Friday Pennies: NY Souvenirs and Orchids and More

7 03 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve done a penny post, and after the week I’ve had, I need one. I don’t know why this week was exceptionally hard, but the combination of the frigid weather outside and my own feeling under the weather has had me feeling exhausted and pretty much blue all week long. But coming into the weekend, all is looking fine. A few reasons? Funny you should ask:

  • I’m lovin’ this blog post on Budget Travel about Authentic, Affordable New York Souvenirs. No snow globes here! A few favorites: the fantastic and unique New York dishes from Fishs Eddy, sweets from Zabar’s, and, of course, totes from Strand Books. A few to add: Fat Witch Brownies and that magical scrub from Sabon.
  • The fact that I was able to walk around today without my toes going numb. Is spring here?
  • Orchids.
  • Book group. I just picked up the latest book today. Confessions of an Economic Hitman, in which John Perkins tells of his role in helping “the U.S. cheat poor countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars by lending them more money than they could possibly repay and then taking over their economies.” Not, admittedly, something I would have chosen, which is why I’m thrilled that book group turned me on to it. I’ve read two pages and am already fascinated!
  • The weekend. Despite the fact that I must work tomorrow (I have to attend a class to learn about SAT prep, faux-yay!), the weekend promises a chat with Liz in London, a tour of an abandoned subway tunnel, and longer, lighter days.

The Beauty of the Brownie

23 07 2008

First, thanks to all who racked their brains to come up with food ideas for Marina. We did indeed end up with some great suggestions.

In the end, I think the winner turned out to be the brownie, which is an often overlooked American food, but a goodie (pun intended) nonetheless. And she went home with not just any old brownies. No, I sent Marina on a mission to one of my favorite places in New York City: the industrial-chic gourmet garden that is the Chelsea Market.

This cavernous brick building is lined with some of the best-smelling shops in the city, which in turn sell some of the best-tasting foods. It’s also an American food icon in its own right, given that it’s the former headquarters of none other than Nabisco, maker of such all-American favorites as the Oreo Cookie and Barnums Animal Crackers. Today it’s got something to make any foodie happy, from the creamery to the Italian market. (It is also, I might add, a favorite haunt of the Russo parents when they visit.)

Perhaps the strongest and most decadent smell that comes from the Chelsea Market (disregarding the occasional fragrance of fish, of course) wafts blissfully out of Fat Witch, purveyors of, in their words—and I wholeheartedly agree, “Manhattan Magic,” aka the best brownies. Ever. I was first turned on to Fat Witch early in my New York experience by a good friend, Terri, who had it at the top of “must do in Manhattan” list when she visited. One bite of fudgy goodness and I understood why.

These brownies are everything a brownie should be: dense (without being too heavy), chocolately and incredibly delicious. And with varietals so like the Snow Witch (white chocolate brownie) and the Red Witch (with dried cherries) there is one to satisfy every craving. There are even Brownie Babies for those times when “just a bite” is enough (read: NEVER).

And so, off Marina goes to Brazil, with an I Heart NY T-shirt and bag full of Fat Witches. And I, perhaps, have found the alfajor of North America.