Another Saturday in New York City, but after this I will be sticking closer to home. This weekend it was the “Upper Upper” West Side (i.e. around Columbia University), where my nephew and his girlfriend live. Determined to provide me with fodder for NJ SPICE, they whisked me to three foodie destinations in a few short hours, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Fairway Market, across from each other on Broadway on 125th Street, and the Hungarian Pastry Shop on Amsterdam Avenue.
The BBQ was very good – delicious ribs and fried green tomatoes – with especially friendly and obliging “southern” service, belying Dinosaur’s origins in upstate New York. The waitress called us “hon,” brought me a free slice of brisket to try when I asked, and generally made us feel coddled. Another southern touch – the classic Sweet Tea on the menu.
Fortunately, then, we were not hungry when we went to Fairway, where my nephew and girlfriend do their grocery shopping. I managed to resist lugging home bottles of their excellent private label olive oils, offered in many varieties, although the unfiltered Greek Peloponnese and French early harvest Lucques were especially tempting. (I’d show you a photo, but they weren’t happy that I took it, so I will respect their photo-shy attitude)
Instead I settled for flame raisins and fuzzy green almonds [http://www.greenalmonds.com/], the latter a decidedly exotic treat. They are only available a few weeks each spring, but if you look quick you might find them in one of the ethnic markets in our area (maybe Patel’s Cash & Carry up Route 27?). It is easy to peel the fuzzy coating back and pop out the nascent almond inside. It is mildly flavored with a somewhat gelatinous texture.
Later on at the venerable Hungarian Pastry Shop, a starving-artist landmark, I merely nibbled on my strawberry bar, but took home other treats to enjoy that evening and to share with my father. The cherry-cheese strudel gets my first-place vote, but the almond crescent, crispy-edged apple turnover, and apple strudel are no mean feats either. If you go, be sure to visit the tiny restroom to read the interesting graffiti that covers the walls.
When last we encountered your nephew he was traveling to Europe with you, and here he is living on the Upper Upper West Side with a girlfriend! I love coming along on your dining excursions, and your descriptions allow me to enjoy the scents and tastes without having to take any trains or buses. Remember the movie Fried Green Tomatoes? I made them that year, but it was the last time. (This year I’m pruning my tomato plants right so hopefully they’ll all turn red!) And only you would be sure to guide us to the restroom to read the graffiti!