About Town

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go down town
When you got worries, all the noise and the hurry seems to help, I know down town…

Welcome back readers to my 4th day in the City. After a few days of doing health surveys, I had a free day to hang around and soak in the sights. I revisited the Upper East Side in hopes of snapping more pictures of the Met, but sadly, it was closed today! So I ended walking from the Met to Columbus Circle in search of a Starbucks – and can you believe it? I could not find one on Lexington, Madison or Park in the Upper East Side. Do they not drink Starbucks there?! And when I got to Columbus Circle, there were like 2 just in the circle. Ridiculous! And both were packed. After being jostled around a bit, I finally settled into a small corner table and immediately looked up things to do. And my search led me to MOMA, just a few blocks down from Columbus Circle. But after walking the length of Central Park and braving the piercing cold (sub 40*F), I gathered my courage and went out again. And I’m glad I did. MOMA was amazing! And I spent more time than I had anticipated there. Ooops.

But while walking around town, I had to partake in the street food culture – all the smells were delicious! The gyros and kebab and pretzel stands – smelled great! So I surrendered and bought a Knish. And I swear, what I got was NOT a knish. I’ve had a knish. What I ate this morning was NOT a knish. Gross. So, lesson: while it is fun to eat from the street carts, (1) don’t ever get the knish (2) if it smells like smoke, it will taste like smoke and leave an acrid smokey taste in your mouth…

Left: From the street, not a knish; Right: A true knish.

Magnolia Bakery
Anyhoo, after MOMA, I trekked just a bit south toward the infamous Magnolia Bakery. The lines were not that bad today, and they still had most of the cupcake flavors.

I got (my fav) Red Velvet and the Pumpkin with Maple Cream Cheese frosting. I went across the street to the fountain and sat down to enjoy the cupcakes. And I was SOOO disappointed. The Red Velvet cake itself was pretty good – but they used a vanilla buttercream, and I swear they use shortening because it left a weird aftertaste. I am NOT a fan. The Red Velvet MUST have the Cream Cheese frosting – anything else just cannot do. Especially when the replacement frosting is disgusting. ALSO, I have high standards when it comes to decor. I do not like how the frosting is merely smeared onto the cake. It is sloppy. All the more reason for me to dislike Magnolia.

Red Velvet Cupcake with Avenue of the Americas in the background.

The Pumpkin Cupcake, thank goodness, was better – though not by much. I liked the cake. There were bits of walnut in the cake – good texture, nice crunch. But the cream cheese frosting gave me a cavity. I like a nuance of tartness in my cream cheese frosting, but I suppose that is a personal preference… but seriously – it is all hype. I do not think Magnolia deserves the fame (we can thank Sex and the City for that). If you want a good cupcake, go to Billy’s instead (though I agree it is a bit out of the way if you aren’t in Chelsea). Infinitely better – and they know how to do a right Red Velvet.

Pumpkin cupcake and maple cream cheese frosting topped with chopped walnuts.

Yes, I did scarf down 2 cupcakes by myself. But it was all in the name of R&D, ya know?!?! Albeit, not in the best interest of my waistline (or lack thereof). But then, I did walk like 3+ miles Anyway, I headed further south toward and landed in Madison Square Garden. I shopped around a bit, then headed a north-east to Herald Square and shopped a bit more. Too bad I came home to Union Square empty handed. But I wasn’t discouraged and slipped into Filene’s Basement.

The finished job.

Joe’s Pizza
So for dinner, Roity and I went to Joe’s Pizza in The Village for thin crusty goodness – btw, this is the pizzeria featured in Spider-Man (though not the original location). It was pretty good for a thin crust – I usually prefer thicker pan crusts, but this was quite delicious – and fairly light – also a plus seeing as how my day was extra fatty. We both got the fresh mozzarella, and it ratio of cheese to sauce was perfect!

Beautiful thin crust with fresh mozzarella.

They are proud folk.

For dessert, we journeyed to East Village for the most amazing dessert experience of my life. For a $12 at ChikaLicious, you are served an amuse, dessert of choice, followed by petit fours. Tonight’s amuse was a caramel custard soup with Granny Smith Apple sorbet.

My dessert entree was a Warm Chocolate Tart served with Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream and Red Wine Sauce. Roity had the Poached Pear with Bourbon-Molasses Ice cream Ginger Lace Crisp. So, a few thoughts – I usually don’t like pink peppercorn ice cream (even from Ici), but oh boy! This was AMAZING! Sweet and not too peppery. Delicate. Subtle but still present. And the Warm Chocolate Tart was equally tasty – the tart shell was sweet and buttery, and the chocolate just oozed out of the shell the minute I broke into it. Decadent, but because the portions are small, it wasn’t overwhelming.

The final plate of petit fours featured homemade Coconut Marshmallows, Chai Tea Truffles, and a mascarpone cream piped over a thin wafer and topped with candied citrus. Beautifully done. As you sit at the bar, you can see the pastry chefs meticulously preparing the dishes. Such precision and beauty. It’s a lovely place, you must try. We must bring this novelty to the Bay Area (someone out there?!!?!)

I realize this was a long entry. I did quite a bit today. More coming soon! Tomorrow is a bit limited in terms of sight-seeing, but I will definitely have more food up soon.

Love from the city that never sleeps (and clearly neither do I either),

PS. Don’t for one minute think that just bc I’m here having the time of my life that I do not dearly miss my loved ones still in California. I’ll be home soon. Cheer up loves 🙂

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2 Responses to About Town

  1. heather says:

    ahk, that pumpkin cupcake with maple frosting is enough for me to drive there or send out for one! a great day indeed.



  2. Heather says:

    John’s Pizzaria down the street on Bleecker is much better Joe’s but it’s a sit down restaurant and you can only order pies. Joe’s used to be good before they moved down the street to their current location. It’s not as good.

    I’m not a fan of Magnolia either. I absolutely love Crumbs though. They are all over the city. The cake is so moist and I love all of their creative toppings.

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