New York – 19612 Miles Driven.
New York City is one of a few places where you can truly live a 24-hour existence, and where you can eat a wealth of great food and spend relatively little for the privilege. I but scraped the surface of what culinary treats this great city has to offer, but I definitely found a few.
I never enjoy eating a bagel and cream cheese more than when I’m eating one in NYC, nor have I ever waited in line for as long to get one as I did in NYC. Thanks Ess-a-Bagel. Other spots included the iconic and slightly pricey Russ & Daughters, and my new favourite, no-fills takeout only Kossar’s Bialys.
The Iconic Deli
I couldn’t leave NYC without first paying a visit to Carnegie Deli on 854 7th Avenue, which after 80 years sadly closed its doors for the final time on 30th December 2016. Though you can still pick up one of its famous pastrami sandwiches from one of the other franchise locations, I’m glad I got to eat mine where it all began, even if it did cost $20.
In Brooklyn it’s not chain owned coffee shops that you’ll find on nearly every street corner, it’s family run bodegas. Not to be mistaken for corner shops or delis. If it doesn’t come with its own cat to keep the rats away, it’s not a bodega. If it’s not open 24/7, it’s not a bodega. If it doesn’t sell deli meat sandwiches that usually knock the socks of a Subway, it’s not a bodega. My favoured bodega was Red Apple on the corner of Marcus Garvey and Madison, and my roll of choice was a $4 turkey and cheese. Not toasted. If its loyalty scheme isn’t unofficial and doesn’t include a ‘soda special’, it’s not a bodega.
The Chinese Dumplings
I think it’s fair to say that eating in any city’s Chinatown restaurants can be hit or miss, New York is no exception. Deluxe Green Bo must be hit or else I wouldn’t have found myself repeatedly going back. Go there for the amazing eight for $5 pork soup dumplings, go there for the stir-fried aubergine, don’t go there to ask too many questions.
The 99¢ Pizza Slice
Yes that’s right, in NYC you can buy a slice of pizza for 99¢, and no, you don’t have to be drunk to eat one. In fact, these 24/7 pizza joints weren’t born out of a need to feed Manhattan’s many booze-fuelled partygoers; they were established to give Manhattan’s many homeless people something to affordable to eat. So the story goes. Turn your noses up at it you may, but at 99¢ Fresh Pizza I got a very reasonable slice of pizza for a very reasonable 99¢.
The Quality Pizza Slice
Saving the best until last, certainly as far as pizza goes. Frank Pinello, owner of neighbourhood Brooklyn pizzeria Best Pizza is a man high in demand. With Sicilian roots, Frank grew up watching his family cook. He developed his culinary skills at the Culinary Institute of America, and practiced them at other popular Brooklyn pizzerias.
In 2010 he decided to go it alone, and since then both Frank and Best Pizza appear to be going from strength to strength. Frank hosts his very own pizza show on VICE, and acts as a culinary consultant to some of the world’s great restaurants. But what of his own restaurant, well Best Pizza is cool place; rap music plays in the background, the staff are friendly and laid back, and the wood-fired pizza is very good. Frank believes in using quality ingredients and it shows. I opted for the white pizza; topped with homemade mozzarella and ricotta seasoned in-house with salt, pepper and lemon. A slice costs more than a dollar, but it won’t break the bank and it’s worth every cent.