This morning while leaving my dorm, I noticed a row of open boxes of Dunkin' Donuts on the front desk. The attendant called out to us early risers,
Oh. No. No free food. I made a pact to never accept free food (um, I broke it shortly afterwards) but if you wonder whether I especially like donuts or eating at 8 AM, the answer is definitely no. I would've spung for free hot chocolate, but donuts, not so much. If my small lack-of-gluttony this morning disappoints you, then don't worry; this is gonna be one packed blog entry.
I was under the impression that you'd have to be living in a bomb shelter (which would be a pretty sucky life) to have not heard of Katz's Delicatessen, one of the most famous and oldest Jewish delis in NYC, but apparently that's just because I'm food obsessed. The first time I passed the bright neon sign on East Houston and Ludlow, I thought, "Ohhh, this place! The place with the meat!" I didn't think I'd ever actually eat there though, as the thought of ginormous meat sandwiches (and fighting a crowd of 50000 to reach the ginormous meat sandwiches) was a bit intimidating for me, besides that I've never been to a Jewish deli before. However, Wei told me he ate there and that it was awesome. Better yet, he'd go back for more meat-induced-coma-ness. AH HA, HERE'S MAH CHANCE!
When you walk in, you're handed a yellow ticket on which your order is recorded. It's your receipt; you pay for your meal at the counter by the exit. If you lose you're ticket, they disembowel you. Or charge you $50 minimum. ...I guess it's the second one. DO NOT LOSE YOUR TICKET.
It's crazy-crowded when you walk in (if it's a Saturday afternoon and seemingly every family and tour group in the city, people of all ages and nationalities, have decided to eat lunch at the same time), but you basically form a line...wherever.
The right side of the deli is where the food-making happens. Find a dude cutting meat and line up. While he slices a chunk of beef, he'll place a few small bits on a plate for you to try. I picked up one of the bits.
"...Crap, this is good."
Of course, it would only get better. Think that little meat bit x 1000.
Wei got a pastrami sandwich (with mayo) and I went for corned beef (with mustard). Although I've never had corned beef, it intrigued me for...god knows what reason. Corned beef? Huh? I've also never had pastrami (well, not exceptionally good pastrami). Overall, I've had a distaste for luncheon-type meants my entire life. The "Italian" subs I ate growing up (I'm from NJ, if that's any indication...they're everywhere) mainly made me want to gag from the excessive layering of perhapes five kinds of cold, thinly sliced meats and cheeses.
I've never seen a sandwich like this in real life before. Thick slices of tender meat that practically fell apart just from my wide eyed gaze that said something like, "Oh crap, I'm gonna eat that?" Hells yeah. I'd describe the taste, but I honestly don't know how to. Think "juicy tender meat kernels bursting with whatever flavors its supposed to burst with". Not overly flavored, nor under flavored, nor anything else that would make it distasteful in any way, besides that you'll get enough protein to last you a few months...which might be what you're going for.
Although I though that the corned beef was great, the pastrami beat it down with a gigantic "haha, I'm tastier than you" mallet; yeah, it was better. With mayo, it was even better than better ("betterer"). Onec again, I suck at describing things, so I'll let Miki Corenthal do the talking:
It was like a tsunami of flavor that was so good it almost made me cry. It was like taking smores, ice cream, and candy and putting it into a sandwich. I wish it never would end, but I gobbled that sandwich down like it was my last day of life on earth.
Dear Miki's life changed, it seems. "Tsunami of flavor" is a bit hyperbolic, but it definitely leaves an impression on you, like a tsunami...hopefully without the death, suffering, and destruction (that'll come later in life when I'm 50). I have to disagree with the "smores, ice cream, and candy" bit, as that would be a really disgusting sandwich (or maybe really DELICIOUS?!), especially if the smores, ice cream, and candy were flavored with smoked beef, but I can understand the comparison. It's the combination of the joy that comes from eating three heavenly things, not actually eating the three heavenly things together, since that would just be wrong.
Alas, I couldn't finish my corned beef sandwich. My recommendation is that if you come here with someone else, share a sandwich (about $12) and perhaps a side of fries. If you're still hungry, try some dessert.
As I sat and moaned over my distended belly full of delicious beef, Wei went back to the counter for pecan pie. I tried a few bites and we agreed that it was just okay. Pecan-wise it was above average, but the sweetness was strangely low, especially for a pecan pie, which should be 99% "something that ends in -ose". Yeah, I made up that rule; so what?
As someone who isn't a big fan of meat, I'd definitely want to go back to Katz's and dig right into a soft, juice, meat-a-licious pastrami sandwich. I was so full afterwards that I didn't eat much else that night except homemade basil ice cream (I might talk about that later, but if not, it's just...ice cream with basil, which tastes pretty good after you eat a pint of it). When people say that Katz's is an NYC must-visit, I have to agree. Pretty damn good.
On Saturday night (the same day I ate the French-toast-and-milkshake lunch of death), I went to broomedoggs with Patricia before heading off to see Of Montreal (who, by the way, are so freakin' awesome, SO AWESOME, so very awesome). Broomedoggs is in the not-so-busy area of the Lower East Side on Broome Street between Ludlow and Orchard and is conveniently situated next to, of all things, the bakery for gentle tummies, Babycakes. I'll get to that later. Heehee.
Choices are clearly displayed on these two large chalkboards. It didn't take me long to decide that I wanted the currywurst sandwich (because I will eat anything with curry). A while after placing my order, Patricia also decided she wanted the currywurst.
They twins! You can't see the grilled pickles, but they're nestled under the grilled sesame seed bun. Mmm, deliciousness. The sauce is a little reminiscent of barbecue sauce, but not (because it's curry; I just wanted to give you some point of comparison). The sliced sausage tasted good (mild, perhaps?) and pretty basic, but I have no idea how to rate sausages as I almost never eat them. I rarely eat Chinese sausages but I've probably ingested more of those in the past year than any non-Chinese sausage. As you may or may not know, Chinese sausages are quite different from American kinds. On that note, someone should make a Chinese sausage sandwich; I'd eat that like there's no tomorrow. And there wouldn't be a tomorrow since I'd die from the excessive fat content.
It can be a messy feat trying to assemble your sandwich without getting sauce all over your fingers (we had a pile of napkins but the guy who worked there came by to give us more; we must've looked like we were in need), and it's not made any easier when you realize there's a crapload of free condiments and you want to try all of them. But...that's insane. You could probably make a sandwich with just condiments and no meat. I went with the chip dust, aka crushed chip bits (an awesome idea really, as I used to put potato chips in my sandwiches when I was younger to reach that crunch factor) and the pinapple goo at the top right of the photo. The other stuff is probably good, but I was highly satisfied with just crispy chip dust and the sweet pineapple. Mind you, I'd eat a sandwich of just chip dust and pineapple if that were less odd.
I'd definitely go back. For $5 you get a good sized sandwich made to order, CHIP DUST, glowing orange walls, lots of napkins, and nice service. Maybe I'll go before my next concert...
See that beautiful glowing sign? What else could stop me in my tracks and make me say, "ARAHGR, BAKERY!!!" while pointing excitedly? An even bigger glowing sign, the size of a small planet. This one's pretty damn big though. If I ever get enough money to buy things like glowing retro bakery signs in addition to the other necessities (such as cake), this is so going in my window. Patricia was surprised that i had never been to Babycakes before; "I thought you've been to every bakery!" Alas, I am a fake; there are still bakeries in the wild that have get to be graced with my tumultuous appetite. It's not that I didn't know about Babycakes, but I had yet to find the right time to check it out.
Babycakes is adorably homey and looks as though it were plucked out of the 1950s. I mean, comparing it to my socially constructed view of the 1950s; I wasn't alive back then. As much as I love Sugar Sweet Sunshine, Babycakes might be my new favorite in terms of ambiance (even though it's smaller; check out the little kitchen). Also, the young, slim bakers behind the counter were really friendly. God knows that if I worked in a bakery, I'd be pretty freakin' happy. There's also the plus of knowing that everything is made to be fit for "gentle tummies", such as people with wheat, egg, or dairy allergies.
In a city dominated by cupcakes overflowing with sugar, flour, and buttercream, it's easy for those with delicate tummies to feel left out. Babycakes offers all natural, organic, and delicious alternatives free from the common allergens; wheat, gluten, dairy, casein, and eggs. Rest assured, all sweeteners have been heavily researched and used sparingly. White sugar will never be found in our bakery. From low glycemic to minimally processed sweeteners-there are safe options for all.
Methinks I've been to every venue of sugary, floury, buttercreamy delights. My question with places that make allergen-free desserts like Babycakes (the other main one being Happy Happy Happy) is...what do they use? Obviously, they don't use anything worse than conventional ingredients, but I'd be interested in knowing what the exact ingredients are. There are bean flours, rice flour, tapioca flour, soy products, and other things probably not often found in baked goods. Thankfully, Babycakes' products don't suffer under their gently tummy philosophy.
Patricia got a gluten free lemon cupcake. At $3.25, this is more expensive than your regular cupcake, but I think it's worth it to get something that may be less guilt inducing (and if oyu can't eat gluten, then it's great). While I didn't think it was as tender as a regular cupcake, it was still good. Ye know, lemony, cakey...okay, I don't remember much about the cupcake, but Patricia liked it and I tasted nothing objectionable from the small bite I took. [thumbs up]
Now THIS I do remember. Awesome. Amazing. First off, it's sugar free (well, white sugar I suppose) and gluten free (it's made with rice flour). Second off (does anyone ever say that?), it's SO DAMN GOOOOD. Comparing it to regular desserts made with flour and whatnot, it's possible one of the best cakes I've ever had. Of course, that's just my opinion. Maybe you don't like dense, moist chocolate cakes (akin to a brownie but less dense, if it's one of those nice fudgey brownies) with chocolate sauce flowing in every little crevice, but I doooo. For $3.75, you get a generous slice, which despite loving to death I couldn't bear to finish. Sadly, I was defeated by two lonely bites. The leftover chunk stared at me as though it were saying, "Why aren't you eating me? Don't you luuuv me?...yo, WTF?" I stared back and saw a deceptively tiny chocolate brick. Yup, I had reached my quota. (Be sure to notice the cute, flower-printed China plate the cake is presented on. Whether or not it's a hand-me-down from someone's grandma, it looks like it could be.)
UPDATE (3/12/06): Gluten Free Girl voted for the chocolate cake in the Taste Everything Awards.
While I had considered buying a cinnamon sugar & raisin cookie (or a chocolate chip cookie) along with my cake, I was really glad I showed some self-restraint because if actually bought the cookie, I probably would've eaten it, thus necessitating some kind of wagon to truck me out of the bakery after falling down from a dessert coma.
I have to go back for the frosting shot. Whooooaaa.
Babycakes is another "must revisit" place for me. Perhaps the next time I think of Sugar Sweet Sunshine (which I've been to, what, 10 times by now?), I'll head to Babycakes instead. It's open until 10 (on Saturday nights at least) if your gentle tummy gets the late night munchies. Thankfully (for my girth), I don't live very close to it now, but next semester I'm moving to a dorm that will result in me being a 10 minute walk away from Babycakes. I CAN'T WAIT.
The article gives some information about their ingredients: "cold-pressed coconut oil, agave nectar, garbanzo flour, and spelt". Hm. I'm all for coconut oil (when my nutrition teacher told us that coconut oil wasn't recommended for consumption because it's saturated, I thought, "Don't suppose you've been to southeast Asia?" and, "Waaah?!" among other things). I don't know much about garbanzo flour, but I suppose that's good too. Spelt, strangely perhaps, gives me problems; I find it harder to digest than plain old super-processed has-no-trace-of-nutrients wheat flour. Agave nectar is a good alternative if it's used right, which I think they did. Last week in my food science and technology class, we made acai muffins sweetened with agave nectar.
They came out...okay. The pureed tofu kept them moist (we wanted to make vegan muffins), but the agave nectar didn't provide nearly enough sweetness. We're going to switch to regular sugar or brown sugar when we redo the recipe tomorrow. Pray for us; I ate so many of those muffins last week, not because they were great, but because they weren't that bad. Or great.
Lastly, I'm going to Slice/Gothamist Eat Pizza Till You Puke Party (not the official title, but it might turn into that) at Fornino on Monday, March 20th at 7 PM. Who's with me? $26.06 is pretty steep but it's all you can eat and drink, which in my case translates to all I can eat, which to be honest isn't $26.06 worth of pizza considering I had trouble finishing one pizza at Piola. But...I'm intrigued. I guess I could just fast all day and see what happens (gurgling and foaming at the mouth). I'd be more excited if desserts were also part of the deal (the ice cream cookies look delicious), but I think you'll only benefit if you're a alcoholic and take advantage of their supply of beer and wine. Doh!
Addendum: Okay, maybe not; I can't eat that much pizza, like...ever. Hm. Thinking about it.
...Oh well, I still want pizza!
[As for the alcohol thing, I just don't like it. Hey, I wish Prohibition never happened; what can you do? When I was little my dad offered me wine on a number of occasions, but I distinctly remember hating all of it. A tiny sip from his glass was all I needed to determine that wine tastes like alcohol, which sucks, or it tasted like grape juice gone beyond horribly wrong, which also sucks. Trust me, at this point there isn't much I can do about my "unrefined" palate besides get a new tongue/brain transplant.]