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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

Of course I forgot to mention that I stopped off at Magnolia Bakery on Friday afternoon, just to reaffirm that they weren’t a contender for me anymore…now that I’ve found Butter Lane.

They aren’t as good as I had them hyped up in my mind, and the crazy tourists that line up around the block for them are annoying…it’s like…we’ve been in line for 20 minutes, what do you mean you don’t know what you want once you get inside? People are just bumping into one another, touching all the cupcakes, and it’s generally annoying…so if you’re in a rush, you might want to try some place else.

Magnolia Bakery on Urbanspoon

So we are woken up at 7am by jack hammering….lots of it. I immediately call downstairs to ask what is going on. The woman at the desk is a bit snippy saying that it was happening yesterday, so why was I calling today. I calmly explained to her that I was out yesterday before the sun was up, so I’m calling now, on the WEEKEND, because I was hoping to sleep until at least 9. She gives me a hard time, but in the end, I get her to move our room to another floor and upgrade our room. My parents had planned to send us room service as a fun gift, but we were annoyed and the front desk ended up having no record of it…it was a debacle. So here we are at 8am moving rooms. The room on the lower floor is completely renovated, it’s like night and day!

This room has a TV hanging on the wall in front of the bed, so you don’t have to crane your neck to watch it, and it has a mini fridge which came in handy for storing the cupcakes.

Much more spacious bathroom, with a standup shower…

No see through walls here!

A cute alternative to the usual door signs.

…and the other side.

Love the lime green doors and hallway, it makes it look ultra modern.

We start off at Starbucks to get a baseline of that the coffee we are used to tastes like, and grab a quick bite to eat for breakfast. The Starbucks is located just a few doors down from the hotel. We head over the see the terra cotta warriors in Times Square Discovery museum. American Express holders who pay with their card get a free audio guide.  Tickets are $27. The exhibit is pretty cool-if you’re in New York, I highly recommend it.

We head over to Stumptown Coffee Roasters to grab our first coffee. Located in the Ace Hotel, the coffee shop is bustling even though it’s late morning.  (18 West 29th Street, 6am-8pm daily)

The place has a European feel to it, and is certainly not your average coffee bar.

Behind the counter

We grab some coffee as gifts and grab two cold brews.

Leave your credit card at home, cause Stumptown only takes cash. My husband reported the cold brew to be quite strong and a little bitter, but he liked it. Purists drink their coffee black, so my husband only put a little bit of agave in it to sweeten it up. He liked it, and would certainly go back. He said far better than Starbucks.

Stumptown Coffee on Urbanspoon

The cold brew comes in these great little bottles. Here is what wikipedia says about cold brew coffee:

“Cold brew or cold press refers to the process of steeping coffee grounds in room temperature or cold water for an extended period. The cold-press process requires grinding coffee beans at a relatively coarse setting (typically as fine as possible to still be filtered) and soaking those grounds in water for a prolonged period of time, usually 12 hours or more. The water is normally kept at room temperature, but chilled water can also be used. The grounds must be filtered out of the water after they have been steeped using a paper coffee filter, a fine metal sieve, or a French press. The result is a coffee concentrate that is often diluted with water or milk, and can be served hot, over ice, or blended with ice and other ingredients such as chocolate. Cold brewed coffee naturally seems sweeter due to its lower acidity. Because the coffee beans in cold-press coffee never come into contact with heated water, the process of leaching flavor from the beans produces a different chemical profile than conventional brewing methods.”

Next on our culinary adventure we head over to Caracas, an arepa bar located at 93 1/2 East 7th Street. (212.529.2314, take the L to 1st ave, F/V to 2nd ave, 6 to Astor Place, N, R to 8th st) Hours:  Everyday 12-noon to 11-pm. One of my co-workers that was in New York with me told me about this place and how much she and her boyfriend enjoy going there.

The place is small, and be prepared to sit close to another table. What is an arepa? The website says, “Pale gold arepas, made from scratch daily, they have been described as “dense yet spongy corn-flour rounds, pitalike pockets, corn muffins, cake-swaddled mélange, white corn cakes, Latin sloppy Joe, sandwiches of a flat cornmeal patty, soft and smooth within, golden crispiness, tasty treats, burrito-killer, panini-killer, wheat-free, gluten-free crisp on the outside, steamy-soft in the middle…”

We get the tequenos ($8.75) which are like mozzarella sticks, they are deep fried white cheese sticks wrapped in a wheat flour dough and deep fried to golden perfection.

We also order the La Surena ($8), chicken, chorizo, avocado slices and spicy chimichurri sauce (we hold the sauce because my husband doesn’t like the heat). Really tasty meal, and it was pretty inexpensive, coming in at around $20. The arepa had a really great melding of flavors-when I asked my husband what the highlight of the trip was for him, he said this place.

Caracas Arepa Bar on Urbanspoon

We walk back up towards the meatpacking district and head over the Blue Bottle Coffee. Located at 450 West 15th Street, New York NY, Blue Bottle is open M-F 7-7 / Weekends 9-7.

Not as “trendy/hipster” as Stumptown, this place is for those people who take their coffee seriously. We almost don’t know what (or how) to order.

There isn’t much room to sit on the first floor, just a few stools at a bar at the window. “Downstairs, we feature espresso drinks made on a La Marzocco Strada, two types of iced coffee, and coffee individually brewed on drip bars of our own design.”And upstairs,  “Upstairs, is our homage to the intimate coffee bars of Tokyo: a six stool counter where we feature a selection of single origin coffees prepared on Manhattan’s first Lucky i Cremas siphon bar, along with Nel drip style coffee, brioche toast, and house-made pastries. Please stop by.”

We end up grabbing an iced coffee, but who knew that there were so many ways to brew coffee? http://www.bluebottlecoffee.com/preparation-guide/

And if they ask you if you want it New Orleans style, it means that they add some chicory for a nice smokey flavor. Just to show you what kind of cult following Blue Bottle has…we were walking on the High Line and this guys stops us and is frantic about where he can buy Blue Bottle, he’s from CA, and loves it!

Blue Bottle Coffee on Urbanspoon

We take our coffee and head up to the High Line for a nice walk to work off our lunch. It is crazy crowded up there-for those of you who aren’t familiar with the High Line,  it is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line. The park is open daily 7am-11pm. There are benches to lounge on, a little river of water you can cool your feet off in, and tons of beautiful flowers-and then, there’s the view!  Here are the access points of the High Line:

  • Gansevoort Street
  • 14th Street (elevator access)
  • West 16th Street (elevator access)
  • West 18th Street
  • West 20th Street
  • 23rd Street (elevator access)
  • West 26th Street
  • West 28th Street
  • West 30th Street (elevator access)

We walk around for most of the afternoon, ducking into some cool shops as we go. We end up going to Flex Mussels for dinner. I had heard about this place from my old boss. His son brought him here and he raved about the meal for weeks.

They have two locations, one on 13th street, and the one we went to at 174 East 82nd Street. (212-717-7772) They have a small patio area out front-when you walk in the front door you have to walk through the bar area to get to the main dining room. It is quite crowded inside.

The inside of the restaurant has clean lines, and it sleek. We sit at a two top close to the bar, which is a little noisy.

I start with the chowder ($11), pretty tasty-it is a cross between a chowder and a broth-it isn’t thick and loaded with cream, it’s more like a murky chicken broth.

Hard to see, but the bucket the mussels come in is ENORMOUS! I get the fra diavlo. ($19). Enormous pot + small table = not a lot of extra room to move around. The mussels were good-really flavorful, and not too spicy!

We end the evening with 4 donuts ($10). The flavor choices were: meyer lemon, raspberry, pb&j and cheesecake. A really nice way to end the meal. Bit sized donut holes with flavorful fillings that still managed to feel light.
Stay tuned for day 3 of our New York adventure!

Flex Mussels on Urbanspoon

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