Thursday, December 01, 2016

New York City Round Up

It's been over 10 years since I've been to New York, but before that time I'd been to New York several times.  I wasn't sure what to expect when I went back this time.  New York is a trendy city, and there's constantly change, this goes for food as well as fashion and general trends.  The thing is, New York is also known for certain mainstays, things that make New York the city that it is, this also goes for food.  The problem is, as a non-native New Yorker, I'm not always sure what is a mainstay and what is a trend.  When I was visiting regularly I thought I had a few ideas, but I'm never really 100% sure.  This trip was going to be a revision for me, of what New York is right now.

The one thing that shocked me most of all was the change in restaurants, mainly the delis. While the old fashioned delis are still around, there seems to be a growing trend toward larger "food markets" that look more like a cross between a deli, health food store, and supermarket.  They're all in one, like delis are, but much larger and a little fancier.  These food markets are a lot more expensive than the delis I remember as well.

With the expansion of these food markets, you're also getting more and more "healthy' snacks available as well.  Things like power bars, and high protein bars are all over the place at these markets. They seem to be pushing the baked treats out a little, as well as the chocolate bars.  I can't say I'm happy about that, but since they have yet to eliminate the baked goods I can't complain entirely.  I also don't mind that more and more fresh fruit is available, since I really like fresh fruit.

The good news is that sweet treats are not going away from New York, the candy stores and bakeries of this city are here to stay.  They're a solid part of the foundation of food in this city because they both innovate and offer the classics as well.  From black and white cookies, to cronuts, this city has some of the best baked goods you'll find anywhere. From cakes that will set you back hundreds of dollars, to a cinnamon treat that won't cost you more than a few dollars, it's really a great place to discover your loved for baked goods.

Candy wise, New York is really fascinating.  It is a trend setting place, with brands like the Mast Brothers working out of this city, but what New York really offers the candy aficionado is selection.  New York is a place where you can find tradition candies from all over the world, including one of the only high end Japanese snack shops I've ever seen outside of Japan. You also can't miss the giant Hershey and M&Ms store in Times Square.  These two stores are huge, but the selection they offer is pretty minimal, in fact the M&Ms store doesn't even carry that much candy at all, mostly just merchandise. There are also many retro and classic candy stores in the city, with Dylan's Candy Bar being the big show in this category.

I've been to Dylan's Candy Bar before, but this place just keeps getting better and better after each visit. I imagine that the competition in New York must be pretty serious, but this place keeps going, and they're even growing.  I think one thing that keeps this place interesting (at least for me) is the fact that they don't really sell anything outside of the candy world.  Many candy stores get into novelty and retro items that are outside of candy, and eventually seem to peel away from candy, and focus on the novelties.  Dylan's really seems to keep the focus on the candy and even expands the candy world. They offer all kinds of their own candy treats, and even have their own candy fashion (that's more than just their logo pasted on a t-shirt). If you're a candy fan (and I imagine you are if you're reading this), and you're in New York, you have to stop at Dylan's.

I think the only problem I have with New York's candy, and maybe even their food, is that it's really hard to find something that is exclusively New York.  The city is a place where you can find food from all over the world, or at the very least variations on that food.  You can also find a lot of American food, it's a pretty patriotic place when it comes to cuisine. But you can't really find anything that's exclusively New York, particularly a style of food.  This isn't a big problem since you're inundated with all of the other foods available from all over the US and parts of the world, but I've always wondered what food represents New York, maybe an apple?

On my last day of my visit I was walking through Times Square and I came across something that represented New York to me perfectly.  Taking place at the Square was the finals of the world championship of eating.  It was US VS Japan, and the contestants were eating fried rice.  There was a crowd gathered around, most chanting "USA", but there were also a few people chanting "J A Pan". It was good natured, over indulgent, and a little strange.


No comments: