Saturday, May 19, 2012

Deli Delights in Manhattan

If imitation is a form of flattery, then New York’s delis receive the highest praise. Even outside New York, many delis add “New York-style” to their name to evoke their rich history, classic ingredients, and gargantuan portions. New York’s vibrant immigrant heritage, from Jewish to Italian to German, produced the USA’s most popular deli cuisines, and today, it’s hard to imagine one without the other.

New York’s impressive immigrant history is best experienced in Lower Manhattan. Historically, the Lower East Side was the essence of the American “melting pot,” with newcomers settling here from around the globe. In the late 1800s, this was one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the world, with over half a million Jewish arrivals, followed by working-class Chinese and Puerto Ricans. Its story is told in the superb Ellis Island Immigration Museum, brought to life via historical photographs and voice recordings.
On the Lower East Side, you’ll come across vestiges of “old New York” around every corner: the elegant, 1887 Eldridge Street synagogue; the well-known Tenement Museum depicting immigrant life; and perhaps most importantly, a still-lively Jewish food culture, from delicatessens to pickle purveyors. New York’s deli history can also be traced back to the Italian immigrants who arrived in droves from 1850 to 1930.
Little Italy in Lower Manhattan and, even better, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx are studded with old-time Italian family delis filled with fat-streaked prosciutto, marinated artichokes, and tangy balsamic vinegar.
German immigrants also made their mark on New York’s deli history. For a taste of Bavaria, explore Yorkville on Manhattan’s Upper East Side: the only area left in Manhattan that exhibits the city’s German immigrant history, it is home to a couple of hearty delicatessens that peddle wursts of all kinds.
For all its colorful past, these days the Lower East Side seems to define gentrification, with trendy cocktail lounges and sleek boutiques. This is all the more reason to be impressed by the staying power of the deli tradition, which may have its roots in Lower Manhattan, but has since come to symbolize New York cuisine. Hot corned beef slathered with mustard; ruby-red slices of pastrami towering on rye; warm bagels smeared with cream cheese... peruse the menus of New York’s quintessential delis, and you’ll understand what inspired the classic image of a Jewish grandmother urging you to “eat, eat!”

Classic pastrami sandwiches on the zinc countertop at world-famous Katz’s

Three Days in Manhattan
This is one of the top US destinations for visitors, with its world-class museums, iconic skyscrapers, great shopping, and lively nightlife.
DAY ONE : Start the day with a waterfront walk around the southern tip of Manhattan, from the lively South Street Seaport to lush Battery Park, where you can catch a boat to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Afterward, explore the boutiques and cafés of the West Village, and then groove to a jazz show at the famous Blue Note Jazz Club.
DAY TWO : Immerse yourself in the superb Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which offers a double draw: the world’s largest collection of modern art, and a building that’s a work of art in itself. Keep an eye out for superstar paintings, from Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon to Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night. A couple of blocks away is the legendary Radio City Music Hall; take the Stage Door tour, or check at the box office for evening show tickets.
DAY THREE : Explore the lovely High Line park in the Meatpacking District, with views of the breezy Hudson River. In the afternoon, head north to the American Museum of Natural History, which is filled with fossils, skeletons, and life-size models of elephants and dinosaurs.
Getting to Manhattan
New York City is served by three airports: JFK and LaGuardia (both in Queens), and Newark (in New Jersey), with subway and shuttle links to the city. The easiest way to get around Manhattan is by subway and on foot.
Where to stay in Manhattan
The Pod (inexpensive) has mod, thrifty rooms in Midtown.
The Mayfair (moderate) offers mid-range boutique comfort in the Theater District.
60 Thompson (expensive) in the SoHo district is elegant yet endearing.
Times Square Visitor Center, 1560 Broadway;

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