Hillary Reeves

A blog about living and eating in New York City.

Where to Eat in Times Square, Part Deux

Num Pang Tiger Shrimp

When I wrote my last blog post about where to eat in Times Square, I had no idea what a cult phenomenon My Belly’s Playlist would become around the New Victory offices. I will definitely not take sole credit for its popularity, but even a slice of it will do plenty for my ego. So, it only made sense to do another round-up of some more of the spots I’ve fallen for in my first year of working on 42nd Street. Whether you’re looking for a lunch spot, a quick dinner before a show, or a bite while you stroll through the theater district one weekend, these are all some choices I think you’ll love!

Num Pang Sandwich Shop
There’s a juice store near my apartment on the Upper West Side, and right outside the juice store there are ads for the juice store that say things like “a little bit of downtown while you’re uptown.” That totally plays to my insecurities, having lived on the uncool Upper West Side for the past seven years, minus a couple of summers in Brooklyn, where I (painfully) didn’t fit in. Num Pang in Midtown West gives me that same “so this is what the kids are doin’” feeling and I love it. My favorite menu item is probably the coconut tiger shrimp sandwich– fresh and filling.

Ippudo
The best ramen! And on the weekends, the line for dinner is crazy. So I like Ippudo for an awkwardly-timed weekend brunch (say, 2PM) or a long lunch away from the office. Beware, though– a big bowl of tasty noodles might have you feeling pretty tubby and sluggish for the rest of the workday. Try to get a seat around the bar if you can; the bustle of the restaurant around you is super fun from this spot.

MeltShop
This is primarily a grilled cheese spot, but the patty melt is my new favorite burger in NYC. Heavy, but hits the spot.

Cafe Grumpy, Culture Espresso and Intelligentsia Coffee
There’s been this bizarre, but awesome, coffee renaissance happening in Midtown. In a neighborhood where for a long time your only options were the fifteen different Starbucks on your block, there are now a handful of really great coffee shops to try. I also like Gregory’s and Fika, but the above three offer a really special (and, again, downtown-y) cup of joe.

Danji
A restaurant re-imagining Korean small plates in fun and exciting ways. This is definitely more of a trendy dinner spot than a takeout lunch place, but perfect for a cool scene before a show in the theater district. It often pains me to see the prices on Korean restaurant menus, especially when I’ve experienced how inexpensive it is to make huge batches of Korean dishes at home, but this atmosphere and new look at the cuisine helps to justify the price. Order lots of things to try, but make sure you’re with a group who likes to share!

John’s Pizza
I really am a sucker for John’s. The interior feels impersonal and airy in a weird, church-y way (I’m pretty sure the building actually used to be a chapel), but the pizza is right up there with some of the best in NYC. And if we’re talking Times Square pizza spots, it can’t be beat. I also like Merilu and really want to try Don Antonio.

Mooncake Foods
Mooncake Foods is my #1 go-to when lunchtime hunger strikes and I need something hearty and filling, but still nutritious. I lived off of their soy glazed salmon for a week this spring, but I also love their chicken, which has a slightly sticky honey marinade. Both dishes come with a chili sauce that is very spicy, but compliments the sweet glaze on both in an incredible way. I’m not even sure what the flavor is in that condiment, but my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts or read your recommendations! Leave them in the comments, or tweet them at me @hillreeves.

Birthday Wishes

Birthday Wishes

I love September. I love that it’s the month when summer turns into fall. I love when there are stormy hurricane days perfect for staying home and watching movies. I also love that it’s the month of mY and my little sister’s birthdays. Growing up, we’d get to celebrate eleven days apart, meaning twice in one month, my family went to T.G.I. Friday’s. I’d usually get sick eating too many chicken fingers and Candice would get sick from eating too many garlic bread sticks. It was the best. Now we’re all grown up, but still celebrating by eating too much.

Anyway, rather than doing my essentials this month, I figured I’d put together my birthday wishlist instead, just for fun. I can’t wait for colder days, so my list includes lots of warmer, comfier clothes, like that way-out-of-my-price range fur-lined parka that will make me feel more Canadian– the dream, as of late. My pale skin is not built for summer, so I can’t wait for the chilly breezes, cushy socks, and sweat-free days. Ugh; it is the most wonderful time of the year!

H m jumper
$21 - hm.com

Madewell clothing
madewell.com

Lip gloss makeup
$35 - theiconic.com.au

Home decor
muji.us

Goodbye, Summer!

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It was a great, family-filled summer for me. Shout-outs to my mom for making 60 look fabulous, my friends for meeting up with me to eat lots and lots of food, my sisters for being fun, Danny for taking me out for ice cream cones, Beej for being the cutest, and sunscreen for always being there.

 

Salmon Nicoise Salad

2 Salmon Salad Nicoise - Hill Reeves

Salmon Salad Nicoise - Hill Reeves

I got a big bag of beautiful, organic string beans in my CSA share last week. As with many of the things I get in my CSA, at first I’m like “ooh! String beans! I never make string beans, what an adventure!” But then I realize that I don’t like string beans. No matter what, they taste like the traumatizing string beans we’d get served in the school cafeteria. You know; the kind that are canned, grey and salty, with phlegmy water refusing to uncling from each bean.

Stuck with the vegetables, I asked myself the same phrase I ask myself during most cooking conundrums, what would a French person do? Usually, the answer will involve lots of butter or, if you’re lucky, mayonnaise. Sometimes you can even pretend your mayonnaise-covered vegetables are virtuous and call it a “salad.” Zut alors! Incroyable! In my case, this weekend, the salad was of the Nicoise variety. Salmon Nicoise salad (or salade Niçoise if you’re convinced that your high school French teacher Madame Clérismé is out there, somewhere, reading this) is a really fun weekend undertaking because it requires a lot of pieces, but together tastes effortless.

I might be over thinking things, but preparing this salad feels like an exercise in design. I like to assemble my salad specifically so that all of the items are incorporated, but there is also the traditional way of assembling a Nicoise salad in a very organized, compartmentalized manner. Either way, something about these ingredients makes you think a little bit harder about the choices you make. Each element has got a shape to it, sometimes echoed by other pieces of the dish (all of the spheres, cut in half! Eggs, tomatoes, potatoes…), and then you lay them all so deliberately alongside each other, only to eventually destroy the elegance of it all as you dig in and mix it all together. It’s quite an existential way to spend a Sunday afternoon if you’re dorky about anchovies and aoilis, like I am.

The particular recipe I followed was based off Gordon Ramsay’s tutorial in his Ultimate Christmas series, which can be found in three parts on YouTube. His version involves coddled eggs and, overall, a bit more finesse, so I simplified mine a bit! See below.

Nicoise Salad with Poached Salmon

1 lb poached salmon fillet (more below)
1 head of lettuce (I used Bibb lettuce, traditionally it’s romaine hearts, watercress also works nicely)
6 small, boiled creamer potatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 lb of par-boiled string beans
4 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half
1 pint of marinated cherry tomatoes (more below)
8 canned/jarred anchovy fillets
aoili dressing (more below)

As you can see, there are a lot of pieces of this salad that need to be prepared before assembling. Luckily, most of this can be done ahead of time! For items like the string beans, potatoes or eggs, get these ready ahead of time, and set aside to cool. Next, I’ll break down the other elements:

For the salmon:

Put together a court bouillon (that’s a fancy way of saying a simple, quick poaching liquid). Here’s a recipe for a more robust version, but I tend to use what I have on-hand, often in unspecific pours, sprinkles and handfuls. If you’re a less experience cook, find a court bouillon recipe online; if you’re more experienced, use your judgement! For mine, I tossed the following into a dutch oven:

- 4ish cups of water
- Center stalks of one celery heart, including leaves
- 1/2 a roughly chopped large carrot
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- Half of a lemon
- Generous pour of white wine… probably about 3/4 of a cup
- Less generous pour of white wine vinegar, about 1/2 cup
- A few pinches of salt
- A pinch or two of white pepper
- 3 star anise pods

Bring all of these ingredients to a boil, then simmer and gently lay in your salmon fillet, skin side down. Let simmer for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let cool. Once cool enough to touch, lift out your salmon, pull away and discard the skin. Using just your hands, gently flake apart the salmon and set aside.

For the tomatoes:

Cut your cherry tomatoes in half and place in medium-sized bowl. I use a paring knife to cut them one-by-one; that method using Tupperware caps is lazy and preposterous if you ask me. Drizzle the tomatoes thoroughly with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Let marinate for at least ten minutes.

As you assemble the salad later on, you probably won’t use the entire pint of tomatoes, unless you really like tomatoes. The next morning, put the remaining marinated tomatoes on a slice of ricotta-slathered sourdough toast.

For the ailoi:

Making an “aoili” (or, mayonnaise) requires nothing more than an egg yolk, some oil, some vinegar/lemon and a whisk. However, if you’re not up for the task, the aoili dressing can also just be made as follows:

- 1/3 cup good quality mayonnaise (Hellmann’s!!!)
- 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
- 2-4 teaspoons of water
- pinch of black pepper

Whisk ingredients together. You want the dressing to be loose enough that it could pour onto the salad like a traditional dressing. Think the consistency of a good chicken gravy.

Assembling the salad:

A good Nicoise salad should be built on a large platter. Some twenty-somethings with tiny apartments don’t have the luxury of lots of lovely servingware, so if a large salad bowl is what you got, make it work!

1. Lay a single layer of separated lettuce leaves along the bottom of your bowl or dish. Using one leaf, dip into your dressing and, using it like a paint brush, paint the dressing onto each of the leaves in the bowl. Lay another single layer of leaves and repeat until all of your leaves are in the bowl/on the platter.

2. Next, because I like a warm element, quickly sautee the potatoes and string beans together in a skillet with a pad of butter and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside to let cool slightly while you continue to assemble salad.

3. Top the lettuce with as many tomatoes as you’d like in your salad. By no means should you be dumping in tomatoes (or other ingredients)– instead, place them strategically around the salad, as if you picked up a serving from that exact spot, you’d get each and every salad element without any tossing! Traditionally, there would also be olives– add those now if you’d like. I didn’t use any!

4. Hopefully the beans and potatoes are no longer too hot. Gently place them in… again, strategically around the salad to cover all spots! Drizzle on more dressing. I liked to use a fork to splash it on, almost like I’m splatter-painting.

5. Next, place in the eggs. I like to specifically cover each egg half with an anchovy fillet; the flavor combo is divine, but this certainly isn’t a rule you can’t break!

6. Finally, place the salmon in and around the salad. Et voila!

7. Serve with extra dressing on the side, but I like to save that for the end since the salad looks so pretty with the pink salmon riding on top, unmarked by aioli!

Little Nonna’s

Little Nonna's Meatballs Philly

Little Nonna's Philly - Hill Reeves

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2LIttle Nonna's Negroni - Hill Reeves

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Little Nonna's Sunday Gravy - Hill Reeves

It appears that stuffed meatballs are becoming a little mini trend. I’ve seen them pop up on my Twitter feed a few times in the past month, whether filled with oozy mozzarella cheese, basil pesto or meatloaf-sized and stuffed with cooked spaghetti. That last iteration is a little overboard, even for me, but I am very interested in the cheese-stuffed variety, especially since I tasted them at Little Nonna’s in Philadelphia a few weeks ago. It also helps that I’m pretty sure Little Nonna’s incredible meatballs are not only stuffed with melted cheese, but also tasted– and I could be wrong– like they were maybe deep-fried. Incredible…like meaty arancini.

The “Sunday Gravy,” stuffed squash blossoms, negroni, and calamarata were all incredible too; the kind of food that you crave after a long day spent exhausting yourself while exploring a new (to you) city. It didn’t hurt, either, that I was a handful of my oldest friends. It’s weird to think how so many of my dearest friends, I’ve only really known in adulthood, whether I met them at college or in the workplace. But this night at dinner, I was surrounded by people who’ve known me since at least my teens, which makes for some impassioned and honest conversation (as you can see by James’s lawerly expression in photo #2, ha!).

We were lucky enough to get a last-minute reservation at the red sauce joint. We sat in their back patio, which, strung with simple lights and garden accents,  felt more like a backyard get together at Taylor Swift’s house than an uptight dining experience, in all of the best ways. At moments, the service got slow and the water was a bit too warm for the likewise hot space, but the cheesy meatballs and overall charm of the restaurant left me with a happy, glowing memory of the evening!

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