I only stayed in NYC for three days, two nights. But I found that I could really get used to this kind of lifestyle.
We found a pretty sweet spot via Airbnb at the Lower East Side. If you don’t know what Airbnb is, it’s is sort of the Craigslist of accommodations. It’s a community housing market in which people list, seek and book temporary housings all around the world.
What we discovered was this one-bedroom apartment that only cost $100 per night—a steal considering the atrocious hotel prices in Manhattan.
It has this artistic vibe to it; I suspect the owner is a hipster. The bookshelves are lined with literature and non-fiction of eclectic (and sometimes pretentious) subjects, and he also had a small vinyl collection.
There’s even a TV and DVD player in case you want to stay in with take-out and a bottle of wine. We didn’t get to do that because we never came back home before midnight.
In the little corridor to the kitchen and bathroom, there was a little desk set up so that Tracy could catch up on some work.
Always the businesswoman.
The only minor downside was that the three of us had to squeeze into one queen-sized bed.
Yup, I think at some point in the night we were unwittingly spooning (new word I learned from my friends who kindly demonstrated it for me). I now believe that the definition of true girl-friendship is the ability to sleep together in one tiny compartment without killing each other.
I’ve got to hand it to the guy who owns this place. The loft-style quarter is teeny-weeny, even smaller than my studio apartment in Los Angeles, but he touched it up with small and significant details that really cozied up the place. And he’s got the best taste in music!
That’s what got us pumped up every morning; Tracy would turn on the music in full blast and we’ll climb out of bed and literally start break-dancing in our jammies.
Here’s what we basically did each day:
Wake up. Pee. Brush teeth. Get ready. Dress according to that day’s theme:
At approximately 9 a.m., walk out and hit Dunkin Donuts for a shot of caffeine.
We don’t have Dunkin Donuts in the West Coast. Something needs to change. I saved about 50 cents on my iced coffee than I otherwise would have paid at Starbucks! Woo hoo! I get it giant-sized and black because coffee is my unofficial “start” button.
Also, if we feel like it, give our parents a call to let them know that we are still alive.
My parents called me like three times the first day to check up on me. I think it just hit them that they had fed me Nyquil and was wondering if I hadn’t already crashed on the streets. Thankfully, my body was tougher than that.
And then my second favorite part of the day:
(Picture by Marilyn)
Walking the streets with nothing much planned and everything to discover.
Okay, I lied. We planned the whole trip out in detail. And by details I mean we planned the schedule out according to all the freaking delicious places we wanna hit up in a day. We even made a Google Map out of it:
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Hello. Look at all the forked places. And by God, we almost made it to them all. Almost. So freaking close. But seriously, no regrets.
There were a few places that we just walked into spontaneously, just because it looked cool. Our idea was to have a rough (haha) list of places we wanted to visit, but leave enough leeway for impromptu snacks and meals.
And yes, of course we would plan this trip based on eats! Our first tour was up towards Little Italy:
I’m sure it’s a very touristy area, but it’s still a nice historic neighborhood bordering (or engulfed by, more likely) Manhattan’s Chinatown. We were just here for the cannolis, so we kept our eyes peeled for Italian bakeries.
The first unplanned stop was at Cafe Habana in NoLiTa (as in, “North of Little Italy”).
Tracy spotted a couple nibbling on corn on the cob outside on a bench and just kind of flipped out. I’ve never seen someone so excited about corn. I told her we have those Mexican corns in Los Angeles, but this girl just got to have her corn, and I’m glad she pushed it, because dang it, it was marvelous.
You know, we are from Los Angeles, so we have a certain snobbery towards Mexican food. Eating Mexican food in New York was on our list of “Things NOT to do.” But Cafe Habana is technically not a Mexican restaurant but Cuban; plus, I found the big-ass “TIPS” sign hilarious.
Another plan that went out the window. I was planning to film everything and everyplace with my Flip Video Camcorder, but I was so in the moment that I totally forgot for most of the eats. It’s a good thing though, I think.
I did remember to film this, however. So here you go:
Seriously. Don’t eat with your mouth open. I didn’t realize I had that nasty habit. No way to edit that in film though.
Since YouTube resolution is hazy, let me show you our freaking amazing corn in still pictures:
Mexican-style corn of the cob. Grilled whole corn, slathered with butter (or margarine or lard?), coated with cotija cheese, lime juice and chili powder.
(Photo by Marilyn)
Why can’t I eat like Tracy? Look at her. Just look at her.
Nary a nib on her face. She looks like she’s advertising for Cafe Habana’s Mexican corn. I look like I belong in the Spoof or Blooper section.
Anyway. Moving on. I had barely tossed the leftover skewer into the trash can, when we stumbled upon a bakery.
You know, we can never, ever resist a bakery. This particular gingerbread house amidst Little Italy was Little Cupcake Bakeshop on Prince Street.
Such a sweet, regal place. It had a casual yet elegant atmosphere, sort of like an European cafe.
We got to see them frost the fresh-baked cupcakes. We asked the lady frosting the cupcakes what these were, and she said they were the Mott St. cupcakes, apparently inspired by the Italian favorite tiramisu.
Just made sense that we should get tiramisu-flavored cupcakes in Little Italy, so we bought one to share.
It came dusted with a bit of cinnamon powder. The cake was soaked with some kind of espresso or something like tiramisu ladyfingers. I couldn’t tell if the frosting was mascarpone-based though; it was slightly too sweet and heavy for me.
The next stop was also unplanned, though consciously, we’ve been planning to visit an Italian pastry shop for cannolis.
Caffe Roma, a bakery with a completely different feel from The Little Cupcake Bakeshop. Instead of bright, clean pastel colors, this place was washed with forest-green and mahogany tones.
Everything seemed vintage, like a 19th century Italian pastry house preserved in time. It’s long like a hallway, and at the end of it there’s even an antiquated clock.
The service wasn’t that great. Perhaps that’s why I remembered to whip out my Flip Cam again.
Here’s our take on the cannoli at Caffe Roma:
Hopefully the grumpy lady wasn’t the one who made the cannolis. Can’t trust a cannoli made by someone who apparently doesn’t eat cannolis.
And a closer look into our cannoli…
It was nice. The hard shell outside was tinted with cinnamon and crackly with a light dusting of powdered sugar. The cream filling inside had bits of mini chocolate chips and was super thick and sweet.
I was a bit disappointed though, because I don’t think the filling was ricotta-based. Maybe it was in there—but I couldn’t taste it because it got drowned by sugar.
Okay, just writing this post is making me feel sugared out. That was the make-up of our afternoon snack. Next up: dinner and drinks. See you around in a bit.
Question of the Day: What’s your favorite kind of bakery?