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swirl and savor

Adventures in the Big Chilly Apple!

Beth Ribblett

Wow, what an eventful 24 hours we had! From incredible Indian food Sunday night in Midtown, a giant bagel and spinach knish on 2nd Ave for breakfast, Korean food at Times Square and then three fabulous Italian wine bars in 3 hours! Luckily we are walking everywhere so hopefully the damage to our waistlines won't be quite so bad...

The feeding frenzy started Sunday night as we bundled up (it was 17 degrees!) and walked up and down 2nd Ave in Midtown in search of something to eat that we can't get at home. We hit the jackpot with a little Indian place called Amma on 51st, between 2nd and 3rd Ave. Walking up the stairs to the first floor of a brownstone, we knew it must be good as it was packed with happy diners when many of the restaurants had few patrons on a Sunday night. They gave us a prime table in the front corner where we had a great view of the whole restaurant. They had a $35 prix fixe menu that included a soup, appetizer, entree and dessert. Having once been very intrigued by Indian cuisine ever since my sister adopted my niece Rika from India, I have cooked a lot of it and have been very partial to the flavors of Southern India and Kerala. The curry leaves, Kaffir lime leaves, mustard seeds, dahl and light sauces are a refreshing change from the richer foods of Northern India and this restaurant did it right! If I had to pick a favorite dish, it would either be the toor dahl donut appetizer swimming in all three of their traditional condiments, a spicy tamarind, sweet mint and tangy yogurt sauce or the baked chicken stuffed with paneer and spinach covered in a spicy tomato sauce or possible the cardamom flavored ice cream that left bits the lovely fragrant seed for you to crunch on. Absolutely fabulous!

Yesterday morning started with a giant everything bagel slathered with a fresh onion and chive cream cheese from Tal Bagels around the corner. There is just nothing like a fresh New York bagel, period. We also tried a spinach knish which was a bit bland but just looked too good behind the counter to pass up.

Then we took off to Central Park West to check out a great little Salumeria Rossi, a Tuscan inspired restaurant/grocery. Walking in, you see the deli counter on your left with a wide assortment of cured meats, Italian cheeses, antipasti beautifully displayed with the intention of getting your mouth watering so you can't help but want to sit down and eat. The menu leans toward small tastes, rather than large appetizers and entrees with everything from Cavolini, a dish of brussel sprouts, pancetta and garlic, to Le Puntarella, consisting of Italian wild chicory and anchovies cooked in garlic, lemon, and olive oil to delicious looking meat and cheese boards. But, with our bellies still full from the bagel and lunch plans in an hour, we decided we needed to come back.

Lunch plans took us the offices of the New York Times to meet an old high school friend of Kerry's, Kim Severson. Kim is one of the food critics for the Times, so we knew lunch with her would be an adventure not to be missed. And she delivered with a rustic little Korean restaurant, Cho Dang Gol on W. 35th between 5th and 6th. The owner, Kim Bong Ok was born in a village in the South Korean province of Kangwon known for its tofu. As a child, she learned how to make more than 100 dishes using the tender bean curd and the restaurant is now famous for it and offers more than two dozen dishes with different renditions of tofu. I don't know enough about the cuisine to accurately describe it, so all I can say is that it is definitely worth the trip. And the company was fabulous, thank you Kim!

The rest of the day we focused on Italian food and wine so I'll write about that in my next entry. Right now we've got to get ready to go to the wine conference, the excuse we used to come here!