I was thrilled when I found out that my proposal was selected for Foodbuzz’s 24 meals, 24 blog posts, 24 hours contest. The special meal that I proposed encompassed the varying neighborhoods and cultural influences of Manhattan. Although I have lived in the city for nearly 2 years, I’ve only sampled a small percentage of its culinary offerings. I chose to share the special meal with my boyfriend, Nate. Most of the time we spend together is filled with eating, cooking, or grocery shopping. He’s been my constant companion as I’ve traveled the city searching (and photographing) the best pizza slices, cupcakes, and grocery finds that I could get my hands on. Saturday evening was the perfect time to indulge in a fabulous meal – I had just completed my last 20 mile long run. Boston marathon, here I come! Our meal began in the heart of Harlem at Sylvia’s famous soul food restaurant.
The atmosphere of the restaurant was very cozy and inviting. Upon entering the front door, we encountered the original luncheonette counter that Sylvia opened in 1962. We gave our name to the hostess and settled down to look at the menu.
After a brief 20 minute wait (not bad for a Saturday night in NYC!) we were ushered into the main dining room. As soon as we sat down our waiter brought us a basket full of warm, buttery cornbread.
After we gave our order, my mouth began to water in anticipation our meal. Luckily the service was quick! Nate selected the BBQ ribs, baked macaroni and cheese, and a scoop of homemade potato salad. Yum!
Nate was generous enough to give me a few bites of his macaroni and cheese – so delicious! And he gave the ribs a big thumbs up – check out the bits of pickle relish in the sweet and sassy rib sauce. I, on the other hand, had been waiting all week for some golden fried chicken, collard greens with smoked turkey, and candied yams.
I received a generous portion of all white-meat fried chicken and although it was fried, the breading was light and didn’t overpower the taste of the juicy meat. My savory collard greens provided a nice contrast to the sweet candied yams. I’m not sure if I was because I was really hungry or maybe just really excited about this meal, but I couldn’t stop saying how good everything was! Here are a couple funny photos of me mid-dinner.
If your mouth is watering for some Soul food, check out Sylvia’s recipe page for lightened up versions of Southern Stir-Fry Veggies and Black-Eyed Pea Salad.
After we stuffed our bellies with comfort food, Nate and I took the 2/3 train to midtown for a cocktail. The twinkling lights and tall buildings of midtown define the city’s skyline. New York City has plenty of landmarks and many can be found between 60th and 30th streets – The Chrysler Building, The Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, Times Square, etc. Nate and I decided to mix up some Manhattans at a private lounge at the top of the Empire State Building. The lounge location may be secret, but the drink recipe isn’t!
1 1/2 oz whiskey or bourbon (I used Jack Daniels)
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
Pour the liquors over ice in a low boy glass or stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry!
From our perch above the city, we were able to gaze on the entirety of the financial district as well as Brooklyn and New Jersey. We sipped our drinks and admired the twinkling lights of the city.
Despite some light rain and fog that started to set in, it provided the perfect photo op!
After we finished our drinks, we hopped on the downtown N train and rode south to Chinatown. We ended the night with a sweet treat from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.
Nate really wanted me to take a photo of these dragon decorations on the door of the ice cream factory.
The selections at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory are very unique – Nate and I both sampled a few flavors before making our final decisions.Our reviews:
- Lychee sorbet- not overbearing in sweetness, a very authentic recreation of the Lychee fruit.
- Lemon sorbet- very refreshing, would be perfect for a sweltering summer day.
- Almond Cookie- tasted similar to Marzipan, didn’t really like this flavor much.
- Red Bean (a.k.a. dessert bean) – very unique, tasted almost savory.
- Coconut Fudge – creamy and chocolately with a hint of tropical coconut.
- Zen Butter – this was very good, described as a mix of peanut butter and toasted sesame seeds. I didn’t notice a strong pb flavor, but I could taste bits of crunchy seeds in each bite.
- Oreo Cookie – perhaps my favorite of all the flavors, great balance of cream and cookie elements.
Nate: Lemon and Lychee sorbet
Megan: Oreo Cookie and Zen Butter ice cream
Thank you FoodBuzz for allowing Nate and I to explore some of the unique neighborhoods and culinary offerings that New York City has to offer!
Edit: For those not familar with the geography of Manhattan, click here for a map that details the location of Saturday evening’s events. In summary, we began in Harlem (northern part of Manhattan), moved on to midtown (middle), and finished in Chinatown (southern tip of the island).