Park Terrance in snow...
Wanting to make the most of the last day of the year, i managed to awaken the beast that is my brother (bless his soul for staying up all night & morning editing our Coney Island photos) and after an arduous process of bundling up, headed out our door. This was by far the coldest day of the entire trip. When i had awoken & convinced myself to take yet another cold morning shower, by the time i thawed and sat in the kitchen warming up, it began to snow outside our window. I took wadever snaps i could but you cant get much from snow unless its slow, big & fluffy.
Today was an exciting day for me, cause Bay decided that he should take me to Chinatown to have the best Vietnamese Sandwiches. I didnt know at the time how "the best" it was, but now having eaten them, i'd say that they are the best ive had thus far.
Saigon Bahn Mi Bakery: located in the back of a random jewelery store...
...ever. By the time we emerged from the New York
metro, the snow was blasting horizonally, clawing at my face and creeping into my layers. As much as i had tried to be prepared for the onslaught, it was pretty apparent that i hadnt planned well enough...and he assured me that it was simply a "light" day in New York. Yeah, i'll take it at that and leave the rest for the locals...they can have it.
The street was still lively with activity. Scales & tentacles lay in their bins in front of fish markets in the crispy air. The sidewalks were covered in salts, and stores not yet open were just dusting their own storefronts with handfuls of crystaline chunks.
Saigon Bahn Mi Bakery: the best food i had in NY...and it only cost $3.75
The occasional "Viking" would go by with a mini skirt & scarf...i will never understand...sigh hahahaha. I admire what one must do for fashion. Any exposed skin on a day like this would probably cause me to start peeling frostbitten flesh. After meandering in & out of the catacomb of streets in Chinatown, we finally stop in front of a small jewelry store. Silly me to ask my brother if this was the place...hahaha. We burst in through the doors to find a nice calm & warm jewelry store, with a small metal counter top in the very back of the store. The ailes were jsut wide enough for 1.5 people to pass each other, or two small asian ladies ^^ so we slide our way to the back and began to peel away our layers enough to talk.
Saigon Bahn Mi Bakery: my hungry & cold companions approve whole heartedly...
There were already 4 or 5 people sitting on small benches against the wall, munching away at their sandwiches. Everyone kinda minds their own business i suppose. Once i got my sandwich i stopped caring who or what was going on around me haha!! The menu was simple, written on a piece of pink card stock. I didnt really listen to what Bay had to say when he started asking me a few questions...all i remember saying to him was, "yes" to every question ^^ alls i knew was that i was about to eat good. And that was a comforting thought considering i was wearing 3 layers, 2 gloves, a scarf, a beanie & 2 socks in my boots and i was still freezing. A few minutes went by & we paid for our sandwichies, which came in a plastic bag, with each sandwich in its own paper bag.
The champions in front of Doughnut Plant
..waste of materials if you ask me, but i suppose some may want to take them somewhere else. There were no shortage of people walking in and ordering 10-15 sandwiches at a time.
By the time i had my sandwich out a few benches had cleared, so we grabbed the ones farthest from the door and commensed chowing down. As i sat & bit & chewed & bit & chewed again i looked the place up on Yelp, just to see wad people has already said. Funny enough most of the reviews were either 1) Ugh i hated the place, the bread & meat were too stiff or 2) this is the place the God of Sandwiches landed from heaven!! As i sat and stuffed my face, the realization of something burning in the back of my throat dawned on me & caught me by a bit of surprise.
Ken waxes philosophical with the owner...
As i ate more and more into the crunchy, savory sandwich, the burn started to intensify. Now its not actually a bad burn, just that i wasnt expecting it, so i say to my brother, "Man, my sandwich is spicy, and this is only a normal sandwich. I wonder what a spicy sandwich would taste like." After laughing at me he assured me that i really WAS eating a spicy sandwich, as i had unknowingly aggreed to it when he was asking me when we ordered...guess i should pay attention at menu time hahaha!!
So, the spicy sandwich is really good & a lot of fun too ^^ Bay went to to tell me that usually one side of the sandwich is spicier than the other, so i musta eaten the spicy side already cause the other side tasted just as spicy. The bread is a bit stiff, but its something that was a plus for me, cause i like to work for my sandwich.
Square Blackberry Jelly donut with a hole (left), Marzipan donut (right), and a Creme Brullee sitting right on top
Fluffy untoasted deli bread just doesnt do it for me, especially when you have mayo or mustard on the bread. It gets super soggy quick. The stiffer sandwich rolls help to soak up some of the dampness from the veggies, and the dryness of the pork chunks were really savory, gives you something to chew on, so its not soft and moist meat. Bay assured me that the sandwich will get soggy if you lave it for an hour, so having coarser bread & meat is somewhat an advantage, that is if you dont instantly inhale your food hahaha!!
My friends arrived late, after i had already eaten both my nubs (rolls are nice cause you get two "butts" ^^). So as they sat & ate their sandwiches, which looked really good, i debated whether i should get another sandwich.
My brother & i's donuts, on a bench of donuts...
On the itinery was the Donut Plant next, but i said what the hell, im not going to be in New York often & i wont get another chance to try out the rest of the menu, so i sprang for a Sardine Sandwich. Ok, ok, now why know anyone spring for a Sardne Sandwich?! In my own defense, alls i could say was, "i was curious. And curiousity got the better of me hahaha!!!" Sad to say i was half expecting to be pleasantly surprised, but it turned out to be the exact same sandwich, except with ordinary sardines, which generally isnt bad, just not in a roll sandwich. The texture is much too soft in contrast to the bread & fixins & the two clam halves of the roll slide around too much to make eating it as enjoyable. You can thank me later for "taking one for the team" hahaha, even though people advised me against it!!
Once we were all extremely stuffed, we relayered & hopped back out into the street.
Ken helps himself to a snack on the donut benches at Donut Plant
Now the snow had subsided a bit, but the air was still heavy on the extreme level. The food really helped to recharge our spirits, the sweet & savory flavors musing in our mouths as we charged back into the catacombs. Within 5 minutes, we reached our destination: Doughnut Plant. I didnt know anything about the place, but once inside the tiny, tiny storefront (New York store fronts are TINY!!!), the walls drip with publications & testimonials of Martha Stewart, Cosmo, the Today Show, blah3, with countless clippings and looseleaf of picture after picture of their delectable treats. Score!!
Once inside, the room fills up quickly, which more or less resembles a mob of people standing in a warm closet. We find the back of the line and begin to divest ourselves, with visions of doughnuts dancing in our closed eyes.
Actually we take a few more moments...we are not yet ready to hit the streets...
The counter was stocked full of this and that and even had a giant cauldron next to the cash register. Later we would find out that it was teeming with Chai tea, which was very good. Now the sign out front had several additions to the normal menu, im sure for the holidays, so we randomly called out what we wanted, like schoolkids in a candy store. By the time we got up to the counter, the jovial counter guy spoke with an totally hip accent, calling us "bro" (ie an islander). So i ask where he got his accent and he says, "Trinidad bro." Score!!
The only thing i ordered from the normal menu was the Jelly Filled Square, which is a square doughnut, with a hole in the middle & each corner stuffed with (that day) blackberry jelly, which the signs on the walls now report is made fresh in-house.
Chandolier at the MOMA Design Store
Otherwise i opted for the Marzipan doughnut & the Creme Brulee. The Marizipan is a circlular doughnut, round & fluffy with a thick marzipan glaze all over, peppered with small chunks. The Creme Brulee was actually quite a delicate affair, probably the size of the hole in your hand if you held your middle finger & your thumb together. Still the crackling sugary glaze on top & the thick, rich custard inside were a masterpiece in every bite. I didnt actually have room for all that after stuffing two Bahn Mi Saigon Bakery sandwiches into my mouth before i came, but i buckled down (well rather buckled off hahahaha!!) & enjoyed every lasting morsel. Usually i eat fairly well during the weekdays, so treats such as these are far & few in between.
MOMA Design Store
One could almost have heard the clapping of my eyes hitting the back of my head after they rolled back while eating at the Doughnut Plant.
I still dont know the difference between the yeast doughnuts & the non-yeast doughnuts...wadever. Sipping on creamy hot chai & eating off each other's doughnuts was a good pit stop out of the freezing New York weather. Outside snow blew this way & that as sporatic mobs of people blew in & out of the store. Sometimes it would be empty for a few minutes & at other times it would be packed. The Plant itself is not much to look at, but it hides so many treasures inside. I became a true fan at first bite ^^!! Even the benches along the bay windows are doughnuts, lined up in uniform fashion in a bright array of colors.
Ken in deep meditation...maybe he's thinking about dinner ^^
We took our sweet time getting out of there & back to the day, but time was a wastin & there was still half a day left before New Years Eve ^^. If ur in the neighborhood, or nowhere near hahaha, you should definitely make this place a stop on your journey!! You wont want to leave until you finish rubbing your belly & realizing the work its going to take to undo what just transpired. I suppose one could just show up again the next day & let it transpire again hahahaha!!
The Doughnut Plant makes one feel very much like Templeton crawling out to the fair after hours to drool & stuff his greedy face (if you dont know the reference ^^ you should definitely watch Charlottes Web!!).
At this point my brother takes off to retire & recuperate from the sudden barrage of food, but Lulu & Ken tell me that they'll be "my Huckleberry" & off we go in search of the United Nations.
I spy with my fuzzy eye...wait...nvm...who's the sexy guy ^^?
Bay points us down Grand & mentions something about 5 blocks, so we start pumping our feet & when we pass by the MOMA Design Store, we just have to pop in. I am such a pack rat & i love to collect nothing more than boxes & containers & storage vessels, to put more boxes, containers & storage vessels into them hahaha!!! Still theres lots to see inside, like strange hipster bicycles for $3000, poor excuses for desks for $1500...its kinda like a more hip version of Sharper Image married to IKEA hahahaha!!! Im not much interested in anything, but i am amused by the DNA poster on the wall. Evidentally you take a swab of your saliva & mail it into the lab & they send you back a framed poster of your DNA signiture.
A metro train roars past us...
How unique. Obvious if you plan on murdering people & causing violent crimes this may not be the poster for you ^^ still the time affords us some oppertunities to take a few photos of this & that & of each other. One thing i kinda liked was a square CD player that attaches (no lid) to the wall, and you simply tug on its cord running below it to turn it on & off. The player itself is its own speaker...novel, but not too useful without a screen or at least a remote. But the sound quality was fairly awesome.
Some time after we walk more & more, we realized that it was now getting dark & we hadnt seen a subway entrance yet, so we check our map only to realize we've walked 10 blocks too far. So we hop into the nearest metro which is only a few blocks away & when we pop out continue towards the waterfront.
Lulu wears the The Chrysler Building like a crowned diamond tiara...
The Chrysler Building illuminated the backdrop behind us, glowing blue & beautiful in the darkness. Strange that it should look more appealing & seems more New York than even the Empire State Building.
To be quite frank, by the time we got to the United Nations, it was close, they had removed all the world flags from the poles & it was pitch black & cold & windy as all hell. Trying to take pictures in the dark was a bit of a challenge in of itself without a tripod, but having ur fingers freeze off while ur doing it wasnt at all comforatble either. Circumnavigating the perimeter, we spot an open gate leading to the main building, so Ken makes a dash for it only to be stopped by a guard standing on duty within a foot of the gate.
The United Nations
"We're closed," is all we get out of him, before Ken inquires when they will be open again. So its empty flag poles waving in the wind for us haha ^^ we manage to spot large groups of policemen & fire fighters taking their holiday pictures outside their offices & i remember that its New Years Eve. Seeing all the happy people together, off work & probably inebriated refills me with the Holiday spirit. So we traverse the avenue & head back to Grand Central Station, the last stop on our predinner tour.
Grand Central Station