International Food Adventures - New York City, USA Part II

The best part about travelling is undoubtedly the exploring and discovering of new places. As fun as the touristy stuff is, it's venturing out that makes you feel a little less like a tourist, and a little more like you're one of the locals. Of course, it also helps when you know an actual New Yorker who can show you all the good stuff; all the things that may not make it on any of the travel books, the top ten of the Buzzfeeds and the Urban Lists, but just as authentic. Big shout out to my cousin Victor for being such a wonderful host and taking us on a little adventure down East Village side of NYC!

Starting off at Breads Bakery at Union Square, we had range of sweet and savoury breads and pastries, including their famous chocolate babka. The babka is an European style bread/pastry that seems like a fusion between a croissant and a brioche bread or cake; the only way I can think to describe it is a nutella croissant, but instead of buttery layers like a croissant, it's more doughy twists that combine chocolate chips, nutella and the bread together. I absolutely loved the chocolate babka, with its ratio of chocolate to the bread being just right; it never felt like it was too sweet, and the softness of the babka made you want to keep eating, bite after bite. The freshness of the babka, even at 5:30pm on a Friday, also added to its deliciousness!

Our next stop was Xi'an Famous Foods, a tiny restaurant in the popular eatery area of St. Mark's Place. The whole area felt like one big night market, except the stalls were all the different restaurants and stores, with a really lively atmosphere filled with people out enjoying their Friday night. As the name suggests, the restaurant consists of traditional Xi'an/Chinese cuisine, in particular the spice element that the area in China is known for. Between five of us, we ordered a couple of the spicy pork 'burgers', a spicy lamb noodle dish and the same but with beef. To be expected, the food here was extremely spicy but full of flavour, and we found ourselves constantly needing to down water. Perfect for a cold winter night for sure!

Feeling some much needed cooling down, stop three found us at a Cuban Cocktail Lounge called Cienfuegos for drinks, a short walk down from the restaurant. Seemingly hidden on the second level on the corner of Avenue A and East 6th Street, there's a cosy and quirky atmosphere to the place, with its assortment of furnishing in white and dark brown, that contrasted with the pastel pink and green walls. It was filled with people, yet wasn't so loud that you'd have to yell to hear the person next to you.

No food adventure is complete without dessert, and this was no exception. When every other eatery is famous for their this and that, it becomes a test to your decisiveness to determine where to go! In the end, we decided on Big Gay Ice Cream, an ice cream shop that started off as a food truck. There's a range of ice creams, sundaes and shakes at Big Gay Ice Cream; we all went with the classic speciality ice creams as it's what the place is known for. The ice creams may not be very photogenic, but certainly tasted delicious!

A week in NYC is definitely not enough to see and try everything, and I'm already looking forward to my next trip there, whenever it may be. For now, there are a couple more Melbourne Food Adventures lined up before the year is over, when I'll be going on another little trip. Stay tuned for more international posts!

Breads Bakery: Website |  Instagram
Xi'an Famous Foods: Website |  Instagram
Cienfuegos: Website |  Instagram
Big Gay Ice Cream: Website |  Instagram


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