It was just a quick trip into Manhattan. I was visiting friends north of the city and we wanted to re-visit both the High Line and the New Museum. We had toured the High Line shortly after it opened in 2009; ditto for the New Museum. An update was in order. The High Line fascinates me – a derelict elevated railway repurposed into a thriving and beloved urban park. The park – designed in part by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects behind the now iconic ICA in Boston – is unlike any other in America. Imagine walking through a garden thirty feet above the street, passing between and even through buildings. I believe the closest equivalent is in Paris. And as for the New Museum, it never fails to grate and challenge. The exhibit – “NYC 1993” – chronicles the New York art scene – galleries, exhibits, emerging and established artists – of that year. The highlight of our visit came while we were watching a scatological animatronic sculpture of a father, son and goat – ask no questions – going full throttle when “Mr. 1993” himself, Bill Clinton, ex-bubba but now quite svelte, stepped off the elevator. Actually, the highlight of the show were three pieces by Felix Gonzalez-Torres – two of his billboard series and a sculpture. Enough culture chatter; what about the food?
On our first visit to the High Line, we had bought grab and go at the Chelsea Market. Now there are food vendors in the park itself. We chose The Taco Truck. The Taco Truck has multiple mobile units, including one in Boston but at the High Line, the wheels are traded in in favor for a seasonal pop-up concession stand. The Taco Truck bills itself as a tacqueria on wheels, utilizing organic and local products when available for its Mexican street cuisine. I chose the Carnitas Michoacan Torta – the pork tender and succulent, perfectly accented with cilantro; the egg bun light and airy yet sturdy enough to hold up to the filling. My beverage, of course, was Mexican Coca Cola, now that’s the real thing.
The Taco Truck Upper Chelsea Market W.15th & 10th Ave. NYC
After our brush with culture and celebrity, it was time for an early dinner at Momofuku Ssäm Bar. David Chang, brilliant, creative, slightly crazed, has a number of spots offering his take on Asian cuisine. The Ssäm Bar is a small boîte that shares a long narrow space with Booker and Dax, Chef Chang’s venture into hipster mixology. I began with a cocktail; not just any cocktail but my favorite classic cocktail, The Martinez – granddaddy of the Martini. Being at Momofuku, I felt compelled to order the Steamed Buns – pork belly, hoisin sauce, cucumbers and scallions. (It had turned out to be a pork-centric day.) They were awesome – just as I expected them to be.
Next, from the section of the menu entitled “Off Cuts”, Veal Sweetbreads. The sweetbreads were served atop a smear of goat cheese accompanied by gingered asian pear, almonds and mint. The combination was ethereal: seemingly disparate elements melding into a composition of culinary adventure, genius and taste. (I’m still dreaming about them as I write this.) A fitting end to my day in the city.
Momofuku Ssäm Bar 207 2nd Ave. at 13th NYC