Before I get down to business, I’d just like to share a few things I am thoroughly enjoying at the moment:
- Lynn Hirschberg’s screen tests: She is so skillful at capturing candid, intimate moments and weaving them together in such a way that it makes you feel like you know her subject. It almost feels as if you’re watching in on a private moment – an honest look into a stranger’s life that you never get through ordinary interviews or watching films. They’re all uniquely brilliant. Here are a couple of my favorites:
- Greeting cards from Hello Lucky – I’ve been a fan ever since I first saw their cards at Parker and Otis, and have purchased quite a few. I’d love to buy some of my favorites and just frame them. They’re just so clever and cute and have this great classic vintage look to them.
- Entertaining the idea of making these in the very near future – I haven’t had one of those Little Debbie’s in ages and I always used to love them. My mouth is watering as I type this.
- I also can’t get enough of Design Sponge. I browse that site every day and never fail to be inspired by them. I’m not exactly a crafty person and a lot of the stuff on that site just blows me away. I’ve never considered myself a big design buff either but the more and more I follow them, the more I contemplate getting a bit crafty from time to time, just so I can take a stab at creating something different and pretty. I’m dying to make the Valentine’s Day Fort and wish I knew how to crochet, so I could make this:
Now for part deux of the New England Summer 2010 Road trip: NYC
We stayed with our friend John and his partner in Washington Heights and I had a day and a half of solo exploration while they worked on edits and rewrites of John’s new play, Love Sick (which Jay was going to direct in September). I had many places on my list and lot’s of walking to do, so I set out like a woman on a true mission, and food is always a driving motivator. I went to Balthazar’s Bakery – a miniscule spot next to the bistro, that looks like a little boulangerie in Paris. I bought a little bag of various goodies – a chocolate sable, a sticky bun (which I ate on a bench right outside of the bakery, melting in the hot July heat) and a doughnut. All were delicious but the sticky bun wasn’t as soft as I wanted it to be. I definitely plan on going to Balthazar’s one day and trying their famous fries, but since I didn’t have the right occasion or funds on this trip, the bakery had to suffice (and it did).
I was also on a quest for some vintage stores, went to the Guggenheim, walked through Central Park and devoured carnitas from the Calexico food truck, on a bench under Mexican restaurant awning in the village (in the pouring rain). It was incredibly messy, juicy and the cheapest, tastiest Mexican I’ve eaten so far. Food trucks are definitely the way to go. Great food, frighteningly cheap and convenient (especially when you’re on a tight schedule with lot’s of places to see)!
Our first night in the city, John and his partner took us to one of their favorite pizza spots – an adorable place on the Upper West Side, called Patsy’s. We all shared a couple margarita pizzas – clean and simple and delicious.
Afterwards, John and John took us by the famous Levain Bakery, and he was hoping we could get their double chocolate cookies but they were all out and about to close up! We nibbled on some cakey oatmeal raisin and regular chocolate chip cookies – which were like 90% chocolate chips instead and they were definitely worth the hype. I caught a secret candid shot of the bakery gals in action, donning their blue bandanas and aprons. The cookies were devoured too quickly to be caught on camera : )
Jay and I had breakfast at one of my favorite NYC restaurants ever – Clinton St. Baking Company, and despite how crowded it was, we were able to get a table without a wait! He got the buttermilk biscuit sandwich (with their famous biscuit and homemade tomato jam), some bacon and eggs with cheese and I got their beloved blueberry pancakes with maple butter. Add excellent coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice to the mix and you’ve got one of the best breakfasts ever.
Crazily enough, afterwards, we chugged our full bellies onward through the East Village, in search of the Doughnut Plant. The last thing we wanted to think about was food, but Doughnut Plant was on my list and I am serious about my doughnuts. (Plus, we were already in the East Village, so the time to go was then). We thought it best to get our doughnuts to go.
Just look at those beautiful babies. In addition to the inventive flavors and combinations, the thing that amuses me most about this place, is the fact that they only stay open until they run out of doughnuts. I kind of like that unpredictability. We ordered a tres leche, a blackout, a blueberry and one other (can’t remember – serves me right for waiting seven months to finally blog about this). Lucky for us, it was still morning when we went, although I wish we had arrived with empty stomachs, because when we finally did get around to eating the doughnuts late that night, their freshness had worn off. I have to be honest here, the timing may very well be the culprit, but I didn’t feel as if Doughnut Plant lived up to all its hype. Maybe I ordered the wrong doughnuts? Maybe I just need to go back when I haven’t already stuffed my face with other breakfast goodies? Maybe I’m just simple and old-fashioned when it comes to my doughnuts, and under the radar, little family run hole in the walls are my favorite. I would definitely give it another try though.
One of my favorite things about John is that he is as fanatical and giddy over bakeries as I am. If the two of us were to spend an entire day together, I guarantee you it would be spent running all around Manhattan, seeing how many different bakeries we can get to. He introduced us to a charming little Italian bakery in the West Village, called Il Cantuccio – it’s the most recent of the three locations (one in Florence and one in Gigli, Italy)!
We had a lovely time talking with one of the owners (all three of them are from Italy), and she was so humble and passionate about what she does. The N.Y location had recently suffered a fire, ruining virtually everything, on the night they had scheduled their grand opening no less! She told us how devastating it was because she had to sit outside the bakery with her friend and turn interested customers away and then they had to rebuild everything from scratch again and delay their opening. But things are looking up for them and if you go to this place, you’ll understand why it’s so special and worth rooting for. Just having that conversation with the owner and hearing her story made me want to tell everyone about this place. I had a sandwich of the freshest, saltiest, tastiest prosciutto ever, with fresh fontina on focaccia. We also shared some biscotti, which John is crazy for. Surprisingly, the biscotti (or “cantucci”) are very chewy and not dry or crumbly at all, because they are made without butter!
Still in the mood for something sweet, particularly cake, we headed around the corner to Amy’s Bread and John and I shared a luscious piece of chocolate cake with buttercream icing and that hit the spot!
I was hoping to try Butter Lane one day but the bakery was closed temporarily due to a parking violation, so next time!
There are so many other places I am eager to check out in the city and I am saving them for the next trip (which hopefully I won’t have to wait too long for).
More to come next time, with Part III: Bar Harbor and Portland, Maine!