04 January 2010

Sake It To Me, or Fela + Pork Buns = Happy Soul (or NY Winter Adventure pt. 3)

After waking up mid-afternoon yesterday, we drank coffee and did dishes and just putzed around for a few hours until realizing we needed to leave the house relatively shortly to make it to the show.  So we ordered in (having food delivered to my door is one of the top three things I miss about living in a city) Vietnamese food, switched from coffee to wine, and started to get pretty for our night out.

Our aunt and uncle Colleen and Ridge got us tickets for Fela last night.  (Read this if you're lost like I was when I first heard of the show.)  One of the reviews I read of it before summed it up pretty well - not much of a plot, but the most entertaining two and a half hours you'll have all year.  The entire theater was transformed, and I can't remember being in a happier crowd.  They had us shouting and singing and dancing... oh the dancing.  I don't know if I've ever seen so many beautiful abdominal muscles in one place either.  (The couple to my left may have been the whitest people in New York, but even they seemed to have fun.  That's what polite applause as you sit with your legs crossed means, right?)

From the Eugene O'Neill Theater we hopped on the R and headed downtown for one of the most anticipated stops of my trip:  Momofuku Ssam.  Colleen, Ridge, and Megan had all regaled me with various stories of the pork buns, the beautiful space, the pork butt.... Megan practically had tears in her eyes for that one.  We hopped in, sat at the gorgeous bar and proceeded to be waited on by what seemed like an endless string of very attractive, very tattooed young men.  I had the Momofuku sake, Megan had some viognier, and we ordered simply:  the pork buns and the "bread and butter".   Their version included not only a dish of whipped cows milk butter, but whipped lardo.  Lardo.  I'll say it again:  Lardo.  Pork fat.  It was pillowey and creamy somehow, and had just enough chili flakes sprinkled on top to balance out the smokey savoriness of the lardo.

The pork buns were...  They were amazing.  Steamed, sticky chewy bread folded over to envelop hoisin sauce, thinly sliced vinegary cucumbers, and a few strips of pork with layers of fat that were so delicious, so moist, and so so perfectly prepared that it felt like they literally melted in my mouth..

Everything about this dish was perfect.  The gentle heat and tanginess of the hoisin sauce; the thin crunch of the cucumber, and the nirvana that was the pork combined for a little piece of heaven in my mouth.  I know I'm veering really close to floweriness here, but oh...  Oh. Also, as if I wasn't already falling in love with this little nugget of a place, Megan noticed that at the bottom of the menu they had an advisory reading "We do not serve vegetarian friendly items."  The kitchen was open in the back part of the restaurant and after all of this I almost walked back to hug the staff in there.  I don't imagine it'd be the first time.

Today we slept in (again) and are lounging before we head to get our nails did, make some Columbia stops, and maybe do a little shopping.  Tonight is a classical music recital (Culture?  Yes please.) with some dear old friends, and more eating and drinking.  Tomorrow we have Guggenheim, 11 Madison Park, and West Side Story.  My tail is a' waggin. 

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