Category Archives: Little Lady Eats Abroad

Smorgasburg, Brooklyn, NYC

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If you’re in New York on a weekend, Smorgasburg is the perfect place to while away the hours. Think Street Feast, KERB and Urban Food Fest, but on a larger scale with a fantastic Manhattan backdrop.

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Smorgasburg is a street food festival that attracts 100 street vendors to Williamsburg on Saturdays and Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sundays.

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We walked / taxied our way to Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday 14th September and wandered round the stalls twice before deciding what to buy. We’d read about the Milk Truck Grilled Cheese bar, so kicked things off with a Three Cheese Sandwich.

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Oh yes, this wickedly tasty treat combined aged Gruyere, aged New York State Cheddar and Wisconsin Blue with caramelised, Granny Smith apples on Rosemary Pullman Bread. Cheesy, oozing, deliciousness.

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2nd course was a delightful cheesecake ‘bite’ from Gooey & Co. (the name says it all). We asked the owner where to go next. ‘Simple’, he said, ‘I’m looking right at it’. And so, we turned our heels and marched to Schnitz for a Grumpy Russian.

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The Grumpy Russian was pork loin schnitzel topped with Schnitz Greens, pickled cherries and gorgonzola. It was rich and satisfying, but could have done with a few more cherries to cut through the strong gorgonzola.

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Dinner was two hours away, so we stopped there. Had we stayed another weekend, I’d have gone back without hesitation. Smorgasburg is a place to eat, smile and laugh. Something this grouchy fella will learn as he gets older…

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Smorgasburg, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 5

momofuku, New York

momofuku means ‘lucky peach’ in Japanese. As there’s no fruit to be seen in this popular restaurant, I can only assume the name refers to its customers – happy, juicy peaches that are lucky to be eating its noodles.

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We went to the original momofuku noodle bar on 1st Avenue and waited around an hour for a seat, guzzling wine by the window. Long wooden tables surrounded the busy bar and kitchen. The atmosphere was fun and lively.

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Some friendly New Yorkers recommended what dishes to choose from the menu, starting with one of the specials – yummy pork buns that made me want to cry with joy ($12).

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They came with a plate of Shrimp & Grits with Benton’s bacon, a poached egg and scallion ($14). This rich, buttery dish was a first for me and one I’d like to relive soon. I hear the Lockhart in Marylebone does a very good version (*dials reservation line).

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Big bowls of Spicy Miso Ramen came next ($15). Filled with smoked chicken, noodles, scallion and sesame, there was also a poached egg that delightfully broke with one prick of my fork, flooding the bowl with bright yellow yolk.

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We didn’t have room for dessert, but our waiter turned us with tales of the momofuku Milk Bar – a standalone bakery that produces weird and wonderful treats for each of the restaurants.

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This month’s focus was cookies, so we ordered a Milk Bar medley – ‘the ritz’ cookie, pretzel cake truffles and strawberry sweet cracker soft serve. I couldn’t eat the truffle – it was too sickly for my very sweet tooth. But the cookie made a perfect scoop for the creamy, sweet ice cream (she wonders why her jeans are too tight).

I’d go back to momofuku in an instant; it’s the original Ramen bar that made me feel like the luckiest girl in New York.

momofuku noodle bar, 171 1st Avenue, New York, ny 10003

Price 4/5 – Atmosphere 4/5 – Staff 5/5 – Food 5/5 

Zenkichi, Brooklyn, NYC

By our ninth day in America, my stomach had grown accustomed to super sized portions, so an eight course Omakase Tasting Menu at Zenkichi felt like a walk in Central Park.

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Zenkichi is a modern Japanese brasserie in Brooklyn, perfect for first dates and  romantic meals. Its extraordinary layout couldn’t be more intimate, made up of private, warmly lit wooden booths hidden by bamboo blinds. It’s a popular style in Tokyo, where the owner calls home.

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At $65 a head, the seasonal tasting menu is changed every five weeks, filled with popular Tokyo dishes. Sake is the drink of choice and there’s an a la carte menu for those not wanting to go the whole ‘tasting’ hog.

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Our first course was a traditional Miso Soup, filled with fried tofu and scallions. Well made Miso always takes me by surprise. I don’t understand how something can taste amazing and also be good for you.

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Next up was a beautiful ‘chilled plate’ of Sashimi, Sea Bream Sunomono and Tamago Tofu Shrimp Anake.

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The sashimi melted in the mouth, making me wish for more. The sea bream came marinated in the most wonderfully sweet plum-shino vinegar sauce, and the chilled egg custard tofu was brought to life by a yuzu pepper shrimp broth.

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The Zenkichi Salad of homemade tofu, baby greens and yuba arrived next, coated in a sesame dressing. I was wowed by its simple, yet powerful flavours – this was a dish to replicate at home.

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The meal continued with perfectly cooked Late Spring Tempura of Mongo Iha squid, inen beans and corn, along with Saikyo Miso Cod. I could write an entire post about the cod. It was heavenly – soft like butter, succulent and sweet, it now takes centre stage on my list of desert island foods.

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I was so blown away by the cod, it was hard to concentrate on the rest of the meal.   Takiawase and Filet Mignon Tataki Donburi were both delicious, but hard to remember after the best dish of the evening.

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We decided to order three of the four desserts – Mineoka Tofu, Frozen Black Sesame Mousse and Walnut Chocolate Pudding.

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The chef clearly gave as much attention to dessert as he’d given the rest of the meal. Each pudding was as individual as the main courses, with creamy and light Mineoka Tofu topping the bill (a surprise for me).

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If I ever go back to Zenkichi, I’ll probably choose a la carte. That’s not to say my American sized stomach can’t handle eight courses, but in an ideal world, I’d be eating Black Miso Cod for starter, main and dessert.

Zenkichi, 77 N 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Parish Hall, Brooklyn, New York

We spent one of our NY days in Brooklyn, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan (for those of you as geographically unaware as me). Our first stop was Parish Hall, an uber cool, white washed restaurant that serves brunch, lunch, dinner and, from what I’ve heard, fantastic cocktails.

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From the Brunch menu, Red Flannel Hash was a delightful mix of marinated beetroot (or beets as they’re called in the States), roast potatoes, Swiss chard, corned beef and two eggs, which I ordered poached. It was a combination like no other, but one I really enjoyed as it managed to feel clean, light and healthy, despite the fattier ingredients.

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The far heavier Patty Melt was two slices of rye bread stuffed with grass fed beef and lamb bacon, landaff cheese, grilled onions and a portion of yummy curly fries. Dripping with meat and melted cheese, it was robust, bold and the perfect choice for the hungry hipster to my left.

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On the website, Parish Hall confidently displays its mission statement. My favourite point can be summed up as follows:

“Parish Hall aims to give give people a ‘transformative’ experience so they leave feeling satisfied, refreshed, creatively energised and happy.”

Now I know you’re thinking ‘wow that’s hipster’, but after two hours in Parish Hall, I could feel myself coming round to the idea. I really did feel transformed in mind, body and soul. But on reflection, I probably just felt very full, very relaxed and very happy.

Parish Hall, 109a North 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY 11249

Tacombi, New York

Tacos were high on my NY Bucket List, so when The Boyfriend’s Aunt recommended Tacombi in Nolita, it was the obvious place for lunch on our last day in the Big Apple.

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Tacombi is stripped back to reveal concrete floors, metal tables and chairs, crates of beer and a steel taco van ‘driven’ by two Mexican chefs. It has a bustling ‘street food’ vibe, with enough space so you don’t have to wait too long.

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Yet again, we ordered less than recommended, but still ended up with too much food. From the taco menu, we went for Pollo (chicken at $3.95), Pork Belly ($5.49), Barbacoa (a Caribbean way of cooking meat, coming in at $5.49) and Crispy Fish ($4.49).

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Each juicy taco excited my tastebuds with well seasoned, spicy meat, fresh herbs and crispy vegetables. That, and a strongly flavoured corn tortilla pulling everything together.

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On the side, we had average Ceviche ($5.49) and the star of our meal, Corn Esquites ($3.85) – beautifully sweet toasted corn, with lime and a thick chipotle mayo. Put simply, it was divine.

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Our meal at Tacombi was one of the cheapest and best we had in New York City. By the look on everyone’s faces, I could tell they felt the same. This was delicious food, worth having time and time again.

Tacombi, 267 Elizabeth Street, NY 10012

Caracas Arepa Bar, New York

An arepa is a dense, corn dough muffin that’s opened and stuffed with cheese, fish, meat – anything that takes your fancy. I first tried one aged 18, living in Venezuela. My second experience came ten years later, this time in NYC.

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Caracas was the restaurant feeding us yummy arepas. We had to wait an hour, but eventually got a seat in the bustling Manhattan branch, despite feeling tempted by the ‘food to go’ window.

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Inside we found a cosy, warmly lit space, decorated with statues of Mary Magdalene and ornate crosses. On wooden tables sat menus listing the 12 arepas available, along with nine ‘Sidekicks’, salads, full sized ‘plates’ and desserts.

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Now if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about America, it’s to order less than what’s recommended to you. The waiter told us we needed four arepas between two, so we went for three plus Guasacaca & Chips ($6.25) – delicious guacamole that was scooped up with crisp plantain.

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The suitably bland patties were the perfect vessel for the meaty fillings – De Pabellon ($7.5) with shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese and sweet plantains, De Pollo ($6.5), a combination of grilled chicken breast, caramelised onions and cheddar cheese and last, but by no means least, Vista al Mar ($8) – pan seared tilapia with garlic infused oil, pickled onions, radish and a parsley, cilantro and oregano spread.

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Is your mouth watering yet? It should be as each one was packed with wonderful flavours, especially Vista al Mar, which reminded me of snacks on the shore in Choroni, Venezuela.

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There’s no way I can wait another ten years before biting into an arepa. If London doesn’t come up with the goods, I’ll just have to make my own…or take another trip to the Big Apple.

Caracas, 93 1/2 E 7th St., NY 10009

Ben’s Pizza, New York

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As much as I love London’s sourdough pizza craze, nothing – and I mean nothing – beats a slice of New York’s finest.

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For less than $4, you can get a massive slice of wonderfully cheesy pizza that will make you wonder why you’ve ever eaten anything else.

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We grabbed a couple of slices from Ben’s Pizza in SoHo. The options were endless, but we kept it simple with a thin crust Margherita and a thick Sicilian, freshly made on the premises.

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We ate our pizza sitting by a basketball court in the sunshine. Each piece had a crisp base and a delightfully gooey filling. It was so American and so, so delicious.

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Not much more to say, other than go, eat and enjoy.

Ben’s Pizza, 177 Spring St,  New York, NY 10012