Big Apple, Big Dreams.
Yesterday morning we woke up ready to take advantage of our last (half) day in New York. Out the door early to soak up a little more NYC sunshine.
I know when I am in DC, I never get tired of seeing all the monuments and amazing architecture on every corner. I imagine New Yorkers feel the same way – there is so much to take in.
I solicited my Twitter friends for another bagel recommendation – as much as I loved our first spot, I hate eating somewhere twice when there are so many other options. We ended up at Murray’s Bagels in Chelsea, which was clearly the place to be on a Sunday morning!
Despite the crowds, I stalked a few tables and ended up scoring us a table for four. Afterwards Casey remarked, “You could definitely be a New Yorker. You are so damn feisty.” I take that as a compliment. :)
At my hard-earned table, I enjoyed the “health” bagel – which I think was whole wheat everything, smeared with a generous amount of tofu vegetable cream cheese. Seriously – vegan options EVERYwhere! It gives me hope for the rest of the country.
Murray’s was adorable, and I think I actually liked it better than Ess-A Bagel. In my bagel book, doughy wins out over crunchy. I also announced upon leaving that I will never eat another non-NYC bagel. Nothing else can possibly compare!
Our only plan for the afternoon was to eat and walk – and we did both of those things quite well. We started out in the Chelsea neighborhood…
And eventually made our way into Greenwich Village, and beautiful Washington Park. The snow on the trees was so pretty!
I really liked the Greenwich Village area. I could see myself living there. :)
A few more miles of walking through SoHo and the shopping district, we ended up in Little Italy at Lombardi’s Pizza!
One of my requirements for our visit was authentic New York style pizza. Half cheese for me, cheese-less for my other half.
Super thin New York style crust, mmmm. The pizza was good, but not the best I’ve ever had. Will the New Yorkers hate me if I say I think I like Chicago style better?
I loved the great authentic feel to this spot – plastic checked tablecloths, pictures with celebs on the walls, and piping hot pizza.
Full from lunch, we headed back out into the snow. Not a great weekend for riding your bike!
We continued to walk south and ended up running into Chinatown! When I was last in NYC in college, I went down to Chinatown and bought a bunch of fake designer purses. :) My how times have changed!
No purses this time, it was all about the atmosphere and the FOOD. I am a big advocate of bulk shopping, but this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind…
Chinatown is so interesting – it truly feels like you’ve walked into another country. And as fascinating as I found it, I also wanted to make sure to be respectful and selective with my camera, not forgetting that this is how people really live.
This long line stretched down the block – all people waiting in line to buy MILK!
All sorts of interesting and unrecognizable food. I have a pretty good eye for obscure ingredients, but most of these were new even to me.
But there was one exotic food that I recognized from half-way down the block – DURIAN!
Durian is a notoriously STINKY exotic fruit that is not seen very often in the US. We talked about them a lot in culinary school, and they always seem to end up in the baskets on Chopped, but I had never seen (or smelled) one up close in person before.
Before I knew what was happening, Jordan was buying one and announcing that we were all going to EAT durian before we left. There were actually a lot of people buying it, which made me feel a little bit better about his decision. The inside was not at all what I expected – almost pudding-like.
The durian tasting commenced – Casey went back for several more forkfuls, while Laura looked like she was going to gag.
This was the extent of my tasting. I’m a pretty adventurous eater, but this was NOT my cup of tea. It tasted like a fibrous oniony pudding – horrific.
Happy I tasted it. Even happier to never have to taste it again. :)
We marched on through Chinatown…
And found ourselves at our last stop for the weekend – the doorway of BABYCAKES!
My friend Mary Ann gave me the Babycakes cookbook for Christmas, and I have been dying to visit ever since.
It was SO tiny inside – I had to really squeeze and zoom out just to get a few photos. The décor was really retro and playful – I loved it.
Even the staff were dressed in crazy old-school outfits – it made the whole experience much more fun. My takeaway from Babycakes AND Tu-Lu’s was that you don’t have to do something BIG in order to get noticed. Both of these bakeries have well-known cookbooks, features on Food Network, and die-hard followings, and yet they are both so small that they can barely hold a handful of people at one time. It just goes to show that anything is possible if the food is good.
I left feeling inspired. I also left with a giant box of baked goods.
Cinnamon spice and chocolate crunch donuts, along with vanilla, banana, and carrot cake cupcakes. All vegan, and all gluten-free.
This box served as a delicious dinner on our long bus ride home to DC. Yep – the whole box. Don’t judge.
Now we are home safe and sound in Virginia, and I am missing the snowy streets of NYC just a bit. Hoping to get back sooner than later, and adding “live in New York City” to my life list. Because just as I realized at Babycakes, it never hurts to dream big.