The gigantic post office I saw on the way to meeting Ezra after his day at CUNY
It was a cold day on Monday the 2nd in New York, and also the day that Ezra was off to his admissions exams, interviews, meeting the Dean, and sitting in on a class at CUNY. Since he was going to be there until 5 pm, I had most of the day to explore, so I called up a friend who's living in Brooklyn and made a mental note to make my way to Chelsea Market.
After a filling breakfast at Murray's Bagels, he headed off to his appointment at 11, while I had some time to kill before I had to be in Williamsburg at 12. I walked around Loehmann's for a bit before heading down to the metro station, where I came upon these (and more) cute little figurines:
Finally, I hopped on the train to Williamsburg, where I was supposed to meet my friend, Kevin. Kevin was my news editor at the Tribune back in the day, and now he works crazy hours (4 pm - 12 am, Wed - Sun) at the foreign news desk at CBS.
I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Kevin, as he was planning to return home to Long Island to see his family for the "weekend", and it was freakin' cold so it wasn't really good for walking around and exploring. I got to see his apartment, including the roof and the penthouse suite, which happened to be unlocked. The website is right - there's "one heckuva view" of Manhattan.
Kevin hadn't eaten anything yet, so we headed to Urban Rustic, a grocery/café that specializes in organic, locally produced foods. Kevin goes there so often that he knew the cashier by name.
Since I was still full of bagel and tofu spread, I just ordered a vegetable soup which was a little too salty, and he ordered a panini with a carrot-apple-ginger juice. Throughout the meal, he kept on saying he knew he would regret having ginger in his juice, but he finished it anyway.
After that, we went to Buffalo Exchange, where I bought a blouse, and he bought two T-shirts. Then he walked me back to the metro station and I hopped on the train back to Manhattan. Specifically, Chelsea Market.
My experience with markets in the past have mostly involved going through rows and rows of little stalls hawking fresh vegetables, fruit, free-range, grass-fed meats, or freshly baked goods. Although Chelsea Market looks big on the outside, the area for regular customers is disappointingly small. I tried taking an elevator, which only spat me out at the NY1 offices, and the other (which I'm assuming leads to the Food Network studios) was guarded by security.
What I was able to see was still beautiful - one of the first places you'll notice coming in on 9th Ave is Eleni's, a bright pink and white little store with display cases and shelves filled with intricately decorated cookies and cupcakes. At the time, it was Oscar season, and they had cookies decorated with the faces of the Best Actor and Best Actress nominees that I recalled being featured on Serious Eats. I desperately wanted to take pictures of my own, but knowing that I wasn't going to get anything, I didn't.
Right next to Eleni's was Fat Witch, a bakery that specializes in brownies. They were all wrapped up nice and tight, so I bought two - The original Fat Witch and The Breakfast Witch for our bus ride back to New York the next day. We didn't end up eating them until days later in Montreal.
The original Fat Witch was an excellent brownie - rich, chocolaty and fudgey. A little sweet, but good just the same. I did enjoy the Breakfast Witch a lot more - not as chocolaty, but not as sweet, and the oats and walnuts gave great texture. Yummy, but probably 300 calories a pop (the first ingredients are butter and sugar)
I passed by Amy's Bread, which has an average-sized storefront, but a gigantic kitchen with glass walls so passersby can watch all these bakers knead and shape dough in one room, and load and unload giant convection ovens in the next.
I also popped into Buon Italia, an Italian grocers that had lots of different kinds of olives and nuts, as well as 5 kg (that's 11 lb) jars of Nutella. I personally am not a Nutella fiend, but I know some people in my life who are.
Chelsea Market Baskets totally reminded me of Le Panier back in Pointe-Claire on the West Island (Jess took me there once to put a basket together for my mom for Mothers' Day.) but obviously with a different product selection. They had a whole section of New York-themed stuff, as well as a corner with Food Network stuff, in addition to the usual kitchen/home/kids assortment.
I was still pretty full from all the eating I'd done already, but was determined to try something at the Ronnybrook Milk Bar. A little flustered as I quickly scanned the menu, I ordered the Mac & 3 Cheeses. I neglected to order something to drink, but when the lady behind the counter brought me a placemat and cutlery, she also brought me a glass of water, which I thought was a really nice gesture.
Then the food came.
The bread was also a pleasant surprise, though I was so full that I could barely finish a slice. Lightly toasted, it wasn't just any marble bread, but flecked with fennel seeds that gave the bread a fresh licorice taste. Yummy.
But the Mac and Cheese...
...was simply delicious. It wasn't too heavy and the cheese wasn't overpowering or too salty, like processed cheeses can be. I was glad that there wasn't *too* much, though it's so rich it would be satisfying for someone hungry too.
The Milk Bar also had an impressive dairy case, with milk in glass bottles (no pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones!) and homemade yogurts, cheeses, and ice cream.
Although I'd wanted to go to Union Square again to see if I could get a vegetable peeler, I decided I didn't really want to take the metro again so started on my way to meet up with Ezra. But not before I stopped in at Morimoto to have a look at their menu. We'd passed by a couple good looking Japanese restaurants in New York, and thought we'd get some good sushi before heading back to Montreal on our last night. The menus were conveniently placed in the area between the two doors separating the hostess station from the outside, so I was able to flip through it without someone breathing down my neck or feeling pressured to eat there. While the lunch menu is actually pretty reasonable, I decided that the dinner menu was a little out of our budget and focused more on "fusion" cuisine, and less on sushi.
We didn't end up going for sushi that night, but we ended our trip to New York on a good note. Ezra just got accepted into NYU, so we might be going back sooner than you'd think ;)
236 N 12 St
Brooklyn NY 11211
75 9 Ave
New York NY
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