July is the perfect time to head to the Northern hemisphere to escape the Sydney winter and in the middle of July, I headed over to New York City.
To be honest, I really didn’t like NYC the first time I went and I was determined to experience New York under different circumstances because the first time I went was in their winter. It’s safe to say that after that brutally cold experience, I did not leave my heart in New York City.
It’s also been a long time dream of mine to teach in New York. Well it finally came true! Together with Seyun of Rice & Flower we planned a single one day workshop within 3 weeks!
After discussing the idea of having the workshop in New York, I put out an Instagram poll to help us decide on which cake design I should teach. After I received over 100 responses, you guys chose my “Purple Rain” design and that’s what I taught to the 10 cake enthusiasts that snapped up the workshop spots.
Seyun was kind enough to host the pop-up workshop in her home studio in Midtown and over the course of six hours, we made ten beautifully designed buttercream cakes….
Check out the masterpieces below!
Of course it wasn’t all work! Over 5 days, I packed my downtime to the brim to get a proper taste of the Big Apple. Here are some of my tips:
Taco Mahal (Greenwich Village) - It’s amazing how just a simple walk around the block can draw you to incredible new experiences in New York. We went for a late-night walk on 7th Avenue after some drinks and came across the shopfront of Taco Mahal and we knew we had to try the food here. The seemingly odd but supremely delicious fusion of Indian food and Mexican food was like nothing I ever had and it made me love the city for all the possibilities that it brings.
TIP: Order both the tacos and the naan variety!
Smorgasbord Market (Williamsburg) - These markets are a must-do in the summer time! An open air market which is only on during Saturdays from April to October in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Just like the name of the markets, there is so much choice in the types of food you can buy, it’s bordering on ridiculous. It’s also a haven for Instagrammers that are big foodies.
TIP: Once you’ve got your chosen dish, be sure to walk down to the nearby beach(!!) and take in the panoramic views of the city.
Momofuku Milk Bar (various location) - Of course being a dessert buff I had to go to Momofuku Milk Bar, the place that was featured in the latest season of Chef’s Table Pastry on Netflix. Sampling their Cereal Milk soft serve brought up memories of childhood as I used to slurp the leftover milk from my breakfast bowl in the mornings. Another must-try is their famous Crack Pie - the story goes that Chef Christina Tosi used to make the pie for the team at the restaurant and they loved it so much, it became their drug of choice, a.k.a, crack.
TIP: There are many Momofuku restaurants dotted around the city so if you are seeking these dishes specifically, make sure you are at the Milk Bar.
Other places I recommend you check out include:
- Chelsea Markets (Chelsea) - An absolute must-do for me. A friend recommended I check out Los Tacos for some authentic tacos and quesadillas. Her recommendation did not disappoint! They were full of flavour with generous servings of meat and super soft and tasty tortillas.
TIP: Avoid the peak hour rush! I recommend heading there before lunch time or somewhere in between lunch and dinner so you can sample everything it has to offer!
- Katz's Delicatessen (Lower East Village) - This is the famous Jewish deli where “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed and Meg Ryan had her climax scene. The Classic Reuben was a taste of perfection and best shared as the serving size is huge!
TIP: Be sure to keep the piece of paper they hand out when you enter. Regardless if you order or not, hold onto these as you will need to return this upon exit.
- Keen Steakhouse (Midtown) - This was also another place I remember fondly. I literally had the best steak ever there and has a real ‘old-world’ feel. Not surprising given that it opened in 1885! Don’t forget to look up to see a unique artwork made of a collection of smoking pipes.
TIP: Be sure to book in advance as it is a popular joint! We opted for a late night seating
- The Highline (Chelsea) - This long stretch of green oasis was the perfect location to walk off the calories from our visit to Chelsea markets.
- Top of the Rock - An alternative to the Empire State Building vantage point. I recommend heading over at either sunrise or sunset (there are packages available for both times.) I was lucky enough to be there on Bastille Day where the Empire State Building was lit up in red, white and blue on the eve of France winning the World Cup.
- Free ferry to Staten Island (Lower Manhattan) - You should do this as your first thing to do when you arrive. This cheap ride departs every half an hour daily from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan and gives you a taste of New York and a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty.
Wythe Hotel (Williamsburg) - Heading up to this rooftop bar was magical, if not for the drinks then for the uninterrupted views of the Manhattan skyline
- Terroir Shipping Container Wine Bar (The Highline, Chelsea) - It’s the only sit down bar along The Highline. It features a large range of craft beers which are delicious to drink and “rehydrate” yourself on a hot summer day in the city.
- We stayed at an Airbnb in the West Village, just opposite Magnolia bakery. The neighbourhood was quiet and felt very local as people cruised around on bikes. There is also no shortage of boutique shops, cafes and bars to explore.
- Hotels are generally quite expensive in NYC and are small! Highly recommend in looking into Airbnb to suit your budget.
What can I say? This time around, it’s safe to say, I truly left my heart in New York. Cannot wait to come back again!
I would love to see hear what your tips are or if I missed out on any places!