RIP, Rizzoli

New York, I love you. But not today.

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I just learned that my favorite bookstore—Rizzoli on 57th Street—is shutting down. The 95-year-old townhouse will be demolished. In its stead will be some shiny, towering skyscraper. And I am pissed.

Here’s the thing: You, as a city, are incredibly irritating and maddening. You drive a girl to drink (overpriced margaritas, usually) with your millions of people and crowded blocks and subways and pollution. But your magic lies in the cozy, charming places that embrace us, that make us feel sheltered and safe and a little less alone.

Rizzoli was one of those places for me. As you know by now, I am a book girl. So when I was a New York newbie, with a boyfriend in grad school and friends far away in different cities, I would escape to Rizzoli’s third floor and peruse the books I couldn’t afford (because of your sky-high rent, of course). After a solo day at the movies and treating myself to lunch, Rizzoli is where I’d end up, flipping through biographies of women I aspired to be like. When I was heading to Paris for the first time, Rizzoli is where I went in search of travel guides. And in that bookstore, beneath its grand chandeliers, is where my Allende obsession continued and my Fitzgerald infatuation began.

Now, I walk by that store every day on my way to work, often with my nose pressed against the window admiring the latest displays. And never mind the fact that we’re losing a historic bookstore: We’re saying farewell to one of your city’s architectural landmarks, a century-old townhouse that got its start as a piano showroom. It literally pains me to imagine that little gem demolished and replaced by scaffolding and yet another West 57th Street glass building.

Tonight, I said goodbye, and tomorrow, I plan to join the rally that will, to put it nicely, give you and your businessmen the middle finger. I know that these things happen, and I never imagined I’d be so attached to a place, but here I am. And here’s hoping I’ll find another great escape just as perfect.

 

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Sweet Tooth

Allow me to introduce you to the Cronut, NYC’s latest craze.

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In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Cronut is the latest pastry from Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho. A donut with a croissant texture and light drizzle of icing, this dessert has had New Yorkers losing their minds. Because of the kitchen’s small size and the amount of time it takes to make the Cronut, Chef Ansel can only produce 300 each day, which means les cronuts sell out before 9:30 AM. So now, there are scalpers selling these things for upward of $100. And there was a man on Craigslist searching for um, services, in exchange for a Cronut. Yes, it’s that real.

At my day job, we were lucky enough to obtain three (yes, only three!) of the in-demand treats. Each month, Ansel and his team create a new flavor, and this month’s was blackberry. I was skeptical; in my experience so far, rarely has a Manhattan craze lived up to the hype. But when I tell you that as soon as I bit into this thing, I saw fireworks, heard angels sing, and felt like I was being nestled inside a fluffy cloud, I mean it. It’s the perfect ratio of croissant to donut, soft to chewy, icing to filling. I was in awe, and after my two small, sticky bites (unfortunately, I had to share) I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a whole one. But seeing as that would mean waking up at 4:45 AM to get in line, I may have to wait until things die down a bit. But rumor has it upcoming flavors will be passion fruit and coconut. Heaven!

It wasn’t long after I finally tried a Cronut that I learned there’s a new croissant-donut hybrid in town: The Squat (yes, as in what you should do after eating these bad boys). It’s a glazed, square donut with a croissant texture and—wait for it—bacon sprinkled on top. According to Gothamist, it might be even better than the cronut. What is wrong with America? First the Cronut, then Dunkin’ Donuts’ donut breakfast sammich, and now this? Are we just set on giving our population heart problems? (Don’t get me wrong, I will be trying all of this. Shame, shame on me.)

ImageAnother croissant-pastry hybrid I recently taste-tested (doesn’t my day job sound horribly labor-intensive?) is City Bakery’s croissant pretzel, which we nicknamed the “cretzel.” It’s the perfect, soft combination of a croissant with a pretzel’s saltiness (and not too much of a pretzel-y texture, which I feared). And reader, prepare yourself, as this is only the beginning of my NYC pastry taste-testing. Before I left for Paris last summer, I read Amy Thomas’s Paris, My Sweet where, throughout her story of moving to Paris from New York for a year, Thomas shared the best sweet shops in both Paris and New York. I still have a ton of bakeries from that book that I need to visit (Maison Kaysar and Lady M Confections on the Upper East Side are up next), so it’s time to pick up the pace. And don’t worry: In between, I will share all the sugary goodness on the blog—while simultaneously doing a ton of squats.

Proud to Be An American

The news of the week—in fact, of the year, thus far anyway—has of course been the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. An American victory that has been a long time coming. So long, in fact, that the search for the world’s most wanted man slipped many of our minds. Now that he is officially dead, I’ve seen various images of how people are responding across the country. There’s been the photos of people dancing and shouting in jubilation in front of the White House of D.C. and people around the world toasting to his death.

Here in New York, I think most people share my sentiments. There is a certain feeling of justice and satisfaction in the news of his death, but also, a fear. I can only think about what his followers and loved ones might be plotting to retaliate, and it’s a thought that truly scares me, especially living in the city where the 9/11 attacks happened.

But the varying reactions across the country—whether they are reactions filled with fear, celebration, sadness, or happiness—I think the one thing that everyone in this country shares in feeling is patriotic. Because no matter your political beliefs, or your feelings about the President, there is no denying how horrific the 9/11 attacks were, and there’s no denying that there was a small part of all of us that was on edge while Osama Bin Laden was alive. And on Sunday night when millions of us saw the President on our TV screens announcing the historic moment, I don’t know a single person who, even if just for a moment, didn’t feel proud to be an American. I think our President summed it up best when he was visiting the police and fire departments here in New York City:

“What happened on Sunday, because of the courage of our military and the outstanding work of our intelligence, sent a message around the world, but also sent a message here back home that when we say we will never forget, we mean what we say; that our commitment to making sure that justice is done is something that transcended politics, transcended party; it didn’t matter which administration was in, it didn’t matter who was in charge, we were going to make sure that the perpetrators of that horrible act — that they received justice.”