When superstar chef Daniel Boulud invites you to go eat at his restaurant Daniel in New York City, you say yes! I was telling you a few weeks ago about this great charity event I attended right here in Montreal where I met Chef Boulud. Imagine my surprise when I got an email from him a few days later! It was the sign I was waiting for to decide on where to go for my annual birthday trip. Back to New York it was then with my friend and fellow food blogger Andrea. Two girls, a road trip, 48 hours in NYC, a birthday to celebrate and a lot of eating to do!
Our first stop was Peruvian star chef Gaston Acurio’s newly opened cevicheria, La Mar Cebicheria Peruana. Since we got there at 3pm, the only available menu was the mid-day one, which was light and tasty and just the right amount of food to hold us until our dinner at Daniel that night. The plates at La Mar are beautiful to look at and the fluke ceviche and hamachi tiradito delicious. You should definitely have a cocktail while there! My lluvia de los andes (pisco quebranta, Japanese cucumber, basil, lime) was delicious and very potent, if you know what I mean 😉
Dinner at Daniel that night was absolutely magical. The service is impeccable, the decor elegant and every single dish we sampled was delicious. The 8-course contemporary French chef choice menu we ordered was meticulously plated and perfectly executed. Every single one of those 3 Michelin stars is well earned. If you have the chance to go, don’t miss out on the impressive cheese cart! I would go back just for that! The highlight of the evening was a visit to the kitchen after the dinner rush had calmed down. I have said this before, I just love a restaurant’s atmosphere after the dinner rush. The relaxed sense of camaraderie between the members of the staff is palpable and nowhere is it more obvious then in the kitchen. Executive chef Jean-François Bruel was a delight to chat with, and so was chef Boulud of course. It is so nice to be able to get a glimpse at where the magic happens. Unfortunately it was a bit dark in the dining room so all the photos are courtesy of the Daniel Boulud group and are representative of what we had that night, if not exactly that. Overall a delicious and delightful evening spent in one of the best restaurants in NYC!
You know it’s a good restaurant when you feel like ordering everything on the menu and when you’re already planning your next visit so you can try the items you couldn’t try this time around. That is exactly how I felt the next day when we had what can only be described as the best brunch in New York at Norma’s, the restaurant located within Le Parker Meridian Hotel. It was such a nice surprise and simply exceptional! The “artychoked” benedict with truffle porcini sauce and the light and lemony griddle cakes with Devonshire cream are two note-worthy dishes but everything we had there was delicious! Reservations are an absolute must!
I didn’t just go from one restaurant to the next and did walk around the city at one point during this trip, mainly in Soho where I had gone for breakfast with a friend at The Dutch. Two of my nicest discoveries were done during that morning walk in one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in NYC. The first one was the Dominique Ansel Bakery, which had just opened 2 or 3 weeks prior to my visit. Dominique Ansel was the pastry chef at Fauchon in Paris and at Daniel for 6 years until he decided to open up this adorable little Parisian-style pastry shop. There you will find savory offerings for lunch but also, a beautiful array of tested and approved French pastries like kouing-amann, cannelés and his take on the Paris-Brest, the Paris-New York. I fell in love with the beautiful narrow space the minute I stepped in. Check out the open kitchen in the back where they were making cookies when I was there and the all-weather greenhouse where you can sit and enjoy your treats. The “mini-me” colourful miniature meringues are so cute you won’t be able to resist buying a few packages of those, I’m sure.
The second of these discoveries was the adorable children store: Les Petits Chapelais whose owner, Dominique Simmoneaux was a delight to chat with. I know you’re probably surprised that I’m recommending something other than food but this store is just as sweet as any sweet spot! Everything in there is just too cute, especially the handmade stuffed toys, including the adorable (I want one!) Eiffel Towers!
For my birthday this year, my cousin offered me a basket full of Brooklyn food items, which I brought back with me. I started sampling these delicacies and fell completely in love with all of them. I will definitely be planning a Brooklyn trip soon just to go visit some of these places. The cookies from One Girl Cookies and The Good Batch are absolutely decadent! The chocolates from Nunu Chocolates and the Mast Brothers are some of the best I’ve ever had! And the brownie from Baked, well, let’s just say that I wish I had more than one of those in my basket! My birthday cake, the Brooklyn Blackout by Ladybird Bakery, another Brooklyn-based business, was one of the best cakes I’ve eaten this year! Don’t be fooled by its Betty Crocker looks, this cake will sweep you off your feet in an instant! It is also sold at Two Little Red Hens on the upper east side in Manhattan, just across the street from where I usually stay when in New York, so you can bet that I will be having this cake again! It was all I could do not to eat the whole thing by myself!
Little did we know when we decided to drive to New York for the weekend that the New York Chocolate Show was going on that weekend! What a perfect way it was to end a great weekend! We spent the afternoon roaming the show and tasting as much chocolate as we could, of course! We brought back tons of great bars and met a few very interesting artisans. I also met the charming Christina Tosi, pastry chef at Momofuku Milk Bar and author of one of my favourite pastry books these days.
Ok now that I’ve written this post and relived those moments, I realize how privileged I am to be able to live these experiences and I only have one question on my mind: when will my next trip to NYC be?
60 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10065
+1 212 288 0033
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
11 Madison Park @25th Street
+1 212 612 3388
Norma’s (breakfast, brunch and lunch only)
119 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019
+1 212 245 5000
Dominique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring St
New York, NY 10012
+1 212 219 2773
Les Petits Chapelais
86 Thompson St.
New York, NY 10012
+1 212 625 1023