Guess what. New York and me? We're almost through. I can't believe it, but I will be heading home a week from today. I feel a mixture of despair–What will I do without street food on every corner? How can I bear to leave my sister and my friends?–and relief–What joy to have laundry in my basement! How peaceful and cozy it will be in my Saint Paul house. When this rush of emotions comes over me (which is almost an hourly occurrence now), I realize that I can't say goodbye.
This city won me over sometime last summer. At some mysterious point, New York's charms overcame it's faults in my mind (doughnuts may or may not have had something to do with it). Now I realize I will never have enough time to do everything on my list, because the list just keeps growing. I just have to come back.
In the meantime, I am trying to pack in as many New York experiences as time allows. A few weeks ago I saw The Artist at The Paris Theater (An enchanting film. You should see it.), followed by a drink at a sky-high bar overlooking Central Park. I saw an incredible documentary at Lincoln Center that changed the way I think about dance. I finally paid a visit to the Sullivan Street Bakery (worthy of it's own post). And I went to Russ & Daughters.
Consider this place a must. Step up to the eye-level marble counter, half a dozen bagelmen looking imperiously back at you, and you will feel its history. Lower East Siders have been ordering bagels and lox from Russ & Daughters for nearly one hundred years. For good reason. The deli case is full of luscious, thick slabs of rosy smoked salmon. Half the fun is choosing the variety for your bagel. Peter and I sampled three, before deciding on the Norwegian. Paired with the double-whipped horseradish cream cheese, flecked with dill, our bagel sandwich was complete. I could have stayed for another hour, perusing the salads, old-fashioned hard candies and the dry good delicacies, but we were hungry.
There's no place to sit inside Russ & Daughters. This is by no means a deterrent, but it does create an interesting problem when it's 30 degrees outside. The solution, we found, was to pick up a cheese knish a few doors down from Yonah Schimmel's and take both to a nearby park bench. The knish–my first!–was a formidably sized hunk of potato wrapped in pastry, with the heft of a softball. I had doubts until I took my first bite. What's not to love about a plump cloud of whipped potato, laced with chives and salt, and topped with sharp cheddar cheese? Sold.
The brisk winter air was softened by the sun's bright rays. We sat, taking alternating bites of the toasty knish and the cold, creamy bagel. The combination was ideal, and not just because of the temperature. Looking around at the centuries-old tenement buildings around me, it felt right to be eating this humble, timeless street food right where it originated. It was freezing cold on that bench, but add this to the list of New York moments I will carry with me.