The last time we were in NYC we tried the Burger Joint at The Parker Meridian. This branch is a stand alone site downtown with a full bar.
We arrived at about 8pm on a Friday evening and the bar was very busy with lots of groups of locals and regulars.
Luckily not many people were eating so not only could we get a table but service was also very fast. Our waitress was lovely even helping us to get online with our phones so we could 'tweet' check-in.
The burgers were excellent and well deserving of the place in the top 5 burgers in NYC.
They were juicy, tasty, good meat, good amount of cheese topping and served piping hot.
If I lived in NYC this would be one of my go to places for meeting up with friends and having casual food on a weekend evening.
Burger Joint 33 West 8th Street NYC 10011
I wanted to share some of the great things I have been doing during my 6 weeks in NYC. I knew that my husband would be working during the six weeks we were going to spend in NYC so I decided to make good use of the time and find some things to do that I don't normally have easy access to in Switzerland...
I did a bit of research before we arrived and decided I was going to take some Pilates reformer classes. This was something I enjoyed doing when we lived in Upstate NY a few years ago and I certainly noticed a loss of strength since I stopped. Pilates Reforming NYC offers a free intro class and so with nothing to lose, I headed over there. They have three studios within the location that was only 5 block from where I was staying, and classes throughout the day - which was perfect for me.
I had an amazing intro class with a teacher called Ritchie, who was so passionate about Pilates it would be hard for anyone not to become addicted. The class was a good way for me to get back into Pilates and realise my muscles actually remembered what they were supposed to do !!
The Studio had a very attractive offer for new students so I signed up and booked myself up for the 8.30am classes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Twice a week my classes were with Laura and once a week with Ritchie. Both teachers are excellent, explaining exactly how the muscles are supposed to be working and helping out with posture and getting into the right positions. Committing to these classes also gave my week some 'structure' and I slotted my treadmill runs in-between these days. I was really giving myself a kick start to get into shape....It also made sure I was out of the hotel and doing something instead of wasting time in bed !!
All the studio staff are lovely, very professional and helpful and they have an easy to use online booking system. The classes do have an expiry date, so if you are only visiting for a few weeks you really need to be able to commit yourself. but you can see online which are the busy classes and book yourself into the quieter ones where you get more one 2 one with the teacher. I'm definitely coming back whenever I am in NYC and if you are here for an extended stay I'd highly recommend these guys.
So one day my husband comes home and says - 'I need to go to the USA to work for at least a month - maybe two. What do you think?' I screamed from upstairs as I was digging out my suitcase that as long as he was planning to stay in NYC I was in!!
Well maybe I wasn't already finding my suitcase but I was certainly 'in' and spent the 4 weeks after we booked out flights planning exhibitions I wanted to see, making restaurant bookings and compiling shopping lists.
We have been to NYC many times as tourists when we were living in London and also as day trippers when we lived upstate for a short while. We've done the open top bus tour, taken photos on the Brooklyn Bridge, had a horse and carriage ride in Central Park and we've pretty much exhausted all the touristy things to do. So this was a great opportunity to really 'live' in NYC and enjoy just being there.
My first week started off with the necessary shopping. For most of my travels I only pack travel sizes of necessary toiletries and I never pack shower gel, mouthwash or toothpaste. I just make a stop off at a local pharmacy and pick up everything to need when I arrive. This time I didn't even bother with cleansers, or moisturizers. I brought a few sample sizes to get me through the first 2 days and they just headed to the Clarins counter at Macys and stocked up - this also has the added bonus that I also got a gift and several samples sizes that will come in very useful for further trips. We also left out vitamins at home and bought those here too as not only are they cumbersome to pack but they are so much cheaper in NYC than Switzerland - it's a no-brainier!!
I googled a lot before we left and I found a great Pilates studio Reforming New York that is only 5 blocks away from where I am staying. They gave my my first lesson as a trial and then the next 7 lessons for under $200. I signed up for the best class for my time schedule, 8.30 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This class happens to be their quietest and so far I've had a lesson with one other person and one alone !
I also started to do a 'couch to 5K' using an app on my iPhone. The hotel has a gym so I'm going down 3 times a week in an attempt to counter-act the fabulous food I plan to eat whilst I am here.
Things on the dining out front have been pretty fabulous so far. I had already booked tabled at Marea and Gordon Ramsay at The London before we left home.... The food was fabulous at both! (You can read my reviews here) We discovered another excellent small restaurant by our hotel and we also met up with a couple of friends who were in town visiting from Hong Kong.
Shopping will also feature on the trip but for this week it was really the essentials I bought. New running shoes which were essential for my C25K routine and I didn't pack a handbag for the trip so a little trip to Michael Kors was needed... I couldn't turn up at a Michelin stared restaurant with my rucksack - even though it is Prada!
There are of course lots of exhibitions I want to see but the beauty of being here for so long is that I can do everything at a much more leisurely pace, whilst housekeeping takes care of the bathroom cleaning and sheet changing duties.
To get a Saturday evening table in this two Michelin Star restaurant I had to book 4 weeks in advance.!!
I had high hopes of fabulous food and was not disappointed at all. We were greeted warmly on arrival and we got a great table in the middle of the room.
As we expected they were very busy with a high turnover on the tables. Watching the staff change the table as soon as the customers had left was like watching a well practiced dance routine. The staff almost glided in and everything was cleared and the table re-set up in under 2 minutes.
Our waitress - Elisabet, was charming, very smily and helpful. She swiftly arranged a glass of champagne and a beer which were quickly followed by a chef's amuse bounce of grilled mackerel.
This was followed quite rapidly by an offering from the bread basket. The sourdough and the wholewheat were good breads, but the foccacia was simply delicious. I think it had rosemary and lemon olive oil. It was hard to stop myself from having a second piece but I knew I had to save space for some fabulous food that was on its way....
We ordered the set 4 course menu for $99, which for a 2 star restaurant is a great price. I had the conchiglie - dish of cockles clams mussels and oysters on bread which was amazing. I could of eaten a huge bowl of this. It was fresh and light in flavour and quite simple in terms of the ingredients, but everything worked beautifully together.
Next I had the fusilli - red wine braised octopus and bone marrow. I had read about this being one of their signature dishes and I can see why. It was quite possible one of the best dishes I have ever eaten. I would return just to have this dish.
My main dish was the grilled sea scallops, which were perfect, in both flavour and how they were cooked, however they followed a real winner of a dish and didn't stand much chance to shine.....
My husband had the mixed oysters which he loved, the gnochetti, which was ruby red shrimp with chillies and rosemary and then the spada which was a grilled swordfish. He loved everything he had but admitted that the octopus in red wine was the winning dish of the evening.
Lastly we both had the Tiramisu dessert. It was light and tasty, nothing amazing but I'm not really a dessert girl. Had I not been so full of good tasty food I might of opted for the cheese plate, but I just needed a taste of something a little sweet.... that being said I still managed to eat it all !!
As we left we were given a wrapped muffin for breakfast. Such a nice touch and a great way to keep Marea in the thoughts of their diners.
The whole evening was an amazing journey of flavours and fresh perfectly prepared food. I would highly recommend a visit to Marea, as soon as you book flights start looking out for a table !!
Marea 240 Central Park South NYC 10019.
I waited in the bar area to meet my husband and enjoyed people watching over a gin (Gordon's of course!) and tonic.
I am a big Gordon Ramsay fan and so I am always excited to be able to visit any of his restaurants when I am anywhere nearby. The new Hong Kong one is on my radar for our next trip to Asia !!
There is a restaurant area next to the bar that was not at all busy but I think the noise from the bar would be quite distracting.
The 'formal' restaurant is a large well lit room next to the bar. It's fairly spacious which means you are not too close to other patrons however on the evening we were there a table in the corner had some pretty loud voices and we could hear them way above the people next to us !!
We opted for the three course dinner and enjoyed various small additions - a small chilled soup, Amuse bouche and cleansers.
Everything was served beautifully and cooked perfectly. My Organic Chicken was juicy and perfectly flavoured.
David our waiter was charming, competent and very professional.
My husband ordered a dessert that came with pea cake - I was intrigued.
It did in fact taste of peas !! Husband hated it and it was speedily replaced without issue. My hazelnut chocolate was heavenly.
David, the waiter, was so disappointed that we hadn't opted for their signature tarte tatin that he actually brought us a third dessert and he insisted we try it.... To be fair it was amazing!
It wasn't a cheap evening US$500 including a bottle of wine, two glasses of champagne and service but it was worth it on the occasion of my husband's birthday.
Gordon Ramsay @ The London 151 West 54th Street, NYC 10019.
I made this for the In-laws as a dessert after Sunday Lunch. They loved it. Its not too heavy and its relatively quick to make. You can use raspberries or blueberries alongside the apples if you fancy it too !!
I was going to serve it with custard but opted for fresh whipped cream instead. Ingredients
5 sheets filo pastry
60g butter melted
3 tbsp almonds
I tbsp brown sugar.
750 g apples cored and peeled
zest and juice of one lemon
3 tbsp muscovado sugar
half tsp cinnamon
half tsp mixed spice
125g sultanas soaked in brandy / orange juice Mix the filling together - apples (sliced), sultanas, lemon zest and juice, muscovado sugar, spices and cinnamon.
Lightly brush one sheet of fill with melted butter. Cover with another sheet and repeat until all five sheets are layered. This can be a bit diddly if the sheets break. You really should use whole sheets to stop the filling leaking out.
Sprinkle the almonds over the middle of the fill pastry and add the filling.
Fold the pastry over the at the top, brushing the join with butter will help to seal it.
Brush butter over the top of the strudel and sprinkle with the tbsp brown sugar.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190 C for about 40-45 minutes until crisp and golden.
Mine leaked a little so I rolled it over and baked the bottom for 5 mins too and this dried it up a bit !!
You can dust with icing sugar just before serving. Serve hot of cold, with custard or fresh cream - such tough decisions !!
I really enjoy making these. They are incredibly tasty and great for taking on picnics or car/train journeys.
The hot water pastry really makes the difference with this pie.
I guess you could use different fillings but the pork filling reminds me of my childhood and when my Dad used to eat these with lashings of Coleman's Mustard.
This recipe is from the Paul Hollywood 'How to Bake' Book. The only thing I changed is that I added an egg to the pastry before mixing as I think it gives a richer pastry, and I also added ground juniper berries to the pork mix.
In the images below I baked the pies in a silicon tray. I think a metal tray works better as it gives the pies a better bake around the edges and bottom... Ingredients for the filling.
350g minced pork 1 large onion chopped finely
100g unsmoked back bacon sea salt and fresh pepper
small bunch parsley 5 or 6 juniper berries - ground.
half a chicken stock cube dissolved in 300ml boiling water.
2 small sheets gelatine
Put the pork, onion, chopped parsley, juniper berries and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Cover and set aside.
I usually put a tiny bit of this mix in a pan and fry to check it is seasoned OK.
Ingredients for hot water pastry.
300g plain flour 1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg 55g unsalted butter
65g lard 85ml water
1 egg yolk lightly beaten with 1tbsp water to glaze.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.
Make a well in the middle and crack the egg into to. Cover with flour.
In a pan heat the water, lard and butter together - but don't boil. Immediately pour around the edge of the flour and stir in quickly using a large butter knife or spatula.
Knead the dough until smooth and wrap in cling film and hill in the fridge until firm.
Grease the inside of the baking tins.
When the pastry is cooled you need to work quickly, roll out the dough to about 3cm thickness.
Cut the pastry for the insides and also slightly smaller discs for the tops.
Put a heaped tablespoon of the filling into each case and put the lid on. You can join the sides with just fingers or you can use a fork/end of a spoon to give a nice design.
Make a hole in the top of each pie. Brush the pies with the beaten egg and bake until golden ( for about 50 mins at 190 C)
Soften the gelatine in cold water for 5 mins, squeeze out to remove excess liquid and then dissolve it in the water and chicken stock.
When the pies come out of the oven carefully pour a little of the gelatine mix into each pie.
Allow too cool overnight.
This is another Big G recipe that I love.... it tastes AMAZING. Below is a video of Big G and his son showing how to cook this fabulous dish. I start it around lunchtime and whack it in the oven for about 6 hours. I've cooked it three times now with complete success. I serve it with fresh tagliatelle pasta that has a drizzle of olive oil on it to stop it sticking.
1kg beef cheeks. 1 onion chopped roughly
3 garlic cloves roughly crushed. 1 bay leaf
400ml red wine 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
500ml beef stock handful fresh parsley. salt and pepper.
Season the beef cheeks and quickly sear them in a large ovenproof pot.
Pre-heat oven to 140 C.
Take them out of the pan and throw the onion, garlic in and fry quickly until they are coloured. Use more oil if needed.
Pour the red wine in to de-glaze the pan.
Put beef cheeks back in the pan and add the tomatoes and stock.
Put the lid on leaving a small gap for air/moisture to escape and place in the oven for 3.5 - 6 hours. The longer the better.
When its ready I fish out the cheeks and place aside. I then strain the rest of the liquid and if necessary thicken it with a little corn starch. I shred the beef cheeks so it resembles a ragu and add it back to the sauce. Check the seasoning.
Serve over hot pasta.
I discovered my local farm shop almost a year ago. It literally changed my everyday life as there are no more trips to Coop/Migros for fruit and vegetables for me. Whenever possible I buy everything straight from the local farmer. Freshly grown vegetables, herbs, eggs, milk, cheese and even salad dressings (they make this weekly from their own vegetables) all come from the little wooden hut next to my local farm house.
I have a standing order for the bread they make at weekends which is usually still warm at the breakfast table. I can arrange to get special cuts of meat (veal cheeks are my current favourite as they make an amazing ragu, but I often get oxtail, chicken and beef) also as an added bonus with every visit I get to practice my german!!
Food here is amazingly fresh, its not as expensive as the supermarket and it hasn't travelled hundreds of miles to be wrapped in a piece of cellophane.
What is not to like about Farmer's shops? One of the three farmers within a 30 min walk from my house is a bio farm, another produces their own wine and has a pumpkin festival every year and the third - my regular - is in the picture above.
If you haven't already discovered these gems of Switzerland then you don't know what you are missing.
There are literally hundreds of these small huts all over Switzerland - you just need to keep your eyes open when you go out for a walk. Farms and vineyards often have signs on their fence advertising where you can buy their produce. Also watch out for the 'Pick Yourself' signs for flowers, cherries and strawberries. I love being able to pick my own flowers so they are all the right height and colour for the vase I want to put them in (often for only 1-3 CHF per stem). I'm currently sitting in front of a bunch of sunflowers from nearly 2 weeks ago - so like the vegetables from the farmer they last that little bit longer too....
If you live in the centre of Zurich, Bern or Geneva you may not have a farm on your doorstep but as soon as you hit a 'wanderweg' I'm sure you will stumble across one (or at least a sign for one). If walking isn't your thing then I'd suggest the next best things which is visiting the weekly farmers markets that spring up in the city centres. Zurich has a great one in the Main Station BahnhofMarkt every Wednesday. You can buy cheese, bread, meat, flowers and all kinds of fruit and vegetables.
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