25 February 2013, 11:15
Two weeks in Europe was fabulous, but there’s nothing like coming home. Even more amazing — to me, at least — is the fact that now this is my home! Talk about a dream come true.
Every day in New York City is a blessing, but I’m feeling the love even more strongly than usual lately… Maybe because spring is in the air! Either way, here are ten reasons why I’m head-over-heels in love with NYC right now…
1. Simple acts of kindness.
When I flew back from London, my plane got in an hour later than expected. The queues were moving extremely slowly, collecting my suitcase took forever, and by that point, my phone was dead. Once I got in a cab, my driver and I started talking. I mentioned that my phone wasn’t working, and he immediately handed his over so I could let my husband know I was running late. I was incredibly touched by that simple gesture, and by his kindness.
2. The people.
New Yorkers have a reputation for being impatient and rude. They’re not. They’re just busy! New Yorkers like to get to the point, they don’t pussyfoot around, and if they don’t like you, they’ll tell you to your face. I love this. I’d pick honesty & integrity over insincerity any day. NYC is all about hard work and efficiency, and what could be better than that?
3. Street chat.
The conversations you overhear on the street are infinitely more interesting here than anywhere else. Maybe it’s because no one really has any space, so we take whatever opportunity we get to speak, but people who live in New York have the most candid conversations in public. It’s fascinating. I guess that’s why Overheard In New York is still going strong!
4. Neighbourhood bliss.
In a city of 8 million people, it is endlessly fascinating to me that you are able to carve out any kind of niche at all. After two weeks overseas, it feels so good when the guy at the sandwich shop knows your name, and the barista knows your order before you place it. The East Village is one of my favourite places on the planet, and doubly so in spring and summer. Everyone sits out on their stoops, kids play in the fire hydrant spray, there are flowers and music and everyone is happy. Ah! Just thinking about it makes my heart beat extra fast!
Two Sundays ago, Rabbit and I went to a vampire ball. It was packed with people, and it was absolutely fabulous. We danced to Type O Negative and Bauhaus remixes, drank gin and teased our hair in the bathroom. A man in a latex catsuit asked me to marry him. (I politely declined.) Afterwards, Rabbit and I went to 24-hour Ukrainian diner for a 3am breakfast. Perfect.
6. Even exercise can be sublime.
The gym I go to looks like a haunted mansion, and I take yoga classes in a room full of stained glass windows. I ride my bike along leafy village streets and run beside the East River. Don’t be fooled: when it comes to getting (and staying) motivated about your health, your surroundings do matter!
7. 24/7 delivery.
In NYC you can get pretty much anything delivered to your door, although it is possible to go a little overboard with this. One of my favourite things to do is have waffles with ice-cream delivered as a midnight snack. Once, on a particularly lazy day, I even had brunch delivered (French toast with bacon!). My local bodega, Sunny and Annie’s, which makes famous sandwiches (seriously, if you come to town, you have to try one), will deliver a bunch of flowers, a pack of gum or even a Christmas tree at 4 in the morning. Now that’s service.
People here love to give commentary on what you’re wearing. I once had a twenty-something guy tell me, “That’s the cutest outfit I’ve seen in at least fifty years!” And on Sunday morning, while walking my dog in a ragtag outfit which included a leopard-print faux fur coat and knee-high boots, a cop stopped me to tell me I had “an amazing sense of style.” Thanks, officer!
There is an occult store, a boutique beer shop, a fabulous vintage clothing store, a tarot card reader and a store selling toys from the 80s within one block in my neighbourhood. In the surrounding couple of streets, you can find my favourite juice bar on the planet, an old-timey vegan ice-cream parlour, a shop that only sells vintage eye-glasses, and Russian baths. And that’s only within a few blocks. Truly, NYC has something for everyone.
10. Dog couture.
I saw a dog wearing a Yankees cap on Monday night. No further details required!
Have you ever written a love letter to your city? Taking the time to think about what makes your home wonderful is a fantastic gratitude exercise. And don’t get it twisted: no matter where you live, there are always great things happening. (One of my favourite city love letters is a song called Say Shh by Atmosphere.)
11 February 2013, 11:20
I can’t believe it took a girl from the Midwest — Alexandra Franzen — to drag me out to an icon in my own town! City Bakery is located on West 18th Street between 5th & 6th Avenues, & it’s a must-see/must-gulp for anyone in New York City.
Sure, it’s popular with tourists, & as such, some of the reviews on Yelp are a little unfair & snarky, but I’m more than happy to overlook the cluster of tourists & sometimes surly service for some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted.
Okay, I am not overstating the point when I say that I am a hot chocolate connoisseur. I have sipped (& sometimes outright guzzled!) it in many different locations all over the world. Some of my favourites include Angelina in Paris, The Chocolate Boutique in Auckland, Hotel Chocolat in London, & Koko Black & San Churro in Melbourne.
Truly, hot chocolate is an international language. You should know that I take this very seriously. Alex calls hot chocolate “liquid Christmas”, & I cannot disagree with her!
In NYC, I love Max Brenner for a quick, reliable, chocolatey pick-me-up, but I have definitely found a new favourite at City Bakery. You can order a little shot or a regular cup, & you can add an enormous homemade marshmallow on top if it pleases you. (It will please you… It’s like eating a pillow from heaven.)
Oh, & as for the shot versus cup conundrum? I say, go big or go home!
Of course, you could visit City Bakery any day of the year. They have insane cookies & brownies galore. But… February is hot chocolate month! YES! Every day they have a different flavour, & every day they will ladle it — yes, literally ladle it! — out of a huge vat & into your waiting mouth. (Okay, really they put it in a cup first. But you know what I mean.)
Some of the upcoming flavours include Darkest Dark Chocolate, Ginger, Love Potion, Moulin Rouge, Happy Hot Chocolate, Spicy Caramel & Ode To The Polar Bear! Who knows what half of these flavours are, but maybe that’s the best part!
It’s like a happy mouth surprise party!
Order your cup with a marshmallow, grab a spoon, & stir the whole mess together while you eat/drink gleefully.
I believe that celebrating hot chocolate month is the perfect way to drag your caboose through the end of winter!
Go on: embrace your inner Augustus Gloop! I’ll see you there!
Augustus Gloop will not be harmed,
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