Leave it to my son to lead us to an unexpected jewel in Williamsburg, New York. For those of you who wouldn’t think of crossing the river from Manhattan to Brooklyn, you are missing out on an extraordinary culinary scene that you won’t find in the city.
Stepping off the plane at La Guardia, we were hit by the humid air and the crush of travelers. We hopped in a cab and headed to Williamsburg and then over to the über hip joint called “Diner”.
No menus here, the server with the big smile and bright red lipstick popped herself down at our booth and described each dish as she wrote the day’s offerings on a stretch of butcher paper laid across the table. She was intimate and attentive, admitting that she had mixed up two of the sauces all night, telling guests that the wrong sauce went with a particular dish.
This was anything but the average diner food you might expect. It was complex, beautiful and amazing. The servings were not too large, just enough for everyone at the table to have their fill and share a bite with each other.
As a platter of assorted desserts passed by us mid meal, my son announced, “we are having one of each of those”, and we did.
A cluster of delicacies pushed to the center of the table, we dove into one and all, critiquing each one with our oohs and aahhs.
After dinner we walked down to the river where the Williamsburg Bridge crosses over to Manhattan and then stood in the quiet Tuesday night streets wondering if a taxi would ever wander by.
Eventually, one did.
With the windows rolled down, we made our way to Manhattan to our room with a view of Lady Liberty.
Leaving the museum, we made our way around the city to a number of specialty food stores for a little product research (more on this soon).
New York in the August heat is always a bit of a challenge for me. I love the city but I can feel overwhelmed by the humidity, throngs of tourists, noise level and smells that range from delicious to disgusting in a matter of seconds.
A stop at a Japanese sweets shop in Rockefeller Center called Minamoto Kitchoan brought a moment of serene calm. Beautifully packaged, these pastries that are made with bean pastes, fruits and jellies, are delicate and unusual in both appearance and taste.
French Macaroons in Boucheron Bakery.
Stormy skies with thunder and lightning looming overhead didn’t seem to faze the city strollers.
A little entertainment between subway stops.
And then into Dean & DeLuca in Soho.
I so wanted to try all of the cheeses…
…and these too!
I ♥ NY!
Here is my very simple interpretation of a salad that we were served at Diner.
Grilled Cantaloupe & Gorgonzola Salad
4 cups Mache or other salad greens
1/2 small cantaloupe, sliced into 8 wedges with skins removed
1/4 red onion, sliced paper-thin
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Aged Balsamic Vinegar to drizzle or any basic vinaigrette
Arrange the greens on four plates and top with red onion slices.
Place the slices of cantaloupe on a hot grill or panning maker that has been brushed with some oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side – just enough to warm and soften it a bit and yet still remaining firm.
Lay 2 slices of grilled cantaloupe on each plate on top of the greens, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with the gorgonzola and serve immediately.