First of all, the pumpkin bread survived the trip. Tucked in a Ziploc bag and cushioned between the clothes in my suitcase, the pumpkin bread traveled by car, bus, and subway to Brooklyn, where it became the center piece of our brunches. Each morning in our daughter Dee’s small (this is New York, after all) bright kitchen, we had scrambled eggs, pumpkin bread, tea, and coffee to fuel us for our excursions. After such a brunch, we were ready to go to Manhattan, where on Saturday we would walk the High Line and on Sunday we would go to the Museum of Modern Art.
Dee has lived in New York City for 12 years and in her current apartment for 6 or 7 years. This means we have acquired some food traditions when we visit her. Just around the corner from her apartment building is a take-out Chinese restaurant, which beats anything that central Maine has to offer. Usually we arrive on a Friday, and as soon as we drop off our bags in Dee’s apartment, we head around the corner to order Chinese food for our supper. This time we ordered succulent steamed vegetable dumplings for us all, tofu with vegetables in a tasty sauce for Dee and me, and some kind of spicy chicken dish for Clif.
For dessert, Dee had bought cupcakes from a shop near her office, and these cupcakes were so amazing that we decided that we needed to add them to our Friday-night eating repertoire. They were chocolate turtle cupcakes, piled high with a caramel-nut topping. Just thinking about that rich topping and the moist cupcake makes my mouth water.
Now, cupcakes aside, it is a well-known fact to family and friends that I am a donut fiend. When it comes to sweets, they are at the top of my list, and a good donut fills me with joy. Before going to New York, I had checked the New York Times for places to eat, and lo and behold, I came across a place called The Doughnut Plant, which got a critic’s pick. There is one in Chelsea, not far from the High Line, and as the ride from Brooklyn to Manhattan takes an hour or so, what better way to further fuel our walk than by stopping for a donut first? As it turned out, there was no better way. Fresh, soft, flavorful, with both conventional and unconventional flavors, these donuts deserve their critic’s pick status. I got a coconut cream donut—square, as it turned out—and Clif and I wondered how in the world these donuts were so perfectly filled. Clif got a sesame donut, and he decided that this was a little too unconventional for a donut and that bagels are a better fit with sesame seeds. The donuts are pricey—mine was over $3—but who cares when they are this good? Another food tradition to add to our list.
After the High Line, we walked to Greenwich Village to have a late lunch at a vegetarian restaurant called BoGo and then to a movie—the excellent Kid with a Bike—at IFC. All told, we probably walked at least 6 miles that day, and after the movie we were ready to head back to Brooklyn for what will become another tradition—a plowman’s lunch of cheese, crackers, and fruit at Dee’s apartment.
Dee is lucky in that there is a good-size grocery store at the end of her block. Even luckier, not far from the grocery store, there is an Italian bakery that sells fresh, crunchy, creamy cannolis, which, you guessed it, have become another food tradition when we visit.
Oh, my! Just thinking about our food adventures makes me smile. I expect that one of the reasons why I love New York is that there is so much good food close by. In central Maine, there are good places to eat, but they are seldom just around the corner, and, if I am to be honest, the places are far and few between. Unfortunately, the Augusta area has become chain-land, where places such as Ground Round and The Olive Garden predominate. Good for the wallet, as these places are not in the least tempting, but not so good for the palate.
In October, we’ll be going back to New York City to visit Dee, and until then I’ll be dreaming about donuts and Chinese food and cannoli. And, maybe, if we can convince daughter Dee, there will be a bike ride through Central Park to burn off some calories.