A Week in New York with Meals at Pearl Oyster Bar, Mimi, Flora Bar, Daniel, Bar Bolonat, Union Square Cafe, Cafe Altro Paradiso, Hearth, and King

Craig’s in the middle of editing his new movie ALEX STRANGELOVE for Netflix (can’t wait for you to see it) in New York and though I planned to just stay in L.A. for the duration of the edit, two things did occur to me when he asked me to come out for a week: (1) it’d be good for our marriage for me to support and nurture Craig through the difficulties of the editing process; (2) I COULD EAT AT A BUNCH OF NEW YORK CITY RESTAURANTS!

I won’t tell you which was the more compelling factor, but there I was, last Monday, arriving at JFK and taking a cab into the city.

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Eating New York in Sub-Zero Weather (Estela, Prune, Del Posto & Russ & Daughters Cafe)

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Here’s how cold it was in New York: on our last morning there, I left a pair of gloves behind for the person I borrowed them from and rode the elevator down to the street with Craig to catch a cab to the airport. Craig had gone to the trouble to get me a cappuccino from our favorite New York coffee shop, Joe, which he handed to me as we stepped outside. The temperature that day, with wind-chill, was close to negative 10 degrees. NEGATIVE TEN. And no cabs were stopping, so there I was with my bare hand holding on to this warm coffee drink and the feeling was so awful–the cold was searing my hand so fiercely–I had to toss the full cup of coffee into a trash bin so I could shove my hand into my pocket. That’s the coldest I’ve ever been.

And yet, before you call me an L.A. traitor, even in the most miserable weather, New York is still my boo. I actually hadn’t been back in over a year, not because I didn’t want to, but because in the whirlwind of Skeleton Twins stuff, it just didn’t happen. Then, for Christmas, Craig presented me with tickets to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch (one of my favorite musicals) on Broadway starring the show’s creator John Cameron Mitchell the day after my birthday in February. “February?” I asked incredulously. “It’ll be fine!” he promised.

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Let’s Brunch at Lafayette

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My trip to New York started with a favorite brunch spot going down the tubes and ended with a brunch spot that I loved so much, I went twice. That spot is Lafayette and it’s located, as the name might suggest, on Lafayette Street just south of the Astor Place stop on the 6 train and north of the Broadway/Lafayette stop on every other train. My first visit was with my friend Alex who you can see above modeling a $14 basket of pastries so good, we pretty much devoured the whole thing. Going to Lafayette and not ordering the pastry basket is like going to Disneyland and not riding the rides. You just can’t avoid it.

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Dinner with Cara and Dara at La Vara

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One time in grad school for dramatic writing, a teacher tore into me and called the play I was working on “sophomoric” and “juvenile.” Classmates called me afterwards to console me, and though I’m pretty much over it, sometimes I look back at that moment and wonder if she was right. In all of my efforts to be taken seriously, perhaps I was at my best when I made the Janet Jackson Breast Cupcake? Or Condoleeza Rice Pudding with Berries of Mass Destruction?

Take, for example, the dinner I had last week with friends in Brooklyn. I couldn’t get over the fact that two of the friends I was eating with were named Cara and Dara and we were eating at a restaurant called La Vara. Cara and Dara at La Vara. I told everyone I knew; I Tweeted about it. I told the waitress and the chef. At a certain point, you’d think I would’ve gotten over it, but no sirree. I find the title of this post endlessly amusing. In fact, I could just end it here but then you wouldn’t get to see the absolutely amazing food that we ate.

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The Best Restaurant Bathrooms in New York

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This is my friend Justin, you may recognize him from his great work at Food & Wine Magazine. Last time I was in New York, I met Justin for drinks in midtown and afterwards we decided to grab dinner somewhere in Hell’s Kitchen. On the fancy end of the spectrum is Esca, one of New York’s best seafood restaurants (an appealing thing for someone who was about to become a pescatarian) but instead of the high road, I suggested a low road… a road informed by bathrooms. Specifically, my favorite restaurant bathrooms in all of New York, the bathrooms at Vinyl.

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The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie in the World

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How many cookies does the average person eat over the course of a lifetime? 500? 5,000? 5 MILLION?

I’m not sure but since life is short, I believe it’s important to make your cookies count. Cracking open a box of Chips Ahoy might scratch an itch much like sleeping with a prostitute probably scratches a different sort of each. Neither is a good idea but people do it. I say, if you’re going to eat a chocolate chip cookie, there’s only one cookie to eat and that’s the best chocolate chip cookie in the entire world, the chocolate chip cookie at The City Bakery in New York.

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My First Full English Breakfast

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My favorite weekend breakfasts usually have some kind of balance of savory and sweet. A pile of pancakes here, a strip of bacon there, some eggs for good measure. Rarely have I ever craved a big plate of meat-products with eggs on the side. Recently, though, I found myself at brunch at The Breslin on 29th street and there on the menu was a “Full English Breakfast” for $23. Pricey, for sure–in fact it’s the priciest thing on the brunch menu–but suddenly I was intrigued. “What is a full English breakfast, anyway?”

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The Mast Brothers Salted Caramel Bonbon

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Wandering around Williamsburg last week, my nose (or “schnozz,” if you prefer) led me down a street to a place that looked like a warehouse. The warehouse was actually home to Mast Brothers chocolate, one of the most revered chocolate companies in the country. You may recognize their chocolate bars as the ones with wrapping so pretty, you want to wallpaper your house with them. Also their bars are the ones so expensive, you won’t be able to put your children through college if you buy one. Turns out all their chocolate is made right here in this spot where I was standing. Naturally, I went inside.

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