If you think U.S. cuisine only consists of burgers and fries, you’re mistaken. Especially in New York, something new is created and placed on the menu every day. New Yorkers celebrate their culinary diversity — and for good reason! Here are some New York classics that are worth giving a try during your next visit.
Bagels — from a traditional Jewish holiday pastry to a New York food icon
A good day begins with an exceptionally good breakfast. On a trip to New York, bagels are simply a must. Long waiting lines in front of a bagel shop are a good hint at the quality you will find inside. Best when fresh out of the oven, many locals take their bagels to go and enjoy the baked delight on the way to work.
A glance at history reveals that Jewish immigrants brought the bagel to New York in the 19th century. Back then, the dough was less soft and a bit tougher to chew. It’s no accident that the bagel was nicknamed the “Brooklyn jawbreaker” or “cement curl.”
These days, real New York-style bagels are “water boiled”, meaning they are cooked in boiling water before baking. This helps the surface of the bagel get its shine and form a thin, but crispy crust. The texture of the perfect bagel is soft and a little chewy. But not too chewy!
Bagels are easily identified by the iconic hole in the center of the dough. The reason for the hole has nothing to do with looks, but in fact, baking the dough. Adding a hole to the thick dough, allows bagels to get a larger surface overall and makes sure the dough is evenly cooked through.
Next to plain bagels, there are plenty of flavorful varieties and toppings, ranging from poppy seeds, sesame or sprinkles of salt, garlic, onion powder, and all of the above. On the sweeter side, cinnamon sugar is a common choice to add.
From cream cheese to smoked salmon to pickled vegetables, there are several different ways to jazz up any flavor of bagel. If you need an easy recipe for a leisurely breakfast or lunch, then this Bagel Spread developed by California Wines is just the answer!
What to expect? Lots of flavor and creaminess with a Southwest Cream Cheese Spread and a Tuscan Cream Cheese Spread. Give it a try!
Pastrami Sandwich — the popular meat specialty made with beef
Almost every tourist stops at Katz’s Delicatessen, the world famous deli in the Lower East Side. Their rise to fame is due to an infamous scene in the film When Harry Met Sally. Founded in 1888, the popular Katz’s Delicatessen is known for serving some of the best pastrami sandwiches in the city. In the Early 1900’s, delis were mostly run and frequented by German immigrants, including many of Jewish heritage, who introduced the finest pastrami with a crust of black pepper and a secret mixture of spices served on rye bread.
Pastrami is usually made from beef. The meat is seasoned in brine, which gives it a peppery flavor. In New York, pastrami is enjoyed in a simple, yet full-flavored sandwich with spicy mustard. When you add sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, it becomes the classic Reuben sandwich. There’s nothing quite like a Reuben sandwich. It’s spicy, tangy, and overflowing with corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut.
New York Style Hot Dog — the savory snack classic in a bun
Every summer Coney Island in Brooklyn becomes a playground for amusement park enthusiasts. Right there, close to the Luna amusement park, Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker founded Nathan’s in 1916. Today Nathan’s is arguably the most famous hot dog chain in the world.
Unlike the typical hot dog, New York-style dogs are topped with sauerkraut, spicy brown mustard, and homemade onion sauce, which is sweet and tangy at the same time. They may be a bit messy, but that doesn’t stop people from lining up for this flavorful, savory treat. Today you can try Nathan’s sausages either in the original restaurant or at the stand right on the Boardwalk. You can get fries with or without cheese, corn dogs, and even onion rings.
New York Cheesecake – So sweet. So good.
If you are looking for something sweet in NYC, chances are you will stumble upon the city’s cake classic: New York Cheesecake. When American cream cheese was born in the delis across town in the late 1800s, it became a beloved ingredient, not only as a spread or addition to savory dishes but also for baking sweets. German immigrant and restaurant owner Arnold Reuben claimed that in 1929 he was the first to serve New York Cheesecake, as it is known today.
The original New York Cheesecake has a light and airy sponge cake base — wafer-thin and hardly noticeable. The filling is made up of lots of cream cheese and cream. Depending on the region, the cream cheese is (partially) replaced by cream, sour cream, or cottage cheese. The cream cheese gives the cake mass its rich, creamy texture while the cream loosens the whole thing up a little. The delicious cake can be enjoyed on its own, or topped with some blueberries and strawberries.
Contrary to popular belief, the cake is not baked in the oven but poached in a water bath so that the surface remains whole and does not develop any cracks. In addition, the cake is meant to refrigerate for at least 6 hours before being consumed. It has the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess that’ll make you never want to stop.