NYC, Again

Just a few snapshots from last week in NYC.

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Two reasons I booked a flight to NYC: the roundtrip ticket was less than $300! And I miss spring.
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Tulips!

I really love tulips.

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Macy’s in Herald Square had been entirely renovated since the last time I was there. It’s so glitzy with glass and backlit columns and LCDs everywhere! I totally had a gape-mouthed tourist moment when I came here to shop.
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No trip to NYC is complete without a ramen pit stop. Ippudo Westside feels cozier than the St. Marks location, and we didn’t have to wait to get seated!

 

 

 

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The Cronut Line: Worth It?

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The question everyone asks: Is the cronut actually worth lining up at 7am for?

Answer: yes, and no.

Cronut - Sold Out

Question: What is a cronut?

The cronut, as you probably know, is the NYC craze that started at Dominique Ansel bakery in SoHo. It’s a doughnut-shaped croissant, fried, encrusted with sugar, with a flavor-of-the-month jam for both filling and icing. It’s inspired numerous knock-off “croughnuts”, but the trademarked original still draws a long line. Dominique Ansel bakery’s website advises that you will probably get a cronut if you line up at 7 a.m. (the bakery opens at 8). You can also preorder them two weeks in advance by logging on Mondays at 11 a.m. ET sharp, but again, the website advises that they will probably sell out before you can refresh the page.

As a skeptic of anything that requires lining up in advance — I tell you, it only tastes better because you are HUNGRIER — I tried to preoder cronuts on a Monday at 8 a.m. PT. As predicted, I was unable to get through the checkout process quickly enough because traffic to the page kept breaking it.

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I flew into NYC on a redeye, which landed me at JFK airport on a Thursday morning at 5.30 a.m. I figured, #YOLO, so I woke up bleary-eyed and hopped on the subway straight for the cronut line. By the time I got there at 6.55 a.m., it was already 30 people deep! I was incredulous. Also, it was cold.

The thing is, the cronut itself is obviously not worth a two-hour wait. So why does the hype live on?

Because it’s about the cronut line, not the cronut itself. I was quite impressed with the production this bakery puts on for the line that wraps around the block. A little past 7 a.m., an employee comes out to greet everyone, thank them for coming, and promise that samples of hot chocolate and madeleines are on their way. At 7.30, as promised, they bring out trays with two sips of hot chocolate in a miniature paper mug, teeny handle and all, and piping-hot, perfectly-flavored madeleines dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

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When, at 8 a.m., they finally let people into the bakery 15 people at a time, the last person in line is required to hold a baguette as a marker. This was the moment when I really rolled my eyes. “Has to hold a baguette”? How much more obvious can it be that the cronut line is a curated experience? It’s basically the rustic bakery version of making people line up outside an empty nightclub.

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But these guys know what they’re doing. Gotta give it to them — the whole experience, the gorgeous packaging that opens up like a tulip, the beautiful garden patio.

As for the cronut itself: yes, it was good, but honestly not THAT good. Definitely not worth waiting two hours for. It was a bit sickeningly sweet, and the flavor of the month when I went was passionfruit. It wasn’t my favorite, as I’m a bit of a purist and prefer pastries plain or with chocolate. Also, the texture wasn’t actually that croissant-like. In terms of texture and flavor, it was exactly like a kouign amman, but bigger, shaped like a donut, loaded with sugar, and stuffed with passionfruit jam. I’d rather just have a kouign amman and be done with it.

Frankly, the madeleines tasted better — the texture was light and airy, the flavor perfectly subtle. The madeleines were delightful, and I ended up buying 20 to take to my hosts as gifts! I have a hunch that other things on the Dominique Ansel menu are actually better than the cronuts — and you can walk right in and buy them without lining up!

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All of these creations, for example, looked absolutely heavenly. Such creativity in terms of the combination of flavors, and the beautiful presentation. But, it’s the cronuts that keep people coming in through that door, and so the bakery works that production line for all it’s worth.

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The final word on the cronut is, it’s worth it if you have time to kill. It’s a classic New York experience: that there are people who put time, thought and craft into creating what is basically a glorified way to pass the time. It’s how they earn their keep, and how New York makes good on its promise that you will never have a dull moment. You can always lose a little more sleep to wake up early, stand in line and partake in something that uncannily brings you together with strangers and tourists for just a sliver of shared life, shared experience. I spent two delightful hours in that line wondering about stories: where everyone came from, where they would take the cronuts they’d waited so long to purchase, to whom they would be delivered.

And that’s the thing. Regardless of whether or not the cronut is everything you ever hoped for — NYC never disappoints. It’s not the thing in itself; it’s always the city and all it encompasses.

Resilience Is Being There

Times Square Bombing

It started, probably, with having watched Zero Dark Thirty yesterday, which made mention of the attempted car bombing in Times Square in 2010. Then this morning, a headline caught my eye: Brooklyn Man Refusing to Testify in Times Square Bomb Case. The case refers to a bombing that happened on March 6, 2008 in Times Square. A small bomb went off at 3.43am outside the military recruitment office at 43rd and Broadway, causing no injuries and minimal damage. Traffic in the area resumed within hours.

Notably, despite the fact that I worked in a building just across the street at the time and am pretty sure I was in the office later that morning, I could barely remember the occurrence; it lacked the vividness that comes with memories of more significant moments that come careening into one’s life. I don’t even recall anything affecting my morning commute that day, aside from some police tape and broken glass. It’s a testament to how quickly NYC picks up and moves on, as well as, thankfully, the relative lack of harm done.

An unlikely witness to these events is Bashir Saleh, whose name I learned today while reading about the bombing. Saleh has set up his coffee cart every day for nearly two decades on the northwest corner of 43rd and 7th, and from his bustling corner of Times Square has seen riots, heatwaves, bombings and attempts thereof. With his prime location and the fact that he’s simply there all the time, he’s been called on for quite a few interviews with The New York Times and other media outlets.

I saw Saleh every morning for the year that I worked on the corner opposite his coffee cart. He never missed a day. I remember his tall frame bent to fit the confines of the coffee cart while he stooped to grab the milk. I would watch his thin, veined hands swirl the contents of my coffee cup.

Consistency is a form of resilience, to still be there after all those years, all those sweltering summers and frostbitten winters. Especially in a city as transient as New York, there’s something reassuring about the few things that don’t change overnight. And I suppose that’s part of why (in addition to the sugar high) just by being there, day after day, he brightened my mundane mornings with a smile and the most satisfying iced coffees ever.

”I tell all my friends that it’s an easy business to get into,” [Fahim] Saleh, who estimates he has introduced about 70 friends to the business, said in fluent English. ”All you have to know is ‘coffee doughnuts thank you have a nice day.’ That’s it. Something else: the coffee has to be good and you can’t forget to smile.”

The Face Behind the Bagel, NYTimes, 1997. Quoting Bashir Saleh’s older brother, who got him (and many others) into the business.

On my last day of work in that office, I gave Bashir a large tip, thanking him for starting my days off with a smile. He gave me my last iced coffee and plain doughnut with an especially large smile: “It’s on the house.”

I told him I would miss him. And, you know, I actually do.

Pickup Lines that Have Not Worked Lately

1. The earnest, high-hippie admirer. Dreadlocks, fit-my-life-in-here-sized hitchhiker backpack and all. This guy really exuded wide-eyed wonder, but that might have been due to something other than my apparent beauty…

Dude: You’re pretty.
Me: Thank you.
Dude: No. Thank YOU for being pretty.

2. The hopeful racial profiler. A middle-aged Chinese man smoking on the corner looks up hopefully as I approach.

Dude: China?
Me: No.

3. The expectations subverter. I’ve been asked this question before…

Dude: You got a phone?
Me: Uh.. What do you need it for?
Dude: So I can give you a call!

4. The throwaway complimenter. 

Dude: Nice thighs, girl.

I will say that all of the above are better than what usually happened when men were being leery in New York. There, it was all “konichiwa,” “ni hao ma,” “Hey China doll,” and other racialized catcalls. At least these San Francisco creeps guys (and these) put a shred of effort into it.

Hmm. I actually never noticed this difference before, and now I’m left wondering what accounts for it. Why would men in New York be more likely to hurl racially inflected catcalls than San Franciscans?

Maybe it’s a function of city culture. For one, the times I’ve been approached by men here have been far fewer than in NYC. And usually in SF they are actually attempting to make conversation rather than just throwing out a catcall. Plus, I’m usually at least willing to respond to the overture if not engage in conversation. Whereas in New York, the default reaction is just to keep walking on, stonefaced. So maybe people use racially colored language to try to get a quicker rise out of someone–which is, after all, the whole point of catcalling.

Whatever the rationale may be, it doesn’t justify the action. Racialized catcalls were one of the things that most annoyed me about the crush of the city; for one, it took so much effort to tune it out (hence why my modus operandi was to ignore everyone). Secondly, I found it disappointing because it seemed like someone who lives in New York City should know better. Whenever someone hollered at me based on my race, it was a latent reminder that even in one of the cities with the most concentrated diversity in the world, diversity meant superficial coexistence but not actual understanding.

Well, I didn’t expect this post to get so deep. But there you have it.

In sum, lame as these pickup lines were, the final word is that SF > NY.

Busking in Brooklyn

Snowing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

I’ve seen a lot of buskers in New York.

I’ve even seen the same buskers multiple times over the years: the three guys who backflipped off poles and somersaulted between seats on the N/Q line between Manhattan and Brooklyn to maximize their performance time. I recall especially vividly the youngest, whose tangled ‘fro picked up subway grime while doing those somersaults (shudder).

The bug-eyed, pink bell-bottomed Cucaracha Lady, so named because she played “La Cucaracha” on her plastic recorder on the 7 line while crossing from Manhattan to Queens. The Sunday morning feel-good barbershop quartets singing “Mary Don’t You Weep,” the first singer holding a cane, the last a brown paper bag for tips. The mariachi bands always came out on the weekends too, but they were so darn loud they pissed me off. Also the drummers who brought stools and djembes onto the subway car and hashed it out with no apologies to your eardrums. The list goes on.

Some are good; some not so. But never once have I actually given money to a performer. Until this past Monday.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from observing all these buskers, it’s that you’ve got to play a crowd-pleaser. Once, when a feel-good quartet sang Ben King’s “Stand By Me,” I saw every middle-aged man start reaching for his wallet. Total suckers for nostalgia.

Well, I guess that makes me a total sucker for a good folksy tune and a husky voice. Jesse Cohen was playing Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” when I reached the platform, then continued with Rufus Wainwright’s “Hallelujah” while I waited for the L. Both such good songs, and he played them so well. So I gave him a dollar and sincere compliments in exchange for the above photo.

Which leads me to a confession: I’ve always wanted to try busking in a NYC subway for an hour and see how much I could make. I haven’t done it yet, but maybe you’ll see me on these city streets someday…

Colder than Antarctica in NYC

COLD.

Oh. my. goodness. It was cold in New York! A bone-chilling 10 degrees Fahrenheit when I arrived last week. There were only five short blocks between the subway station and B’s place but I ran, gasping for air the whole way.

V had warned me about this:

V: “In a bold display of winter’s full force, rarely seen so far during this abnormally warm winter, New York City was significantly colder than Denver, Colo., Anchorage, Alaska, and even McMurdo Station, Antarctica, on Wednesday.”
Me: NOOOOOOO
V: WTF…colder than Alaska during winter?
Me: aweo;gjawego;ihaweg
COLDER THAN ANTARCTICA????
V: haha it’s summer in Antarctica
so that comparison isnt so bad
Me: ANTARCTICA IS A MASSIVE ICEBERG

COLD. Really, really cold. So naturally the first thing I did was go get a hot, soothing, steaming bowl of Totto Ramen.

CITY WALKS.

Anticipating colder-than-Antarctica weather, I didn’t bother bringing my dSLR as I imagined I wouldn’t want to bother fiddling with frostbitten fingers. But I was surprised to find myself standing in places I’d walked so many times before and seeing them anew. Even Times Square, which I avoided at all costs after having worked in the thick of it for a full year, or Grand Central station, which I’d passed through regularly since 2002.

That’s what’s amazing about New York City–nothing is ever the same, even if you’ve seen it a hundred times. The people who come and go make the city what it is, and it’s always bustling, always changing.

The Microsoft Office launch and Citi Pond at Bryant Park
The tree-lit walkway at Columbia University

BETTER THAN AIRBNB.

I was very grateful for and inspired by A+H’s radical generosity. They have a lovely two-bedroom apartment that they’ve warmed up with personal touches. They keep the second bed+bath as a dedicated guest room for friends and people transitioning to the city. As someone who’s recently spent quite a lot of time surviving on the generosity of friends, I am sure their hospitality must be a gift to so many people! Including me :]

FOOD.

Oxtail stew at Havana Central.

Truly nomtastic dessert at Gaonnuri. Subtle yet potent flavors of Asian pear, ginger, vanilla ice cream, some kind of jelly with gold leaf. A very classy party in your mouth.

Green tea, yuzu, and other things that I don’t even remember. Such a blur of delicious flavor.

The menu descriptions for these food art creations are actually worth sharing, so here they are:

DECONSTRUCTED SOO JEONG KWA
Poached Korean pear, yakgwa, cinnamon chantilly, ginger ice cream, pear sorbet

YUZU PARFAIT
Green tea biscuit, candied black sesame, green tea ice cream

NYC in a nutshell: I spent too much, ate too much, and didn’t sleep enough. That’s New York living for ya!

NYC vs. London: Settling the Score

Almost every British person I met in London told me they wanted to move to New York. But why?

As I always say, it’s a love-hate relationship when it comes to NYC. There are things to love, and things to hate, and not much in between. So when I actually have to live here, the balance fluctuates from day to day, but for visitors it’s just love-love-love.

Come to think of it, that may partly explain why I loved London so much–because I always approached it as a visitor, somewhat. Even though I was there for a year, I always knew my time there would be finite. So I woke up each day thinking I ought to make the most of it.

But I digress.

If you were counting, London totally killed NYC while I was abroad, racking up lots of awesomeness points: tea and scones, accessibility to the rest of Europe, free museums, pretty buildings, lots of parks, ginormous roses, the literary legacy. But coming back to NYC I’m reminded of a lot of reasons why NYC > London, too.

NYC+1KOREAN FOOD. This, friends. THIS is what I’m talking about. A spread like that should count for 300 points at least.

Remember when I went to that Korean BBQ place in London where we had to pay for kimchi separately, and even pay for the lettuce to wrap our BBQ in? So wrong. Because this is how we do in America. Bro, Mom and I went to Geum Gang San in Flushing, where all of the above banchan dishes were served free of charge, with refills to our hearts’ content.

I got the deonjang + LA galbi special. Mmmmm how I have missed you so!

I can’t tell you how stuffed I was after this meal. No really. I refuse to describe it. Just thinking about it is making me feel fat right now.

NYC+2: Subways with air conditioning! Thank goodness too, cuz that heat wave was no joke.

NYC+3: Weekend brunch.

You know, I think from now on when people ask me what’s good about American food, I will simply say: BRUNCH.

I went with M to Nook in Hell’s Kitchen, where we split sweet (French toast) and savory (eggs benedict with smoked salmon)–a happy marriage!

NYC+4: There’s always something new to discover, no matter how long you’ve been around. 

Walking into Grand Central station, P stopped me at a point where I’d stood hundreds of times–the busy entrance at Vanderbilt and E 42nd. She pointed up, and there it was: a breathtakingly, quintessentially New York cityscape that I’d never noticed before!

NYC+5: Sushi.

Granted, there was good sushi in London too. But NYC sushi wins. Sorry, London.

I’m forgetting the name of the restaurant we went to, and for some reason the word that comes to mind is “tamagachi,” which is clearly wrong. I remember the restaurant was pretty hard to find, as it was sort of tucked away behind Drom, a dive bar in the Lower East Side. With these clues I could definitely Google it pretty quickly. And I will. But for now, tamagachi is taking me back to middle school and I kinda like it.

 

NYC+6: Can’t beat the quirky.

K and I walked the full length of the High Line, which is one of my favorite places in NYC. It’s an old railroad track converted into a public space, an oasis amid a busy city. But the best part of the High Line is that the neighborhood it’s located in has a lot of character, and the neighbors inject an extra energy and quirky flair.

In one eye-level window, a life-size cardboard cutout with a hairy chest waves at passersby. On one rooftop, a “zoo” (when K mentioned this, I expected real animals!)

NYC+7: Levain Bakery. This needs no explanation. Just eat it.

And then there was cookie.

Is “Thus Spake Zarastrutha” playing in your head right now? Because it should be. Humor me:

NYC+8+9+10+11908741: Delicious food, cheap & delicious food, food-food-food-food-FOOD!

 

Eataly with D&K–pasta perfectly al dente. Prosperity Dumpling–all of the above for $3!

Celeste in NYC, previously my fave Italian spot in NYC. Eataly was better, though.

Coffee and a bagel. Can’t beat NYC for making this combo just right.

 

Just look at those skies.

It truly is a beautiful city–when you’re looking up.

Look down and you’ll see the rats burrowing in trash cans… I saw a man sit on a dead cockroach on the subway because he didn’t look down first. Also there was a guy smoking a joint and saying really vulgar stuff on the subway. And another dude playing with a torch lighter. And…

In sum, if you want to love NYC, don’t live there.

Okay, okay. A friend of mine pointed out that only three of these reasons are not food-related. So two more:

Friends. Hardly needs to be said, as I’m not exactly going to go eat alone, am I? Oh shoot there I go with the food again.

Accessibility. In one day, I’d meet a friend from brunch on the Upper West Side, walk cross-town through Central Park, run errands near Union Square, get dinner on the Lower East Side, and come back up to Hell’s Kitchen for drinks. Pick up dumplings from Chinatown and chow down in Koreatown (oops, is that a faux pas?). And especially since the subway runs all night–party on!

How I Ended up in Amsterdam: Tulips at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden


Just got back from Amsterdam last night! It was so much colder and rainier than I expected and made London seem positively balmy by contrast. Who knew that London could be sunnier and warmer than the alternative?

But before I write about the trip, I wanted to share the inspiration behind it.

 
If you follow this blog, you can probably tell that I love flowers. Three years ago around this time, I went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York, which has a small but impressive tulip garden. I’d never imagined before that tulips could be so distinctive in color and shape. Some looked like origami flowers; others glowed like paper lanterns in the sunlight.

That night, I went home and ran a Google image search of tulips. I saw the flower fields in the Netherlands, where tulips are grown in stunning technicolor dreamcoat stripes for acres and acres. I knew then that someday I would absolutely have to go and see it for myself.

Photo source: The Daily Mail

I’ll post photos and descriptions of the Keukenhof Gardens in the next few days, but the basic word is that I prefer the BBG. The Keukenhof is no doubt amazing, with so many kinds of tulips and hyacinths arranged in lovely shapes and dazzling arrays of color. But the BBG has more variety in its landscaping, with dignified cedars, flowering magnolias, the cherry esplanade and the Japanese hill-and-pond garden, Shakespeare’s garden and the indoor pavilions. Love. The BBG also had the benefit of warmth and sunshine and flowers in full bloom, whereas it still felt like winter at the Keukenhof, and the tulips hadn’t quite yet shaken off the winter frost.

If you’re in New York, the BBG is absolutely a must-see! And I’m saying this having just gotten back from the Keukenhof, a world-famous botanical garden. I guess I do still have plenty of NYC pride left :) The fun thing about the BBG is that you can track whether the flowers are peaking. The cherry esplanade is in full bloom, folks!!! Go see it NOW.

A few of my favorite shots from the BBG:

 
Tulips!

Yellow magnolia tree


The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden


The Tropical Pavilion




And of course, cherry blossoms.

Food Tour of New York City

Eggs florentine

Balthazar

As I sat here at Balthazar waiting for D to join for breakfast, I was exhilarated to be back in NYC. It really does have an unparalleled energy, a nonstop buzz, a sense that anything is possible—even, that the impossible just might be imminent.

One of the best things about NYC is that there is an endless array of delicious food priced for a reasonable budget. Sure, you can’t eat at Jean Georges every day (in fact, I haven’t even been at all, yet), but you can taste some of New York’s best whether you visit a hip new restaurant, a fancy establishment or stumble upon a hole-in-the-wall.

The restaurants represented here are far from exhaustive, but as much as I could cram in (both in terms of time and stomach capacity) in four days. If you are planning a NYC trip, do feel free to ask for more recommendations! My inner foodie has been sorely deprived in London, but my NYC list of places to eat is long indeed!

DAY 1

Eggs florentine Doughnut

8am: Balthazar, 80 Spring St. @ Crosby St.
Eggs florentine with artichoke & cafe au lait
9.30am: Coffee cart, Spring St.
Plain doughnut

Breakfast at Balthazar was incredible. I’ve only been here twice, but the first time I came signaled the beginnings of what is now a full-fledged love for French cuisine. One of these days, I really might take a day trip to Paris just to eat!

After breakfast, I just couldn’t resist having a plain doughnut from a coffee cart—I treated myself to these often as a pick-me-up to start the long workday, and old habits die hard!

Salad  

12pm: Telepan, 72 W. 69th St. @ Columbus Ave.
NYC Restaurant Week 3-course prix fixe menu: salad, burger & volcano fries, chocolate pecan tart

New American cuisine, in a chic restaurant hidden away on a quiet street. So hidden, in fact, that I yanked on the wrong door for several minutes before someone pointed me in the right direction.

Ippudo Max Brenner

6pm: Ippudo, 65 4th Ave @ 10th
Shiromaru Hakata Classic
8pm: Max Brenner, 841 Broadway @ 13th
Hazelnut Cream Chocolate Milkshake

I love Japanese ramen. It’s my most incessant craving—the hearty broth, the delicious pork, the noodle soup… so satisfying. There’s a debate over whether Ippudo or Totto is the best, but Ippudo is my personal fave. And the wait at Totto makes it impossible to go there with a party larger than 2, unless you want to wait all night.

Max Brenner is famous for chocolate, but I was so full after a day of nonstop eating that I couldn’t handle the idea of anything chocolatey rich. The hazelnut milkshake was not too heavy, with a slightly amaretto taste.

DAY 2

 Hungarian Pastry Shop

9am: Hungarian Pastry Shop, 1030 Amsterdam Ave @ 111th St.
English Breakfast tea, Croissant with apricot jam

I used to come here at least once a week—I lived just two blocks down last year—and it hints at why London suits me so well. I love the croissants at the Hungarian Pastry Shop; they have a lightly sweet glaze and are perfect with some freshly made apricot jam and a pot of tea.

SIPA 

2pm: Wondee Siam V, ordered in to SIPA
Pad see ew with beef

I also used to order Thai food from Wondee Siam at least once a week, to keep me going on those long days and nights studying away at SIPA. I never really noticed the building from this angle before—doesn’t it just look dreadful? More like a penitentiary than a center of scholarship. And yet, being there made me realize how much I miss it. The friendships, study groups, latenight commiseration, long sessions in the computer labs, the cookies from the 6th floor cafe. I really do miss it, and it felt great to be back! Getting back to the pad see ew, I love the Chinese broccoli, which freshens up the dish.

 

7pm: Momofuku Noodle Bar, 171 1st Ave btw 10th & 11th
Pork buns & Spanish mackerel tataki

The pork buns literally melt in your mouth. The mackerel was good, but a teeny tiny dish considering the price. And don’t order the ramen here. If you’d rather not wait around all night and get stuck with an overly salty bowl of ramen, you can also go around the corner to the Momofuku Milk Bar. If memory serves me right, they sell the pork buns there, even though the main menu is for desserts. But I don’t think the desserts are all that great—go to Levain Bakery if you’re looking for NYC’s best cookie. Or….

9pm: Tarallucci e Vino, 163 1st Ave @ 10th St.
Tiramisu & peppermint tea

Tarallucci e Vino has the BEST tiramisu I’ve ever had, without a doubt. I haven’t been to Italy yet, so maybe I’ll be proven wrong there. But until then, this one’s at the top of my list. I also love the European-style hot chocolate they have here, but it would have been overkill paired with the tiramisu.

DAY 3

 

9.30am: Kitchenette, 1272 Amsterdam Ave @ 123rd St.
The Lumberjack: two eggs sunnyside up, bacon and gingerbread pancakes with pumpkin butter; peach iced tea

The gingerbread pancakes with pumpkin butter were mouth-wateringly good. As you can tell, I was so hungry I tore into my breakfast before remembering to take this picture. And within thirty minutes, there wasn’t a crumb left on that plate!

 

1.30pm: Charm, 722 Amsterdam Ave @ 95th St.
Pad kee mao with chicken
3pm: Pretzel cart, somewhere in Midtown East
An overpriced pretzel with mustard

The pad kee mao at Charm was disappointing, but this luncheon was all about the company. One of my favorite things about Sundays was the luncheons after church when a group of 20+ of us would completely take over the local restaurants on the UWS. I miss everyone at TGC so much!!

I didn’t actually eat that pretzel, but took a picture anyway since it’s a “quintessential NYC” experience. The last time I bought a pretzel from a street cart, it was pretty awful stuff, tasted smoky like it had been sitting on the burner all day.

 

6.30pm: Kang Suh, 1250 Broadway @ 32nd St.
Daegu jiri (codfish stew), galbi (marinated Korean BBQ beef), and banchan (appetizers) you don’t have to pay for!

I stuffed myself so full on all this stuff, I could barely walk. And there wasn’t even any space left for dessert!

DAY 4

8.30am: Ess-a-bagel, 831 3rd Ave @ 51st St.
Sesame bagel, toasted, with lite veggie cream cheese and a coffee

Ess-a-bagel and H&H are some of the most famous bagel places in Manhattan, and they are definitely good. But still, nothing beats Bergen Bagel in Brooklyn. If I’d had time, I would have gone all the way to Brooklyn to have my fave, the cinnamon raisin bagel toasted with walnut cream cheese. *Mouth watering* I do miss those bagel and coffee mornings, even if they are calorie bombs.

 

1pm: German House, 49th St & 1st Ave
Butternut squash risotto, sparkling apple cider, chocolate cake with fruit compote

UNICEF kindly treated us to lunch at the restaurant housed within the German Mission to the UN, which has intense security to get in, but beautiful views and delicious food once you make it inside. I think that you have to be hosted by a UN employee to get in at all, so it was a great experience.

 

7pm: Mad for Chicken, 325 5th Ave @ 32nd St.
Kimchi jun & soy garlic chicken

Nom nom nom. I still resent that you now have to pay for radishes as a side dish, but I love this place all the same.

9pm: B’s pad
Warm walnut brownies with homemade cookies & cream ice cream

How did B know I had been craving a fudgy brownie for months? There are only a few bakeries in London that have legitimately fudgy brownies, but they always cost about £3 for a small square. Paying that much is inconceivable to me, since for half the price I could buy a box of brownie mix yielding an entire 9″x9″ pan. So when the smell of brownies greeted me when I got to B’s place, I knew I was in for a treat.

Warm brownies topped with cookies & cream ice cream? The perfect finale to a delightfully fattening trip.