Due to a combination of much-welcomed travel decompression, a tight budget, and a drive to focus on my writing, I have spent most of my first days here indoors–but at this moment there is a full-on summer rainstorm, complete with the heavy bass rumble of thunder clouds getting all riled up and crashing into one another, and the steady whoosh of sheets of water falling with rapidity and surety, aiming to drench every object between the sky and the ground.
Of course, no matter where I am or what I’m supposed to be doing, I’ll always take time out to find and play polo. It was good to see familiar faces at the courts last night, among them Ace, who used to play in L.A. (Claremont), Lauren, a rida (cyclist friend) who moved back east last year, and polo players from near and far who live in or are visiting NY for a time. No matter the city, polo always feels like a family reunion!
The only other places I have made it to since arriving have been eateries (a girl’s gotta eat!), including the historic Ray’s Candy Store–two words: EGG CREAM; the Momofuku Milk Bar, where I was treated to a birthday cake truffle (a really awesome treat that tastes like birthday cake AND a birthday party); and the 2nd Avenue Deli, a kosher deli where I enjoyed Matzo ball soup and again, another beloved egg cream (two ways). Here I must say that while I was impressed to see the the broth pour over the matzoh ball, rice and carrots once the soup was delivered to the table, it really did not measure up to that of Canter’s, or to that of L.A.’s darling jewess-in-the-kitchen, Sarah Livingston. I guess it’s too bad I don’t like pastrami (2nd Ave is engaged in an ongoing battle-for-the-best with NY’s Katz’s Deli). On the up side, the accompanying pickles, bread and slaw were all classically awesome, as was the Egg Cream. Actually, the egg cream was stellar. The head consisted of big, chocolate-hued bubbles (most have a foamy cream-colored head, but I prefer the former); it was rich, light and so delicious, I could have drank the entire thing in an instant if I didn’t slow down just to savor it. Additionally, every patron is given a small double-shot sized egg cream at the end of their meal; and our server was kind enough to explain that “they taste different in a shot glass”–which turned out to be quite true. Are you in the dark about what the heck an egg cream is? Well, it’s basically a chocolate soda, made from chocolate syrup (Fox’s U-Bet if you’re going to be authentic), milk and soda water. Might sound funny, but it’s really just one of the best beverages ever.I cannot count the number of times I tried to order one in L.A. and all the variations of blank and confused stares I received in return for my order. And so, egg creams may just be, at this early point in my stay, my favorite thing about New York. Yeah, it’s the simple things that get me.
Last night I was also introduced to a tiny and jam-packed establishment called Vanessa’s Dumpling House, a favorite destination for post-polo refueling, where another patron informed me that I was remiss in not ordering a sesame pancake in addition to the requisite dumplings. Standing at the counter watching the pizza-sized rounds cooked in oil, I couldn’t argue with his assertion. Next time, I vowed, and walked out the door carrying a box of 8 piping hot vegetable dumplings to enjoy my $3 dumpling feast on the sidewalk with my NY polo brethren.