Five Favorites: New York City Eateries

AmandaD lists the best places to eat that she discovered on her recent trip to New York City.

1. Molly’s Cupcakes, located on Bleeker Street in Manhattan, won the season finale of “Cupcake Wars.” After eating one of their cupcakes, I can tell why. The décor in the store is modern and fun  — they have swings!

2. Lombardi’s Pizza in Manhattan’s Little Italy claims to be the first pizzeria in the U.S.A. They serve a traditional Italian-style pizza … and it’s AWESOME!

Ryan, Kim and I enjoyed the signature margherita pizza at Lombardi's Pizza.

3. Bare Burger in Astoria, Queens, serves fresh burgers made from locally farmed grass-fed meat. They have everything from veggie burgers to ostrich burgers! You pick the type of burger you want, then choose the toppings.

The Western grass-fed beef burger at Bare Burger.

4. Big Gay Ice Cream, located off East 7thAvenue in Manhattan, is totally fun and DELICIOUS! There’s a sparkly rainbow painted on the wall when you walk in and the ice creams are listed on a chalkboard to your right. I had the Salty Pimp and it ROCKED!

Big Gay Ice Cream's Salty Pimp has caramel, nuts and chocolate.

5. S’MAC in Manhattan’s East Village is a macaroni and cheese restaurant = OMG!!!!

The buffalo chicken mac 'n' cheese with blue cheese crumbles was my favorite dish at S'MAC.

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Five Favorites: Holiday Treats

Some Southerners believe that eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day will bring good luck. Listening to the Black Eyed Peas, however, will bring you nothing but an earworm.

1. Pumpkin spice lattes. Catalina Café on Capital Circle Southeast serves an excellent one.

2. Shrimp pasta salad. My mom makes this old-school American classic for every major holiday, and now I do, too. My family’s recipe couldn’t be simpler: Boil, drain and chill a 1-pound box of elbow macaroni. To the pasta, add 3-4 cans of tiny pink shrimp (drained and rinsed), a couple of handfuls of diced celery and several big dollops of mayonnaise, then toss it all together. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let the salad sit in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors meld.

3. Latkes. This is the year I will learn to make these perfect little potato pancakes. For a carb fanatic like me, latkes are the ultimate cold-weather comfort food.

4. Homemade gingerbread cookies. Dressed in crunchy sugar crystals, please.

5. Hoppin’ John. My Georgia-born friend Elle Crash introduced me to the Southern tradition of greeting the New Year with a big bowl of black-eyed peas. This year I’m going to try Bryant Terry’s version of the dish, Creole Hoppin’-Jean, from the Vegan Soul Kitchen cookbook.

Five Favorites: Songs Inspired by Food

Forget Kelis – Sleater-Kinney serves up a sonic milkshake that’s a lot more tantalizing.

1. “Know Your Chicken,” Cibo Matto. Beneath this song’s irresistibly catchy chorus lies a sinister tale of kitchen betrayal. The members of Cibo Matto (which means “crazy food” in Italian) are so obsessed with edibles that they’ve also penned songs about birthday cake, artichokes, beef jerky and white pepper ice cream.

2. “Java Jive,” The Ink Spots. My grandparents loved this playful R&B song from the ’40s. They used to sing it to me as a lullaby, thus planting the seeds of my lifelong caffeine addiction.

3. “Milkshake n’ Honey,” Sleater-Kinney. A sly, rueful number about the pleasures and pitfalls of indulging your appetites on the road, from a band that’s better known for its uncompromising feminist anthems.

4. “Devil’s Pie,” D’Angelo. The ingredients for this dubious delicacy include “Materialistic greed and lust, jealousy, envious/Bread and dough, cheddar cheese, flash and stash, cash and cream.” D’Angelo has such a luscious voice, though, that he almost makes a big slice sound appealing.

5. “Beer for Breakfast,” The Replacements. Of what else would you partake when you wake up to ashtray floors, dirty clothes and filthy jokes?

Also worth mentioning: “Beans and Cornbread,” Louis Jordan; “Candyfloss,” Wilco; Caramelo,” Julius Melendez; “Yes! We Have No Bananas,” Louis Prima; “Chocolate Cake,” Crowded House.