The Hidden New York Blog

Urban Archaeology At Its Finest . . .

Eggs Benedict, Delmonico's, New York Tours

Eggs Benedict From the Source

March 8, 2017

I’m a big fan of Eggs Benedict. Back in my East Village days, I would order it at the now defunct 7A religiously on Sunday afternoons. According to legend it was invented as a hangover cure for one Lemuel Benedick, a Wall Street broker thus afflicted and from those Sunday indulgences, I can personally testify to its efficacy as such. So when I found myself recently strolling around lower Manhattan after a tour, I decided to sample the version at Delmonico’s, where it is widely believed to have been invented, although the Waldorf Astoria takes exception with this claim. Based on the public record, Delmonico’s probably has the right of it. Eggs Benedict first appears as a recipe in The Epicurean, a cookbook written by Delmonico’s legendary Chef Charles Ranhofer, in 1894. The Waldorf rumor seems to have started with an article in The New Yorker published in 1942.

The current 56 Beaver Street location has been a Delmonico’s more or less continuously since 1837. Mindful of this storied history, the present owners maintain an elegant 19th Century decor that will make you half-expect former patrons like Mark Twain, “Diamond” Jim Brady, and Theodore Roosevelt to come walking through the door. Which, if you’re the kind of person to geek out on that sort of thing, is pretty awesome.

So, not having planned to pop in, I wasn’t really dressed for the occasion. Rather than upscale broker, or even dressing down tech start-up guy, I was sporting the eccentric tour guide look, right down to my signature Aussie outback hat. I ain’t gonna lie; the staff definitely seemed a little apprehensive when I first walked in as if I might be part of an impending flashmob prank. But once I told them I was a tour guide looking for a damn fine Eggs Benedict, they warmed up right away and seated me in all my urban explorer glory.

So how was it? The best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had ‘em all over the country. Crunchy muffins, thick ham, perfectly cooked eggs (not too hard, not too runny), a tasty sauce, and just to let you know you’re eating at a classy joint, a little caviar sprinkled on top. Yum.

So, if you want to eat at Delmonico’s, but your bank account won’t allow you to sample some of its pricier fare (or if your wife doesn’t eat steak, lobster, oysters, clam chowder, or anything else Delmonico’s is known for, as is my unfortunate situation), you can pop in for the Eggs Benedict anytime and it’ll only set you back about twenty bucks, with tip. Which is just a little more than you’d pay anyplace in Manhattan where ordering the Eggs Benedict wouldn’t constitute an act of supreme bravery. Bonus points if you go with a hangover . . . 


The Hidden New York Blog

Urban archaeology at its finest.

New York Pizza, New York Water, New York Tours

Why Do New Yorkers Hate Your Pizza?

February 16. 2017

A lot of transplants to the City look for yardsticks to measure the moment when they become legitimate "New Yorkers."  Here's an easy one: do you order Domino's by choice and not just out of necessity at 4AM, after a night of hard drinking?  If so, rest easy, you're still a Michigander. 

If there's one thing every native New Yorker can agree on, its that everyone else's pizza is terrible. Really terrible.  Get two New Yorkers together doing time at a Turkish prison, and in about five minutes they'll start bonding over the lousy pizza in Istanbul.

So why are we so particular about our pizza? Is it just because we invented the American variety?  Well, no.  We invented underground transit, but no one in their right mind would argue that our system is the most efficient.  Or the cleanest.  Although if you're away from the city for too long, you do start to miss that subway smell; a unique combination of burnt ozone and urine not to be found anywhere else in the world.  At least not anyplace that I've ever been.  And I've been a lot of places.  If you know of a place, drop us a line. 


The real reason is that the city that even after 30 years of deep scrubbing, is still one of the filthiest, as if the grime of its seedy past just won't ever give up the ghost completely, lucked into some of the world's best water.  Coming down from the Catskills, and naturally low in limestone content, New York water has a PH level of 7.2.  "Pure" water has a PH level of 7.0.  So, through an accident of geology, New York water is naturally close to perfect.  Weird, right?

No wonder then that when we try anything dough based in a foreign land, like say, Los Angeles, it sends us scurrying right back to our overpriced cubicles, resigned to forever forego sunshine in exchange for a good bagel. Even Angelenos won't drink the toxic brew of cow manure and Roundup that passes for tap water out that way.  So what kind of pizza are you going to get from it? Not a very good one.  And besides that, what's with the duck and pineapple toppings?  That's just an unforced error, right there.  But its still not as bad as that time I had a slice in London that was covered in corn kernels. That's right.  Corn kernels.  Not even fresh corn kernels.  From a can.  The horror.  The horror . . .