Even though it's close by, I don't take enough advantage of all the fooding opportunities in the Lower East Side. Patricia, my fooding partner for the afternoon, said she felt like she's missed out on one and a half years of possible good eats. Our plan? TO MAKE UP FOR THIS GASTRONOMIC MONSTROSITY, ASAP.
...but a little at a time. We don't want to, ye know, have gasto-intestinal explosion. That'd be messy.
Our fooding wasn't completely in the name of eating, as we did our roaming around 4PM, a time when the stomach juices don't run buck-wild. My indecisiveness for the past few weeks led me to decide yesterday that I should see Rogue Wave and Mazarin this Friday because if I didn't, 1) I'd be yet again stuck in my dorm room on a Friday night, mulling over my lack of productivity and 2) I'd regret it. (We're planning to do more fooding on Friday before the concert, if anyone has any suggestions. Ahem.) I successfully convinced/prodded Patricia into joining me so we went to the Mercury Lounge to buy tickets. And what would we do after that? Go back to our rooms and commence the butt-numbing process of staring blankly at the computer while procrastinating on the Internet?
NO! That's for later. Like...[looks at watch]...now. First, we eat.
We started our food-roam with Sugar Sweet Sunshine, one of my favorite bakeries that I surprisingly don't go to very often. The last time I went was almost three months ago. THREE MONTHS! Almost 120 days! 2,880 hours! 172,800 MINUTES! My blood sugar level, oh how it wept (or stayed safely away from "diabetic"...eh, whatever). God knows how I survived, by going to all those other bakeries, the ones that fail to combine the words "sugar", "sweet", and "sunshine" into one beautiful conglomerate of exciting sucrose-filled possibilities. Oh, how I squeeze those possibilities. [squeeze] SQUEEZE! SQUEEZE THEM!
[Don't ask what's going on in my brain. I think the frosting got to me.]
Patricia refrained from giving into the cupcakes, but I got a Bob, or "yellow cake with chocolate almond buttercream". (I've never gotten the same cupcake twice and I think I've only tried three of them so far. ONLY. THREE. We need to do something about that.) With my bit of willpower, I safely tucked it away in my bag to save it for later, aka "the feeding".
Down the street is Economy Candy, a store that is literally floor-to-ceiling covered in candy. Chocolate bars, candy bars, M&Ms in bulk, stuff you forgot you used to eat as a kid and probably wouldn't eat as an adult except for the nostalgic factor; it's all here, ready to give you tooth decay. Strangely, despite my penchant for sugar, the only candy I really like is chocolate, and within the chocolate category I only like some of it. However, the picture shelf full of chocolate bars is that category. Second on my list would be the shelf just out of the right of the photo that carries British chocolate bars. After that, most things are kind of "eh", although the first time I went to Economy Candy I stocked up. Ye know...just a tad. (cough) While I didn't think I was going to buy anything at first, I walked out with three chocolate bars. They have suction cups with a death-grip and just attached themselves to my hands. Right.
After walking out of the environment of towering candy shelves, we considered going to Teany down the street. But instead, we found ourselves staring into 'inoteca's warm wooden belly. A belly full of...sammiches.
"I heard this is good. Ever been?"
"I've looked at the menu before, but nope."
Our conversation didn't go like that, but the basic thing is that it didn't take us long to decide to go inside. Patricia = good fooding partner.
Since it was only about 4:30 PM, the place wasn't bustling, or semi-bustling, which was probably a good thing because the menu is mostly in Italian and our confusion required lengthy help from one of the waiters. He was very nice and patient while explaining to us all the meats (mm, different pig parts!) and sections of the menu. He also had some interesting mannerisms that led me to believe he's had to explain the menu many times before and/or he really liked working there. It was cute; I liked him. He asked if we wanted wine, which made me laugh inside because...well, you know; my unrefined palate just can't take wine. As you can see from the photo, they've got craploads of wine, if that's your thing. There's a wine menu on the back of the food menu, in addition to another separate wine menu. Maybe they have another secret wine list and celler. And a wine-mobile.
While Patricia specifically wanted something without cheese, I wanted mine oozing with aged dairy product. As you can see, I got my wish for a "panini with cheese that poke outeth." (Don't ask why I said it that way; some things are mysteries. And many things taste like chicken.) Out of the "speck, fennel, & fontina" description, I was only familiar with fennel. Hell, I've never heard of speck before, which is a smoked Prosciutto. Overall, I'm very unlearned in the art of smoked meats, especially those of swine origin. Besides that I rarely eat Italian food these days and I have an untapped taste for pork products, I've only had a panini a handful of times in my life. There's no real reason for this besides that when presented with the choice of eating a sandwich or something else, I'd pick "something else". If I had to pick my favorte kind of sandwich though, the panini would be at the top. Cold sandwiches are usually disappointing and dry; grilled, pressed sandwiches with cheese are crunchy wheat pockets that break into toasty, soft, oozing visceral joy. And by visceral, I mean they're like warm innards.
...I just killed the mood.
Anyway. It was very good. To add to that lame description, it tasted like...cheese, meat, and some fennel. Actually, I couldn't really taste the fennel, so it was mainly cheese and meat. The bread was perfectly grilled and the amount of filling was just right (although I wouldn't object to more fennel). Since I haven't eaten many paninis in my life I don't have a base to rate this on, but I'd definitely go back for more. I love eating a good meal and feeling the perfect level of satisfaction, where I don't feel like my belly is going to pop open (why do I have to pepper my writing with such repelling thoughts?...eh, sucks for you) nor my digestive tract is gurgling from lack of organic matter to process.
On that note, time for dessert.
We headed towards Il Laboratorio del Gelato, where about two months ago with Allen I had my first real ice cream revelation. I may be exaggerating but they churn out insanely tasty stuff that will ruin your chances of fully enjoying other, less worthy ice cream (which is most of it). (A sidenote, even though gelato is different than ice cream, is the word "gelato" also the Italian term for "ice cream" without actually having to be different from what we know to be ice cream? I don't know if I've ever had real gelato but Il Laboratorio calls their products ice cream and sorbet, which confused me a bit.)
Their flavors change every now and then with the season. Notable flavors they had on our visit (vanilla and chocolate might be their mainstays) were cinnamon, avocado, pear, hazelnut, black mission fig, and fresh mint. While I was very intrigued by avocado and hazelnut, I went for the fig and mint in a medium cup (you can get three flavors in a medium but I figure that two flavors are enough to mix). Something told me their mint would be awesome and...I love figs. Love. The other flavors will have to wait for another day (which could be this week; you never know).
Oh. My. God. once again, my idea of what certain flavors of ice cream normally taste like have been blasted and beaten to a pulp, and then regenerated with, *gasp*, real ingredients. The mint! It's real! I've never had mint ice cream that tasted like real mint, grassy flavors and all, without the nasal-clearing properties. It's delicious; I basically kept repeating "THIS TASTES LIKE REAL MINT!" over and over like a moron. My only complaint is that I think the flavor would have benefited from a bit of melting, which went really well for the fig. THE FIG, IT IS AMAZING. IT TASTES LIKE...REAL FIG. Shit, you don't say! I've never had fig ice cream before but I think it's safe to say that this is at least the best fig ice cream in Manhattan. REAL FIG! REAL FIG SEEDS! It was like eating concentrated figs in a semi-frozen, syrupy state, comfortably coating the surface of my esophagus. Tasty. Yup.
When I got back to my dorm, I tore into my cupcake (after taking photos, at least). The frosting got a bit splodgey but it was still delicious. The Bob is a keeper.
So. I hope you enjoyed my afternoon of fooding. If you're wondering, I had two biscotti for breakfast and skipped lunch since I had an early dinner. Of course, I still ate too much, but...eh. GOOD TIMES! It was a happy day.
[While I usually reply to comments through email, I think it'll be easier for me to do it on the individual entry page from now on. When I get to it. I WILL. Just. Wait.]