Friday, February 1

getting baked in nyc

A banana cupcake next to a chocolate cupcake at Buttercup Bake
A red velvet cupcake next to a carrot cupcake at Buttercup Bake
The window display at Buttercup Bake
The chocolate peanut butter cookie at Levain Bakery
Behind the window front at the tiny Levain Bakery 
The window front of Levain Bakery
A carrot cupcake next to a red velvet cupcake at Billy's Bakery
Billy's Bakery's cute interior (plus a cute boy who is about to sit next to me with a pecan pie which, he'll soon tell me, is the best he's ever had).
My first diary of my New York City adventures is deceptively cute..I say 'deceptive' because the bakeries we went to were cute BUT New York City would not be happy if you described it as a cute place...or for that matter attempted to tie it up with any one-word generalisations. Anyway, for our NYC travels I had compiled a list of recommendations from the Issac Likes blog and Todd Selby's Edible Selby. I was also emailed the most extensive personal guide of what to do, eat, see, smell and feel in NYC composed by my epitome-of-cool family friends, Tracy and Phil (their recommendations saved us at every turn and led us directly into the depths of some of my favourite experiences of the city). The list of bakeries I had scrawled down in my New York notebook was a last minute addition which I had thought we wouldn't end up needing, however when you're walking the streets attempting to maintain awe-struck vibes while being frozen because of the terrifying -10 degrees temperatures (+ wind), a bakery is a welcomed stop off. Furthermore, walking huge distances as a traveler is pretty much the only time you feel excused for pigging out on a cupcake which has icing as tall as an elf on stilts standing on a hill.

I had discovered the list of bakeries from a book I had read only a few days before we left. The book is written by Amy Thomas and titled Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate). Despite the torturous experience of reading a book about food you can't have, it proved itself as incredibly useful. Through first hand trial and error, Amy Thomas has constructed a careful guide to both Paris and New York bakeries. Each recommendation has suggestions of what to eat and commentaries of the two cities' baking obsessions, including New York's baking crazes which bounce between cupcakes, macaroons and cookies. Although we only made it to three of the bakeries on Amy Thomas' list, the three we did go to were super fun.

On our second day, we stumbled across Buttercup Bake (E 51st, 2nd Ave) which is a low key bakery with huge glass cabinets filled with rows upon rows of colourful cupcakes - a tantalizing image as delicious as the cupcakes themselves.

The next day, after a trip up to Columbia University campus we caught the subway then walked a few blocks to find the tiny Levain Bakery (167 W 74th St & Amsterdam Ave). The bakery is practically underground and surrounded by charming town houses. I was skeptical about paying $4 for a cookie but a particularly extroverted woman beside me in the queue promised me I wouldn't regret it - and I didn't. The paper bag, which the peanut butter chocolate cookie came in, weighed a tonne and I kid you not - that one delicious, chunky chocolate cookie alone kept me going until dinner (this time frame included a lengthy visit to the Natural History Museum).

A few days later, we had been walking around the World Trade Center Memorials then up Broadway but completely forgot to plan for lunch. I read through my bakery list and we ended up fast-walking to Billy's Bakery (9th Ave, 21st W) in Tribeca. Billy's Bakery had excellent cupcakes and pecan pie and I enjoyed watching the melange of customers passing through, from the deranged to the lonely and glamorous.

Despite our successful bakery visits, I remain desperate to taste Momofuku's crack pie & other such creme de la cremes of baked goods (breathy laughter). But for now I will reminisce of my not-so-long-ago visit to NYC and as for you...well you can live vicariously through my adventures by reading all the updates on this blog.

P.S. Wasn't my post title hilarious?


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