I love delicious food. Who doesn’t? From an ooey gooey cheesy slice of pizza to beautiful piece of perfectly cooked salmon, a great culinary experience that tantalizes your vision, smell, and taste (maybe even hearing and touch) never fails to get the dopamine and serotonin pumping.
Great tasting food isn’t too hard to come by because when there’s a demand, supply will follow. The real value of food isn’t the taste alone. It’s the total experience. Who are you with? What’s the ambiance? Is there good conversation? Was the meal for a special occasion? Did something crazy happen at another table?
You’ll forget whether or not the steak was perfectly cooked and the complexity of that curry’s spice, but you’ll remember how the experience made you feel.
The true hallmark of a great dining experience is one that makes you smile with a fond nostalgia every time you think about it. So instead of sharing my best eats of 2020, I’m going to share with you my most significant eats. These were the culinary experiences that will come to mind when I reflect on the insanity known as 2020. Enjoy!
At the very start of 2020, I made my first trip to Australia. As per usual, drama ensued. I didn’t know I needed a visa (which I ended up getting with 5 minutes to spare) and then I got held in Melbourne for questioning (where I forgot Jeremy’s birthday as they pounded me for questions about why I was there). However, after 36 hours of traveling over 3 different plane rides, I finally made it to Hobart Tasmania. (Click HERE for the tale of the journey)
My method for beating jetlag is to just power on through, and what better way to start my Australian adventure than with an Aussie brekkie? Jeremy took me to a spot called Ginger Brown where we got coffee, a garlic omelet loaded up with spicy ham and buttery sourdough toast, and an epic crumpet topped with fresh cream and a delightful fresh raspberry compote. “Australian” style cafes are a rising trend in NYC (erm, well, before COVID ), and let me tell you, they don’t hold a candle to the true OG brekkie scene.
The ingredients Down Under are wickedly fresh with an emphasis on eating local and sourcing from farms. “Farm to table” isn’t a trend, it’s just what’s normal. And let me tell you, fresh tastes best.
The experience is one I’ll remember because it was my first taste of Australia and my first meal back with Jeremy after two months of being apart. If you’ve done long distance, you know that giddy feeling of finally being reunited with the person you love. But what makes it worthy of the list is that it just so happens that it wasn’t the last I’d see of Ginger Brown….
Lo and behold, 11 months later I am living a quick 10 minute walk away! I would have never thought I’d relocate to Tasmania, Australia, but hey, I never thought a massive pandemic would sweep across the world. Life certainly is curious.
4.Billy’s Bakery Carrot Cake
Billy’s Bakery serves up the best carrot cake in New York City. Bold, but true. It was #2 out of my top 5 NYC eats of 2019 :
Cutting in reveals a molasses color interior with dense, gooey goodness that practically drip off the fork. Large shreds of carrots and coconut fill every bite along with an ideal distribution of raisins and walnuts. The fluffy, rich, creamy icing is amply smeared between each layer, making for each fork fill being well proportioned. It’s a slice you won’t forget anytime soon.From my Top 5 NYC Eats of 209
In the Spring, New York City was cold, quiet, and flat out depressing. With everything closed, nowhere to go, and nothing to do, how does one celebrate a birthday? A whole entire carrot cake from Billy’s Bakery of course! Jeremy got me a massive cake for my birthday, and I got him a less massive cake (whoops..) for his birthday 20 days later. For each day, we cracked open a bottle of Lagavulin, cut a massive piece of carrot cake, and sat on the couch binge watching Boardwalk Empire.
I will always remember the sensation of sinking into the couch in the dark living room lit by a string of fairy lights hanging on a red brick wall. The taste of sweet carrot cake lingering on my lips was cut through with a full-bodied peaty scotch that spread a warm sensation through my body. Jeremy was next to me. There wasn’t anywhere else we could be, and in those moments, there wasn’t anywhere else I would rather be.
March 16th, New York City shut down apart from essential businesses. The restaurant scene endured a massive blow as they were only allowed to serve take out and delivery. After three painfully long months, the city finally entered phase two on June 22nd, which allowed outdoor dining.
June 26th I met my two best friends for a dinner at Sugar Freak in Astoria, Queens, for my first dining experience out, and wow was it a treat.
The simple act of sitting at a table and being handed a menu felt bizarre, and having food brought to the table was a thrill. We shared an order of beignet sliders which consisted of beef patties in between warm, sugary, soft, and ever so crunchy beignets that melted in your mouth. I’m a sweet/salty gal, and this hit the nail on the head. Next, we shared a decadent bowl of lobster Mac N’ Cheese that was rich, creamy, and the definition of comfort food. And, of course, a few celebratory margaritas to wash it all down.
The food was perfectly good, (anything involving beignets and cheese is bound to be a hit), but it wasn’t necessarily mind blowing. What really made the meal special and worthy of this list is the fact that I got to see my two closest friends after three long, hard months.
We caught up on our COVID experiences, reminisced about the past, and speculated about the future. Inter dimensional space travel even came up as did the meaning of life. You know, your standard Friday 5 pm conversation.
COVID dished out solid lesson of appreciation. Never did I ever expect that sitting at a table and eating a meal would feel so special and exciting.
After four months apart, a stressful journey into Australia, and a mind numbing quarantine period, the first thing Jeremy and I ate was a big, juicy, dripping burger from Billy’s Burger Bar with a cold beer and hot sweet potato fries. The beef patty was juicy and jam-packed with smoky seasoning and spices, which were enhanced by melted cheese. Crisp pickles and lettuce added a satisfying crunch and the perfectly toasted bun encompassed the flavor sensations without overwhelming the palate with too much bread. And no burger is complete without a nice serving of bacon.
We were finally together in one of the few places of the world where COVID hardly exists. The feeling of sitting at a restaurant not wearing a mask next to other happy patrons not wearing masks felt surreal, and the normalcy was jarring.
It was the ultimate victory burger. And victory sure does taste great
What’s my most significant eat of 2020? Stay tuned 🙂
Until then, check out my 2019 list 🙂
Over the summer came the birth of this blog, and we starting eating our way through NYC favorites and discovering hidden gems. After heavy debate and hours reviewing drool-worthy photos and recounting outrageous experiences, we have put together the top 5 things we ate in NYC for the first time in 2019.
And here’s another cheeky 2020 list because who doesn’t love a top 5?
Ah yes, 2020, what a year. Rather than carry on about what I’ve lost, I want to share something I’ve gained: writing as an outlet. Enjoy my top 5 Frugal Foodies blog posts of 2020!