Growing up in Westchester, a suburban county outside of New York City, my mother made sure to take advantage of our close proximity to the city with frequent day and weekend trips. She made sure that my sister and I were exposed to just about everything the city had to offer from from museums to trips to the giant FAO Shwartz to Broadway musicals to shopping (literally EVERYWHERE) and a plethora of restaurants. We probably spent more time visiting Manhattan than we did in our own home town, I even took art classes at the Met while I was in middle school.
As an adult I’ve continued to spend quite a bit of time in the city including attending graduate school there. Although I spent a lot of time there in my adult years something was just different than when I went down there as a kid and I could never quite put my finger on what the difference was. Until yesterday.
The past few years I have only really gone into the city when I’ve had an obligation to be there whether it was a dinner reservation with Dan or friends, a casting/photoshoot or class. I would head down for whatever that purpose was and then I’d be out-in my car or back on a train high tailed up to Westchester. Yesterday it just hit me that when I went down there with my family while growing up there wasn’t always an obligation. Of course sometimes there were the dinner reservations/show tickets/etc. but even then, my mom would purposely head down way earlier than said obligation and/or stay way later. Why? Simply to walk around. I mean, when we went to the city we did a lot of walking. A LOT. Sometimes my mom had an agenda like taking us to a new store or seeing a certain museum exhibit but somehow she always crammed in all this extra….exploring. We walked everywhere. We would wander into cute little shops and boutiques, eat lunch at a random cafe because a specific style of decor caught my mother’s eye. We stopped into literally every coffee shop we passed. That’s what I missed….that random exploration. In such an overly congested city with an abundance of shops/restaurants/etc. there is an abundance of exploration to do and it literally never gets old, there will always be a surprise and something new.
Yesterday I made my way down to the city for a specific obligation. I had a photoshoot in the afternoon for a new studio I’ll be working at. I took the train from my apartment to Grand Central and then a subway to the shoot’s location. The location was in the Upper West Side, a few blocks from the subway stop. As I was walking there I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular and somehow found myself in this complete deja-vu where I was transported back to my childhood, wandering the UWS with my family, eventually, possibly heading towards The Museum of Natural History. My mom was ogling over every single building, stoop and detail of architecture. My sister and I were climbing people’s fences and darting across the side walks. It was incredibly bizarre but calming at the same time.
In all honesty, I’m not the biggest fan of NYC so it was definitely out of character for me to feel such warmth, attachment and rootedness, even, to a city I’ve never really felt natural in. If that makes sense. It doesn’t really make sense to me either, but that’s what happened.
Regardless, I went on to my obligation and had a great time at the shoot. When it was over I was starving so I sat on a bench by the park to eat a snack I had brought with me (egg whites, a kiwi and a handful of almonds). It was still early in the afternoon (a little after 2) and I had no where to be so I figured since I’ll be working down here anyway I might as well take a long walk to a subway stop further away to start familiarizing myself with the streets. I winded my way through the blocks heading downtown, simply following whichever one looked the most interesting to me…probably the same way my mother guided us years ago. As I was walking down Amsterdam I saw The Treat House, a little shop that I had seen on Amanda’s blog before. I had to stop in.
As soon as I saw the shop I remembered Amanda’s post about touring NYC and stopping at all these cute little dessert places. I decided that I wanted to walk around and pretend to be a tourist in my own backyard. I remembered a couple other spots she mentioned that were in the same area so I figured I’d keep walking until I found them.
It was incredibly hard to choose specific flavors at The Treat House. You could purchase them in singles, 4 packs or 8 packs. Since I knew I’d be hitting up some other places I decided to go with the 4 pack so I could get 2 flavors for me and 2 for Dan. I got the Cookies & Cream and Original for Dan (he always likes things “as is” so no outrageous flavors for him). He liked the treats but declared a legit home made version infinitely better. To him, these were too sweet. Yeah, I know….the eff does that even mean? And why is it a problem??
I selected the Birthday Cake and Reese’s Peanut Butter for myself. I was between the S’mores and Reese’s but the girl behind the counter told me the Reese’s was the better choice….smart chick.
I have to say, I was disappointed by the Birthday Cake treat. The “birthday cake” flavor really wasn’t strong at all. I’m not sure if there was any extra flavor in it…I’m pretty sure it was a standard rice krispie treat with rainbow sprinkles. Also, I thought that blue topping was actual frosting….so imagine my disappoint when I bit into blue marshmallow. It was just plain marshmallow. No birthday flavor and definitely not frosting, like, not even a marshmallow frosting. Just marshmallow. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it kind of is when you’re expecting frosting. I’ve made Bday Cake treats before and I dumped about half a bag of yellow cake mix into my butter/marshmallow mix then stirred in rice krispies and topped with rainbow sprinkles. That tasted exactly like cake mix and that’s what I was expecting here. It was a great treat, just not the flavor I was expecting. However, it’s worth mentioning that what it lacked in flavor it definitely did make up for with appearance, I mean, that little fucker is adorbs.
Please note the finger indentation in the chocolate topping of this treat. Before I even snapped the photo I had to try the frosting to make sure my heart wouldn’t shatter a second time with a hit of colored marshmallow. I was absolutely delighted to find that it was dense, fudgey chocolate frosting and NOT plain marshmallow! The Reese’s flavor 100% made up for the boring Birthday Cake. It was super peanut-buttery with crushed up pieces of Reese’s Pieces throughout. It was topped with a decadent fudge frosting and huge sugar sprinkles which actually yielded a surprising little crunch that I really enjoyed (these treats are super soft). Of course, half a Reese’s cup totally sealed the deal. So good. I’d go back just for that little square. And to try the S’mores.
Oh, and I’m totally trying my hand at making a bunch of these flavors myself. We all know Rice Krispie Treats are my second favorite summer dessert….after S’mores. I would say after ice cream, but who am I kidding, that’s my favorite year round.
About 8 or so blocks down from The Treat House I found Sugar and Plumm, another go to place per Amanda’s NYC recommendation.
Oh my gosh, I wanted to live inside this place! It’s an adorable little cafe with indoor and outdoor seating. When you first walk in there is a counter with a glass display of a rainbow colored assortment of pristine french macarons. To the right are some tables and a shelving area of beautifully sculpted chocolates. There were high heels, buildings, Oscar trophies, frogs and pretty much any shape/thing/object you can think of molded into chocolate. The perimeter of that display was a candy shop wall! Tons of different chocolates and gummies, like the old school fill-your-own-bag candy shops. I was dying to make an outrageous bag of gummies but gummies are my weakness and I knew if I got a bag, I’d certainly fill the whole thing up and certainly devour the entire thing before the sun even set. So, I quickly walked away. I did snag a creme brûlée cookie because Amanda’s photos and description of it made me feel like I simply needed it in my life. Dan and I split the cookie when I got home (our pre-dinner snack) and it was insanely delish. It was a bit cakey for me (I definitely prefer my cookies soft and chewy and basically just barely baked) but I didn’t mind because the gooey creme brûlée pudding-like center and oozy white chocolate chips very abundantly scattered throughout provided enough of that gooey texture for me to feel perfectly satisfied even for a cakey cookie. I would definitely go back there for brunch as I’ve heard they have a great one. Plus, perusing candy bins and decadent cookies post brunch sounds like the ideal Sunday to me.
After window shopping through the colorful world of Sugar & Plumm (I know…who window shops at a restaurant? Stop..) I made my way down a few more blocks to the next subway stop to high tail it back to 42nd street. The subway took me to Times Square and I decided to walk from there to Grand Central instead of taking the shuttle; it was a gorgeous day and I figured extra walking would justify all the desserts I was soon to consume (it totally did). I cut through Bryant Park and took a second to look around and appreciate the beauty of this city that I’ve certainly taken for granted.
Of course, I snapped a few pictures and sent them to my mom with the caption, “can you guess which part of the city I’m in?” She responded with my exact location without hesitation and proceeded to use the photo I’d sent her as her cover photo on Facebook.
I got home just before dinner time and Dan and I enjoyed a bottle of wine along with my random exploration treats. I really can’t think of a better way to have spent a Tuesday.