial hesitant thoughts were again incorrect (hah perhaps another lesson amongst multiple ones, where one must always keep an open mind! I see that I am constantly re-learning this lesson)

We started off with a delicate Yuzu Seaweed Salad with Grilled Eggplant–where the seaweed itself was fun to eat because of the odd variety of shapes and subtle flavors and textures, along with the brightly colored flowers–all watercolor-like flavors of its oceany source–perfectly dressed with a citrus dressing.

Started with delicious seaweed salad
Started with delicious seaweed salad

Then to the title of this memory-highlight: Pork belly with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes. Perfectly braised in a soy sauce? base and flavored on a creamy bed of wasabi mashed potatoes. The wasabi was the perfect zesty ingredient along with the smear of whole grain mustard to cut through the richness of the dish.

Perfectly braised pork belly over wasabi mashed potato with a smear of delicious whole grain mustard.
Perfectly braised pork belly over wasabi mashed potato with a smear of delicious whole grain mustard.

We also had classic sashimi–which was nothing crazy new or unique, (Salmon), but it was probably one of the best basic Salmon Sashimi I’ve tasted—creamy, smooth texture with that soft pure and clean salmon flavor.

Perfect salmon sashimi
Perfect salmon sashimi

And for my entree I had Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass–nicely seasoned with a light and buttery miso glaze, tender sea bass–sigh, I was happy 🙂

Miso glazed Sea Bass
Miso glazed Sea Bass

A PERFECT SUNDAY…CAVIAR, STRAWBERRY FIELDS 

Central Park–I’d visited its periphery in my past two trips to NYC, but I think this time I was finally able to experience its full glory; leisurely strolling through on a sunny Sunday afternoon as well as on a cloudy post-rain storm Wednesday (which I’ll go into on another post).

Sunday morning we had our conference to attend but it ended by lunch time and we had no other work engagements for the day. Traveling, important tasks tend to shape my itnerary–specifically: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Since we’d already had breakfast at the conference (boring bagel and cream cheese but good coffee), I was looking forward to Lora’s suggestion for lunch: PetrossianPer Lora, they’re known for their caviar and was brought over by  about 100 years ago, exporting/importing the fine caviar. There is a super fancy restaurant and then there is a bakery/cafe (we went to the more wallet friendly one ;)–and the theme is a Russian/French vibe.

Here are some shots of the interior of the lovely restaurant (on the corner in a beautiful building). We were able to venture inside and take a few photos of the beautiful glass etchings/art originals –a hushed elegant ambiance in the art deco style. Its like where I would imagine the Great Gatsby would be filmed.

Beautiful glass etchings in the restaurant Petrossian.
Beautiful glass etchings in the restaurant Petrossian.
Loved looking at the details, the costumes--1920s art deco...
Loved looking at the details, the costumes–1920s art deco…

We had a lovely lunch at the Petrossian bakery–very reminiscent of bakeries we visited in Paris, with delectable pieces of pastry art in the front window displays–but with a difference,–rows of the metal blue containers of famous Petrossian Caviar. The seating was towards the back in an intimate little elevated loft area. Heh during lunch, you can’t help but overhear conversations, and sitting next to us, an elderly couple with their son–I imagined that they were the classic and elegant “wealthy old New York.” Understated and elegantly dressed in Chanel –and stating “Dahling…” and discussing which horses they were going to purchase or something etc.

Speaking of observing people–I noticed this big difference in just everyday people in NYC vs. So Cal, or perhaps ..LA and then in SD…in NYC…people look more…how do I put it…natural? There is a subtle stylish vibe…and I suppose (I’m going to be very stereotypical here in my generalizations) but I suppose vs. walking around in LA, there is a decidedly more intense “trying” vibe…perfectly straightened and bleached blonde hair…vs. naturally tousled (maybe not so natural but certainly looked so)…and then Lora said she’d heard the saying that in NY, women wear clothes (fashion etc.) whereas in LA, women wear bodies (purchased boobs, lips etc.) And I thought I suppose that is part of it, but also, and this may be completely off and apologies for any offense (cuz heck I am from So Cal) but there seems to be an air of just intelligence that women in NY wear as a perfume, lacking in what I notice majority-wise elsewhere. Or maybe its just the plain worldliness that is forced upon those who live in such an amazingly diverse city (diverse in terms of culture, social class, income, art etc.)–that they just seem to exude that inexplainable sophistication. Hmm and of course, not all people are like that in either place I’m describing but just a very general overall observation…

OKAY back to the important stuff hehe FOOD! There is something absolutely decadent about caviar–the little shiny pearls of seafoodie flavor, with the rich soft creme fraiche on a pillowy warm blini. Ahh I could have that everyday…

The outside of the bakery/cafe
The outside of the bakery/cafe
Little pieces of art--pastries in the front window display (Petrossian)
Little pieces of art–pastries in the front window display (Petrossian)
Nothing increases one's anticipation than a solid sliver plate cover (keeping the blinis warm)
Nothing increases one’s anticipation than a solid sliver plate cover (keeping the blinis warm)
The set-up--take a blini, smear the creme fraiche and add a dollop of caviar
The set-up–take a blini, smear the creme fraiche and add a dollop of caviar
Wah-la! (we of course didn't get the um Sturgeon heh)
Wah-la!
(we of course didn’t get the um Sturgeon heh)
Delicious cobb salad
Delicious cobb salad
Asparagus, wrapped in cured salmon, with a soft cooked egg
Asparagus, wrapped in cured salmon, with a soft cooked egg
And can't end it without something sweet: Chocolate Lava Cake (beautiful balanced rich flavor--not overly sweet like other lava cakes I've had--with a hint of sea salt to pop through the richness.
And can’t end it without something sweet: Chocolate Lava Cake (beautiful balanced rich flavor–not overly sweet like other lava cakes I’ve had–with a hint of sea salt to pop through the richness.

So after a lunch like that, we definitely needed to walk it off! And luckily, Petrossian is located right at the southern end of Central Park.

Sunday afternoon in the park indeed—with throngs of families, people soaking in the rays and enjoying the gorgeous weather. Now normally I dislike when there are crowds of people in a naturey setting–seems to ruin the natureyness of it all. However this park, which of course is not “natural” but created in the midst of a concrete jungle, the crowds of humanity seemed somehow fitting and actually accentuated the pleasant experience of it. Hearing multiple languages being spoken all around me–I loved it–such a beautiful mix of cultures and people from all walks of life, religions, cultures, professions, ages…it made me feel as cheesy as it sounds, more “alive.”

We walked up towards a little area called Strawberry Fields, in honor of John Lennon’s memory–and lo and behold a motley band had gathered singing lovely raw covers of his music.

Gorgeous trees with shimmering vivid green leaves, branches swaying gently in the breeze and peaceful spanses of grass
Gorgeous trees with shimmering vivid green leaves, branches swaying gently in the breeze and peaceful spanses of grass
Beautiful pathways in zee park
Beautiful pathways in zee park
The lake in the park
The lake in the park
Music in the park- crowd gathers singing along to Beatle's songs
Music in the park- crowd gathers singing along to Beatle’s songs
Imagine indeed :)
Imagine indeed 🙂
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s