Food tourism: New York City


I had the pleasure of a weekend trip to NYC last weekend. Having been previously with my wife and done the usual tourist stuff, I decided this time to do some more experience-type-food-tourism stuff, which turned out to be really nice! As you can see from the maps, they were all highly reviewed places, so a good weekend eating!

Breakfast: Buttermilk Channel


Sunday morning I trekked across town to Brooklyn with some friends to this place - clearly a hip and in-demand place as once again, there were queues of people out the door and a waiting time of about an hour (luckily we had a local friend who had headed down early to put our names on the list!). I had the french toast with a side of bacon and sausage - it was both a big portion and pretty indulgent (as I was told by the waitress before ordering!) it came with a bourbon and pecan sauce and the cream, and was delicious. Bottomless coffee as standard too.


Coffee: Stumptown Coffee (ACE Hotel)

First thing I wanted to find on the Saturday morning was a good coffee - so I did some quick googling and this place ticked both boxes of being highly recommended and fairly central.

I got there and the queue was out the door (surely a good sign) - the coffee was good, but honestly, being spoilt for choice for good coffee where I am (I work in Fitzrovia, London, which has an abundance of great coffee places) it didn't seem out of the ordinary.

The best part about the place was that it was attached to the lobby of a fairly hipster hotel (Ace hotel, 29th Street) and the lobby had free wi-fi and loads of comfy seating (although it filled up pretty quickly too) so was perfect to sit, relax and use the wifi to plan the rest of the day's food.

I ended up stopping by here a few times through the weekend to chill out and use the wifi.


 

Pizza: Prince St Pizza

This one was recommended by Kenji Lopez-Alt as the best pizza slice in the city, so I made the trek south to try it, and it was good!

Not much to be said, its a decent square slice of pizza with thick, rich red tomato and white homemade mozarella and a generous helping of peperoni.



BBQ: Mighty Quinns

Saturday evening I went out for dinner with friends again, and BBQ seemed like a good idea - a quick Google search later, and Mighty Quinns looked like a good choice (from the reviews on Google Maps). And apparently it is currently considered to be the best BBQ in NYC and the place that put New York on the map in terms of BBQ joints.


It was decent - the pulled pork and brisket both very good, and as you'd expect for slow smoked BBQ meat - disappointingly they had run out of their beef ribs, which I would have liked to have tried, but good all round. Their sides, including the buttermilk brocoli were all excellent too - and a decent selection of American craft beers.

rob hinds Shambolically fumbling my way around the kitchen

Mastering shortbread (brown butter shortbread recipe)


I have always been a fan of eating shortbread. Well, good shortbread anyway.  Honestly, I can't remember what started me off on this latest quest - I think it was maybe just browsing some recipe books and it put me in the mood to give it a shot.



I don't normally cook that many sweet things, possibly cookies and brownies aside, and have never attempted shortbread before, but a month or two back I suddenly decided on a whim to give it a go.

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I started off using the recipe in Ruhlman's Twenty , which is as follows:
  • 225 grams plain flour
  • 170 grams butter
  • 100 grams caster sugar
(and to be honest, whilst there has been some variation in quantities throughout the experiments, this is pretty much spot on as to my final ratio of the parts)

He advised that the most important thing about making good shortbread was the quality of the ingredients, which makes sense being as its such a simple combination of three ingredients.  What followed was me spending several hours reading about butter. And I am speaking literally. I spent at least three hours reading about butter online.

Michael Ruhlman recommended using cultured butter if you can get it, so I went about trying different butters - the first two I tried were cultured, but honestly I didn't see that much of a noticeable difference in real terms - I then tried a few high-end British salted butters (cultured butter is more of a French/European thing, most English butter isn't cultured).


After a while of variations - all of which predominantly turned out very tasty - I still wasn't super impressed with the quality.

One day, for no particular reason that I can remember, I thought to myself, why not try browning the butter first and using that for my shortbread. This turned out to work well.  Maybe it wouldn't impress shortbread purists, but it works for me. So here it is..


Ingredients

  • 1/3 teaspoon fine salt (I started using 1/2 teaspoon in my firstbatch, but it was ever so slightly too salty for my taste, although still very edible - so adjust this to taste) 
  • 200 grams plain flour
  • 20 grams cornmeal (if you want, just replace this with more plain flour)
  • 100 grams white caster sugar
  • 170 grams brown butter (butter will reduce in the browning process, so you probably need to start off with something like 220 grams butter to be sure)

Method

  1. Brown your butter - this is a simple process, chop it up and chuck it into a pan (ideally a stainless steel or something where you can clearly see the colour of the butter throughout the process) and melt it over a gentle heat - once melted, it will start to turn a golden brown and will start to smell awesome (more so) and kind of nutty, as it starts to brown, keep stirring it to make sure the sediments don't burn 
  2. Transfer your molten brown butter to a bowl to cool and set (I transfer it to a bowl on top of a digital scales, so I can get the required 170 grams I need later.
  3. Once set, cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer, ideally with a paddle attachment if you have it (this is just for ease really)
  4. Once creamed together and looking light, add in the flour, cornflour and salt - mix until combined
  5. At this point we are freestyling, if you have a pan or something you want to put it in, then chuck it in, and slam it in the oven at about 160 (fan oven) for about 20minutes, or until lightly browned - What I do at this point is normally roll into a tube shape, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to cool. Once cooled, it's easily sliced into disks that can be lay on a baking tray for consistent size/appearance biscuits.
rob hinds Shambolically fumbling my way around the kitchen