I Love New York City… Oh Yeah… New York City (part I)


I've mentioned before how my memory is pretty bad. It's odd - at times I can't remember bits of my life; on any given day - I usually don't know what time/date/month/year it is. I forget my age, I forget things I've said, I forget who I've met (this one usually bums people out and creates an awkward Curb Your Enthusiasm-theme-song-queued moment). 

We played.. somewhere… before the NYC show on the Dream Theater tour. It was either in Jersey or Pennsylvania. In a neighborhood-esque town in an all seated Theater-hall. The show was alright - the crowd took a ton of effort to get em into it. Me and Paolo were to be picked up by car immediately after the set to drive into Manhattan, grab a bite with Monte (our A and R at Roadrunner and serious-foodie friend of mine) and Darren (our co-manager at 5B management who is also a serious foodie-buddy of mine).

We did the show, piled into a car, got into the city - and checked into the Ace hotel. 

The Ace hotel is the definition of cool. When one merely walks into the lobby - that person will be immediately swept with a sense of: "Oh shit. I am underdressed and far less-cool than everyone in here." At any given time of day or night at Ace, it's the trendiest of trendy kids - dressed in the most current of cool trend-style, either drinking cocktails or working on something on their Macs. I am not exaggerating or criticizing - I wish I looked that cool all the time. Those kids are hip.

The Ace has quickly become a favorite hotel of mine - The hotel itself has multiple things on location that are mind-blowing: The Breslin restaurant, Stump-town (or was it Blue Bottle) coffee, a gourmet sub-shop, clothes stores, accessory stores… everything there is amazing. There's even a killer bar that serves some righteous cocktails and micro-brews. The interior lobby is somewhere along the lines of a cross-between restored-industrial, modern, dorm, rock and roll, and huntsman-lounge (just a dash). It's all sleekly lit, very nicely designed, and welcoming (aside from the fact if you're feeling underdressed and all that by the hanger-outers in the lobby). 

The room has a dorm/rock and roll/renovated loft feel. Iron door, dorm-esque bed, simple, clean design. There is a road-case for a mini-bar, all gourmet snacks and waters and booze here - nothing standard; the bathroom has a European-flare to it - the room I had this time had a killer tub, nice fixtures; friendly little bits and design-charm can be found on the hairdryer bag, the laundry board, and even the take-able polaroid camera. A highly informative survival guide again has that school-feel to it - but in a really familiar, heart-warming sort of way. Free internet to boot. 

I am instantly reminded of school and touring combined in this room - but all in a good way. 

I dressed up a bit, took a deep breath - and headed down to get out with Paolo, Darren, and Monte. 

The whole reason for our trip up to NYC was to get over to a studio and attempt a "clean vocal" pass of the song "In Waves." I know it seems like an odd idea… singing over the chorus of "In Waves," but it was an idea worth not passing up. This would be our pre-party and strategy-dinner on ideas of how to try it out (or at least that's what we'd say to pass our feast off as a "business dinner").

Darren picked our dinner spot for the night, The Meatball Shop. A place that does just that - meatballs. But gourmet and amazing. We ordered the Cesani Chianti to share and began our ordering. Meatball shop is a tiny, newer restaurant with some serious wait-times. People flood the inside and outside. In the nicely lit, very-well designed restaurant, you can see the kitchen in back, chalkboards displaying the menu, specials, and drinks.

My plan of action:

- Chile Relleno Meatballs: pork, jalapeno, poblano, queso fresco, cilantro tomatillo salsa verde and a mother-frickin' fried egg.

- Risotto: porcini mushroom

- Mashed Potatoes (that Monte swears is some of the best damn mashed potatoes he knows of)

- Fennel with walnuts, raisins and parsley

- Garlic collard greens

- Bibb lettuce salad with radish portobella, tarragon croutons, with sherry vinaigrette

The mashed potatoes were creamy, buttery, milky and reminded me of Southern-style mashed potatoes. Those chile meatballs were a super-fun take on the meatball. It pretty much contained most of my favorite ingredients all in one dish. I am an avid-pork advocate, a huge fan of Mexican food (you can certainly detect a heavy Mexican-cuisine influence in this dish with the use of quasi and cilantro tomatillo salsa verde), and that fried egg! Such a great idea. Texturally, just right of what you want from a meatball - still a trip to get the green salsa verde on a meatball - but hell… it's always fun to see a new spin. 

The risotto had more of a thickness than the classic risotto-prep, regardless - I still really dug it. It had a creaminess paired with the cheese and porcini. Thick, fantastic mushroom-flavor. Garlic collards were as good as ever - another hint at some Southern-influence at Meatball Shop; The fennel with walnuts, raisins and parsley was a really interested grilled vegetable dish. 

Obviously, in my normal fashion - I had ordered far far too much food. The bibb salad was just as good as the rest. The vinaigrette covered everything nice and evenly - crunchy, hard, perfect tarragon croutons. 

We all caught up about other amazing meals we've had recently, chatted on the state of the music industry, shared our dishes with each other - and had a great night. 

Of course I had desert: Oatmeal cherry cookie with cinnamon ice cream sandwich. This thing was the size of a baseball. The chewiness of the cherries inside of the oatmeal cookie were beautiful. I love oatmeal cookies, my grandma on my dad's side makes a fantastic one - so I always long to be reminded of family cooking - this one was nice and chewy (no crumbling) and the cherries really added something special. Couple all that with some seriously friggon delicious cinnamon ice cream - and you have one of the best childhood-reminiscent ice cream sandwiches of my recent years. Insane.

We said our goodbyes to Monte and headed back to Ace for a final drink. I had the Voodoo Child: Kentucky bourbon with agave nectar, lemon juice, whisky barrel-aged bitters, ginger beer. When at the right place in NYC - you cannot go wrong. This cocktail was an embodiment of my experience at the Ace: familiarity with a spin of something new - done right, unpretentiously. 

I slept incredibly.