Saturday, May 16, 2009

BAGEL WATCH: Pick-A-Bagel Rocks

As Bagels Go, This Neighborhood Gem Continues To Shine

I was recently privy to an argument about a bagel chain that was planning on moving into Manhattan to set up shop.

On one side, several people who had enjoyed the bagels abroad (like, uh, in Ohio somewhere) were glad to know they would have a familiar bagel in the city. Please note: I love when those who are not exactly connected to the NYC food scene try and convince NYC foodies that their local chain food can take over Manhattan (Chick-Fil-A not included, of course).

On the other side of the fence, were the New Yorkers who were basically begging them not to come... as a courtesy.

Think about it. Moving to New York to open a bagel shop that is part of a "chain" is like moving to Mexico City and opening a Taco Bell.

Case in point, my bagel shop of the day, Pick-A-Bagel, on 3rd and 23rd. A local gem that cranks out one of the Top 5 bagels in New York City, bar none. (Insert your Top 5 list here).

Now you should know, I love my bagels. I am not the biggest H and H guy in the world, having tasted the incredible bagels served by Tal Bagel (have you had the flat bagels?)... but I love the fact that so many shops in NYC actually make their bagels in house. This is the case at Pick-A-Bagel.

Additionally, these guys can really dress the thing. I'll leave the lox and stuff to my Hebrew brethren... (I just don't have the smoked fish for breakfast thing happening mentally yet) and focus on cream cheese, as well as my fave, the bacon/egg and butter.

If you have spent the last minute reading this, you are one of those people who know that all bagels are not created equal. There are bland bagels, stale bagels, tough bagels... blah, blah, blah.

And then, there are good NYC bagels. Warm or hot.... crusty and crunchy on the outside and chewy perfect on the inside.

This would again, be Pick-A-Bagel.

What sets them apart?

They have a killer assortment of cream cheeses, etc... but who else on the planet sells BACON CREAM CHEESE?

Not kidding. Bacon. Cream. Cheese. And if you can't stomach that, they also have TOFU Cream Cheese. I can't make this up.

So there you have it, Fork New York's Bagel Pick of the Day, Pick-A-Bagel.

(and if you don't like bagels, you can get loaded at the pub next door)

297 3rd Ave
(between 22nd St & 23rd St)
New York, NY 10010
(212) 686-1414

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Traveling New York City

Why Hit Europe When You Can Hop In A Cab?

Those of us lucky enough to live in New York know one thing. No matter where you are from, where you have been, or where you want to go, you can almost certainly duplicate any international experience on the island of Manhattan.

On this day in New York, I awoke to find an cool, overcast morning... begging for a day trip somewhere. I usually make an obligatory journey to the West Village (Faicco's, Murrays, etc...) to load up on crunchy aged gouda and parsley and cheese sausage for the grill.... but on this day, I ventured into SoHo where some of the cities best boutique food shops live.

While at this point I could post a list of places to visit that would resemble the yellow pages, I have decided to spend the summer focusing the blog on the secret gems that make New York the greatest food city in the world.

Stop #1?........ one of my favorite bakeries... Once Upon A Tart.

Once Upon A Tart is located on Sullivan Street, just south of Houston, and is spectacular.

Not only do they bake their amazing tarts, muffins and breads on premise... they do it in such simple style, you would easily think you were shopping in the Marais District in Paris. Unlike many bakeries who flood their counters with 100 varieties of good things, Once Upon A Tart uses the less is more approach of "we'll sell you 20 things, and everything you put in your mouth will be extrodinary."

And thats what they do.

On this morning, I choose not to buy a perfect pork, pesto and friseé baguette, homemade madeline or raspberry scone... but a toasty bruschetta layered brushed with fresh tomato compote, thinly sliced rosemary potatoes and roma tomotoes, topped with fresh mozerella.

With a freshly drawn double espresso in hand, I sat in one of the tiny bistro chairs out front and patiently waited for my wife to exit the upscale yarn shop next door. And I waited. And I waited.

Then I couldn't wait anymore... and began to devour what was easily one of the best savory treats I had eaten in recent memory. God I love New York.

The beauty of SoHo and the Village in general is that these shops are more the norm than you would think... and these type of culinary masterpieces can be found in about a 5 minute walk in any direction. But if you are looking for that sweet and savory fix, this is your place.

So there you have it, my first installment of FORK NEW YORK'S Summer in the City Series.... Once Upon A Tart.

I'll see you there.

Once Upon A Tart
135 Sullivan Street
NYC, NY 10012

Open everyday until 7pm, Sunday until 6pm.