Bagels are synonymous with NYC. I didn't really know that until I read an essay about...bagels. Well, it was more about ethnic foodways in America, or something like that (I think the essay started talking about immigrants from the Middle East opening NY-style delis in the mid-west that sold bagels, or something along those lines, which I actually read again for a different class this semester yet have already forgotten because I HAD THAT LOBOTOMY), but it talked about the history of bagels and their connotations. Bagels in NYC (and at least the Tri-State/Mid Atlantic/New England area?) are just bagels, while further out they NY or Jewish bagels, fuuurther out maybe American bagels, even fuuurther out maybe Earthling food...eh, I forgot.
Although I've grown up around bagels in NJ, I didn't eat them often. Besides that my childhood wasn't rich with breakfast food, I didn't regularly ingest yeasted wheaty products (I was all about the rice, my friend). Sometimes I'd plunk down $0.50 in high school for a bagel; god knows why, as at some point I realized all the food sucked and I'd be better off eating lunch at home after school was over. Today I was feeling especially random, debating whether to grab a quick lunch/snack from Panya (mm, curry pan?) or Life Thyme (mm, salad and yogurt?). For some reason, I picked Murray's Bagels on 6th Ave instead, mainly because I had never been there before and it was somewhat on my walk from class to work.
I'm no bagel connoiseur, but as I don't eat many bagels to begin with, I like to get them from places that make them there. So far I've tried Ess-A-Bagel and Bagel Bob's, which were both good, although no source of...bagel-gasm, for lack of a better term. Murray's Bagel (I got sesame seed) is also very good, crispy on the outside and chewy inside. although not really a source of bagel-gasm (I don't think there is such a thing; I like most bagels). However, I opted--for the first time in my life--to add the awesomeness of a layer of scallion cream cheese spread smooshed between the bagel halves. And...this made it SO AWESOME. This cream cheese! Have I ever had cream cheese like this before? So creamy? So scallion-y? [Insert other unhelpful adjective?] NO. NEVER. I've probably only had plain, "okay" cream cheese my whole life, not anything this smooth and creamy with the property of auto-melt-age upon hitting my tongue, along with any other surface in my mouth. Mmm. Mmmmmm. Creamy scallion-y goodness in conjunction with chewy, moist bread. It's far from healthy, but...eh, whatever.
Even though I had just went there a few days ago, I went back to City Bakery yesterday (which was crazy-busy, resulting in "standing room only" for most of the stay) with Mary and Allen to try their "Even Spicier Chili Hot Chocolate". A part of me was hoping that upon drinking it, it would make my head explode, or something...less violent. I have no idea what it was "even spicier" than, but perhaps at some point they had "Chili Hot Chocolate" and people were like, "No, this sucks, make it spicier", so they kicked it up a notch (that's a pretty bad story; I hope they have a better one).
...A notch above nothing? It was spicy, but not "head explodee" (yes, two e's) spicy. Dammit, I wanted explosions! I wanted my throat to burn, not just slight tingle after giving the drink sufficient time to coat my esophagus and travel to my brain! (Yes, esophagus, then straight to the brain. Biology is not my forte. Hell, I'm not trying to impress anyone.) I guess at the very least my throat did tingle, but I wanted more. I'd compare my experience to Anthony Bourdain's disappointment when eating fugu didn't result in instant, beyond-painful death, except...on a smaller scale. To be fair, the flavor is called "Even Spicier Chili Hot Chocolate", not "So Spicy Your Head Is Gonna Splode Hot Chocolate", so it's not like they falsely marketed it. Or perhaps my tastebuds just don't work correctly. Ah. So many variables. [sigh] Of course, the hot chocolate was still sinfully "I'd rather not know how many calories are in this" rich, but once again, the flavor fell flat. I guess I should stick with regular hot chocolate from now on.
We were quite mesmerized by this tall lanky dude left with the task of pouring cups of thick hot chocolate and frothing them up seemingly forever amidst bellows of "REGULAR" and "FLAVOR SHOT" and "REGULAR SHOT" and "MARSHMALLOW SHOT" (well, not the last one...oo, a shot of marshmallow; I'd eat that) because people just kept on ordering the hot chocolate. Forever. Because it's awesome. All hail the hot chocolate pouring dude, for it is he that keeps the joy a-flowin'. At least, until he takes a break, which he probably does at some point.
Behold, my third time buying a chocolate chip cookie from City Bakery. It's good stuff; don't let anyone tell you differently. I mean, it's not good for your body, but ...some part of you will enjoy it. The part that likes butter and sugar. Yes.
On sunny and chilly Saturday afternoon, I went to Zozo's Fresh Food Diner in the Lower East Side with Wei for some burger and milkshake action. I really liked the interior design of this place; long, clean and sleek, but not in a minimalist/modern way. It has a sunny West-coast feel, aided by the...um, sun shining through the windows, but I feel like even on a cloudy day it would still feel bright and light-earthy (as opposed to a woody, dirt-filled forest feeling, akin to my backyard in NJ).
I ordered a blackened with cajun mayo burger, which came on an English muffin bun with tomato slices and baby greens toppings on the side.
I suppose if you don't get it blackened, it will be less black. As you can see, I like my burgers tomato-less (click on the photo for excessive discussion about this topic). All my life, I've always been adverse to plain tomatoes. To me, in a burger or any kind of sandwich, they have a tendency to make things soggy and due to their slippery/Satanic nature, they likes to plop out and make your eating experience messier than you'd wish. In other words, they're pure, untamed evil. I don't really mind the taste of tomatoes, but raw, unadorned ones give me weird vibes; even the smell puts me off. Cooked is fine, dried is okay, sauce-ified I can do, but raw, not so much.
Oh, as for the burger? It was good. It was moist enough for me to designate it as moist, although just a weeeee bit more moisture would've been nice. I think more sauce would've helped too, as I couldn't taste much of its flavor (and I ended up putting ketchup on the burger; ketchup doesn't taste like raw tomatoes, mrah!). I really liked the soft, chewy English muffin bun and would love it if more sandwiches came that way. One problem I see with this burger is that it's rather small and I think many people could easily eat two...except for $7 a burger (probably more depending on which one you get), people probably won't do that.
As I've given myself the mission to try any milk shake that sounds good for the sake of finding the best milkshakes in NYC and sharing my research with the world (yup, it's a completely unselfish venture...[nods slowly]), I went for Zozo's fresh mint shake. While it's definitely got the fresh minty taste, the texture was too thin for me to truly enjoy it. The shake wouldn't stay in the straw! The straaaaw! OH LORDY. Wei got a mango milk shake, which was able to defy gravity, but I guess the mango pulp would contribute to that, unlike mint leaves, which...wouldn't, and these shakes aren't ice cream-thickened). So perhaps the mango milkshake is good, but skip the mint.
After Zozo's was a short walk to Sugar Sweet Sunshine for a bakery fix. I had my eye on the pistachio bundt cake for ages (partially because it's called "bundt" and I like that word) and finally, WE MET. IN DIGESTION BLISS. It was very good, although I gotta say, cake without frosting is...not very exciting. But it costs less! Hoorah! Pistachio bundt cake is good stuff.
I have perhaps a weird thing peeving me that I've overthought, but since this is my blog I get to spill out my brain puke to you unfortunate readers. The girl who cut my bundt cake (BUNDT BUNDT BUNDT, SHOUT IT LIKE YOU MEANT IT) didn't charge me right away, which I thought was odd. After Wei got his slice of cake, she charged him for both of out cakes without asking/telling either of us. I've paid for other friend's stuff before, but I'm always asked beforehand if I don't actually tell the cashier that I'm paying for both. In this case, Wei didn't even know he was paying for me and the girl only told me after I took out some money.
"He paid for you."
Oh. Um. Thanks for...telling me. At first it just seemed like Wei was overcharged for his cake.
Anyway. See, it's a very minor thing, but I've been to Sugar Sweet Sunshine at least 10 times by now, and maybe all my bakery visits in NYC would total around 50 by this point, and that has never happened before. I'm sure the girl who rang up our order is a cool person, but I got un-happy-sunshine vibes from her (unlike some of the other people there, who extrude happy-sunshine vibes). :( Yes, I get vibes, probably due to a chromosomal mutation. Eh.