Tourist in Paradise
Life is what you make of it in eating, discovering and enjoying. However a food blogger friend of ours, Ralph Raffio has a better take on life and food of course, saying, “Like many wonderful people in my life they know about and take enormous pleasure in good food. Eating is an important part of the pleasure, but it isn't the biggest part. Sharing is. It's everything, actually.” So, with that great perspective began an interesting visit to the East Coast to share some new experiences and visit some old haunts with friends, associates and several thousand other ‘tourists’ in the height of travel season, at the end of Summer. The greater New York area was where I grew up and lived on and off for decades and each time I return to the area, there are of course fond and trying remembrances, but mostly pangs of joy.
Long Island’s South Shore is well known for the Hamptons, however one of the best kept secrets are the older mid-island beach towns around Patchogue that are rich with small local restaurants, farm stands, culture and history. Delfiore Pizzeria is a great example of a simple and easy restaurant with very good pizza. It is a local favorite and very accommodating as to type and style of pizza.
The area markets also feature local produce and dairy products, which are the hard to get ingredients in many of our big cities today, but just right for a Summer cookout and dinner party.
The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts are rich in culture, heritage and brimming with new and established restaurants along with food markets all primed for the season. Guido’s is a perennial favorite of locals and a must stop for picnic preparations for a night at Tanglewood.
Just across the Connecticut state line, in Lakeville, is The Woodland a favorite for fresh local fish, sushi and daily specials; extremely popular with the natives.
New York, New York – a heck of a town! Russ & Daughters has been in business for decades and finally decided to open a café which features their tremendous smoked fish selection. My only complaint is, why did they wait so long!
In the mood for a light lunch or brunch, but with some panache and people watching included, head over to Sarabeth’s on Central Park South and you certainly will not be disappointed. It’s a comfortable spot to relax, enjoy a salad, an order of crab cakes which are one of their specialties’ and glass or bottle of Labor Wines Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon.
When in New York and the Yankees are playing, ride the subway to the game and a night at the Stadium is must, along with eating ballpark food, meandering around and talking to other baseball fans. Quite the wonderful experience.
The Oyster Bar at Grand Central is the quintessential New York old school restaurant occurrence, which is as much of yesterday as it is today. The best selection of oysters, clams and fish that there is in the City with a dining room and counter seating that is all about food and a nod to history. By the way, if you’re looking for one of the best wine lists, both by the glass and bottle, this is the place to come too.
Walking neighborhoods in the City is one of the great enjoyments of life and not just a past time. The Upper East Side is full of trendy restaurants, wonderful shops and plenty of people watching. But to really experience New York, one needs to have a hot dog; if you’re not going to Nathan’s in Coney Island, you need to head to Papaya King on 86th & 3rd Avenue to enjoy a true New York treat.
After a busy day touring the Metropolitan Museum and viewing art from around the world, since New York is the ethnic melting pot of the country (not sure about this phrase), a visit to Chinatown hits the spot. The oldest continuing operating Chinese restaurant, serving only Dim Sum since 1920, Nah Wah Tea Parlor is the place to visit. They are welcoming and always busy, with over 30 choices prepared to order, it most certainly never gets boring.
Continuing on with the ethnic vein, it's not often you can find Southern Indian cuisine in the states, as most Indian restaurants feature the Northern version of the food. Anjappar Chettinad, located in the heart of the Murray Hill neighborhood answers this call with plenty of delicious options, including Fresh Whole Grilled Fish, Mint Sauce & House made Chutney, Onion Kulcha and Chicken from the Tandoor oven, accompanied by Vegetarian Biriyani, the traditional roasted rice dish, washed down with strong tea.
There are most certainly hundreds or thousands of restaurant options in New York, but your own personal taste and pocketbook can also be your guide to great food, experiences and ambiance. But for a last stop before you leave or a late night experience, one needs to cross the Hudson River and head to the Ironbound ‘Portuguese’ District in Newark, New Jersey. There are many different types of restaurants, from Churrascaria’s to traditional and home style to simple bars that serve food and drink. But to truly enjoy a working class local environment where you will be welcomed as you arrive, go and experience Seabras Marisqueria on Madison Street. Belly up to the bar and feast your eyes on the fresh shellfish and hot food display. Take a walk by the glass enclosed kitchen and view the fresh fish display and the cooks working the stoves. The food, wine list, total ambiance and hospitality will assure you of a great time.
It is said one can never truly go back and enjoy the memories of life, but a visit to the East Coast and the New York area are as close as you can to enjoy Paradise!