If you fly, certainly if you fly Jet Blue, then this post is for you.
The afternoon was getting complicated. It was 4PM and we had an 8:40PM flight from JFK. Jet Blue at their sparkling and massive Terminal 5.
“Do we eat now?” I asked Suzen. “Or get to the airport and eat there?”
“Airport? Airport food? What the devil is the matter with you?”
“Suz,” I began carefully here because when Suzen is upset thing can spiral the wrong way, “I read this wonderful review about the Jet Blue Terminal. The restaurants are phenomenal.”
“And this review was in The Post?” Suzen asked. Suzen has certain press prejudices about what is, admittedly, a tabloid. But, you see, The Post is a good tabloid. The girls on Page 3 are always fully dressed. Or at least in bathing suits. Okay, two piece suits.
“You know,” I said, “I’m not sure where I read it. But I’ve heard from multiple people, actually, that there are good restaurants there.”
“We’ll try it,” Suzen accepted. “But so help me, God, if …”
It turns out that, for this issue, I do not need God’s help. At least in the United States, airport food has some remarkably common properties. It is very expensive. It tastes worse that recycled cardboard that has been dipped in runoff water and allowed to dry in an insect filled environment.
Eating at US airports is a lot less safe than getting on the planes.
But, Jet Blue, to its credit, has changed that. There are nine full service restaurants there at Terminal 5, all have intriguing menus posted, and the selection of one is not an easy matter.
We chose Deep.Blue, a modern sushi restaurant decorated in that deep, bold blue color of Jet Blue. The food is excellent, the prices very reasonable — given that it is sushi. We had two rolls —a Dragon and some wonder whose name is forgotten but was deeply appreciated — that were made on the spot, fresh, and radiated flavor. Big, thick rolls with enough content so that two were really a full meal for the two of us.
And then there was the Crab Fried Rice topped with a fried egg. It is quite impossible to convey how wonderful that rice is. Soft, moist but not wet, subtly infused with veggie flavors, and mixed with lovely fresh crab. No one flavor dominates, but all form an orchestra of sensation in your mouth.
Where did this food come from? It’s Buddakan’s Michael Schulson, a recognized master of food. Frommer’s Guides has recognized Deep.Blue as one of the top 10 airport restaurants in the country.
Your travels may well involve a stop at JFK, either as destination or gateway to a distant country. If you can possibly arrange to do it, get to Terminal 5 and enjoy the special flavors and striking quality of Deep.Blue.
If anyone has a recipe for Crab Fried Rice that comes close to Deep.Blue, I would love to share it with everyone on this blog.
New York is not Vienna, but the past few years have seen a pastry transformation in the city. First came the cakes with deep frosting [think Magnolia Bakery]. Then the cupcakes and the macaroon [or macarons depending on your spell checker]. There are stores aplenty and trucks floating about the city offering a myriad of colors and tastes.
Every week it seems a new bakery opens in a trendy location. Some are good, some are less good. A bakery ought to smell right, have a friendly staff, and have the ambiance that invites you to stay for a second bite.
And then, there is the occasional great new bakery. Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo, at 189 Spring Street near Thompson is as great as anything you can find. Now, you can skip that flight to Paris or Vienna.
Dominique Ansel began his culinary career at 16. He rose to become the pastry chef at Daniel, one of the world’s premier restaurants.
And now, God bless him, he’s opened this bakery one mile from where I live. Unless the chill factor is below 0⁰ this winter, I really have no reason to skip a weekly date at this wonderful spot.
The triumph dish is the DKA, Dominique’s Kouign Amann. This doughy treat is four inches across, flakey, tender, and composed of caramelized layers that fold upon each other in magnificent ways. Pair that roll with a cup of hot chocolate, and you have fuel until you return in the afternoon for coffee and a more gooey treat: I do recommend the salt-topped caramel éclair.
The space is beautiful, with an outdoor area that, come spring, will surely be filled from dawn to dusk. The staff is smiling and happy. They’ll guide you down the line of available pastries and charmingly educate you about what to expect.
This store is what every high-end bakery should aspire to be. If you are in the business, you ought to drop by and spy. Your eyes will open at the quality achieved here. If you are not in the business, but simply have a sweet tooth, then go, open your eyes, open your mouth, and taste the epitome of pastry.