I Fell on the 6 Train, Mary’s Lobster Roll Fail, Life Is Better with (L’Arte del) Gelato

51st Street Station. Downtown 6 train. 7:00pm. I was running late, late to work, late from work, and now, late for dinner. I always seem to have the perfect timing – guaranteed to just miss the train when I need it most.

I swiped my monthly metro, briefcase in one hand, shoulder bag in another and eyed the train, which failed to close its doors as one commuter after another pushed through, leaving a slick of hope for the next late passenger. I’ve never been one of those people who tried to push the doors open. It’s mostly out of fear for having the glasses knocked off my face should the closing doors smash me on both sides, as if to ridicule my weak attempts to keep it open.

But this time, timing appeared to err on my side. I was but steps away from the train when a woman pushed through, once again reopening the doors. I mentally crossed my fingers and made a speedy run-hop into the train.

Or. Rather. It was more a quick…RUN! HOP! and then an even quicker…TRIP, SLIP, FALL…into the arms of a stranger. It happened so suddenly, I barely registered what occurred before I found him holding my two bags, a cell phone, and a second cell phone, a bottle of water, my right arm and left elbow. Thank goodness for the stranger and flat shoes. I was surprised my glasses didn’t slip off my face. As the train made way to 42nd St/Grand Central, he lifted me from the odd half crouching position I assumed, and directed me towards his seated friend, who stood up and motioned me to take the seat.

Shaken I was not, surprised I was. Surprised at my own negligence, and surprised of my own surprised reaction to the unexpected kindness of strangers. New York has got to be one of the friendliest cities I’ve lived in or visited. It’s right up there with Hawai’i…and on good days, perhaps even more so. I never found LA very friendly, though perhaps it was simply not for me.

I made it to dinner, only 15 minutes late to Mary’s Fish Camp with Robyn and Yvo. Food? The lobster roll (an absurd $33) was simply meh…pathetic, over mayonaised with a stale bun. A confused room temperature mélange of both over-fried and extra-underfried/soggy shoestrings.

Not much better could be said for the fried dishes as we sampled our way though dishes of greasy, lackluster oysters and clams…

…and then lifeless rubbery rings of calamari and jalapenos with cilantro sour cream. The dish sounded good on paper, though turned out to be less so on the tongue.

The crab dip was also a bore not worth words. I’ll stick with Pearl Oyster Bar, where I can dine on a superior lobster roll at a lower price, and close out the meal with blueberry pie.

However, that’s not to say it was a terrible dinner. For as poor as the food may be, when you’re in good company, all is well.

We passed on desserts at Mary’s, opting out of $12 ice cream sundaes, banana pudding and a peach cobbler. If the savouries were any indication of the sweet to come, we made a wise choice in heading out for gelato.

Now if there is one place I can rely on in the West Village (aside from Otto), it would be L’Arte Del Gelato. It is without a doubt my favourite gelato shop in the city, and apart from a slight price increase a few months past, I have yet to depart the 7th Avenue doors without the lightest feeling of eternal bliss. They say money can’t buy happiness, and I’m won’t argue there. But $5 allocated towards a cup of gelato has me swooning. It’s a simple formula composed of the owner himself, kind and proud of his products; the shop itself, with a rainbow siren of selection neatly tucked behind the gleaming glass case, and the employees, generous with samples and smiles.

I never quite know which flavour to try because I’ve had them all and love each one as much as the next. While picking a favourite among favourites is never easy, I typically gravitate towards Pistachio. However, the arrival of new flavours like Fig & Ricotta and a smooth autumn Pumpkin (soon to be speckled with dark chocolate shards!) has me thinking otherwise. But oh, we should never forget about the Zuppa Inglese, Hazelnut or Chocolate-Chili! Those are just as wonderful. And so is the Coffee! Coconut! Mascarpone! and Cinnamon! An endless party to say the least. Yesterday I veered straight into a cup of Mint-Chocolate, Blueberry, and a smidgen of Strawberry, for those were the flavours that attracted my eyes…

…Yvo did similar, replacing the Blueberry with an especially lush looking Panna Cotta…

…and Robyn combined my two current affairs of Pistachio and Pumpkin. Pure, unadulterated flavours frozen in the form of creamy wonders. What’s not to love, what’s not to love? :)

Mary’s Fish Camp
64 W 4th St
New York, NY 10012
(646) 486-2185

L’Arte del Gelato
75 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 924-0803

See You…

…later this week. The early chill of Fall feels absolutely wonderful, so I’ll be spending the next few days out with knitted grey scarves. On the way home from the Greenmarket last week, I came across many $2 cacti lined in a row, all splitting images of Helix from back in Spring. There was one on the right end, twice as tall as the rest. So I picked it up, removed $2 from my pocketbook and paid the owner. “Ahhhh,” he said, “nono, this one is $3!” And before I could ask why, he nodded solemnly before saying, “this is the tallest of them all.” How could I argue?

The cactus found a home on my windowsill next to Bush Basil and Golden Tree. I found Golden Tree at the Chelsea antique market a month ago with Shann, Steph, and Darien.

The tree is utterly useless. But I love it all the same.

When I came home on Sunday, I sat down at my desk, turn to the right wall and saw…a birdcage! Upon moving into our new apartment, I decided it would be quite nice to have golden birdcage with a pair of lovebirds. But seeing as it would be completely unreasonable (where to put the birdcage? what if: they’re noisy…they stink…management doesn’t allow pets?), Shann surprised me with the next best thing. A golden paper birdcage with not just lovebirds, but a baby peacock! Talk about quality apartment-mates :)

So here is what my room currently looks like. Steph helped me carry home this column I purchased from a store on 13th Street last month. Like Golden Tree, and Big Bowl, the column serves absolutely no purpose aside from sheer aesthetic value. If you’re going to have fun, you might as well have fun right?

I’ve also acquired in my first real mirror – a large golden one that goes rather nicely with the room. The mirror was an impossible pain to hang, so much thanks to Don (and the stud finder!) for affixing it flush on my East wall. The room is complete, except for maybe a rug, heheh. I can’t wait for it to get colder – more reasons to snuggle into bed with thick socks and a book. Mugs of hot tea, too! Alas, the work day isn’t over yet…

…but I’ll be warming up with a 9th Street latte in due time. Have a lovely week :)

9th Street Espresso
341 E 10th Street
New York, NY 10009
(212) 777-3508

Otto & Retipping Shoes

Life is the funniest thing I know. You must already be aware that life encompasses the strange and odd and wonderful all at once. But I never cease to blink in wonderment each time it takes me by surprise. Enroute to the shoe repair shop with Steph, we came across a fact. It was an utterly unexpected fact revealing a surprising side to an individual. That fact tripped upon another, shedding light upon something we had previously agreed would never be answered. It’s ridiculous how small and crazy, absolutely crazy, this world is. And with all that considered, after colliding into a fantastical coincidence the day prior, life is indeed wonderful…or as Steph decided after we dropped off our heels to be retipped, “I love life!”

Hours before, I was at Otto for a long and lazy lunch. I love Otto as much as I love life. Now, now you might think that is exaggerated, but no, it is the honest and complete truth. I love Otto most in the afternoons, weekends or weekdays. I love it just the same during peak dinner hours, though get irritated by the crowds. I’ve never been a fan of crowds or big groups in general. Dining in big groups is the worst form of dining.

On that afternoon I nestled into the corner bar seat closest to the windows and counted exactly five other people seated along the bar. One couple sharing gelato and a bottle of wine, a young boy around 21 with the Olive Oil Copetta, and two older males dining alone, one in a business suit, and another in a white button down and jeans. I browsed the menu for items anew and realized that I had not yet tried the brussel sprouts before! And because what has never been tasted must be had, a dish of the brussel sprouts vincotto was soon set in front of me. I tucked each half away, one by one, over the NYT and Daily News, which bore the dooming proclaimation of “777” in bold letters.

Then I moved on to the carbonara which only gets better with every visit. The one pasta dish I would gladly eat on a daily basis. Rich, eggy and marked with salty bits of pancetta, the carbonara is better shared, but unless you have to worry about slinking into a corset post-lunch, there’s no reason you can’t down it alone.

And then dessert. The caramel coppetta is my current affair. A deep wonder composed from a base of chocolate crumbles, a generous round of caramel gelato and coffee bourbon sauce. Sliced bananas, buttered pecans and a lush pipe of mascarpone crema brought dessert and that midday meal to the sweetest, most satisfying end possible.

1 Fifth Avenue
NY, NY 10003
(212) 995-9559