Delicious Magazine Recipe Feature Recipes published in Princes Trust Charity 'Trusty' Cookbook Guest panellist on UKTV Food's 'Market Kitchen' Recipes published in 'Come Dine With Me Special Occasions' book Blog named as a "Media Must-Have" in Jan & Feb issue of Olive Magazine

Launch of Sabrina's one-to-one private cookery tuition Guest critic on Gordon Ramsay's 'F-Word' series finale Organised Top Chef Charity Banquet for Haiti raising £70,000 for 'Action Against Hunger' Seasonal Food & Recipe Writer for 'Blue Tomato'

Winner of Channel 4's 'Come Dine With Me' (West London) 'Bronze' winner in professionally judged 'AA Home Cooking Competition 2009' Appointed resident cookery columnist for Foodepedia

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Thursday, 11 March 2010


So here I am in New York, almost a week into my trip and having had some of the most incredible meals of my life. My mission was to track down some of the best meals, everything from 2 Michelin star to $2 hot dogs… when it comes to culinary pleasures, I have love for all kinds of foodie delights.

My first ‘bite’ of the Big Apple is all about one of the most famous foods of New York, the humble Hot Dog. I did my research and spoke to as many locals as I could and the two names that kept popping up over and over again were ‘Gray’s Papaya’ and ‘Crif’s Hot Dogs’. Armed with my camera and a ferociously empty stomach, I go on a pilgrimage in search of sausagey perfection!

Gray’s Papaya has to be one of the most famous and most loved destinations in the city. Not to be confused with ‘Papaya King’ or ‘Papaya Dog’, Gray’s has been featured in films like “You’ve Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, as well as TV shows like “Sex and the City” and “How I met your Mother” and is more of an institution that a simple food stop. But on arrival you will quickly see that there is no pretense here. They simply serve the city's best hot dogs with either fried onions or mustard and ketchup. Simple. No fuss, no muss, just tasty doggy goodness. They even do a great value ‘Recession Special’ at $4.75 for 2 of their fine hot dogs with a beverage of your choice. The irony being that I couldn’t even afford the ‘Recession Special’ on my visit as I left all my cash at the apartment and had only my credit cards and $2.00 in my pocket! But these dogs come in at $1.50 a pop, which isn’t exactly gut-busting, so lucky old me that I could afford one on this occasion! Phew! What a tasty dog, delicious sausage with a juicy ‘burst’ of flavour as you take your first bite. Hot-diggety-dog! But if you are scratching your head wondering where the ‘Papaya’ bit comes in, then wonder no longer... because along with your hot dog you can grab some exotic fresh juices including Papaya and the famous ‘Coconut Champagne’ (which despite it’s name is booze-free) as well as Pineapple juice, although I don’t think the juices are the main attraction here, but go see for yourself! http://www.grayspapaya.com/

Crif’s dogs is a very different affair. Simplicity is just not done here! The menu is huge, the hot dogs are entirely different and come with over a dozen different toppings. Everything from bacon wrapped ‘Chihuahua’ dogs topped with sour cream and avocado slices, to Chilli dogs and vegetarian dogs. Great corn dogs are also available, although try as I may, to grow to love these cakey, deep-fried hot dogs, I find myself at the bring of purism only able to stretch to having a little chilli (con carne) on top of mine. Crif’s is very much a trendy spot, attracting all kinds of people, including locals and tourists. The inside is a small, dark room with a few seats. Hilarious signage on the tills “Tip! – you cheap bastards!” – A tongue-in-cheek, but nonetheless thoroughly effective reminder to dig deep when rewarding staff with a gratuity. It works, I sprung $5 as I did not want to be labelled as cheap! Crif’s, perhaps, gains an added amount of fame from the mysterious looking phone booth located inside the dining room, that is the obscure entry for a bar called ‘P.D.T’ – which stands for “Please Don’t Tell”. A (not-so) secret bar adjacent to Crif’s, where you have to make a reservation and obtain a 4-digit pin number to gain entry. Once gained, you must enter the pin using the phone in the special booth located in Crif’s and “Hey presto!” entrance is granted. Hmmm, more PR trickery at work.

So Crif’s hot dogs were great, but admittedly not a patch on the good old simple classic of Gray’s Papaya, just proving (even more) that keeping things simple is often best. To visit Crif’s website, log on to: http://www.crifdogs.com/

This is me signing off for now, but there are a lot more New York foodie stories to come, so stay tuned folks.

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