There is something wonderful about visiting NYC just as winter is approaching. The air is crisp and clean, and although it may be chilly, it isn’t the bitter cold that would normally prevent you from being outdoors. In fact it is perfect walking weather. The windows on 5th Avenue are decked out for the holiday season, stores are busy, and salespeople helpful. Shops are filled with the scent of spices that we associate with winter festivities and celebrations, like cinnamon, ginger, and pumpkin. My sister said that she was on sensory overload, too much to buy, to see, to try, to do. Still when it came time to leave, she said that it was harder for her to leave this time, harder than during her previous visits. In part we are sad to leave the place where we spent our childhood because as we wander the streets, we are flooded with memories. Winter memories of coming home to my mother who would be standing and warming her hands on the stove, my father coming in after work and rubbing his cold face against our cheeks, putting wet gloves on the steaming radiator in the living room, and of course lots of good food everywhere. Some things never change.
Here is a list of my recent discoveries and indulgences.
Breakfast at Saltie in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I recommend the Ship’s Biscuit which wasn’t a biscuit at all but a hearty focaccia slathered with a layer of ricotta and the most perfectly seasoned scrambled eggs.
Brunch at Pastis, a French Bistro in the Meatpacking District. Perfect for a special occasion.
Dinner at Porsena in the Village. We started with Baccalá mantecato, salt cod with potato, garlic toast and extra virgin olive oil. Salt cod is amazing!!!! For dinner I had Penette col Cavolfiore – roasted cauliflower, olives, capers, garlic, toasted breadcrumbs .
If you still have energy take a ride down to the Lower East Side. I accidentally came across Economy Candy and spent some time going down memory lane. I walked out with $40.00 worth of candy and although I was lectured by my sister and son for spending a ridiculous amount of money on candy, that night there were no complaints as we each ate our share of Abba Zabba, Bit O Honey, thin strands of red licorice, and my personal favorite, Baby Ruth.
Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 lb. cooked pasta
2 Tb capers
1/2 cup olives
1/4 cup roasted garlic cloves
salt and pepper to taste.
Toss chopped cauliflower with about 2 Tb olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast on a cookie sheet in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes or till tips are golden brown. Then sprinkle with bread crumbs and roast for another five minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a large bowl, toss together 3-5 Tb of olive oil, capers, roasted garlic cloves (optional), cooked pasta and cauliflower. Season to taste. Add a little more olive oil on top and serve with shaved parmesan. Serves 4.