January 5, 2005 1:36 PM | By Adam Roberts | 16 Comments

The Wanderer and Magic NYC Moments: Once Upon A Tart, Cafe Reggio, Kossar's, and Doughnut Plant

When Amy Poehler farts on SNL, she turns to the camera and says with a lisp: "Jealous?"

That's how I feel about living in New York. I want to turn to the world, lift up my leg and say: "Jealous?"

I love living here. Honesty, it's so much better than where you live. I know where you live is nice, but it's not as nice as New York. It's not as exciting as New York. You can't do what I did yesterday and the day before where you live. I mean, I suppose you can but it really wouldn't matter. JEALOUS?

Ok, ok, enough bragging. What did I do? Well, on Monday I wandered. After lunch at Pepe Rosso I wandered in the gray drizzly air. I wandered next door to "Once Upon A Tart":


I'd seen their cookbooks in far away places and couldn't wait to try one of their baked goods. So I bought this chocolate cranberry cookie:


It was horrible! I hated it! What a terrible cookie!

Honestly, it was hard--and not even in a good crunchy way, but in a tough to bite through way. I suppose the chocolate cranberry combination was interesting, but all in all I give it a C-.

But that's part of the magic, people. For every bad cookie there's a good cookie and vice-versa. Jealous?

Then it started drizzling even harder and I stumbled into this place:


Cafe Reggio. I sat in a shadowy booth near a pay phone. I pulled out my copy of Charles Dickens's "Bleak House." I'm on page 800--I am so close to finishing!

I read the little menu thingie that they put on the table. I learned two very exciting facts:

(1) The house across the street was home to Louisa May Alcott:


(2) Cafe Reggio has America's first cappuccino maker. Mr. Reggio, apparently, is responsible for bringing cappuccinos to the United States. When I read this, I got very excited. I asked the waitress: "So where's the machine?" She pointed: "It's right over there." And indeed it was:


I studied it for a moment then returned to my table. Naturally, I ordered a cappuccino. Unnaturally, she asked if I wanted whipped cream on it. I said "sure!"

Here it is:


America's first cappuccino with whipped cream on it. It tasted great. Louisa May Alcott and I totally agree on that.

Next day...

Met my friend Jason for lunch on the Lower East Side at a place called Rice. Since it wasn't a spectacular meal, only an average perfectly acceptable meal, we'll skip over that magic NYC moment. But then some more magic. More wandering. We wandered through Chinatown and saw dried shrimp and other dried fishy things:


Next, we wandered over to Doughnut Plant. This place is amazing. I've already been there (as you can see from the "Adam and Lisa Eat The LES" video on the left). But this was my first time going back since.

For some reason, yesterday's photos won't let me link to small versions so I'm going to link textually to large versions.

Here's Jason in front of Doughnut Plant: Click me.

Look at the two little old ladies. Aren't they cute?

As you can see, the specials are Jelly Doughnuts, Marzipan Doughnuts, and Citron Doughnuts. Here's a closer look. Looks amazing, no?

Jason and I both went with square jelly doughnuts (2nd shelf from top, on the left). It didn't occur to me until we discussed it how remarkable these doughnuts are. They are SQUARE and they are filled with jelly. How do they fill them? Exactly. Thank you. These doughnuts are genius. Mine was filled with apricot and Jason's was peanut butter and strawberry jelly.

As we left, I noticed Kossar's bialys next door. I'd never had a bialy in my entire life. Here's Jason standing in front.

Even though we'd just had a ricey lunch and then two big doughnuts, I insisted on trying bialys. They were only $0.50 each. Here's what they look like up close.

Perfect. What a perfect ending to a perfect post. This bialy had flavor and jazz and poppy seeds and lots and lots of history. Where else can you wander around a city and end up with a bialy chaser to your square apricot jelly doughnut? Exactly.



I stopped going to Caffe Reggio after noticing two ABSOLUTELY GIGANTIC roaches on the payphone.

I'm just sayin', is all. Watch your back!

(Also, the bialy is the best savory breakfast baked good ever. Once you go bialy, bagels seem so grotesque and McSupersized!)

I'm jealous. :(

Those doughnuts sound painfully delicious. One came with peanut-butter in it? Brilliant!! Damn, we need one of these places in my town.

Those doughnuts looks huge! A friend of mine just sent me an article about that place. I guess they make them square and inject them in various spots so that EACH BITE will be filled with jelly goodness. Yes, I am very jelly that you can go there whenever you wish.

You are living my dream life! Eating your way through New York. I have wanted to go to the donut factory ever since I first saw it on Foodtv. Please tell me they have plain glazed donuts?

But, alas, i'm old and married and stuck in texas.
(psst, don't move to TX)

SCREW YOU!, I mean, no, that's cool. Happy for you. sob. Not jealous. Not jealous.

I'm not jealous at all. Adam, I love you and your blog, but NYC ain't got nothin' on Chicago. Chicago has all of the great places to eat, the whole melting-pot feel, the history, the culture... and none of the name dropping conceit. In my business, I talk to New Yorkers about 15 times a day, and 11 of those times, I just want to give them a warm hot glass of Take It Down A Notch. I love urban surroundings (I live near Milwaukee), but as far as big city envy goes ... give me Chi-town anyday.

I'm jealous!! And am I the only one who thinks Jason is mad hot?? I'm just saying...

Is there still a Kossar's on E. 14th ST? Since I moved from NYC to Atlanta in 1988 I miss bialys even more than I miss bagels.
And wasn't there a scene in Shaft at Cafe Reggio?

Slightly jealous, but can *you* buy a Beaver Tail on the Lower East Side? Nope.

Dear Adam,

Why are you not fat? Why am I? I had chicken soup for lunch and a salad for dinner. I hate you.


Haha, Gabby, that comment made my night!

Oh man, I want a chocolate doughnut from Doughnut Plant. It better be good, since I much prefer cake doughnuts.

now I get the prize for being the ultimate jealous person. I live like 3000km from NYC and have no access to doughnuts, bagels, bialys or even that superb whip cream on the cappuccino. Okay, I have Croissant, baguette, choucroute, saucisse de Strasbourg and all that crap but still. Now gimme a PB donut for that.

I am sad that you didn't have a good experience at Once Upon a Tart, because it is one of my favorite places. Honestly though, how come you didn't order a TART? They are really good. I like the mushroom ones and the peach ones they have in the summer. Try going again before you give up on them...

You are being a shit but I still love you. And I second Gabby's comment. I had yogurt for breakfast and salad for lunch.
I guess my frustration at not being in New York is tempered by my joy at not being in Ohio. Coastal California is at least a step in the right culinary direction, away from the home of every major chain restaurant there is.
I had to stop reading the Arts section of the NYT because there were way too many plays I couldn't see and it drove me nuts and I felt deprived and dissatisfied with life.
BUT, luckily, you're a long way from making me dissatisfied with my town, so keep blogging those sweet NY places and I'll make it east someday.

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