I'm a little behind on my final post from last month's trip to NYC. I struggle writing this out, knowing that millions are still dealing with the devastation and wrath of Superstorm Sandy. It was only two weeks ago, we were strolling the streets, eating, laughing and appreciating all that is New York City. I was glued to the television throughout that day when the storm hit and well into the night watching and hoping it wouldn't be as bad as reported. I'd wished that the meteorologists were just carrying on with their over dramatic, doom and gloom dialogue. This time though, it appears that the damage was far worse than initially predicted. This monster storm has crippled much of the northeast coast, including my hometown of Long Island. While Manhattan clearly wasn't the only area affected, it has a special place in my heart. Particularly the West Village and its quaintness which I love so dearly. It hurts me to know that so many lives and businesses have been turned upside down by the destruction and that it will likely be months before they can recover. I can't even imagine what it was like when the storm hit but reading about the impact and loss that some of very favorite places have suffered, pains me to no end. So many restaurants and markets have had to close their doors for days, if not weeks, leaving many without income. If you are in the New York area, do your part and volunteer. If you cannot volunteer your time to help various fund raising efforts, go out for a nice meal, shop, spend. Restaurant and shop owners need your business to move forward.
If you are not in the northeast and cannot directly contribute, here are some easy ways you can help get them back on their feet from the comforts of your home:
- Text REDCROSS to 90999 and automatically donate $10 to Disaster Relief efforts
- If you prefer to donate to the Red Cross online, go to www.redcross.org.
- Donate funds online and feed those in need at City Harvest or Food Bank for NYC
On our final Sunday and what felt like a dream weekend with family and friends in the city, we thought we'd stay in our neighborhood, the West Village. We had a 4PM flight and the weather was gorgeous, a perfect day to enjoy the charm of the area. With so many incredible brunch options, I'm convinced that one must really go out of their way to find a bad one. I had heard fantastic things about Joseph Leonard so we planned to be there at 10:30AM when it opened, although I did have some apprehension about getting there so early. I recalled last year's trip to The Dutch before noon and not being able to order a proper brunch beverage. There is a very wacky law in New York state where liquor is not to be sold before noon on a Sunday. But then again, I've received other reports of restaurants serving before noon, I was confused by the rule and obviously concerned. After seeing some photos of a Joseph Leonard bloody mary online, I had to have it and couldn't face disappointment. As expected, our cab left us at the doorstep of the restaurant and a line was already forming. We gave our names to the hostess and in a very civilized manner, we were seated within 10 minutes.
We had a killer table in the far back corner of the space and great POV to watch the dizzying dance that is Sunday brunch in NYC. The wait staff were awesome, bringing out bloody marys by the fistful, like a waitress carrying tankards in a classic German beirgarten. Along with cocktails, personal french presses for each table were flying out every few minutes. I loved the scene, a small and cozy restaurant with tables jam packed, conversations overheard from Saturday night's escapades. Watching that tired look on faces in the room perk up after the first cocktail and coffee. The sound of the sizzling grills prepping all kinds of delicious hangover meals. I also noticed their soundtrack, it was exactly what I would spin if I were serving brunch. The Smiths, The Clash, Joy Division and other alternative 80's gems. Actually, I'm listening to my Smith's station as I type. The best era for music and ideal for brunch.
So now for the good stuff, the entire experience was a knockout. The bloody mary was excellent but you better like A LOT of pepper, whole peppercorns even. The glass was rimmed with a spicy seasoned salt and came garnished with two giant olives and a celery stalk. At the bottom of the glass sat almost an inch of course ground black pepper. I loved it. And if that weren't enough, each bloody mary is served with a beer chaser. I didn't think I could handle the beers in addition to the cocktail, but rest assured, they were delivered back to the kitchen empty.
The three of us ordered the Saucisson a l'ail (pork & garlic sausage, fried eggs, hashbrown, creme fraiche and arugula). Not the best photograph but the food was stunning. The hashbrown, like a thick frisbee, was fried to a crisp but left the interior soft with a bit of texture. The eggs prepared with a lacey glass rim, gave way to a runny and drippy yolk I used to mop up with my hashbrown. Let's talk sausages now. These sausages were unlike anything I've ever had before. I'm well versed in the Italian sausage category, the hot, the sweet, the cheese & parsley...but this, this was no ordinary breakfast sausage. In fact, I don't typically order breakfast sausages, but I had a good feeling about these and my instinct was right. I'm not sure if they make them there or get them from one of many quality butchers in the area but they were excellent. So garlicky and carried a heat, a spicy heat. Four good sized patties came with plate, needless to say I was adequately stuffed by the time we left.
Paul (my former vegetarian husband) went with the burger, he always does at brunch, no matter the time. I sampled a small bite and I recall it's juiciness. He raved about it and as you can see, it was quite a looker.
A seriously, serious brunch was had. Even after the flight home that night, I maybe had a snack before bed, still satisfied from the morning feast. At the end of the meal, they hand out fortune cookies. Sounds strange but I thought it was cute and had a laugh when I opened it. There was no argument with that statement.
170 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014
Following brunch, our friends headed back to the hotel to get some packing done and Paul and I continued to walk the streets. Signs of autumn were apparent everywhere and smells in the air signaled fall was upon us, even though it was a bit on the warm side that day. We popped in and out of bookstores and other shops, then we spotted the Van Leeuwen artisan ice cream truck parked on the corner of Bleecker and Charles Street.
I had seen some buzz around this company and its commitment to natural ingredients on the Cooking Channel as well as some other food publications. It was the right thing to do, I was forced to make room, I had to have this ice cream. There were so many flavors that looked great and I was really drawn to the Currant and Cream but they were out it and many others. So I chose the pistachio.
The ice cream was smooth and silky and not chock full of nuts. I love pistachio, so for me, I'm not bothered with bits of the nut running throughout. But if you're someone who loves a nutty ice cream, without the texture, this is perfection. The sweet treat wasn't overly sweetened and had no sign of artificial sugars or flavors. I was still full from brunch, but I happily made way for this special surprise.
With the last few hours in sight, we made our final stop. This is our special stop and someplace we go every time we are in the city, The End of History. If you're familiar with the West Village, you'll know all about this place. Its exquisite collection of mid-century modern pottery and European glass will tempt anyone to purchase one of these well curated pieces. As much as I adore this shop, I am terrified every time I walk in. I am a self admitted klutz, I can break anything of any material whatsoever, so you can imagine my fear here. I lay my purse down on a chair and move slowly with my hands tightly intertwined behind my back. There are sprawling wall displays and floor to ceiling shelving units stacked to capacity with delicate glass vases and ceramic pots.
The joy of this shop isn't purely the jaw dropping stock they carry from Denmark, Sweden, Germany and other parts of the world but also the attentive staff. We've met shop owner Stephen Saunders on quite a few visits and he's always happy to share stories of his travels to find these treasures. We feel welcomed when we arrive and the staff always remembers us and the items we've chosen even though we may only visit yearly. They also do an exceptional packing job to ensure our piece arrives safely. Even if mid-century pottery isn't your thing, the shop is a worth a look. Anybody that appreciates vintage design will fall in love. I also dare you not to make a purchase...because you will.
These were our two choices on our last visit to the shop. Still figuring out which part of the house they compliment most.
The End of History
548 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014