NYC – Friday – Street Food and Pizza
Getting to NYC was a slight pain in the ass since we insisted on doing it as cheaply as possible. We took the $1 Megabus from Philadelphia to NYC in order to save the $90 we would have spent on the train. The deal with Megabus is almost too good to be true. If you book well enough in advance, you really do get your tickets for $1 plus a 50 cent processing fee. A round trip ticket for one person from Philly to NYC comes out to $3! It was a great choice…until we got to the Lincoln Tunnel and traffic was backed up for miles. It took an extra hour to get into the city all while we sat on a clunky bus in traffic. That part wasn’t very fun especially since the boy and I couldn’t sit together. Oh well. We arrived a little later than planned and made our way to our hotel. After going in the wrong direction for a few stops on the subway line, we dusted ourselves off and switched over to “we know what we’re doing mode”. We found our hotel with no trouble after that. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott on the Upper East Side simply because we got the hotel incredibly cheap through Priceline. For those of you who have never used Priceline, it’s a web service that will allow you to bid on hotel rooms. You punch a price you’re willing to pay into their system and they will try to find a hotel for you that will accept your price. The only catch is that you don’t get to review the hotel before paying. Once a hotel accepts your bid, you’ve paid your listed price in full with no refunds. It’s a bit risky but it’s a great deal if you’re willing to be pretty low maintenance for the sake of saving a few hundred dollars. You also have to be willing to place your bid over and over every day until they stop rejecting it. In our case, our persistence paid off and we got the room for 70% off the rack rate! Score.
It was a very tame food day on Friday in NYC. All I wanted to do was hunt down this particular Halal food cart I’d heard rave reviews about for lamb and rice and also grab a slice of NY style pizza. The food cart was easy to find at 53rd and 6th, mostly because of the massive line. There are thousands of food carts in the city and this was the only one I saw with a line. I knew I was in the right place because people writing about the cart were very specific in their description of a plain cart with round containers and yellow bags. Apparently a bunch of other carts serving similar food cropped up in the same area and tried to make money off the success of this cart combined with the confusion of people trying to find it since it has no name or sign.
We ordered the mix combo which came with spiced long grain yellowish-orange rice, chunks of chicken meat, gyro meat, warm pita bread and some sad looking squares of iceberg lettuce. I’m sure the lettuce was there to add a splash of color and nothing more. I’m not sure if anyone eats the lettuce with all that lamb, rice and chicken goodness in the container. The lamb was the winner–it was amazing. It was perfectly cooked, cut and seasoned with a mixture of Middle Eastern spices. The food itself was served hot and the sauces that went with it were at standing temperature. My favourite! I hate it when cold sauces make hot food cold. This was such a delicious meal for both of us. I say that without the addition of “for a food cart” because this was exceptional street food and kicked the ass of many restaurants. I have no idea how to describe it other than that. It was so delicious that we were face down the whole time besides saying “Oh my god, wow!” every so often and forgot to take pictures. The picture above was stolen from the web. (Bad girl, I know.)
The dish came with two sauces, as mentioned–a white sauce and a red sauce. The white sauce tasted a bit like a mix between Donair sauce and ranch dressing. It was perfect with the lamb but especially with the chicken which needed a little punch of flavor. The red sauce was most likely spit from Satan himself. It was hotter than hell! I put a tiny drop on my tongue and it instantly burst into flames. The white sauce was very cooling and enjoyable so we mixed that into the plate and chowed down.
We toured around Times Square, saw a movie being filmed with Nicholas Cage, walked along Broadway, etc. Standard stuff. I got some pictures with some sailors, as some of you know. It was Fleet Week in NYC when we were there! Woo! After checking out the sights in Times Square and around Rockefeller Plaza, we grabbed a slice of pizza from a shop called Delizia on 92nd on the Upper East Side close to our hotel. We shared a slice of white pizza with ricotta, mozzarella, pecorino romano, tomatoes and basil and a square Sicilian slice of what they called “grandma’s pizza”. Bothwere delicious but the white pizza was better. Sadly I didn’t get photos of the pizza, either. We ended up being distracted by the guys sitting next to us who were very friendly guys from the neighborhood. They started chatting with us over our pizza and the camera had been forgotten.