I've only been to the market for work-related purposes, i.e. to take photos, but it's worth checking out if you like farmers' markets and want to try some local food vendors (mostly those specializing in making loaves of carbs). I love the idea of having more food markets in New York City, but my lack of need for fresh produce (that will inevitably go bad in my kitchen) means I don't support them much in the ways of money exchange. Hopefully this mention will bring them other customers who will actually buy stuff.
I didn't take advantage of the samples at the market, but I had a good reason: I wanted to save stomach space for lunch. And not explode.
...But I will anyway. The Shackburger from Shack Shack (the one with all the fixings) is my example of all that is balanced—in texture and flavor—in a burger, possessing just the right combination of bun, beef, and sodium. I say that as someone who has never tried the beloved old school burger joints of Los Angeles, but as James seemed quite smitten with his Shack Stack (I gathered this from his lack of speech and full concentration on devouring, with the occasional "mmm" slipping out between bites), maybe the LA burgers can wait. James' friend Juice (not his real name, but that's what James calls him so I'm going with that) was as fan of his shroom burger, as he should be since anyone who doesn't like like a sandwich of deep fried mushroom and cheese is crazy. I prefer not to associate with these people.
I washed down my burger with a Purple Cow, a grape soda float with vanilla custard. You get a choice of one size: "towering bucket." Excessive? Maybe a smidge, but if you like grape soda and frozen custard you're not going to complain. Juice ordered a chocolate and peanut butter milkshake, a combination I had never thought of ordering before. PURE IGNORANCE; it's an awesome combination. The shakes come in much smaller cups than the floats, but that's because they're cement-thick and a larger dose could result in gastrointestinal pain.
After Shake Shack, we went into tourist mode and headed to Rockefeller Center to visit the Top of the Rock, aka the GE Building. The short elevator ride is accompanied by a quick light show-ish thing viewable through the car's ceiling that inflates the excitement of the incredibly smooth and fast ride. You gotta get your $20 worth.
And you do. At least, I've never seen New York City like this before, and the general consensus is that it's better than going to the top of the Empire State Building (which, although 30 floors taller, doesn't necessarily offer better views) because you can't see Central Park from the ESB, Top of the Rock is less crowded, and you can actually see the ESB by not being in it.
Looking at photos of the view doesn't compare to how it feels to actually be up there. Even though 99% of the people on the roof were tourists, I think it's worth going to even if you live in the city. Sometimes those touristy things you wouldn't do on your own end up being much cooler than you'd expect. I'd love to go back at night. ...When it's snowing.
I'm a fan of living in concrete jungles. Not that I don't enjoy trees and dirt and fresh air as well, but I'm almost ashamed to say that I'd rather be surrounded by "city" with the occasional jaunt to nature than the other way around. I feel guilty for not appreciating nature more. When I'm in it, I enjoy it as a respite from regular life—but it doesn't make me feel at home. I don't know if that's related to when I lived in Taipei as my first city and had the best time of my life, or if that's just the way I'd be whether or not I had lived there.
But back to food. James, Juice, and I went to my favorite Chinese restaurant Grand Sichuan where we met up with Dinh and Colin. As usual, I was in charge of doing most of the ordering.
Cold cucumber with scallion sauce: My favorite form of cucumber, doused in a sesame oil and scallion juice-based sauce. I save the sauce for later so I can pour it on my leftover rice.
LOOK AT ALL THAT SAUCE.
Sichuan wontons with red oil: If you don't think you like wontons, you haven't tried these lil' pork dumplings coated in spicy oily sauce.
Pork soup dumplings: Always good. Pork nub in soup wrapped in dough.
Sauteed spicy Chinese broccoli: This version was a gazillion times better than the same dish I had at the Grand Sichuan in Chelsea. Vegetables were cooked to that perfect tender/crisp point where a vegetable has just crossed the line between raw and digestible. The one in Chelsea was just a bit under that line.
Gui Zhou spicy chicken: Tender, slightly crisp chicken nubs. Soaked in spiciness. So far, my favorite chicken option at Grand Sichuan.
Cumin beef: Perhaps too cumin and salt-laden for some, but it's easy to temper the seasonings with rice. Like the Gui Zhou chicken, it's crispy and tender, this time in fillet form instead of nubbin. HIGHER CRISPY SURFACE AREA-TO-MEAT RATIO = SUCCESS.
Bean curd with cashew: Although it looked boring on paper, this ended up being a great vegetarian option. The fried tofu chunks had a pleasing combination of crisp (I know I've said "crisp" too many times by now, sorry) outters and soft innards, and ...I like cashews. I thought the lack of burning hotness might result in something that tasted meh, but whatever brown sauce it was coated in was flavorful enough. I'd like to eat it again, even not as a vegetarian who is adverse to spicy food.
And thus was the end of the Robyn-assisted James eating adventures in New York City. James did more fooding the following day with chicken, pizza, and kimchi fried rice before leaving for Los Angeles that afternoon. What a good eater he is.