10 Sep // Postcards from New York

We arrived in NYC late Sunday afternoon, and our cab from the airport drove us through New Jersey to Boerum Hill in Brooklyn, where we were welcomed to our beautiful brownstone guest house by a refined older woman named Kitty. We went straight to Rucola, a small farm-to-table wine bar that served perfect charcuterie and a crisp glass of what you needed and a very, very good asparagus salad. From there we ventured: to Other Half brewing and drank excellent New England IPAs and then to Lucali, the pizza joint from the insufferable but sometimes useful Ugly Delicious, on Netflix. The pizza was very good.

On Monday we caught the first of what ended up being four uber rides we had in NYC that featured a black Lincoln car and a driver named Juan. We went straight to Katz’s Deli and ordered the pastrami sandwich. We ate pickles sitting under a framed photo of Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, and the fourth-generation owner told us if we were on a hunt for good NYC pizza, then we should go to Grimaldi’s. The doorman told us social media was the bane of his life.

As we wandered, a lot of the city felt strangely familiar. We had a mint lemonade at Jack's Wife Freda. We caught the subway. We took refuge from the oppressive summer sidewalk heat in an air-conditioned shop called Wildfang and had great yarns with the women who worked there, including one who’s ex-gf was from New Zealand. We went to MoMA. We ate oysters at a bar that was on a boat, we had a beer in a pretty grimey bar. I put some red lipstick on in the revolting toilet, and then we went to Prune.

I’d wanted to go to Prune ever since reading about it in Gabrielle Hamilton’s biography Blood Bones and Butter, which my friend Nicola, a far superior cook than I, had recommended years ago. My BF had booked Prune in plenty of time, and it was as magical as the book made out, if not more so. We drank champagne and had radishes with butter and salt, and then truly remarkable paprika oil roasted chicken with turnips, and a spaghetti vongole, which was perfectly seasoned and basically perfect. We had the butterscotch pudding, which was a pudding in the sense of pudding the Americans talk about in movies, which was the consistency of what I can only try and describe as room-temperature-butter mixed with silk. We also had peaches on toast. Peaches! Fresh American summer peaches, with butter, on sourdough toast. For dessert. It was a fucking revelation and at that point I was emotional. It’s supposedly the city that never sleeps, so we went for a cocktail at a low-lit bar called Death and Company, and for a cocktail at a bar you get to through a payphone in a hotdog shop. We then went to Momofuku and had pork buns and sticky wings and a beer, and then we went to Milk Bar and had a cereal milk soft serve and then we went home, officially on a food holiday.

On Tuesday we had a Big Sweaty Day Out and walked on Brooklyn Bridge and ate at Grimaldi’s and went to Central Park and the Natural History Museum and through Times Square and the Grand Central Station Oyster Bar, where Tom had a caviar sandwich and he got that smugly satisfied look he gets when he knows he’s ordered well, and then we had dinner at Eleven Madison Park.

We were a little seedy the next morning by the time we got to Junior’s, famous for its cheesecake, one of my favourite foods, but which in a momentary absolute brain explosion I didn’t order?! I did however have a spectacularly crispy-bacon-filled BLT on the softest, toastiest challah bread, and a black coffee and then another one with half-and-half, and a vanilla malt milkshake. (In hindsight, that probably explains why I ‘showed restraint’ and passed on the cheesecake). We then watched England fail to ensure the world cup was in fact ‘coming home’ in a British Sports Bar, while drinking Bell’s Two Hearted Ale on tap. Now that is a delicious beer. We went to Del Monico’s for dinner where Tom ordered Foie Gras butter on his steak, and we walked up Wall Street and then walked some more and then went to the Comedy Cellar and then had a slice of Joe’s Pizza as it closed. Writing this now, from here, feels like maybe it was a dream?! A delicious, amazing, dream.