Thursday, June 9, 2011

My East Coast Tour: Second Stop, New York City

My main goal while in NYC this time was to visit as many bookstores and to eat as many cupcakes (and other sweets) as possible in three days.

Kristin (my friend in Boston) gave me a list of bookstores in Manhattan so I plugged them into my iPad along with the list of sweet places I collected. Off I went!

Three Lives & Co.: [website]
This was one of my favorite bookshops on my list, in Greenwich Village. It was a smaller shop but with a good selection of books. I'll be stopping by again when in the neighborhood.

Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks: [website]
Right down the street from Three Lives was this cookbook shop. I love a good cookbook and I was told they had quite a collection of used ones. This place was quirky. And I've never seen so many used cookbooks in one place. I was almost overwhelmed. And since most of my cookbook selections recently center on vegetarian or vegan cooking, I didn't find much. I probably won't find the need to stop by this shop again.

Milk & Cookies Bakery: [website]
After the cookbook strangeness, I needed something sweet. A couple blocks away was this bakery that I read about...oh, somewhere. Who wouldn't want to try a cookie from a bakery named Milk & Cookies? Since I skipped lunch, I figured a cookie would be OK. I tried the chocolate & peanut butter. It was a little crunchier than I thought it would be but it still tasted good.

Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books: [website] 
 I wasn't sure I'd find anything here based on the name. While I'd consider myself as someone who seeks to be "unoppressive" and "non-imperialist," I'm probably not the exact person they have in mind for their books. It was still an interesting stop on my bookstore tour. And cheap books if you find one you're looking for.

Crumbs: [website]
Cupcakes! Tons of cupcakes! I stopped here in honor of my friend Betsega's birthday the week prior. She had heard about the cupcake chain (I saw one at Union Station in D.C. later that week) but did not have the chance to stop by. So I did it for her. Gladly.

I got a Red Velvet cupcake (because I am addicted to Red Velvet right now). One thing I noticed, on the name tags of the cupcakes, they list the number of calories in the cupcake. While I'm actually kind of grateful to know that, at the same time I don't want to know that. I didn't eat the whole cupcake in one setting (because I saw the calories and I had a cookie earlier) but it was delicious and worth it.

Alabaster Bookshop: [website]
This was also a great used bookshop. It is around the corner from the massive Strand Book Store. I found a few potential buys but held out to see what else I might find (only so much space in my carry-on bags). I will definitely want to stop by here again.

Strand Book Store: [website]
The massive new/used/rare bookstore near Union Square. I saved this until last for the day because I had been here before and thought if I ran out of time, I'd already experienced Strand. But I had time so I went. It's always fun to rifle through the $1 stacks out on the curb and through the preview/review books down in the basement.

I again saw the Press Here book that I saw at the Harvard Coop in Boston. I bought it for my niece's birthday present. I couldn't resist. Ssshhhh, don't tell her. I also found Just Kids by Patti Smith and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (which is going to become a pass-along book once I'm finished).

My friend Tom met me here and off we went for dinner....

Pop Pub: [website]
I had heard of Pop Burger up in Meatpacking. Well, Pop Burger has brought Pop Pub down to University Place (NYU). I read about it on Thrillist (see link). It was a couple blocks from Strand. You order at the counter when you arrive, get your number and find a seat. If you want a drink, they have servers. And the service (counter and table) was great.

Both Tom and I tried the Invisible Burger (clever name for a non-meat burger; it was portobello mushroom). I had to have the tater tots (tater tots join Red Velvet anything in the addiction department). All of the food was delicious.

I would highly recommend this place. Good prices, good service, good atmosphere, good food and drink selections. Tom and I had a lovely time chatting and catching up.

Shake Shack: [website]
Unscheduled stop. Everywhere I stopped in the city thus far had been researched. And while I had heard about the Shake Shack before, I'd never been. 

But as Tom and I were just walking through the city, chatting it up, we passed Madison Square Park where the original Shake Shack is. Even though we just stuffed ourselves on food and drink at Pop Pub, we decided we needed a shake. The shake was made with frozen custard (yes please!). I had a Peanut Butter one; and I drank it so fast, I should have gotten a frozen headache. It was delicious but the line was kind of crazy. I could be OK not going there again.

Prince St. Cafe: [website]
Somewhere I found one of those group buying outfits called Buy With Me (like Groupon and Living Social). There was one for Prince St. Cafe for $7 so I bought it. Why not get a deal while in town? So I started my day with brunch. Yes, by myself.

For my brunch I had the frittata, which had potatoes, sweet onions, peppers, goat cheese and herbs, with whole wheat toast and herbal tea with honey for my laryngitis (turned cold). I made a good choice; the frittata with goat cheese was scrumptious. I got a tea to go....

Housing Works Bookstore: [website]
Another good bookstore a couple blocks from Prince St. Cafe. This might have been my favorite bookstore of the tour. The entrepreneurial businesses of Housing Works serve their mission to end the crises of homelessness and AIDS. Purchases support the greater Housing Works community. The bookstore also had another great selection of used books. Really enjoyed my time there. And there's a cafe in the back.

Cafe Grumpy: [website]
After some roaming about, I planned to meet my friend Justin at Cafe Grumpy. The one I chose was tucked away in Chelsea. And the coffee is oh so good. I had an Americano. It was just one of those really good pure Americanos. We chatted for a while there until I told him that the Sweetery sweets truck was giving away cupcakes that afternoon.... Off we went to find the truck.

Sweetery NYC: [website]
Sweetery was giving away free mini cupcakes for 2 or 3 hours that the pouring rain. It was a special prize-winning chocolate cupcake with a secret ingredient: beer. I actually won a $20 Sweetery gift certificate while I was in town because I guessed the secret ingredient via Twitter. Go me! So Justin and I waited in line, under my tiny umbrella because he left the house without his, and got our free cupcakes. It might have been the best chocolately cupcake I've ever had.

Cowgirl's Baking: [website]
Skip ahead to dinner. Well, actually dessert before dinner. I found Cowgirl's Baking (a vegan bakery on the Lower East Side) via Twitter and I was determined to try one of their treats. I had made plans with Tom and my other friend Dawn for pizza at Artichoke (which didn't work out) in the same neighborhood. Cowgirl's closed at 8 p.m. though (and it was already 7:30) so I met Tom there first before meeting Dawn and her roommate Jordan for dinner. We're adults; we can have dessert first!

I tried the Midnight Cupcake (more chocolate!) and Tom had the French Toast (he's not a chocolate fan). All vegan and all delicious. The icing was thick and plentiful and sugary good; the cupcake also tasted good and did not lack flavor.

Plum Pizzeria & Bar: [website]
I did want to try Artichoke but it did not have seating. Something I missed in my research. Luckily, since we now all had pizza on the brain, there was Plum just down the street from the bakery. And we got seated right away. Even better.

The table split a vegetarian pizza (such good friends!). Dawn designed our own pizza with sun dried tomatoes, bell peppers and garlic. The basic pizza already came with plum tomato sauce and basil and mozzarella so in the end, we won big time with Dawn's creation.

Sweetery (again):
We had to go pick up my gift certificate before I jumped on the train for D.C. Tom was very good to me to take me down to where the truck was, bags and all, to get my $20. Once we got the gift certificate, of course we had to have a treat. I got a brownie for my train ride and Tom took a sugar cookie. My brownie turned out to be a very good choice. I can't wait for my next trip to NYC to use more of my gift certificate!

That was this trip to NYC.... I still want to try Artichoke pizza and find the Coolhaus ice cream truck.

Off to Washington, D.C....

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