21 September 2012

Travel tales: SoHo, shopping, adventurous eating at Soccarat Paella Bar

In a taxi on our way to SoHo on our second Wednesday in New York, I was asked a question I never thought I'd be asked by a New York taxi driver. "So what's happened to Kylie and Dannii Minogue?" The driver said he was a fan of Gotye's Somebidy That I Used to Know (played incessantly in America!) and I told him Gotye is a Melbourne singer (he thought Gotye was Swedish or Sting!). He told me he liked the Australian cricket team, and knew some Aussie music. Kylie and Dannii Minogue. In fact he missed them. So as we sat in traffic, we discussed the Minogue Sisters. I told him how Kylie's record was my first. I should be so lucky. I rode front seat which was a great way to see the city. Here is a sneaky shot of Mum in the back of the taxi.

Mum made some Spanish friends while I was at BlogHer. We spent our time in SoHo with them. We saw lots of pretty sights. This hotel, the Mondrian.

And a French model being interviewed on camera.
We had lunch at a tiny cafe called Smile To Go - they served salads and sandwiches and fruit. I was reminded once more just how costly it is to eat healthily in America, with half a sandwich, a box of salad, fruit salad and a lemonade (not the fizzy variety like in Australia- that's known as 7Up there - but real lemon juice) costing me almost $30. The fruit salad was the best I have had in ages though, filled with berries and pomegranite. The sandwich was grest too - Provolone cheese and fig paste.

Mum and her new friends went to a Spanish pub after lunch, and I shopped in solitude. I really was not impressed with NY shops or clothes, and walks through Bloomingdales, Banana Republic, H&M were fruitless. I was set to buy a dress for the ball in September, but I had no luck thus far. Too big, too frumpy, too expensive, too "I can't believe she would wear that!". I did bump into Nikki from Styling You in Bloomingdales - trust two fashionistas to meet accidentally there!

I consoled myself from my lack of shopping with two teeny tiny cupcakes from Baked By Melissa after seekng this beautiful sign from across the road.
Baked by Melissa sells tiny cupcakes piped with yummy fillings. I had cookie dough and peamut butter and jelly. Gosh I wished they were giagantic! These cupcakes blew the much hyped Magnolia Bakery out of the water.
Refueled by cakey goodness, I was determined to buy something. American Eagle came through with the goods, and I purchased this dress I had eyed off last time I bought something from there.
I wore the dress several times in New York, and back home teamed with my new GAP blazer which I bought on a surprisingly successful shopping trip in Brooklyn at the end of our trip. I wore my new dress to dinner that night. It was so hot I wore it sleeveless. You can sort of see my arms here. I rarely go sleeveless.

It was a novelty eating out so much but I longed to cook food for myself. A trip to Grand Central Station (report to come) almost had me in tears as I wanted to buy all of the fresh food at the market there.

We stayed in 8th Avenue which was very close to the West Village - full of great restaurants. I would go on UrbanSpoon after our days out, and choose one of the best rated yet affordable restaurants. Most of the time I made a good choice - apart from the Balkanese restaurant in 9th Avenue.

Mum commented that I have become an adventurous eater in New York. On the previous Sunday I ate a whole lobster, even willing to have my fingers sting from the lemon juice. Truth is, I've always been an adventuous eater! I once ate a piece of fish food, which is how I know that some of the foods sampled in our Asian Snack Challenge tastes like fish food.

Anyway, that night I chose a Paella bar called Soccarat (259 West 11th Street NYC). It is modern restaurant with a very long and shiny communal table for customers. Bar service is provided at the table, and there is a range of tapas and paellas to choose from. Mum and I were impressed with the wine at Soccarat as so much of the wine we had tasted elsewhere was flavourless. It was all Spanish. I had a Rose and Mum had a Merlot.

We started with some tapas - ordering shrimp and and butter - so juicy and the butter was a nice (naughty addition).
The waiter came by with a complimentary plate of mushroom croquettes, apologising for forgetting our order (I was so busy admiring the hair of a fellow diner and exclaiming "how wonderful is this restaurant?!" with frequent happy sighs) that I did not notice a delay in the service. The croquettes were the highlight for me - crispy outer, smooth mashed potato, cheese and a strong mushroom flavour. They were served atop aoli.
Our Paella came out next - it was not the traditional paella I was used to. Hence my adventurous eating. Ours had snowpeas, scallions, chicken, pork, rabbit and snails in it! Yes, snails! They tasted earthy - nothing like shellfish which I had expected. I really enjoyed it.
The waiter showed us how to scrape the paella from the skillet so the second serving would be deliciously crispy rice. I had the crispy rice the next day for breakfast at our hotel.

Still a couple more New York tales to come!


  1. So happy you're still giving us NY stories! I could sit and read these all day.

  2. Thank you, thats very interesting information. I need to share with my friends.

  3. Interesting and important information. It is really beneficial for us. Thanks


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