As slick as a whistle here we are, at the heart of summer. The sun is beaming in full force dissolving every memory of snow and rain we carried over from last year. Despite that, New York city is rich and lively. Gelato and rainbow milkshakes are hastily relished on the go before the scorching heat bleeds them out. New York is a bit of every part of the world, it has something to give for everyone. This summer commenced with a predominant Italian vibe. The one thing consistent in Italian food is the amount of passion instituted in cooking. I would never have learnt the story of gianduja had I not explored the Italian pockets of the city.
It’s a laid back Sunday morning. We rise up after much contemplation, pour some spiced Indian chai to the brim of our stout coffee mugs. We carelessly dip a social tea biscuit in the steaming hot tea and force our half open eyes to wake up to the nostalgic aroma of mornings in Madras. We then decide to do brunch outside today, instead of the wonted upma or oatmeal. It is a perfectly toasty afternoon. We slip into our summer clothes and head out to the cafe across the street, a couple of blocks uptown. We pick a favorite corner spot by the window, overlooking the streets on Amsterdam avenue. It is a lush Italian cafe with an airy homestyle flair. The comfy coaches with bold floral prints are a visual treat. We order a plate of nutella crepes for him and french toast for me. We savor the food and the intricate decor alike, take a moment to commend the first class maple syrup, then get back to admiring the wall mounted lanterns and other antiques. Hours pass by a cuppa and we are still smitten by the ambience, the sweet little corners calling out to us for tête-à-têtes with our loved ones. It feels good because for a very short while, as long as we are here sipping a latte, life is slow.. the way it should be.
It was a chapter that transported us back in time. A lazy brunch on Sundays is mandatory for the soul. Sometimes it’s all the therapy you will need to tackle monday blues. It is amusing to explore coffee shops unassumingly tucked away in street corners like these. I have an unparalleled weakness for everything vintage and this was a perfect setting to feed my liking. I will remember this day for the best french toast I have ever eaten in a very artsy and vibrant cafe. I will also remember this to be the day when, in New York city, I was finally served just the sufficient quantity of food a person can eat. On a side note, fresh sourdough breads are perfetto for french toasts.
A day like an Italian
To eat every existing delicacy in this city, one lifetime isn’t enough. One of the most heartwarming attractions in lower Manhattan is a bustling Italian marketplace called Eataly. It stands alongside the Flatiron building across Madison Park. I have been sinfully stealing myself to Eataly at least twice a week the past month. There is a genuine piece of Italy life here, fondling an irresistible invitation to breathe in the fragrance of freshly baked pastries and sourdough breads. It has been an enlightening discovery, the choices of food and wine are endless. The doors at 5th avenue open to a crisp aroma of freshly ground coffee. The magic unfolds the instant we walk in, one wouldn’t expect so much of a truly authentic Italian world on this side of the block. The quiet mumblings over coffee tables and counters are thick and french accented, the air is distinctly scented with regional twists of flavored espresso. It accommodates rooftop beer gardens, restaurants and wine bar. It is a mecca of Italian jams and compote, hand pulled mozzarella, wine and breads. It is a high-end supermarket, the downside is that it is very expensive. Nevertheless it was an incredible experience touring the marketplace and eyeballing the jumbo cheese counters and absynth chocolates. There are occasional shout outs from the fishmonger, the spirits are high at the wine bar and all through the day, the bakery at the north west pocket oozes out delicious aroma of well risen, warm and crusty breads.My south Indian curiosity was promptly tingled, drawing me to create a little bucket-list (a summer fling list) of some offbeat favorites. The Italians here take food very seriously. They strongly believe people bond well when there is good food.
The summer-fling list:
Violet jam – Viola/violet jam is made out of wild violet flowers and is popular in France. Some of these have a more perfumed taste.
Gobino’s gianduja spread – Predating Napoleon times, the continental system lead to declining supply of cocoa. To stretch the quantity the chocolate was mixed with hazelnut paste occasioning the invention of gianduja.
Italian coriander honey – Any monofloral honey will have it’s own unique taste of season. Manufactured when coriander flowers are in full bloom, this has an aroma of citrus and coriander spice.
Sambuco – Sambuco is Italian for elderberry jam.
Sabadi’s Quality of life series : health – Cold processed organic chocolate with bee pollen, pomegranate extract and acerola.
Sabadi’s Quality of life series : beauty – Cold pressed organic chocolate with chia seeds, linseeds, hemp seeds, extracts of carrots and bilberries
Chestnut cream – A common ingredient in many Italian cuisines.
Redcurrant compote – Red currants are uncommon berries, when had as a whole they are believed to have a seeded caviar like texture.
Alba – All the bite sized pastries look beautiful, but I found Alba to be particularly interesting. It is a passion fruit mousse & dark chocolate over buckwheat and almond flour sponge cake