Wednesday was a beautiful day, and a perfect summer day to spend in Manhattan with two old friends and one new one. A few weeks ago my friend Char asked me to come along on a trip to NYC which would include a number of really fun stops, culminating in going to the taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon! The plan was to meet at Peacefoods Café a vegan restaurant on Amsterdam and 81st— just around the corner from my old apartment on 79th St. When I got off the subway at 79th I was flooded with old memories (mostly good). I also realized I was early enough to stop at Zabars on my way to lunch.
If you’re not familiar with Zabars, just know it is like Mecca for a Long Island Jewish ‘girl’ like me! I didn’t want to lug around too much, and I surely didn’t want to get anything perishable, so my options were limited. I picked up some Kale ships for Char, some interesting tea, and a few chocolate rugalah (sic) for later. I sat in the sun for a few minutes on one of the median benches on Broadway, then made my way to Peacefood Café.
I nabbed a great corner table in the front window, and waited for my friends as well as Char’s friend Fran Costigan a well-known vegan chef/baker and cookbook author, whom I was really excited to meet. Everyone arrived, and I must apologize here, because things got very lively, and I forgot to take any pictures of the beautiful and delicious food. (Five women (including me), only two of whom I knew, lots of crosstalk, and everyone saying something I wanted to hear, plus amazing food— I was on some serious overload!)
The food was wonderful. I did swipe this picture of the chickpea fries from Peacefood’s website. I had Shanghai style dumplings and roasted Japanese pumpkin and zucchini. The dumplings were dense and savory, the skins thick and chewy, the filling rich with a variety of textures and flavors from fresh and herb-y to meaty and deep. The pumpkin was sliced thin and very tasty too. Deb ordered a side of the chickpea fries, and these were a hit with everyone! I have been charged with trying to figure out how to make them, and if I am successful you can bet I will let you in on the recipe!
After lunch we made our way downtown to NBC studios to see the taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I have never been to a taping of a TV show, and it was lots of fun. The Roots (from Philly) were awesome! And now we come to the moment you’ve been patiently waiting for, the CRONUT. The final guest of the evening was Dominique Ansel, chef and owner of Ansel bakery, and inventor of the CRONUT. On the way out everyone was given a Cronut in a lovely paper box, and I carried mine home via subway, NJ Transit, and a long car ride from Princeton Junction to Philadelphia. I arrived home feeling tired and gritty, with a blister on the bottom of my foot. I put my bags down, settled myself at the counter, and with great ceremony opened my Cronut box. I didn’t really know what to expect; I had read about them, seen them all over all range of media, and even entertained and discarded the idea of waiting on line for one last time I was in NYC.
I don’t really feel it’s fair for me to review pastry that sat for a while at a TV studio, then endured a four hour trip home getting knocked around in its sweet gift box, but here’s how I feel about my first Cronut experience. From my first bite I was surprised. The Cronut was very chewy and very sweet. There was a blackberry glaze on top, and more blackberry jelly in the filling. It was very buttery— there is a ton of butter in the pastry, the filling was the over-riding flavor and was a bit too sweet for me, and there is cream filling too which was a nice complement to the sweet jelly. Because it was so dense it took a while and many bites to eat it. It was enjoyable, and I’m sure a hot, fresh one is sublime, so if you’re up for a long wait in line, get one or two, but if you were planning on bringing one to a faraway friend, spend that $5.00 on chocolate rugulah from Zabars instead.