Monday, May 25, 2009

A Search Gone Awry...In a Very Good Way

I didn't intend to end up visiting the four corners of Manhattan when I woke up on Saturday morning.

I had no intention what so ever of doing anything but sleeping in late, leisurely puttering around the house until midday and then going into "town" about 4ish to meet some friends at the roof top bar of the MET for drinks and the best views one can have while holding an adult beverage of Central Park for six bucks (or six bucks plus the price of admission if you aren't a memeber) before embarking on an evening of debauchery in the Big Apple.

But, after reading about Nutella and Go on Baking Bites, I got a wild hair and quickly gathered myself for a day of searching the various food shops that specialize in European imports for those little packages of Nutella and dipping biscuits. I was going to go find some and triumphantly take them into the office for all to oogle and be in awe of my luck. Besides, I was out of Jif to Go and what better item to replace those little containers of peanut butter with than little containers of Nutella?

Deciding my best plan of attack to find the Nutella and Go was to hit the stores specializing in the cuisine of the countries I know that Nutella is one of the major food groups, I added to my Google map of NYC Food and Cookbook Store the Essex Street Market in the Lower East Side, collected my things for a day and night in NYC in my "city bag", fed LB a generous helping of cat food along with leaving two windows open for him to catch the early summer breezes from the sound, and took the 11am train into Grand Central.

I started with a visit to the Yorkville section of the Upper East Side for a stop in one of my two favorite cookbook stores, Kitchen Arts and Letters. I love this little store crammed full of new and old cookbooks. I had the store to myself and after perusing several lengthy and heavy tomes on bread baking and pastry, I was a good girl and left without purchasing anything to add to my ever expanding cookbook collection.

Next stop, Schaller & Weber, the venerable German grocer on the corner of 2nd Ave and 86th street.

Schaller & Weber German Grocer in NYC

I've stopped in here before to quench an addiction of mine for lemon filled crisp cookies by Manner

Manner Crisp Wafers from Vienna

but I had never really bought anything else. Since I knew I was meeting friends later and the weather was delightful, I decided to add some German salamis and cheese to my purchases.

Mixed German Salami and Bavarian Swiss from Schaller & Weber

I figured we all might like to go sit in Central Park before emarking on our evening of drinking for an impromptu picnic of various meats, cheeses, and other goodies I might discover while searching for the Nutella and Go.

Right next to Schaller & Weber is the Heidelberg Restaurant,

Heidelberg Restaurant NYC

one of the last places along the "German Broadway" where they still pull good German beer the old fashioned way, slow and long, and that you can get the German equivalent of a Ploughman's Lunch

The German Version of a Ploughman's Lunch

Wurstbrot mit Kartoffelsalat (sausage loaf with potato salad). I opted to get mine with a fried egg on top. The egg had a still soft center that when I cut into it spilled over the Wurstbrot and when paired with the fantastic true German pumpernickel from the bread basket and washed down with a "Frau" liter of Hasenbrau

German Bread Basket at the Heidelberg

was exactly the type of stick to my ribs lunch I needed before heading to the Village and my next stop, Myers of Keswick.

But not before a stop at the place that I and quite a few other New Yorkers think has the best cupcakes in NYC, Two Little Red Hens

Two Little Red Hens Bakery in Yorkville, NYC

for a little dessert of two mini cupcakes, one red velvet with cream cheese frosting and the other yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. I devoured them before I even thought to take a picture.

A twenty minute subway ride with a change from the Downtown 6 to the Shuttle at Grand Central and a jump onto, literally, of the Downtown 1 at Times Square to Christopher/Sheridan found me at the doorstep of my absolute favorite cookbook store in the world, Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks.

Bonnie is the absolute queen of all cookbooks old. If the cookbook was published and can still be found extant, she either has it or knows where to get it. I'd like to tell you I had the same restraint I had at Kitchen Arts and Letters but I would be so completely telling a lie. I mean when one is confronted with a vintage copy of Bernard Clayton, Jr's "The Bread's of France and How to Make Them in Your Own Kitchen"

The Breads of France by Bernard Clayton, Jr

a bread baker has to do what a bread baker has to do! (Don't hate me Tanna.) Afterall before there was Peter Reinhart, Maggie Glazer, and Rose Levy Beranbaum, there was Bernard Clayton, Jr. showing us how to make artisan bread in our home ovens.

I'm also not sure how these other three books ended up going home with me.

Time Live Recipe spirals from Foods of the World

Honest. They just jumped in my bag. Really....

My trip to Myers of Keswick was very in and out. The store was swarming with people and the shop isn't that big. So, after a quick "look-see" to try and locate the so far elusive Nutella & Go, I headed out into the sunshine and a walk to 6th Ave to catch the "F" train to Coney Island to get off at Delancey/Essex and check out the Essex Street Market.

I have always wanted to wander through here but just haven't quite had a chance to. It reminded me a lot of the Chelsea Market but on the other side of town. I stopped in to Batista's and they didn't have my Nutella & Go yet but said that they were trying to source it as I was about the twentieth person in two weeks to ask for it.

As it was about 3pm, I knew I had to be quick about my last stop, Zabar's.

Grocery Mecca of NYC: Zabars

But I had that planned as making Zabar's my last stop would put me on the opposite side of Central Park and quick cab ride across the 79th St. Traverse to the Met. Besides, Zabar's was the place to pick up any last minute picnic items, like their Lake Superior smoked whitefish dip, some more cheese,

Zabars Smoked Whitefish Dip and Piave and English Farmhouse Cheese

and a big hunk of Sullivan Street hearty country sourdough bread.

Sullivan Street Bakery Rustic Loaf

Zabar's was the typical late Saturday afternoon zoo that it always is but the sample ladies were as nice as always shoving pieces of bread slathered with country pate and hunks of thin shaved prosciutto at you as you whizzed by basket over arm. No luck on the Nutella and Go but that is OK because I also tossed a box of Carrs crackers and a much needed bottle of water in my basket.

I walked out onto the sidewalk to hail a cab and head to my rendezvous on top of the MET but was waylaid by the smell of fresh baked bagels wafting across the street from H&H Bagels.

NYC Bagels from H&H

Well, just in case I ended up staying the night at one of my friends apartments, it would be good to have something for breakfast like half a dozen everything, sourdough, and egg bagels right?

As it was, after munching on some of the goodies I had bought during my Nutella and Go search and dropping the leftovers off at one of the apartments, we ended up having dinner dinner at Buceo 95 before hitting an endless string of bars and night spots. I did end up crashing on a friend's couch because I missed the 1:49AM "Strange Train" back to Connecticut and it was all good. Really. Greenwich Village is a great place to end up at 4:00AM.

Nicole informs us that Nutella and Go isn't yet available in the US but, when I embarked on my city wide search on Saturday morning, I assumed she meant they weren't available "out there" beyond the borders of NYC, the great city of small ethnic markets on every corner.

I was wrong and she was right but, after my visits to the food markets of the four corners of Manhattan, I have never been happier or more sated to admit I was wrong.