Monday, October 16, 2006

The Spice Market

One of the best, but not the best known, lunch spots in New York City is Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to go there day or night because the food is so good, but lunch is a special treat. There are no maddening crowds at lunchtime; you usually don’t need a reservation; and you don’t have to suffer the noise from people lined 10 deep at the bar. Also, during the day the Spice Market takes on a different personality, one I think is incredibly well suited to the food. As midday light pours into the cavernous room and I sometimes feel like I’ve been transported to Indochine. Lunch is busier on the weekends but it’s still nothing like the evenings.

The first time I ate at Spice Market I had a dish that I fell in love with, and I still think it is one of the greatest rice dishes I’ve ever had-- ginger fried rice. It’s simply rice and scallions sautéed in sesame oil and topped with an egg that has been fried in panko breadcrumbs, ginger, and garlic. As you spoon the rice onto your plate the egg yolk coats the rice and the combination of flavors and textures is just magical. I could eat this alone for lunch but it’s even better with a piece of fish. One of my favorite fish dishes is the Cod with Malaysian Chili Sauce Thai Basil though every fish course here is always cooked to perfection. This cod is simply pan seared, served on a bed of a Malaysian Chili sauce, and topped with some finely diced celery.

The wine list and the wines by the glass are well chosen for this. I often order any gewürztraminer off the list but today I had a glass of Alsatian Pinot Blanc, which was crisp and refreshing.

Spice Market is one of the many reasons I love New York. I’m not sure if it could work anywhere else in the country. I’m just happy it’s located in my hometown.

Spice Market
403 W. 13th St.,
New York, NY 10014


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