I’m back. And with me I brought 10 days filled with memories of this remarkable city called New York. Those of you who have been to New York before, might have noticed that it is quite an intense place. The noises, the smells and completely different visual language compared to other cites made me stare on in awe. It is only now that I’m sitting back at my desk in Istanbul, a city that feels slow and relaxed compared to New York (a statement I never thought I would make), that I realize how worn out I am after this trip. New York simply has its own pace that is hard to keep up with. But maybe that’s the reason people are so fascinated with the place.
Besides the wedding we were attending, the thing I was looking forward to the most, of course, was food. After all, New York is home to many health food devotees and the place, where most of the food trends rise and fall, second only to San Francisco. Though kind of aware of this at the start of our journey, I was still anxious about the upcoming week, my head filled with all the high fructose corn stories, worried that those good old American fries would make for the main component of my meals during our stay. Luckily all my worries vanished as soon as I realized that all of our friends there are foodies just like us. In case this term is new to you, here is what Wikipedia has to say about it:
“A foodie is a gourmet, or a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages. A foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out for convenience or hunger.”
Intentionally or unintentionally our friends seriously introduced us to cream of New York’s crop. I’m not talking about five star restaurants here. I’m talking about healthy, ingenious but honest cooking, that was worth every dime we spent. (Did I mention that New York is a bit pricy compared to Berlin or Istanbul?)
Anyway, if you happen to be cast away on the East Coast, namely in NYC, sometime in the near future, the following advice might come in handy if you are into experiencing some memorable, fructose free and gluten free moments of indulgence.
Tips on traveling with fructose malabsorption: New York
Don’t hesitate to check back with the waiters! Reactions to my inquisitions about certain ingredients in different meals were positive across-the-board. Waiters were very patient and attentive. Most could list containing ingredients off the top of their head, knowing exactly if a meal was gluten free and whether ingredients could be left out or not.
Have you had a bunless burger yet? No? Then it’s about time you try it. For the common health and calorie conscious New Yorker it is quite normal to order a sandwich without the bread or a burger without the bun. Meaning, in case the menu does not provide any gluten-free option, order something “without the bread” and go for some fresh fries on the side instead. :)
More recently American supermarkets are being swamped with gluten free products, which is good as it is Unfortunately 99% of said products contain quite a large amount of sugar or sugar substitutes. One incident was significant in particular. As we were investigating a so-called health bar, the woman working behind the counter proudly voiced their “we serve gluten free food only” claim. When we mentioned that all of the baked goods contain an ample amount of sugar, she simply responded “well yeah, obviously”. So much for “health food”. I would recommend you to be wary of all products and processed foods that are explicitly marked gluten free.
Wo, where should you eat?
Fructose and gluten free Dining in New York City
Egg, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Going by the name, it doesn’t come as a surprise that you will find a wide selection of egg dishes on their menu. They don’t have that many gluten free options, but it is worth checking out the few they do have. My favorite: Organic Cheese Grits & Egg
Spring Natural Kitchen, Upper West Side, Manhattan
This gem is located in walking distance from Central Park. If you can’t find it, simply follow all of the runners coming there straight after their run, still wearing their running gear, to recharge on some healthy, all organic breakfast.
Five Leaves, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Beautiful, cozy place in Williamsburg. They serve homemade ricotta, unusual salad creations, grass-fed burgers and much more. Loved my chopped black kale salad aka kale mountain with anchovies-dressing, aged gouda and hazelnuts.
Whole Foods, Union Square, Manhattan
Whenever you wander around Manhattan and don’t feel like scanning menus for suitable dishes, go to Whole Foods and create your own. Indulge in their huge selection of salad, soups and stews. Price is by weight. I usually ended up paying 10 $ for a good portion.
Friedman’s Lunch, Chelsea Market, Manhattan
Friedman’s Lunch specializes in homemade, gluten free food. If you are craving a gluten free New York style sandwich this is the place to go. I went for the “Grilled Pastrami Reuben”. They even gave me a special sugar free dressing with it. It was delicious, but quite heavy and fatty due to all the meat. At least I wasn’t hungry for the rest of the day. ;)
Northeast Kingdom, Bushwick, Brooklyn
One of many farm-to-table restaurants that have been shooting up like mushrooms lately. Our waiter knew the ingredients list to each and every dish inside and out, thus making it easy for me to make the right choice. Still raving about their roasted duck on autumn vegetables and creamy black squid ink.
Aria Wine Bar, 117 Perry St., New York, NY 10014, West Village, Manhattan
This cozy Italian restaurant is buzzing. They have a huge selection of starters and salads, many of them gluten-free and low in fructose. The waiter even suggested that I bring my own gluten free pasta the next time I come. They would prepare it for me. In case you try that, let me know how it went!
Caracas Arepa Bar, Williamburg, Brooklyn
Arepas are Venezuelan, pita like, gluten free bread-pockets made out of a special kind of corn flour. They are usually filled and eaten with various aromatic ingredients. My favorite: La Pelua, filled with juicy, shredded beef and cheddar cheese. It’s messy business, finger-licking guaranteed. Watch out though: Many of their side dishes are gluten free, but some of them are fried in the same oil as wheat-containing side dishes. I suggest you stay away of the fried sides if your are extremely sensitive to wheat and get another Arepa instead.
That wraps up my culinary week in New York. Enjoy your stay in The City!
P.S. Unfortunately I don’t have that many pictures to accompany my recommendations. Restaurants in New York aren‘t well lit I find. And nobody likes pictures of underexposed food, right?