Friday, 6 May 2011

Barack and Bakeries

My first day in New York coincided with a visit by Barack Obama.Sadly we didn't get to see each other -  he was too busy laying a wreath at Ground Zero and inspecting progress at Freedom Tower, which is already scraping the sky. Work continues on it throughout the night. The apartment is so close to the World Trade Center site that I could hear them drilling at 5.27am, when my body decided it was time to get up.

Freedom Tower

President Obama is here somewhere. So I did see him really.

"Media circus". They were kept penned in

Mr President's visit meant some of the streets downtown were closed so I skirted along the river in the spring sunshine. It's that tricky time of year when there is no consensus on what clothing is appropriate for the weather. Some people are wearing flip flops, others puffer jackets.  

I had breakfast in the Peace and Love cafe - a surprisingly decent cup of tea and a crumb cake, which is like a compacted crumble but without the fruit. At the cafe I signed a piece of paper that brought to a satisfactory end to eight months of unhappy wrangling. I'm not allowed to discuss the contents so suffice it to say that I'll won't be feeling guilty about the shopping I'm about to do here. 

Around lunchtime I passed a Wholefoods Store. I knew from happy Canadian experience that this store is generous with their free samples. And as is well documented, free food contains no calories. Today's free food was a little pot of chipotle black bean salsa and tortilla chips which made me so hungry I had lunch there. Avocado sushi, my favourite, and soy 'chicken' yaki soba. Nothing yacky about it all, it was delicious.

I dragged my stomach off to find pudding. As a Brownie Guide, I was taught to 'be prepared', which meant keeping a 2p coin in your pocket for an emergency phone call. Today I'd prepared by researching the top rated bakeries in New York. First on the list was Billy's Bakery for a yellow daisy cupcake and a cup of tea, which involved the usual puzzled look when I asked for milk. Surely they've got used to the idea by now that British people often put milk in their tea? I loved the decor in Billy's and had a pang of logo envy.

I also visited Baked by Melissa off Broadway, a blink-and-youll-miss-it hole in the wall dispensing cupcakes. These cupcakes are bite-size. Not American bite-size but genuinely one small mouthful of cupcake. I had mint choc, peanut butter and cinnamon. Nice, moist cake but $3 for three seemed steep. They were gone before I had a chance to take a photo so will have to make do with the logo.

I visited Dean and Deluca, where the bakery lady offered me a sample of lemon tart and some delicious ginger molasses cookie. Their display cabinet was so well stocked that I was bamboozled and I bought nothing but a mixed bag of hard-to-find liquorice sweets (yes mammy, if you're reading - these are for you). 

If I'd bought anything it would have been one of these. The box is filled with caramel.
American-style buttercream cake covering. 
My first day in New York ended in a champagne bar, in a diner, in a blur. My last memory of the evening is a blind taste test of Liptons vs the Yorkshire tea bags I'd brought with me (no contest) and me wishing I had bought a ginger molasses cookie from Dean and Deluca after all.

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