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I Heart NY

Just got back from visiting my brother, Travis, in New York. He lives in the East Village and so I stick with the West Village, Soho, Nolita, Lower East Side circuit, rarely even getting on a train. There’s really too much to love in that city, but I'm always glad to be back home.

Day #1: Met friends at Kuma Inn for dinner. A little upstairs place in the Lower East Side. Asiany, tapasy, dark and nooky. Overall the food was ok, but the Chinese sausage with sticky rice was great. Very LES BYOB, a nice change from SF WBTG (wine by the glass).



Making candy at Papabubble.

Day #2: Egg sandwich at Ino, followed by a hard day of pounding the pavement to get in some culture (i.e. shopping), during which I stumbled upon the three-week-old Papabubble, a cool Barcelona-based candy shop set up like a science lab where they’re making the jewel-like hard candy on-site. It smells like sugar heaven in there. By 6 pm I was exhausted, and desperately shielding my purchase of a purple silk dress under my umbrella from the cold, cold rain. I thawed out at the bar of Inoteca (Ino’s big sibling) for a 6 pm pre-dinner dinner of a fantastic calamari salad and a glass of wine. (A restaurant like Inoteca should be on every city corner.) Four and half hours later, I met a friend for quality cocktails at Pegu Club, a fancy-ice, small-glass kind of bar. At midnight, we headed to Momofuku Ssäm Bar (the quirky menu lingers in the mind—I woke up the next morning thinking about smoky pig). Another drink and I was back to my brother’s studio at 3:30 am. Did I say I love New York?

Day #3: A brunch at Five Points that was just eh (minus the light-as-fried-can-be churros dipped into hot chocolate). Dinner for Travis’s 34th was at Soto, which is located in a horrible spot in the middle of 6th Avenue and rumbles every time the train goes beneath it, but still somehow provides a serene, all-white-minimalist Japanese vibe. The food—small plates and raw fish magic—was gorgeous and ethereal and inventive.



Line up to wait for perfect ramen at Setagaya.

Day #4: Coffee at Mud, Sunday Times bench-read in Tompkins Square Park (at which point, the guy next to me reading the Post exclaimed, “Man! There are some stu-pid murderers out there!”), and then top-notch ramen at Setagaya, a Tokyo chain. Dinner, at my pizza-snob brother’s insistence, involved taking the train out to Brooklyn to go to the year-old pizza-only (I mean no salad, no nothing but pizza) Lucali’s. Of course, we had to dissect it (wood-fired crust nice and charred and just right), sauce (tad too salty?), fresh Buffalo mozzarella (check). Overall: Primo.



At Lucali's, Mark Iacono makes pizza by candlelight.

The chef-owner, Mark Iacono, who stood at a simple table rolling out dough all night looked like a Brooklyn-born Keanu Reeves (not so shabby). As were were walking out, I passed a table of four guys who asked, “Are you from 7x7?” (They wouldn’t say how they knew—but I had to wonder: Our famous blog?). Turns out, they used to live in San Francisco and happen to be friends with Shelley Lindgren, the wine director and co-owner of A16, who had just been to visit. I asked them the obvious question: Do you miss SF (assuming, in a moment of SF-small-town-self-doubt that their answer would be a eye-rolling ‘No way!’). But in a nice turn of events, they all said Yes! They would move back in a heartbeat.

The end.