I spent approximately the first decade of my adulthood as a New Yorker. I was very goodbye to all that by the time I left, and the city has only acquired the thinnest of nostalgic patinas in the years since. As in, I haven’t forgotten about hauling laundry up tenement steps, the roaches and mice (which are both attracted to coffee, ask me how I know), or what it’s like to descend into a subway station in July. But. There are ways only New York knows you, and only you know New York, and there is something to that. Something that tastes a lot like a Nussbaum & Wu black-and-mocha cookie.
Like many people who start observing kashrut, I have a thing for recreating the restaurant food we no longer eat out. And having come of age in New Jersey, that includes a lot of tri-state kind of treif. It’s an exercise in memory more so than in taste; frankly, I didn’t like much of this stuff even then. I’ll never understand what people find to like in red-sauce Italian, or as I call it, The Most Boring Food on Earth. But will I reverse engineer it? Don’t block the box.
Note that we are not on some quest here to recreate an imagined past that includes the mythical Brooklyn egg cream. (I actually believe that the egg cream is a mass delusion. Have you ever had one? Know someone who has?) This is the real deal, stuff my ilk ate with regularity off pizzerias with names like Taverna; Korean delis with names like C. P. Yang Corp.; Thai joints inevitably named Lemongrass something; street carts (the un-food truck); overpriced kosher-style delis that put sugar in everything; strategically positioned bodegas; and, of course, that random bagel shop that is actually the best one.
Well, at any rate, these are tri-state eats upscaled just a tad to be scratch-made and kosher. Welcome to the Eating New York series. On the menu:
- Entemann’s Style Raspberry Danish Twist
- Bodega Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich (on a Kaiser roll, natch)
- Bagel Shop Bagels
- Around-the-Corner (kosher) Croque Madame
- Gray’s Papaya Recession Special
- Famous Original New York Pizza
- Jamaican Meat Patties
- Chicken “Parm”
- 2nd Ave. Potato Pierogis
- Curry Hill Mutar Paneer
- Greek Diner Salad
- Sunrise Mart Bi Bim Bap
- Morningside Heights Ethiopian Dinner
- Sausage & Pepper Grease Truck Subs
Snacks + Late Nite
- Hot Nuts! New York Street Cart Style Candied Peanuts
- Korean Deli Split-Pea Soup
- Balthazar French Fries
- Brother Jimmy’s Swamp Juice
- Black & Mocha Cookie
- Zabar’s Style Cinnamon Raisin Rugelach
- Serendipity Banana Split Ice Cream Sundae
- Concord Cake
- Gotham Bar & Grill Chocolate Cake
These choices are obviously highly idiosyncratic and dated (and, as the careful observer will note, reflect student-budget choices of fries and dessert at the upscale venues). Are any of your favorites missing? Let me know!