This is going to be one of those posts with lots of photos and some words that go with the photos. Which is generally how they all are. But this one is going to have EVEN FEWER (man, I almost said "less"...[wipes sweat from brow]) WORDS. You'll love it.*
Jason and I embarked on a multiple-hour-face-stuffing-session to make the most of his stopover in New York City from his family's home in South Jersey to his job in New Haven, starting at Epistrophy in Nolita for a late brunch.
Unfortunately, Jason's plate of orecchiette with potato and green beans in pesto was sandy. Or gritty. Or a characteristic that pesto shouldn't have.
He sent it back in exchange for a panino con salmone made with smoked salmon, Brie, arugula, and halved cherry tomatoes on a pressed and toasted roll. As someone who doesn't particularly like tomatoes, even I thought this sandwich could use more tomatoes to balance out everything else. While we wouldn't say the sandwich was bad, there wasn't anything memorable about it.
Same with my panino al maiale filled with thin pork cutlets, avocado chunks, fontina, tomato slices, and mayo. A pleasing combination, but not one that came together to create awesome in my mouth. If there was anything remarkable or unremarkable about the sandwich, I'd tell you, but I can't really go either way. (I suppose that means it veers towards the latter.)
Epistrophy is a comfortable place to hang out if you're in the area—you could probably linger for a long time over a cup of coffee. But for a sandwich, I'd take a 10-minute walk to Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop. Also, the lighting in Epistrophy's bathroom is almost nonexistent (assuming that no light bulbs were broken). From the meager photons that hit my retina, I could gather that the bathroom was clean and had nice decor, but if I didn't pay attention I could've imagined myself peeing in any small, dimly lit space—"narrow back alleyway under the moonlight" kept coming to my mind for some reason.
We followed our sandwiches with a visit to Green Apple next door. Although it's a gelateria (and a nice one at that), we were there for something else.
I spied macarons through the window. And they looked quite promising.
The macarons are by J' Chanceaux Macarons, who is sharing the space with Green Apple. Out of the 15 flavors they had that day, I chose six for $6 (buying fewer than six costs $1.25 a piece): pistachio, black sesame, nutella, caramel, chocolate, and mango.
The macarons varied greatly in quality. Nutella (pictured above) was much too dry; the center had this hard-chewy consistency like a cold Starburst. Pistachio was much too sweet. Mango tasted curiously like...not mango. But chocolate, caramel, and black sesame were all fine, texture and flavor-wise—not dry nor too sweet. So some of the macarons are worth getting, as long as you choose the right flavors and get a good batch. (I might be overly picky with Pierre Hermé on my mind and all. I'm due for a trip back to Paris to refresh my macaron memory.) So far, the best macarons I've had in New York City, aside from Mitzy's (who doesn't count now since she's in Indonesia) are from La Maison du Chocolat.
Ain't no better way to follow up a sweet snack with...another sweet snack? Next stop was Spot, Pichet Ong's new desert cafe located below the pho restaurant on St. Mark's Place.
We ordered based on Kathy's recommendations (I'm taking all my descriptions from her), starting the the white miso semifreddo, sort of like slices of semifreddo sandwiches made with cake, accompanied by a quenelle of raspberry ice cream and a tuile.
Second was the poached persimmon on top of creamy jasmine rice pudding, topped with mascarpone, toasted pistachios, a caramelized tuile, and white chocolate shavings.
Third—and last, yes—was a scoop of Ovaltine ice cream. It tastes like very strong Ovaltine, if it were in rich spherical ice cream form. Sort of chocolate-y, more malty. If you don't know what Ovaltine tastes like, you can usually buy a cup of it (hot or cold) at a Chinese bakery, although this ice cream may taste more like if you just stuck a spoonful of the mix in your mouth.
Jason was first to notice that, aside from the ice cream, the desserts were sprinkled with iridescent sparkly bits. He was also quick to make the Twilight vampire reference—not that we think that's what Spot was going for, but now that's all I think of. (I haven't read the books, but I did see the first movie. MY MOM HAD IT ON DVD, OK. Ok.)
The persimmon was my favorite, more for the rice pudding than the persimmon, though. I think I was too full to fully appreciate the desserts, or I'm losing my once insatiable sweet tooth. I will always spring for gelato, macarons that don't look like crap, and chocolate chip cookies, but I'm not sure I'm ever in the mood for more creative desserts like Pichet's. BORING ME. Glad I tried them though, and it might be the comfiest hang out spot on the busiest block of St. Mark's Place.
We stopped by the newly reopened Japanese bakery Panya, now with a snack and prepared foods section, and a kitchen that prepares homey hot food items like donburis and curry. I'll have to try it later; my stomach felt sort of explode-y by this point.
If I worked or lived near Panya, I'd try this breakfast deal: two eggs any style with home fries, salad, and choice of breakfast meat and bread for only $3.75.
After Jason left to catch a train to New Haven, I spent the rest of my night at Ost, a lovely coffee shop in the East Village that I'm sure will become my most oft-visited coffee shop, despite not even drinking coffee, because my friend Lee Anne now works there! YOU SHOULD GO THERE AND SAY HI! And buy something. I'm sure she makes a good cuppa. (Her hours are flexible right now, so I can't tell you her weekly schedule, but I know she'll be there tonight until closing.) Knowing my aversion towards coffee, she made me an iced chai topped with powdered cinnamon. Mmm, spiced dairy-licious-ness.
I spent most of my time reading Double Fine Action Comics by Scott C. (it's a totally awesome-cute-funny book and it's in the coffee shop's bookshelf, so you have no excuse not to read it!) and finishing up a very stupid comic, pictured above. My drawing skills have progressed little since high school. My humor hasn't changed much either—I'm still a big fan of bug-eyed creatures and explosions. ...I'm actually 7-years-old, guys.
For something cuter and more artistic, here's Lee Anne's drawing of a FURRED MANATEE. If such a thing existed in nature, I'd want to smoosh it so badly. With my arms. In hugs.
Compare that to my manatee drawing-style. ...Yeah.
After Lee Anne got out of work, we shared a slice of spinach and artichoke pizza from Artichoke. Seems like people either love or hate the alfredo-like sauce that coats the tomato-less pizza—and I'm on the "love" side. The occasional pools of cheese are the best. The only thing I didn't like was that this slice seemed much breadier than usual, throwing off the sauce-to-bread ratio, but it still tasted good as a post-10 p.m. snack.
Methinks this post ended up having more words than I planned. Congrats for making it the whole way through!
200 Mott Street, New York NY 10012 (map)
202 Mott Street, New York NY 10012 (map)
13 St. Marks Place, New York NY 10003 (map)
10 Stuyvesant Street, New York NY 10003 (map)