The start of a relentless pursuit of New York’s culinary scene (NYC Part I).

New York city. Fast-paced and swarming with activity.  Dank, smelly subways. The majestic Manhattan skyline. The trip was a whirlwind of both exhilaration and exhaustion where I happily ate my way through the city.

Late Wednesday night I arrived and my sister promptly took me on a wild goose chase to find the original Halal Guys food stand. These dudes serve deep round aluminum plates packed to the brim with rice, shredded gyro beef and chicken, bits of lettuce, and slices of pita bread. My sister advised me not to slack on the Tahini sauce and warned me about the fiery hot sauce, so I squeezed out just a small glob of hot sauce and attempted to mirror the guy in front of me who appeared to take my sister’s advice to heart and slathered his plate with Tahini sauce so that not even the pita bread was recognizable. In the end, I only ended up with a generous drizzle of Tahini sauce, which I later regretted and wished that I’d added more. Still–it was delicious and worth every penny. I usually don’t prefer gyro beef but this meat was flavorful and satisfied my palette for sure (considering I also hadn’t eaten since lunchtime).

halal

The next morning, we were up early after dreaming of the famed cronuts for breakfast. Dominique Ansel Bakery in the Soho area boasted a rather long line when we got there (around 9:30/10ish am I think?) but we gleefully breezed inside since M (bless his heart) had already preordered them. Note–I think these are worth it if you preorder. But not if you’re standing out there for two hours in the early morning. And apparently one must preorder two weeks in advance, which just further proves how hyped these newfangled pastries are.

So what are cronuts? Well if a donut and a croissant fell in love and got married, cronuts would be the kids. The flavor of the month was strawberry and cream, which was a rather lackluster flavor compared to March’s exotic flavor (matcha with pineapple–I mean, come on). I did get a glimpse of pastry chefs squirting custard cream and fresh strawberry jelly into holes carved out in the cronuts so that the cream and jelly would gloriously ooze out as you bite into it.  Presentation was breathtaking as well, with a ring of delicate pink strawberry icing topped with little slices of dried strawberry and the entire cronut dusted with sugar.

cronut1

To me it was a little too sweet, but everyone else in my party declared that it was not terrible on the sweet tooth. The texture surprised me the most because it was slightly coarse and more dense than I expected. Donuts are pretty soft and croissants have that beautiful flaky pastry, but while the cronut is a marriage of the two pastries together it resembles a deeper fried product. A little bit crunchy, but not unpleasant. Overall I’d say it was delicious indeed. Slightly overhyped, but still a wonderful pastry.

cronut4 cronut5

At Dominique Ansel we also ordered tiny madeleine cookies (the ones that look like seashells) and the frozen s’more. The madeleines are made to order so when we got them they were fresh out of the oven and piping hot. They were some of the best treats I have ever tasted in my entire life, with a hint of lemon and a wonderful soft cake texture. The frozen s’more featured a hilariously long branch with a large rectangular toasted marshmallow perched on the end. The marshmallow box turned out to be filled with a delicate vanilla ice cream and chocolate crispy rice bits. It was definitely a hit, something that I enjoyed  immensely even though I had already been stuffed with other goodies. I’ve never had a breakfast more loaded with sugar than that Thursday morning at Dominique Ansel.

cronut3 cronut2

After the cronuts it was time for some coffee. Yelp had graciously shown the way to La Colombe Torrefaction, a sleek place with a taste of minimalist décor and no evidence of a menu. I suppose it might be frustrating to not know exactly what to order, but I think the beauty of the place is that it wants to show that the baristas can whip up anything you desire. I also noticed that they use beautiful china with swirling blue and patterns. My choice of drink was an almond milk mocha latte and I really appreciated how they strictly use bittersweet cocoa powder and nothing sugary at all. There was a slight bitterness, a hint of sweetness, and plenty of bold espresso. I would definitely recommend this place.

UP NEXT: Chinatown + ramen.

colombe1 colombe2

Websites:

http://thehalalguysny.com/

http://dominiqueansel.com/

http://www.lacolombe.com/

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