the city that never sleeps (the californian takes new york, part III)
Finally! I managed to find the time and discipline to finish my travel blog series documenting my little summer adventure in the city. It's been such an amazing summer, and I have so many people to thank for it (namely my family for putting up with me). New York is one of my favorite places in the world, and I really am the luckiest girl for spending my last real summer there. I didn't do as much exploring as I did the first two months of my visit, so the highlights of this last part will mostly be food (so what else is new).
My aunt and I decided to go to the Dominique Ansel Bakery, of the Cronut fame. In case you haven't heard about how insane this phenomenon is, the word "Cronut" is trademarked by the bakery, there's a two-hour wait prior to the opening of the bakery to get one, and the bakery only makes 350 of them per day. Another example of how marketing is everything (ask me what I think about High School Musical). With such a limited supply, there's always a long wait and people who just want to see what the fuss is about. If it sounds insane, it's because it is (there's literally an entire website devoted to pre-ordering Cronuts, and this one guy started a business for college students to wait on line for you and deliver one to you). Even with the Cronut out of stock for the day, the tiny bakery was packed. The dessert du jour was the "cookie shot," or a chocolate-chip cookie baked into the shape of a double shotglass, coated with chocolate, and filled with Tahitian vanilla milk. It looked pretty delicious, actually, but not worth waiting in line for an hour.
We ordered the DKA ice cream sandwich (DKA stands for "Dominique's Kouign Amann," or his version of a traditional French pastry). It's essentially a croissant coated with sugar and butter, sliced in half and filled with vanilla ice cream. It was the perfect dessert for a hot day, but unlike ice pops and traditional cones, this was very, very sweet and very, very heavy.
I think I was tired of it halfway through. I'm a huge dessert person, so the fact I wasn't thrilled by it is fairly significant. I was tempted to try the Cronut out of curiosity, but now I'm not so much in a hurry after the DKA. Also, the bakery strikes me as vaguely pretentious (I've done the cookie bowl thing, and it's not that difficult), maybe because there was so much hype surrounding it.
Afterward, we watched End Of The Tour, with Jason Segal and Jesse Eisenberg, at The Angelika, this little independent movie theater in SoHo. It wasn't the kind of movie I'd normally watch (it takes place mostly on the road with much of the important bits in the film revealed through conversations or flashbacks) but I liked it nonetheless. It was weird seeing Jason Segal in a serious role, because I'm used to him in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and How I Met Your Mother, but he definitely proved that he has an impressive range.
I also got to see one of my best friends, Aly, right before she went back to school. We met in a Mommy & Me class when we were about two years old, and we've been best friends ever since, even after she moved to New York. She's also incredibly brilliant and talented (she studied something about songbirds and their mental development patterns for an internship and she's writing her thesis on Joyce, for crying out loud). I took the train after work one day to visit her in Scarsdale, and spent the night at her house. It was so nice catching up with her and her family, who I haven't seen for years. Everyone is so very grown-up now, and it made my heart hurt a little bit remembering how we were as kids. Now, my sister's in college and my younger sister is preparing to enter high school. When did I allow this to happen?
Aly has an African Grey Parrot named Hero (who, funnily enough if you've read Much Ado About Nothing, is a boy) and a cockatiel named Hamlet (girl). Hero was very cute; he perched on my shoulder and for some reason had a very odd obsession with my teeth. He kept inching closer and closer to my mouth, and would try to peck my teeth. It was adorable. And strange. I love birds; they're such charismatic creatures.
These last few weeks of working at my internship have been awesome. It's truly been a great experience with this agency. Canopy (or KSV as it's now called after a recent merger) is very small, and I was fortunate enough to kind of dip my hands into everything, instead of being confined by my job title. I genuinely loved going into the office every day, I loved the people, and I loved the opportunity to work on both stimulating and topical aspects of creative strategy for actual clients. I think I've found my calling (cue angelic hallelujah chorus) in terms of my direction within the marketing industry. And being able to name-drop our clients is a bonus.
Also, it helps that my boss started bringing in his adorable baby Boston Terrier, Oakley, to work. Very little work was done on those days. He was adorable and bouncy and fell asleep in my lap while I was doing work. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever. I'm convinced I need a puppy at this point in my life. If anyone wants to get me a pug or a French bulldog...my birthday is in three months. That is all.
The very last week of my visit, my cousin Gwendolyn AKA my FAVORITE HUMAN IN THE WORLD came to visit me from D.C.! She also happens to be one of my absolute best friends, which is a nice quality to have in a cousin, but we probably only see each other maybe once a year. So I was thrilled that I got to see her before I left.
Naturally, we did the two things that were necessary of any trip to New York: eat and drink. The first night we went out to a couple of bars and clubs with some high school friends of hers...a very different experience from going out in Santa Barbara. Everyone goes out so late. We didn't actually leave the house until 12:30 (AKA when I'm usually in pajamas) and didn't sleep until 5:30 am. I personally was on a mission to prove that I could shed my grandma status, so I think I succeeded in that regard (although I did take approximately three naps the following day, so I don't know if that counts).
It also rained, which was as nice, not even in a sarcastic way. I actually love rain, probably because I don't see too much of it in San Diego, and it was refreshing after a summer of heat and humidity. It started getting cool just as I was getting ready to leave, which was a good thing considering the only things I brought to New York were shorts, tank tops, and business professional clothes.
The next day we met up with my friend Tia and her boyfriend at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. Which, if you've never heard of it (thanks Conrad), is exactly what it sounds like.
It's essentially a "flea food market" with over 100 gourmet food vendors selling everything from octopus balls to bourbon cakes. Pretty much what dreams are made of. It's right by the water, with a full view of the beautiful Manhattan skyline.
It was basically food porn and hipster heaven. We went in with a strategy—we were determined to optimize our Smorgasburg experience, so we walked around the whole thing and planned out our purchases.
We settled on ramen burgers first, because we'd heard a lot about them (I watch a lot of Food Network) and there was a long line, so it seemed worth it. It sounds like a strange combination—a beef patty sandwiched between two pan-fried ramen cakes, topped with lettuce and melted cheese. But it was amazing. Maybe not $10-amazing but still really, really good. Something about the way they cooked the ramen made it a nice, chewy texture, and it went perfectly with the beef. Also it had this amazing sauce on it that none of us could figure out exactly what it was made of.
Gwendolyn got duck sliders, and Tia and I split mozzarella sticks from Big Mozz. Literally the best mozzarella sticks I've ever had in my entire life. Holy. I don't know what made them so good, but I've since developed this deep-seated obsession to recreate them. So stay tuned for that. They were crispy and bread-crumb-and-Parmesan-coated on the outside and gooey on the inside. So incredibly delicious. The only mozzarella sticks I will ever need in my life. They still haunt me to this day.
But after the first couple of things, we were actually too full to try all of the things we wanted to (Maryland lump crab cakes, gooey butter cake, Milk Truck grilled cheese with caramelized onions, truffle fries, and mango lassi push-up pops, to name a few). It was actually a very depressing realization (and the epitome first world problems).
It was just nice to see Tia again, since I haven't seen her since December of last year, and share our love of food in the most indulgent way possible.
Afterward, we went to this little flea market called Artists & Fleas. I actually recognized it...it was the same one I went to with my friend Nick in Chelsea Market at the beginning of the summer. They sold all these cute things like hand-carved wooden phone cases, face masks in test tubes, little plantable cards, and homemade jewelry.
We also took a lot of pictures around the neighborhood, because Brooklyn is just so hip. And also dirtier than I expected. But still a cool place.
And of course I took her to my one of my favorite dessert places, Spot Dessert Bar. Such pretty and delicious desserts. And I always get the same thing, a green tea chocolate lava cake, which is significant because I don't even really like chocolate.
Gwendolyn left on Sunday, and before she left, we got ramen at this place called Ramen Misoya in the East Village that I'd actually been to once before, but Yelp called a "hole-in-the-wall" and "one of the biggest bowls of ramen in the city". I think I ate out more with Gwendolyn in the 2.5 days she was here than I did the entire rest of the summer.
I also finally went to Dunkin' Donuts! It only took me until the last week of my trip here. I had Dunkin Donuts iced coffee and a slice of $1 pizza for lunch on the last day of my internship. The quintessential New York experience. Both were really good...nothing too special, to be honest. But $1 pizza is pretty hard to say no to.
Sometimes when I look out the window of the apartment at the busy streets, no matter how late it is, I can understand how New York would be a little lonely at times. It's so crowded but at the same time there's so much empty space it can feel like it's consuming you. Everything about the city is big and fast-paced, and it's easy to feel as though you're slipping into insignificance. But it also reminds me that the world is in constant motion. Life goes on; it won't stop for you, and that's just the way it is. And I think a lot of New Yorkers are a tangible expression of that same tough-love attitude. And I appreciate it. The daily hustle and grind is something I look forward to being a part of; I think it's a humbling experience embedded in the working culture here.
I also think I've also decided (completely objectively) that California is unequivocally the best state. I missed the saltiness of the air and hearing the sound of the ocean, I missed the cleanliness. And I'm unashamed to say that I missed the familiarity of it. I still want to live here—in fact, I'm so desperate to leave California after I graduate only because I already know I want to go back. My mom (who is from the East Coast) pointed out that people on the West Coast seem to enjoy their lives a lot more. And even from living here for a brief moment, I can see that it's true. And that's the kind of life I want to live.
And speaking of California, I'm on my way back to my second home for my last-ever first day of school, ready to start my senior year. I'm so excited for this year, my final year. Santa Barbara, I'm coming for you!