Empire State of Mind

So, it’s been a few years since I’ve been a single girl back in New York.  I used to spend quite a bit of time in Manhattan and I have to say it’s so fabulous to be back.  I love the feel of the city, the continual patter of footsteps on every street and the overall energy it gives off.  It also helps that I have some fantastic friends in the city who enjoy indulging in similar things I do-food, wine, cooking, new restaurants, great conversation.
It was a wonderful and empowering feeling when I stepped off the plane at LGA, got into a cab and he asked the best way to get to the address I was headed.  Yes, I was back as a pseudo-New Yorker. You have to have a sort of confident presence to really enjoy and blend in and not look like you’re referencing your google maps mobile app every 2 seconds. And it’s fantastic when you realize where you are and how to get places.  Even though it has been 3+ years since I’ve been back here running around on my own it took but a few hours for me to remember the layout of the neighborhoods I used to frequent. Experiences like this help me remember how to be independent, confident and comfortable in my own skin.
And, as expected, I have already been to some incredible restaurants. Torrisi Italian Specialties- on Mulberry b/w Spring and Prince in Nolita-is this fabulous little space with seating for barely 15 people.  It’s darling inside and the food was fantastic.  A $50 prix fix menu, basically, you choose your entrée but everything else comes to the table sort of family style (but without the Italian mama, stuff your gut until you bust portion sizes).  The mozzarella is a lovely little pillow of soft cheese that is chewy and buttery all at the same time with the perfect amount of grit from the sea salt sprinkled on top.  The pickle salad was a great way to taste, all in one bite, the stages that a cucumber goes through to become a fantastic pickle. And everything else was just as beautiful but dessert needs to be mentioned here. A non-pretentious, non-“pastry chef” compilation of the most delicate and perfect Italian cookies.  A variety of about 5-6 total, with enough for one cookie or bar for each guest and the perfect way to end the evening with a touch of buttery sweetness.
The following evening was met with a reservation at Ippudo noodle bar in the East Village with 2 fabulous girlfriends. As a place I have been previously, I knew how delicious it was and was excited to try some of the same things and also a few new ones.  One of my favorites-their marinated cucumber dish is just one of the best things you can put in your mouth.  Chilled, thick coins of cucumbers marinated in a fantastic asian dressing topped with crushed and toasted sesame seeds and a bit of spice. Simple and amazing. The ramen is, of course, fantastic and the agedashi tofu-mmmmmazing.  I would eat that every day for lunch (and maybe dinner sometimes?) if possible.  The broth is delicious and light with ginger perfuming every bite and just enough saltiness for the tofu to cut through.  A great way to cleanse your palate and make your tummy happy with a filling yet light dish that is so satisfying.
Ok, enough food writing for now but I will certainly post in the next few days about my fortunate encounter with some delicious cuisine at Locanda Verde and Babbo (both in one day-fantastic!).