So Mrs. Cheffer and I are New York City bound this weekend, with a little bit of time and a whole lot of plans.   Our good friends Travis and Eleve are our gracious hosts.  Travis and Eleve have lived in NY for a half dozen years now, educators by day, gourmands by night.  The relationship is great – we head to New York once every few years for a fix of hustle, bustle, culture, and gastronomy, they head up here every few summers for a fix of backyard, BBQ, swimming pool, and driving.  We each have what the other’s long for in a vacation!

So we’ll be big apple bound, and we’ve been through the usual series of e-mails and phone calls back and forth to plan the perfect 72 hour New York vacation.  I give some ideas, some parameters, and ask for suggestions.   As I’ve been looking at some of the e-mails, I thought some of our conversations may sound amusing. . . here are some excerpts.

This one comes after a conversation in which I asked about Latin/Latino food, which Travis condemned as being ‘bland as hell – all mashed plantain and rice’:

Hi Pat,  

Eleve thinks I was hasty in panning all Latin food. So to clarify –  Caribbean Latin food is pretty bland. South American food is good (Eleve and I differ here – she thinks South American food should be classified as Latin, I do not). So, if you want South American food or South American Latin food then there are good choices. NYC has a strong South American community.

Travis also made some suggestions for both casual and fine dining options, as well as some of the 100 mile diet / locovore (not a typo) restaurants currently hot in NY, to which I replied…

Hey Sloaney – Thanks for all of the info – Marn and I looked at most of the menus. 
I NEED to eat at The Red Rooster in Harlem!!!!  Lunch or dinner. 

For casual fare, I like the look of most of the Bahn Mi places reviewed in the Times,  especially Ba Xuyen, Baogette, Bahn Mi Saigon Bakery, and Num Pang’s Pulled Duroc Pork.  Mmmmmmm.
Fette Sau  (fat sow?) looks AWESOME, and I had a thought.  The Brooklyn Brewery is spitting distance from there, and they do not serve food.  BUT they encourage you bringing food in.  Fette Sau appears to have take away, definitely delivers, and appears to have limited seating.  Eat BBQ at Brooklyn Brewery???  Could this be???
I also REALLY liked the menu at Gentleman Farmer – I found it more interesting than Blue Hill (though I am familiar with them & their story) or Cleaverco – I would almost lean toward making a reso there for Tuesday.  I am more interested in funky food and good execution than I am in ‘sustainable/organic/local/seasonal/carbon footprint’ kind of place.  I respect a lot of what I see, but I don’t want to have to pay 3X the price for chicken or eggs because they’ve been hand caressed by a hobby farmer (who likely drives a Mercedes and owns an upper west side brownstone).  We do the seasonal/local thing at work quite a bit and I know that it is ‘the thing’ and all but I’m on vacation, so gimme imported, smoked, ethnic and deep fried goodness!!  I’d rather pay a premium for skill and execution than to spend it on the ‘sourcing’ of the ingredients.  (I’d worry about leftist  vegans pelting me with rotten tomatoes over this one, but no self respecting locovore (not a typo) would even touch a tomato at this time of year!)  I know that this isn’t the proper attitude, but again, I’m on vacation.  
Speaking of non-local…I like the look of the pricier of the two Latino places you’ve suggested – Calle Ocho I think it’s called.  Not bad.  I love the look of the ‘Ceviche’ section, brilliant.  The menu read better than Sofrito NY.  If we were being specific about Latin American ‘countries’ We’d love Mexican, Cuban, or I don’t know, Peruvian?  Looking for Eleve’s recommendations on that. 
Of course we’ll try to grab a momofuko reso at 10 sharp each day, and we can work our day’s plans around that.  Let’s touch base.

Yesterday I came home to the best e-mail yet.  Travis has our itinerary mapped out!  We’re working a little bit of culture into our eating vacation, and how does this look for 3 days in the big city…

Hey Patsy,
I got us some tables. On Tuesday we have a 1:00 appointment at Red Rooster for Lunch. At 9:45 in the evening (nice late NYC dinner) we are going to WD-50.
Possible Itinerary:
Monday – Weather permitting
Wake up – breakfast walk through central park zoo or empire state building (very early is best for empire state)
Into Brooklyn – possible spots – green point (polish), coney island (russian), Sunset park (chinatown), 
Then go to Fette Sau pick up food and head to Brooklyn Brewery
Tuesday – Weather Permitting
Wake up – breakfast walk through central park zoo or empire state building (very early is best for empire state)
Lunch Red Rooster
Walk around midtown
Back home for a rest
Dinner WD-50
Wednesday : Late wake up – breakfast – Botanical Gardens (Bronx)
Light Lunch or coffee and pastries in Arthur Avenue – pick up stuff for dinner
Dinner (you cook)
Good byes

Oh yeah, one of my favourite parts of the Travis and Eleve visits is that the last day usually consists of some fresh market shopping, and Cheffer cooking a meal for his friends.  Much food, much wine.  This time it will be Italian Fare and Italian wines – as They live a stone’s throw from Arthur Avenue, New York’s original Little Italy.

Mama Mia, I’m a gonna need a diet when I return. Yeah yeah, you’ve heard that one before.

I’ll give you a full report upon my return.  Chow.