Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New York Street Food and HIMYM

Awesome food, epic trip, truly the most magnificent city in the world!

An aerial view of Time's Square on New Year's Eve is that iconic image that everyone thinks of when someone mentions New Year's Eve. Most people sit at home and watch the ant-like dots huddle together from the comfort of their own living rooms. Being the adventurers that we are (and having met on New Year's Eve), my wife an I decided that going to Time's Square, braving the cold, and standing in what is essentially cattle fencing just to be part of the loudest countdown since right before God said "let there be light" was appealing to us. This is a story of our long NYE weekend.

Truth being told, we got really lucky and it was not really all that cold (for the actual ball drop). The part that no one tells you (you have to read it on the Internet) is that to get up close to the stage (or within ear shot of the stage) you have to have tickets. Everyone else gets herded into cattle fencing about 8-9 hours before midnight. Luckily our hotel was just around the corner from the square or else we would have been back at 57th Street (which means nothing to you if you have not been to NYC, but you get it if you have). If you leave your area before midnight, you may not get back in, so I rationed my wife's water consumption that day. We were also lucky enough to get in the Southwest corner of our quarantined area, in which we were able to obtain an unobstructed view of a sliver of the ball. This also meant that we were the lucky recipients of 8 hours of pushing and shoving from everyone else trying to work their way to our corner of the fenced in area where everyone was already standing shoulder to shoulder. We passed time by making friends and talking about how slow time was going. No one we talked to said that they had been there before, and everyone agreed it was one of those once in a lifetime deals. The countdown came, as did midnight and the confetti drop, and it was all over. It was an amazing experience, one that can only really be truly understood by others that have experienced the same thing. We were part of a record setting crowd of over 2M people! But after the new year hit, it was time for the real fun to begin.

After being on our feat for over 8 hours, we were quite hungry. Since it was our first time in New York and neither of us had ever had falafel before, we made a falafel cart our first stop. We waited in a line that was probably 15 minutes long, full of other crazies that had waited in Time's Square just to shout "Happy New Year!". We get to the front, grab two drinks out of the cooler, and order two falafel sandwiches (served on pita). They plop a few pre-cooked falafel balls on the griddle and start smashing them as they reheat them. When it is all on the sandwich, the man asked if we wanted "sauce", to which I thought "sure, why not?". As he drizzled the awesomeness of what I would later find out was a spicy tahini sauce over the falafel, I knew I was in for a treat. I have had many falafel since this one, and none will measure up, this had not been frozen and thawed and frozen and thawed. The tahini sauce was amazing, it was the perfect mix of creamy and spicy and added just the kick that the falafel and pita needed.

Upon returning to our hotel room, being the food truck junkie that I am, I got on twitter (@eatingawesome) to search out food trucks for the week. On New Year's Day, we had a mundane brunch at Sarabeth's in Tribeca, saw the World Trade Center memorial, had some more falafel, pizza, and cheesecake from a deli, saw M&M world, and got some subway riding in. The next freezing cold day (yes, it had gotten cold by now), we walked to get some H&H bagels (that were money by the way), followed by an epic food truck tour.

Coolhaus NY food truck, yes I know, we had ice cream (gelato) on a freezing cold day. Food truck junkies will do anything for their fix. There was a scoop sale going on, you got a free scoop of gelato with the purchase of a hot chocolate. Man are we glad that this special was going on! Here we were, about to just eat gelato in the freezing cold and then we are met by quite possibly the most timely hot chocolate either of us had ever encountered. It was the best hot chocolate that either of us had ever had, there was caramel drizzle and shaved pieces of chocolate on top of the already delightfully rich hot chocolate. At this point, any added deliciousness of the gelato was just a bonus. I got a scoop of the gingerbread gelato to feed my Christmas hangover, and because I love all things holiday flavored, it was just as delicious as I had hoped. Mallory got a scoop of the Nutella Almond gelato, because she is a Nutella fiend, the gelato did not disappoint. It vanished in a New York minute (pun obviously intended), even in the bone chilling cold. Upon finishing our gelato we ran toward the subway, as the wind was unbearable (even though we were just going a few streets up), with our hot chocolates.

Coolhaus on Urbanspoon 

Next stop was the Red Hook Lobster food truck where I was able to warm up with a delicious Connecticut style lobster roll. I am usually not a huge fan of lobster, as it is very easy to overcook, but this lobster off of a food truck was full of buttery goodness. The Connecticut style is warm lobster meat, dipped in butter sauce, on a buttered and grilled grocery store hot dog bun. This was honestly the second best lobster I had ever had in my life, second only to the green lobster in the seafood paella in Mexico, it was incredible! Mallory was scared of eating lobster off of a truck, so she got the shrimp roll. The shrimp roll was equally awesome, but was served cold, she was not rewarded with warmth for her fear, haha. The lobster roll meal came with thick kettle style chips and a bottled orange soda from Maine.

The Red Hook Lobster Pound on Urbanspoon

Since we doubled up on food trucks for lunch, we decided that we would hit up McGee's Pub for dinner. I had read on the Internet that this was the bar that MacLaren's Pub from How I Met Your Mother was based on. I know that this is a giant tourist trap, but as big of fans of HIMYM as we are, and being in NY for NYE (the "ammiversary" of when I met my future children's mother), we had to go see what it was about. To our pleasant surprise, we saw that Monday evenings at 8pm, they show HIMYM. By a complete and total happy accident, we arrived on Monday at 8pm. Unlike most sports bars that show games with no sound, McGees cranks up the volume and everyone quiets down during the weekly HIMYM viewings. They even have their own HIMYM menu (see picture). I had the Best Burger in New York, named after the classic HIMYM episode, which was not the best burger in New York, but was most definitely the best burger experience in New York. The burger was good (not great), but eating off of a HIMYM menu, while watching HIMYM, in the bar that MacLaren's was based on. Mallory had the Ted Mosby is a Jerk Sandwich, which is named after another classic episode, and was actually much better than the burger. If I were to go back and make this a twice in a lifetime experience, I would definitely get the Ted Mosby is a Jerk Sandwich. We would also get to McGee's much earlier, as they pack them in there for this weekly HIMYM pilgrimage, that I am sure is filled with mostly out-of-towners. Do beware that McGees does not look like MacLaren's, but has the same feel, at least when everyone is gathered around the TVs watching HIMYM.

McGee's Pub and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Before leaving New York: we grabbed a couple slices of pizza at the Original Ray's on Broadway (which is not the best slice in New York, but sure beats the crap out of a Sbarro's), had some more falafel sandwiches, and stopped in to see Rupert at the Hello Deli. We had to go get our pictures taken with Rupert before sitting front row at the Letterman show (no joke). Rupert was one of the most friendly individuals you will ever meet (although his face may not show it), he just loves being a celebrity!

Rupert Jee's Hello Deli on Urbanspoon

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