Editor's note: For eight days I'll be keeping a diary on eating well in New York while staying kosher for Passover. The goal: never feel hungry or desperate enough to touch matzo unless I want to. For the rules I'll be keeping, see here. All remarks and recommendations are personal and not intended as religious/cultural commentary.
We're getting close—soon this will all be over and we'll have another year of chametz-free eating behind us. So right now there are two questions on my mind: what chametz will I eat first and what can I do to get me through the home stretch?
So far I've been contenting myself with steering clear of starch altogether. But the walls are starting to come down and a sandwich would taste pretty damn good right now.
I don't usually think of Patacon Pisao as a place for restricted diets, but when you can't eat any grains, a sandwich with slices of fried plantains for bread sounds like just the thing. Patacon Pisao's northern Manhattan cart and Elmhurst restaurant are more than a little off the beaten path, but desperate times may call for desperate measures, and their fried plantain sandwiches with fillings like tender pork or crispy fried cheese speak for themselves.
Another craving I haven't been able to tame: I really need a drink, and wine and brandy aren't cutting it. Some whiskey would be nice, and a Manhattan would be even better, but without drinking grain spirits I've had to get creative. I've recently gotten into the habit of ordering Manhattans with applejack in place of rye or bourbon at bars, and it's going to be my next holdover until Passover's finished. Most applejack is aged similar to bourbon these days and the drink retains the oaky-aged flavor of the base spirit; it's a drink I'd order the rest of the year, too.
One note of caution though: some common brands of applejack have neutral grain spirits mixed in; you'll need a 100% apple spirits brand like Cornelius or Laird's Straight Bonded (not their regular applejack) in order to stay totally chametz-free. But if you can't find a bar with it...I won't tell if you won't.
One last craving: I want a brownie, desperately. But in the meantime I'll be contenting myself with something even more fudgy and chocolatey—ganache-filled chocolate from Kee's (more mostly chametz-free chocolate picks here). Truffles don't have the same chewy satisfaction of the bar cookies I'm craving, but they come close enough for one more day.
Then it's a fresh bagel for breakfast and all-I-can-eat Oreos for lunch.