Here’s how cold it was in New York: on our last morning there, I left a pair of gloves behind for the person I borrowed them from and rode the elevator down to the street with Craig to catch a cab to the airport. Craig had gone to the trouble to get me a cappuccino from our favorite New York coffee shop, Joe, which he handed to me as we stepped outside. The temperature that day, with wind-chill, was close to negative 10 degrees. NEGATIVE TEN. And no cabs were stopping, so there I was with my bare hand holding on to this warm coffee drink and the feeling was so awful–the cold was searing my hand so fiercely–I had to toss the full cup of coffee into a trash bin so I could shove my hand into my pocket. That’s the coldest I’ve ever been.
And yet, before you call me an L.A. traitor, even in the most miserable weather, New York is still my boo. I actually hadn’t been back in over a year, not because I didn’t want to, but because in the whirlwind of Skeleton Twins stuff, it just didn’t happen. Then, for Christmas, Craig presented me with tickets to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch (one of my favorite musicals) on Broadway starring the show’s creator John Cameron Mitchell the day after my birthday in February. “February?” I asked incredulously. “It’ll be fine!” he promised.
On a cold December day in New York, I took the 6 train down from the Upper East Side to the Astor Place stop with porchetta on my mind. No, not Sara Jenkins’ glorious Porchetta sandwich served at her sandwich spot so devoted to porchetta it’s called, well, Porchetta. This time I was headed to Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria to try a porchetta sandwich that made a bit of a splash when it first appeared a year or two ago. Now the New York food media has moved on, as it tends to do, and that sandwich continues to be served with slightly less fanfare. I knew I had to give it a try before it disappeared entirely.
My trip to New York started with a favorite brunch spot going down the tubes and ended with a brunch spot that I loved so much, I went twice. That spot is Lafayette and it’s located, as the name might suggest, on Lafayette Street just south of the Astor Place stop on the 6 train and north of the Broadway/Lafayette stop on every other train. My first visit was with my friend Alex who you can see above modeling a $14 basket of pastries so good, we pretty much devoured the whole thing. Going to Lafayette and not ordering the pastry basket is like going to Disneyland and not riding the rides. You just can’t avoid it.
Today’s the Jewish New Year–Happy New Year, you Jewish people, you–but it’s also, basically, our two-year anniversary of moving to L.A. Last year, around this time, I wrote a post called “One Year in L.A.: A Reflection.” It’s a pretty fascinating thing for me to re-read because, at the time, we were about to go back to New York for Craig to shoot The Skeleton Twins and I could barely contain my excitement. The gist of that post was: L.A. is fine, but I’m a New York boy through and through.
This is my friend Justin, you may recognize him from his great work at Food & Wine Magazine. Last time I was in New York, I met Justin for drinks in midtown and afterwards we decided to grab dinner somewhere in Hell’s Kitchen. On the fancy end of the spectrum is Esca, one of New York’s best seafood restaurants (an appealing thing for someone who was about to become a pescatarian) but instead of the high road, I suggested a low road… a road informed by bathrooms. Specifically, my favorite restaurant bathrooms in all of New York, the bathrooms at Vinyl.
How many cookies does the average person eat over the course of a lifetime? 500? 5,000? 5 MILLION?
I’m not sure but since life is short, I believe it’s important to make your cookies count. Cracking open a box of Chips Ahoy might scratch an itch much like sleeping with a prostitute probably scratches a different sort of each. Neither is a good idea but people do it. I say, if you’re going to eat a chocolate chip cookie, there’s only one cookie to eat and that’s the best chocolate chip cookie in the entire world, the chocolate chip cookie at The City Bakery in New York.
Crowds gather early outside Totto Ramen in New York and by the time I took that picture I imagine the wait was an hour or longer. I like ramen as much as the next guy but I wouldn’t wait an hour for it. It’s a big bowl of soup with meat floating in it and noodles. I imagine a large majority of you shrinking back in horror at that sentence: “A big bowl of soup? With meat floating in it? And noodles? That’s like calling the Mona Lisa a bunch of oil paint slathered on a canvas!” Perhaps, but I understand why people line up to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, I don’t understand why people line up for ramen.
My favorite weekend breakfasts usually have some kind of balance of savory and sweet. A pile of pancakes here, a strip of bacon there, some eggs for good measure. Rarely have I ever craved a big plate of meat-products with eggs on the side. Recently, though, I found myself at brunch at The Breslin on 29th street and there on the menu was a “Full English Breakfast” for $23. Pricey, for sure–in fact it’s the priciest thing on the brunch menu–but suddenly I was intrigued. “What is a full English breakfast, anyway?”