Last summer when I went to New York I sweated my way through the city, but when Roman and Mimi asked if I wanted to ride along in February, it was quite a different story. Icy winds whipped through the city, and I was happy to spend most of my time inside buildings, looking out at the world.
I had several days mostly on my own, so I would start the day with French pastries in Flushing with Roman and Mimi and Hudson, and then venture off to see what I could see. I spent a day in Brooklyn, admiring the grunge and the hipsters, and a day or two in Manhattan, admiring the suits and eating cannoli and bagels.
The top highlight of my trip was definitely a visit to the Strand Bookstore, which advertises having eighteen miles of books. After perusing stretches of racks outdoors, and meandering through three levels of narrow aisles crammed to the ceiling with books, I am inclined to believe them. The basement was my favorite- with a funky smell and crooked little nooks and paths that went on seemingly forever, it was just what a used bookstore ought to be. I’d be very happy to take a sleeping bag and camp out there for several weeks or so.
When my eyes had taken in all the books they could, I went around the corner to Bagel Bob’s, which turned out to be a solid little bagel joint with the perfect window seat to people-watch by, and an Italian gent crooning a song behind the counter as he worked. The bagel was cheap and delicious, and I mentally bookmarked this as a place to return to.
I spent some time in Flushing as well, exploring the crammed little bodegas and markets, until even my clothing smelled like fish. From all appearances, Flushing is the place where you can buy All The Things. You may not be able to read the signs, but they have basically any kind of seafood and tchotchke you’ve dreamed of and a lot you haven’t.
Speaking of seafood, I accompanied Roman and Mimi to a friend’s house where we were served royal portions of hotpot. Greens and mushrooms and crabs and clams and tofu and several things I didn’t even recognize.
I generally prefer if my food doesn’t look like a small animal lives on my plate, but I swallowed my aversion and tackled the crab and clam I was given. Turns out, they were quite delicious.
Flushing has the best little French bakeries dotting it, and I was happy to patronize them as much as time and my stomach would allow. The mango cream bun on the right was the stuff of dreams. Hudson seemed fairly pleased at the sight as well. Wonder who he’s related to.
As I mentioned, I spent a day in Brooklyn, marching between miles of hipsters, visiting the Brooklyn Museum (meh, I wasn’t very impressed), drinking coffee, and involuntarily exploring a massive park when I got a bit turned around.
I had to be a little touristy and try this internet sensation- a rainbow bagel. Although I didn’t think it even came close to the bagel from Bagel Bob’s, I still found the crammed little shop full of brilliant colors rather fascinating. Look how they make them, unless food coloring turns your stomach.
Charter Coffee was my favorite place in Brooklyn. The place was cozy and comfortable; the coffee was deliciously large and foamy and warming to my chilly bones, and it was the perfect place to relax a bit and pull out War and Peace before the next trek.
I had to check out Little Italy, and see if it was as charming as I remembered from years ago. Last time I was there it was in festival and completely packed with people, which induced a momentary panic when I lost my family and had no phone. This time it was much calmer, but still fascinating and packed with so much good food. Massive wheels of cheese, cannoli and gelato carts, restaurants everywhere serving up pizza and flatbread with a side of gorgeous Italian accents… While it is certainly a tourist trap, it’s not one I minded walking into.
We ended the trip with a visit to a Halal food cart for gyros. Yum! If you think I only go to New York City for the food, you’re not actually that far off. 😀 But I also thrill in the energy of the city, and the variety of people packed into such a little place. It really does feel like the place where anything could happen. Till next time, New York. I’m counting down the months.