Ask the Critic: What 'New York' Food Souvenirs Can I Bring Home?

Ask the Critic

You have restaurant questions? We have answers. Where to take a dinner date? Restaurants good for parents or picky eaters? Food etiquette? Food and restaurant writer Carey Jones answers your questions. Email to submit.


[Illustration: Robyn Lee]

Editor's note: Here to answer your questions is contributing writer, former managing and SENY editor, and frequent author of our NYC restaurant reviews Carey Jones. We'll take a few of your questions each week and give you the New York restaurant advice you're looking for. Email with the subject line Ask the Critic to submit your question!

What Should I Bring Home For My West Coast Friends?

I'm heading into NYC this weekend with some friends on a culinary adventure. One of the missions I've been tasked with is to bring something back from NYC to the west coast for other friends who can't make the trip. Is there anything you would recommend that transports decently on a plane and is uniquely "New York?" Could be sweets or savories.

Bialys from Hot Bread Kitchen

Bialy from Hot Bread Kitchen. [Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Bialys. Bagels don't transport as well as bialys, their stouter, hole-less cousins—since bialys are always toasted before eating, they pop right back to life. (Plus, they're more distinctly New York; everyone knows bagels, but bialys? Not so much.) Kossar's Bialys is the classic. Hot Bread Kitchen may make the best in the city.


Chocolate Babka from Green's. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Babka. I'm a California girl by birth and, until I moved to New York, had never experienced the wonder that is babka: the perfect intersection of bread and pastry, chocolate- or cinnamon-laced and impossible to stop eating. While some breads don't hold up well, babka tends to be so dense and buttery it has a longer shelf life. Here's our taste test of the best in New York. Breads Bakery, a new Israeli bakery that's opened since that taste test, also makes a great version.

Pastrami at Katz's Delicatessen

Pastrami Reuben from Katz's. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Pastrami. Don't sic the Health Department on me, but I'm of the opinion that smoked meats can last just fine on an airplane; smoking was originally intended as a preservation method, right? Order sliced meat at Katz's for convenience, or whole (for half the price) if you're convinced of your ability to re-steam and slice yourself. (Buy the rye bread at home; there's nothing special about Katz's.)

Any Ideas?

Chime in, in the comments!

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Email with the subject line Ask the Critic to submit your question. All questions will be read, though unfortunately not all can be answered.

About the author: Carey Jones is the former Senior Managing Editor of Serious Eats. Follow her on Twitter (@careyjones).

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