Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rhapsody in Blue

If I was going to choose a soundtrack for the this post, I'm going to ask that you hear Rhapsody in Blue in the background, that low rumble raising up to a glorious jazz trill, moving and blossoming from a lone voice to a cacophony of sound. Rhapsody continues to be the perfect ode to the rumble tumble turning jumble of glorious anonymous loudly proud humanity that is NYC.

Sunrise as view from my balcony in the NYU dorms
I'm staying in Washington Square Village, in the midst of NYU, a block from Broadway. I walk and move and breath this rhythmic city. It is constantly in flux, constantly in motion. The noise comes, goes, voices fall, rise. I cough exhaust, I inhale coffee from the doors of think and Aroma, step quickly through the water running down the street at the end of the day as the fresh markets of Chinatown end their day.

We walk through little Italy with it's restaurants on the street, hosts hailing, "Ladies, Gentlemen, I can get you a table for 4 right now," a lone accordion, an ancient man playing to a young couple. We land at Shanghai, our family's favorite dive in Chinatown with its to die for soup dumplings, rich broth cut through with ginger, vinegar, soy.

Sauteed rice cakes with chicken, Water spinach, Shanghai fried rice and the safe choice of chicken with broccoli for the non-adventurous types in the room. There is an English menu with one set of prices and a Cantonese menu with a second set of prices, but two orders of soup dumplings and 5 entrees ran us $65 including tip.

I made my food pilgrimage to Trader Joe's for the first time. I finally understand what everyone's talking about. The amount of ready to eat, reasonably priced, delicious store brand food is astonishing. Example: Organic Strawberries, sweet as honey, cost $2.99 per pound. However, dodging for the carrots, jumping into the flow of humanity, felt like changing lanes at rush hour on the Long Island Expressway.

No one looks at each other. No one talks to each other. This is not to speak to the stereotype that New Yorkers are unfriendly. They have been incredibly friendly and helpful. I say this more to acknowledge than in such a mass of humanity, personal space is at a premium and stringently maintained. When physical space is not possible, emotional space must be respected.

We walk everywhere. On our way to dinner last night, a classmate shared that her pedometer indicated she'd walked 8 miles that day. We were aiming for Russ and Daughters, but landed at...

Katz's Delicatessin
If you are unfamiliar with Katz's, you might recognize this. If you're still stuck, you will appreciate this:

Hot pastrami. A joy to the senses, this was beautifully cured pastrami. Yes, there is a layer of fat, yes, it's sliced as thick as brisket. But, it is delicious, melting in your mouth with each bite. I know from pastrami, so believe me when I tell you, you have never had such pastrami.

You have also never paid so much for so little pastrami. Katz's is Katz's but it does feel a little like Jewish Deli Disneyland. And this would cheapen the experience if not for the authenticity of the food, down to the crisp pickles and sour tomatoes that arrive at your table where a basket of bread might be. I'd never had sour tomatoes before. The bite is sharp, the liquid inside a quick cold slurp of sweet garlic, as telling of a food culture as the liquid from the soup dumpling.

I will be here for another week and a half. I am continuing to be blown away by the place. Every day is something new. I will keep sharing and enjoying.

Do you have a vote of where I should try? I'm based at HUC at 4th and Broadway. Suggestion are very, very welcome.

1 comment:

  1. If there is a hot day, and you've never had one, I'd suggest going to Serendipity 3 for a Frozen Hot Chocolate. It's crazy expensive for what it is, but it's a special treat for me.

    Also I'd seek out Ethiopian food while you are down there, since there is none around Albany.