I’ll be there for you – when the rain starts to pour
I’ll be there for you – like I’ve been there before
I’ll be there for you – ’cause you’re there for me too…
There is no better way to cavort across +100 streets, 3 bakeshops, half a dozen Manhattan neighborhoods – than with good friends. I had intended to do a solo-trek after upon arriving, but after the flurry of snow earlier this morning, I was slightly overwhelmed by everything. So instead, Roity and I took off together, to conquer the city and take it by storm. Talk about being in good company and good hands.
Le Pain Quotidien
So after coming back from the my trip to the farmers market and Whole Foods, we set off again to Le Pain Quotidien on Broadway and 11 Street. It was adorably French – boasting long communal tables, and a very quaint, home-style country ambiance. I ordered 2 pastries – a beautifully crafted couque suisse + a delicately flakey croissant. I have no complaints about the croissant – delicious! But the couque suisse (similar to a raisin Danish), I thought, was an excellent pastry – buttery, flakey, gently browned (as Beans would say), BUT it could have used a tad bit more contrast in flavor. The pastry itself was sweetened by the glaze and bits of raisin, but the filling should have been slightly more tart and lend itself to mellow the pastry. It was just a bit too sweet for my liking. Roit, on the other hand, loved her steel-cut oats, and we topped off our breakfast with a foamy cappuccino and a warm pot of chamomile tea – perfect to battle the snowy morning.
So being food connoisseurs (aka PIGS), we take the subway to the Chelsea and head into Billy’s Bakery for cupcakes! I saw him on the Martha Stewart Show once and was fairly charmed by his demeanor. Anyway, we got a box of four cupcakes, and patiently refrained from eating them until after lunch at Upper East Side’s Big Daddy’s. I told you – we are the quintessential food connoisseurs! But the shop itself was a clean and uncluttered – the smells from the kitchen were absolutely amazing. And the counters – what my dreams are made of!
When I finally surrendered myself to the cupcake, I was NOT as satisfied as I should have been. I ordered the special Red Velvet Cupcake – the cake was beautiful. Moist, tasty, no acrid aftertaste, all-in-all, delicious. Judging the cake alone, it was quite possibly better than the Teacake’s Pink Velvet, and you know how deeply my Teacake loyalties lay. So this is definitely saying something. HOWEVER, the cream cheese frosting was not my cup of tea – at all. It was almost cloyingly sweet, and I could not handle too much of it at once. Good thing that they had a good ration of frosting to cake, or else I would have to sue for cavity development. But not bad – I wasn’t disappointed, but I think I can still fairly say that Tecake’s Pink Velvet is much better.
So, this diamond in the rough (or rather, rough in the diamond considering it was the UES?) has a reputation that precedes itself. At 2nd Avenue and 83rd Street, this eclectic diner accosts customers with its tacky decor, but managed to redeem itself with heaping portions of super(as-in-opposite-of-sub)mediocre foods. Seeing as *beans and I both vegged it out today, all our dishes were strictly vegetarian – kinda. General Lee’s Chicken Salad (chicken on the side) was a mess of carrots, palm hearts, mango, mandarin oranges, and lettuce brought together by a WEAK “Chinese” vinaigrette. This is a case where the flavors should have complemented and melded a bit – but it was no more than just a bunch of ingredients tossed in a bowl and served on a large plate – with much to be desired. HOWEVER, the amazing basket of fries (golden crisp yet still soft in the center!) and the Vegetarian Nachos (mounds of veggie chili, sour cream, pico and amazing guac) were to die for – Each bite of a french fry, and each lick of the guac, and all my frustrations with the decor and service and music melted away. This is the good life (thank you Kanye).
So, Central Park is a MUST SEE if you are in New York City. How can you not when it’s where Harry met Sally? Or where Maid Jennifer Lopez deceives the prince? Or where you can belt out “How does she know/ You love her?” and suddenly the whole park is alive with dancers and frolickers!?! So it is a must. We started on the eastern border (near the Alice in Wonderland statue) and meandered through, eventually ending by the Trump Hotel and Tower by Columbus Circle. It is cute. Here are a few pictures, more are available on Facebook. Enjoy!
Like I said, we are friends – united in foood! After our exhausting sojourn through the park, we split ways with Roit who was on the way to Jersey for a hockey game. *beans and I took a subway to the Village, where we followed where our weary feet took us – down 8th Street and right to the doors of Crumbs Bakeshop. Uh-oh. Here we go again. I was surprised to find that these cupcakes were abnormally large and really tactlessly covered in sprinkles and the like. It was unattractive. *beans and I split a Butterscotch Cupcake (sounds amazing, doesn’t it?), but when I bit into it – extra sugary. Not up to par. Sorry. Cake was dense. I love my Teacake (well, to be fair – when it isn’t dry from too much ambient exposure). Also, we had black and white cookies as well. I’m not a huge fan in general, so I would be an unfair judge. BUT, again, the glaze was too sweet, although Crumbs does get one point for making real glaze. At other places, the glaze just chips right off when you bite into the cookie. But at Crumbs, the glace is more like a gooey frosting, thinly hiding the cookie’s surface. So if anything, kudos to that. But I would not recommend it – not over Billy’s, and certainly no better than Teacake.
- beans and I continue on foot toward St. Mark’s, a colorful and vibrant neighborhood with many shops lining both streets – the hustle and bustle is invigorating, and despite our weary soles (*souls), we keep on forward to Dumpling Man – a highly recommended eatery. And it’s adorable! The dumpling menu is right on the wall, and just behind the counter, you can see the staff quickly making tons and tons of these delicious dumplings. For $5.50 or so, you get 6 dumplings of one variety – either steamed of seared. We got the Veggie and Veggie Surprise, the latter being much tastier (hence the Surprise!), with strips of mushroom marinated in oyster sauce. Good and fairly light – it did not leave us wanting much more… Especially not after a day full of baked goodies and diner food.
The night ended at The Strand and the Devils winning 4-0. And now as it nears 3am in the city that never sleeps, I am overcome with weariness and will continue tomorrow. This entry is strictly narrative and no reflection. Tomorrow, fair readers, I plan to start early… off to bed!
Love and dreaming of (more) cupcakes,
PS. Let’s play a game. From now on, the person who can spot all the someoneiknows-teddybears on the blog by the end of my trip, wins a prize 😉 hand baked with love by me. Promise. Good luck!