New York City
Autumn in New York
New York truly is all that it is hyped up to be – a city of dreams, a melting pot of cultures and some of the best food the planet has to offer. I headed into the Big Apple from Philly (Philadelphia) and man what a road trip it was; the only way to cruise into the city in my view. No need to stop in Jersey enroute, unless you want to feel all regal and get your fuel filled for you (a stark contrast to South Africa where fuel attendants are the norm). Before you head off from Philly though, do yourself a favour and stop at Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philadelphia. It is an institution. Founded in 1930 by brothers, Pat and Harry Olivieri, who are credited with the creation of the Philly Cheesesteak, and if you ask me it’s enough reason to immigrate regardless of which dictator is in charge of the States.
As her hair blew in the wind and we headed down the road together I stared at my blue suede dancer. Not a care in the world, her eyes twinkling like stars, I held her hand and felt a love found in food and travel. I squeeze tighter; she glances and smiles. “Sometimes you got to just jump,” she whispers. I return the smile. We pull up to the Beekman Hotel, a now modern classic of down town architecture, the Temple Court building that houses The Beekman was one of the city’s first skyscrapers. Prior to the building of Temple Court, the location was home to the Chapel Street Theatre, which held the first performance of Shakespeare in New York. My experience here could be personified to such a great performance, every piece carefully selected and placed, the Beekman was an adventure in itself, a hidden venue where Art and Architecture come together.
We stumbled onto the streets of Lower Manhattan our feet wandering to the pulse of the city, as we searched for pizza and beer. First stop; Joe’s Pizzeria, a legend in this neck of the woods. It opened its doors in 1975 by Joe Pozzuoli, who is originally from Naples, Italy, the birthplace of pizza; at 75 years of age, Joe Pozzuoli still owns and operates the restaurant. Many famous movie stars have convened there over the years waiting patiently for their slice of heaven’s pie.
A few slices down and we take a much-needed walk through central park; the night sky beckons, the city’s lights begin to flicker and Autumn leaves brush passed our feet. New York comes to life and touches me at my very core. Stolen kisses down avenues between bars and beers. Oh, New York, there is something in the air here; its electric.
A few hours into our stroll and our bellies start to rumble again. But this time, we decide to indulge in a trip to the “Ramen God” himself, Ivan Orkin. Ivan Ramen is a ramen noodle restaurant with two locations in New York, both run by the chef; a brash, white, Jewish guy from New York who made his name as one of the best ramen makers on the planet. A rather unorthodox story, but his name has become synonymous with the Japanese dish; in fact, Ivan symbolizes what true Ramen is. A palate magician you could say, and man was I astounded. Taken aback in fact.
We ordered a vegetarian-based broth, loaded with umami. I could taste the notes of the dried shiitake mushrooms that no doubt had been churning away for hours in massive stock pots of goodness. As a chef, only we can appreciate the work that goes into such an exquisite clear broth, that seemed ageless as it sat in its ceramic bowl staring back up at us, with curly wheat noodles, coloured with Shimeji mushrooms, a gentle sous vide poached egg to finish her off. And don’t let me forget to tell you about the pork broth in a separate bowl, finished off with oven roasted pork belly slabs, topped with a free-range slowly poached egg and more noodles. My heart was racing at the feast before my eyes. Ivan Ramen thank you! The only way to someone’s heart is through their belly and man have you filled us up with nothing but love tonight. So much love. I have nothing but respect for the boys and girls in there, busting it out.
Noodle-filled bellies, cheeks aching from an evening of laughter and smiles, she grabs my hand and we stumble onto the subway. The rocking of the carriage lulls her to sleep. Good night New York.
New York is just a melting pot of inspiration, with excitement, romance, and fascinating strangers lurking around every corner. No wonder so many artists, writers, chefs and creatives have flocked here (whether they could afford to eat or not).