Monday, June 20, 2011

The Hungry Dog, east coast style

A week or so ago, I voyaged to the exotic and mystical land of New Jersey to visit my sister and her family.

In spite of everything I'd heard about it, it turned out to be a very lush and beautiful place, full of  flowers...

And cotton-tailed bunnies...

And some pretty excellent food, most of which, I must admit, was found in New York, not New Jersey (with the exception of a delightful ice cream joint called The Bent Spoon, which itself is worth a trip to Princeton.)

In one spectacular day that possibly shortened my life, my sister and I ate at both Eataly, Mario Batali's city block-sized Italian food emporium, and David Chang's Momofuku Ssam Bar.

Eataly boasts four restaurants; we chose La Piazza, a wine bar, for a late morning "snack." We started with crisp glasses of rose...

and a gigantic salumi e formaggi plate.

I  forget all the meats, although there was prosciutto (two kinds, I think), speck, ham, salami, and mortadella (little cubes hidden under the salami).

The cheeses were divine and included, from left to right, a sweet and mild ricotta, parmigiano reggiano, something I can't remember, taleggio, and a creamy gorgonzola. Alongside were candied orange peel, honey with almonds, and a delicious fig marmellata.

We also shared smoked bluefish with asparagus and chives.

After finishing this hefty snack, we walked about 100 blocks or so (perhaps I exaggerate--I like to imagine I walked off that salumi plate), chatting and shopping. It was sweltering, so when we stumbled across this sunny yellow truck, it only made sense to get a cone.

I got mint chip, my sister got ginger. No photos, though--who can balance an ice cream cone in 97 degree heat as well as a camera? Not me.

After more walking and shopping, we found ourselves at Momofuku Ssam Bar. It was earlyish, probably around 6, and though we expected a wait, we were able to nab a spot at the bar right away.  Over ice-cold cocktails, we decided on our menu, which somehow ended up being rather large in spite of both of us claiming not to be that hungry on account of our ice cream cones.

There was the famous Momofuku pickle plate, which included kimchee, sunchokes, rhubarb (!), beets, mushrooms, tomatillos, carrots, cucumbers, celery, and a few other things I can't recall.

And there were the pork belly buns, quite likely one of the best things I have eaten in my life.

There was also some very thinly sliced raw geoduck in a pale green gazpacho; spicy pork sausage with rice cakes and Chinese broccoli (an outstanding dish, I highly recommend it if you find yourself there);  and poached chicken with sticky rice, morels, and spinach, shaped into a galantine with a creamy sauce I could have eaten--and did, let's admit it--by the spoonful. By the time these dishes showed up, I'd abandoned the camera. You'll have to use your imagination.

I really loved this place; I wish there was one in San Francisco so I could be a regular.

In addition to eating out, during my short stay my sister and brother-in-law made all kinds of delicious and summery things for us to enjoy at home, including a warm pasta salad with tomatoes and olives, grilled sausages, garlicky pesto, and strawberry scones for breakfast.

Food, of course, wasn't the only great thing about the trip. I got to hang out with my nieces, a major treat. Mischievous Pug and I got a few hours to ourselves to sit on the couch and gossip...

And I enjoyed watching Scrappy take down a sizeable piece of pizza.

I miss you all so much, I can't wait to return!

Hungry Dog


  1. Oh I love those pork buns! Did you get to go to Milk Bar next door? My friend kept on raving to me about Van Leeuwen, but I never got to try them before I left NY!

  2. Awww, sounds like a great trip. Complete with bunny rabbit. Taking notes of what you ate, it all sounds fabulous :)

  3. Claire: Boo.

    Jessica: The Milk Bar, incidentally, has moved across the street. Anyway we did pop in there but were too full from dinner. The Van Leuwen ice cream was excellent.

    shaz: I highly recommend the Momofuku Ssam Bar, I think you would love it!

  4. I am oozing with food envy. Everything looks delightful. I travel once a year to NYC just for a city and food fix. I can totally appreciate this experience.
    It was great that you had an opportunity to spend time with your family too-just makes the trip a double pleasure.


  5. Visiting family is nice, especially when they're in close proximity to Eataly and Momofuku. I can't wait to check out Eataly, sounds like a foodie's dream. And those pork belly buns really do live up to all the hype. They're just. That. Good. :)

  6. We've avoided Eataly because it always seems mega-crowded, but after reading this, I HAVE to go! Glad to hear you enjoyed Ssam too, that spicy pork sausage dish sounds amazing!

  7. velva: I must start making an annual pilgrimage to NYC too--good idea.

    Ben: I've been dreaming about them ever since...

    Connie: It's worth checking out, although it certainly is crowded. Go early if you wasn't too bad in the late morning but when we stopped by in the evening to pick up a few things to bring home it was packed!

  8. Ahhh, east coast summer. I can totally feel the NY humidity and subway steam in your post :) I'm stoked to try Momofuku next time I visit my folks. What did you think of Princeton?

  9. I love it....exotic and mystical land of New Jersey ... :)
    Too bad you went during the worst heat wave. There is always so much walking in NYC. But you sure hit the high spots! Hope you got in some great shopping as well as eating.
    Your nieces are adorable!

  10. Ash: You'll have to try Momofuku--but you'll also have to try the pork buns for the full experience. Princeton was nice, I thought of you many times while walking around the campus! xoxo

    Barbara: It really was hot, but coming from SF, I didn't mind it--it actually was sort of nice.

  11. Dear bowwow: that looks very very good and I love Pork. -Kate.
    The pork buns remind me of char siu bow. Yum! -Mischievous Pug
    We had such a good time (eating) with you...come back soon! xoxo jj

  12. The exotic land of New Jersey! I love it! 'Course, those pork buns don't look too shabby, either. ;)

  13. It makes me happy that Eataly is now in the States, even if it isn't exactly the same as the one in Italy (though it sounds similar). Your meat and cheese boards look phenomenal! And your Momofuku meal, well, we just won't talk about how jealous I am. :)

  14. Loved all of it, I can almost smell the salami and feel the ice cream dripping down my fingers...thanks for the details

  15. JJ/MP & Scrappy: xoxoxo

    CJ: they really are spectacular.

    camille: Ah, have you been to the one in Italy? Can only imagine how amazing THAT one must be! Hope you get to NYC soon for a Momofuku fix.

    Susan: Thank you, and thanks for stopping by!

  16. i'm glad you enjoyed your trip to my side of the country! thanks for sharing your pics. :)

  17. grace: It really is pretty out there!