A long weekend in NYC

A few weeks back, I took a long weekend to visit one of my closest friends, Leigh Anne, in New York City. Last spring, she picked up and moved across the country to follow her Big Apple dreams. I'll admit I mourned the loss of my devoted brunch buddy, but it was quickly outweighed by my happiness for my friend and her exciting opportunity as well as the anticipation of a visit to New York over the summer. I was thankful for having seen much of the tourist side of the city in a previous trip, so we could spend the weekend catching up and leisurely exploring.

Luckily Leigh Anne shares my sense of adventure and love of food, so much of the four days was spent in search of food. Between a local and a devoted foodie, we had an endless list of places we were hoping to fit in.

Fort Defiance

Of course, we visited Chelsea Market, and made a stop Fat Witch. S'mores in a brownie, what can I say, it's an excellent combination. For happy hour, we dared a walk through Midtown on a Friday night so we could try Southern Hospitality, a bar and restaurant owned by Justin Timberlake that stays true to his southern roots. Leigh Anne and I felt so at home at Spitzer's, a gastropub in the Lower East Side. Communal tables, craft beer and a lively atmosphere -- it's the kind of place we could spend hours in, and have been known to do. As soon as we read 40 beers on tap, we were sold. We made the trek to Red Hook with Becca, our friend who happens to be Leigh Anne's roommate, for brunch at Fort Defiance. It was a quaint restaurant that was worth the trek, with hearty portions, seasonal ingredients and tablecloths that reminded us of the southwest.

Becca, Leigh Anne and I ventured to The Standard hotel's Biergarten at the High Line for drinks with Leigh Anne's friends and I tried the Berliner Weiss, a regional German wheat bear that's fruity and a little sour.  It's funny that it took a trip across the country to step inside The Standard, when I used to drive past the one in Hollywood on a weekly basis. On the way home, we got a sweet tooth and that meant a stop at Magnolia Bakery, made popular by Sex and the City, was in order. I couldn't not try the cupcakes, since I've spent my adulthood venturing to Sprinkles. I enjoyed the Banana Cupcake, which had a light, more banana-muffin-like flavor with a sweet caramel frosting. There were also stops for coffee, of course. We are journalists by trade after all. And, we got a chance to try the ever-popular Shake Shack burger, and compare it to In-N-Out and the numerous other "road-side" burger stands. The consensus was it was a good burger, and each has it's own perks. And of course, what trip to New York would be complete without a slice of pizza.

Fried Chicken and Cheddar Waffle from Buttermilk Channel with a view of the
 skyline from Brooklyn Bridge Park (left), DBGB Kitchen and Bar, and
Cookies and Cream and Salted Carmel from Blue Marble Ice Cream

But among our many stops, there were a few standouts and I am so excited to share my three to try for New York City.

DBGB Kitchen and Bar 
Daniel Boulud's restaurant in the Bowery has been on top of my list of places to try in New York for quite some time and I was excited to enjoy a night out with Leigh Anne and Becca during my visit. I originally saw DBGB featured on a Food Network show, and the French bistro meets American tavern concept intrigued me. The menu features a variety of house-made sausages from around the globe, traditional entrees like duck and steak frites and inspired gourmet burgers. I mulled over the menu for a good 20 minutes, but in the end went with the first item that caught my eye. The Piggie is a beef burger topped with pulled pork, jalapeno mayonnaise and a mustard slaw. And I was not disappointed. Each bite was thoughtfully layered, but the flavor profile not overly complex. Beyond our satisfying meals, the main dining room took inspiration from the history of the Bowery as a restaurant supply district. The walls were lined with shelving stocked with dry goods, table wares and copper pots from other acclaimed chefs. It felt almost if you were dining in an enormous, walk-in pantry albeit more chic than industrial.

Doughnut Plant
Who doesn't love doughnuts? I have favorite bakeries or ice cream shops in nearly every city I've visited, and Doughnut Plant is now sitting at the top of my New York list. Leigh Anne shares my love of this sweet treat. In fact we had a favorite bar in Phoenix with doughnuts on their dessert menu that quickly became an after-work favorite. So after a red-eye flight and a quick stop to drop off my luggage, we ventured to Chelsea to get a late breakfast. With all the seasonal and unique flavors, I probably could have ordered a half dozen doughnuts. Luckily I had some self restraint and settled for two featuring my favorite fruits. The peach cake doughnut had a great crumb texture. My favorite though was the vanilla bean yeast doughnut with blackberry filling. It had a perfect ratio of vanilla in the dough and sweetness in the berry filling, so that neither overpowered the other. Doughnut Plant's filled doughnuts are square with a hole in the center like traditional doughnuts. It's absolute genius because now there is filling in every bite! There is no reason to wonder why Doughnut Plant is celebrating it's 20th anniversary, they know doughnuts and it shows. While the wait wasn't long, there was a constant flow of people coming and going as we sat and enjoyed our doughnuts.

Smorgasburg was quite possibly my favorite part of my entire weekend in New York City. It's a weekly food market with vendors from restaurants and local food proveyors across the city. We ventured to the Brooklyn Bridge Park location on Sunday morning so we could enjoy the views of Manhattan as we enjoyed our snacks. There options were abundant, ranging across many cuisines, but I had my eyes set on trying Blue Marble Ice Cream. But first I opted for something more savory, on Becca's recommmendation, from Buttermilk Channel. We got one of my favorites, buttermilk chicken on a cheddar waffle. Simple, but done well. I enjoyed it so much that on my next trip to the Big apple, I plan to make a stop at their restaurant in Brooklyn. After, I stopped to get a two-scoop cone at Blue Marble to enjoy as we wandered the length of Brooklyn Bridge Park from the piers to the Brooklyn Bridge. I opted for a perhaps strange combination so I could try both of the featured flavors, cookies & cream and salted caramel. Artisan ice cream is really worth the cost, it just tastes so much better! It was the perfect treat for a summer afternoon.