On my way to the subway for the social segment of my 4th, I stopped into Union Market to inspect the samples and hit the jackpot. Marinated gardiniera veggies (cauliflower and carrots), caramelized cippolini mushrooms, four types of cheeses, and …
… chocolate chip Tate’s Bakeshop cookies and fudgy frosted chocolate cake. The perfect appetizers to my imminent lunch
I got up to my lunch destination around 3:00 for a very special visit with Coco from Balance, Joy and Delicias!. Coco had boldly decided to take a trip to NYC all by herself and set up a whole schedule of things to do while here. Initially, I didn’t think I could meet up with her because I was planning to go to MA for the weekend, but I decided last minute to stick around because of everything I needed to get done at my apartment.
Coco and I met for our late lunch date at HanGawi, a vegetarian Korean restaurant that Coco put on her NYC to-do list after Katie recommended it a few weeks ago. I knew we had made a good choice when we walked into such a peaceful setting. We had to take our shoes off upon entering, and they were stored in cubbies alongside these beautiful and intricate authentic Korean shoes:
The tables were very low, and pillows were arranged around them instead of chairs.
But, I’ll let you in on a secret. If you look closely, you’ll see that every table has a hole in the floor underneath it. That way, we didn’t actually have to sit cross-legged for the whole meal
Coco ordered the fixed price Mini Emperor’s Lunch … but it was quite substantial!
It came with pumpkin porridge which Coco let me taste — so good! It was sweet and creamy and warm and perfect
Coco’s also came with vermicelli delight as an appetizer, the same dish that I ordered to start. I was so excited when I saw this on the menu (“sweet potato noodles with seasonal mixed vegetables”) because, ever since I was 17 and my friend Mimi (hi Mimi!) invited me over to her house for a summer party and some of her mom’s cooking, I have been obsessed with these noodles (aka glass noodles or cellophane noodles). The texture, the look, the taste … I love everything about them. Sophomore year of college, I set out on a mission to hunt these noodles down. I lived in Chinatown then and must have purchased and tried preparing every single type of vermicelli I could find, but nothing was the same! I made my then-boyfriend take me to Koreatown in hunt of the noodles, and we finally found them!! See the empty bowl?
Clearly, I was a pro at cleaning my plate eight years ago as well. Yay for 2001!
Saturday’s restaurant was located very near my 2001 success story in Koreatown, so I felt full confidence when I ordered the sweet potato noodles. They arrived just as I had dreamed they would:
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I want more!
Coco’s entree, the vegetarian stone bowl rice (see above action shot of Coco and food) arrived with my second course (I ordered two appetizers instead of a meal): kabocha pumpkin pancakes.
These were sweet and spicy at the same time and soooooo tasty! I need to try making something like this at home.
Coco’s meal came with two types of kimchi — one spicy and one gingery — and she let me try bites of each:
Next, this mysterious cold apple-ginger-cinnamon tea/soup arrived for us. I was entranced by the pine nuts (and apple pieces) floating on top:
It was delicious, and I drank it all up. I’d been under the impression that this was some complimentary palette cleanser before Coco’s dessert arrived, especially since the lady explained it was “on the house” when she brought it. Our server dropped the check off shortly thereafter, and I flagged him down a minute later to alert him to the fact that Coco had never received the dessert that came with her fixed price meal. He explained that the tea/soup was the dessert and that they had just given one to me on the house so I wouldn’t feel left out. Awwwwwwww. After that, I felt very guilty about my un-zen greediness. Oops.
Coco had been planning to meet up with a friend for the fireworks, but her friend couldn’t make it … so I roped her into sticking with me for the rest of the evening We wandered in the general direction of our next destination for a couple of miles. I took pictures of the sunny weather so I’ll be able to remember it when it starts to rain again.
We stopped in at a pinkberry because Coco had never had tart frozen yogurt before. I wasn’t going to get anything … but then I did
(A small original with raspberries, coconut, and green tea powder.)
Erin Gunn & Co. made their arrival from Yonkers around 5:30, and we attempted to enter our pre-selected pre-fireworks location. I was so excited to have found this place in Hell’s Kitchen with fresh fruit cocktails, outdoor garden seating, and yummy healthy snacks! Sadly, I did not call ahead. Had I done so, I would have found that ‘disiac was closed for the Fourth of July. Plthhhhhhhh. Instead we wandered around until we found ourselves a dark, dank Irish pub in which to settle for a few.
(Left to right: Mike (Erin’s fiance), Bryan (Erin’s Australian cousin), Coco, Erin, me)
Despite the darkness, the food was delicious! I wasn’t hungry (HA!!), so I helped myself to some of Erin Gunn’s onion rings and black bean and corn guacamole:
And Mike’s tomato slice:
And most of the hummus platter for the table:
Bryan ordered club soda, and I scolded him for scoffing at the finest tap water the country has to offer.
After the pub, we needed sunlight! Joshua Tree looked perfect.
We snagged a nice spot upstairs by the balcony:
I ordered the Lemon Drop Martini with grey goose le citron, sour mix, and countreau in a sugar-rimmed glass.
It was as refreshing and light and frothy and airy as it looked. Mike took a pensive sip and approved as well.
Finally, the time arrived for us to work our way over toward the Hudson for some fireworks. On the way, we encountered THE DESSERT TRUCK!!!
Kate would be so proud. We moved closer.
I was so tempted by the goat cheese cake with rosemary caramel and fresh berries … but I knew I’d have better luck getting the others to help me if I ordered the warm molten dark chocolate cake with olive oil and chocolate center, hazelnuts, sea salt, and vanilla ice cream. So that’s what I did
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh my goodness. I’m not sure there are words! The others definitely helped me (thank goodness) because I would have eaten 15 of these all by myself if I’d had the chance.
The sea salt and hazelnuts really made it unique, mmmmmmmmmmmm. Next time: goat cheese cake!
After dessert, we headed toward the water on 47th street with 50000 of our closest friends.
The fireworks were supposed to start at 9:20, but they made us wait about three extra minutes, the nerve!
When the show started, I had a great view.
Seriously. Every time I tried to take a picture, these two decided to snuggle right in my line of sight.
Due to inevitable crowd shift, however, things eventually improved!
As usual, these Macy’s fireworks were the best I’ve seen! I usually avoid these overly crowded NYC events (esp. parades!) at all costs, but I keep coming back to the fireworks year after year after year.
The show ended after 26 minutes, and we turned to leave.
Oh. I almost forgot we had to wait for our 50000 best friends to leave first.
Coco headed back to her hotel, and Erin, the boys, and I stopped into Emmet’s for one last drink:
It may appear as though I drank this radioactive green thing.
But I couldn’t stomach the liquid jolly-rancher-ness and instead stuck to my water (after eating the cherry, lemon wedge, lime wedge, and rim sugar, of course ).
Yay for being social! Coco was even more sweet and exuberant than she is on her blog, Bryan was a hilarious new addition, and any night I get to spend with Erin Gunn and Mike is automatically a success. I had a lovely time, and I’m sad that I’m going to have to dive right back into my grad school bubble this week. Plth.
Social highlight of your weekend?