Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pastrami, focaccia and babka -- oh my!

Like all things Italian? Then you'll want to visit Eataly!
The lovely Miss Wendy and I decided recently we needed a brisk winter break from the Land of Cotton. So earlier this month we took a trip up north for a tiny taste of the Big Apple.

Truth to tell, we enjoy a bit of snow and a wintry chill -- at least for a few days. That's why we're willing to venture into Manhattan in January. There's something special about the area when the temperature plunges into the teens and snow falls gently across Manhattan.

Unfortunately, during this most recent trip it wasn't white stuff falling from the sky but a wintry mix of rain and sleet. No matter. We still managed to nosh our way through several delis in Midtown, enjoy two Broadway musicals -- Motown: The Musical and Kinky Boots -- stroll about the East Village on a food tour and make our annual pilgrimage to Zabar's to stock up on babkas. Can you say yummy!

Oh, we also visited The Jewish Museum to take in a special exhibit featuring the iconic work of Marc Chagall and, just as memorable, dropped by Max Brenner in Union Square for a cup of splendid hot chocolate.

I could easily pause and whisper Dayenu at this point, agreeing with the Passover ditty that, yes, this is all enough. But what lingers in my mind at the moment is the hour Wendy and I spent at Eataly, a specialty market on Fifth Avenue featuring a cornucopia of goodies to whet the appetite and soothe the soul.

The expansive space -- it's sort of an IKEA for the stomach -- is filled with a rich assortment of goodies, all with an Italian accent. It covers just this side of 50,000 square feet and includes pastas and grain products, chocolates and sweets, bread, pastries and other such delights, meats, poultry and fish, a wide assortment of wines and, of course, an entire corner devoted to olive oil!

Food and beverage stations are strategically placed around the perimeter, offering up delightful aromas that both tingle and tease the senses. If there's a problem, it comes with simply trying to get from here to there, pushing through the crowds of locals and tourists that fill the market throughout the day in search of a tasty treat.

It's a battle worth fighting! After all, to the victor goes the spoils. For Wendy and me that meant we walked away with a veggie sandwich: a tasty garden delight nestled between two hearty slices of focaccia, and a cup of bourbon chocolate gelato!

A day later we were back home, feasting at least for one evening on all the left-over goodies -- pastrami from the Carnegie Deli and babka from Zabar's; a bit of focaccia and a huge case of indigestion. 

Turns out the really good news is we were warm and snug back in the Land of Cotton. Two days after leaving New York, yet another blast of arctic air spilled across New England and the wintry mix we had slogged through turned to snow -- lots of snow!

I'm thinking if our little winter adventure had been a day or two later I'd now be writing about our miserable delay at LaGuardia, and the delights and surprises of Eataly and Broadway would only be fading footnotes.

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