Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Why I May Never Leave My New Neighborhood

Our Street
Many of you know I have relocated to NYC mostly because I've mentioned it in most every post since.

Sorry about that.

We moved to a furnished apartment in the East Village until we decide on a permanent place. The best part of the flat is the terrace, big enough to have a dinner party for eight. 

Eight Humans, I mean. Right now there is a different kind of daily dinner party going on as I have made (bribed) some new friends, a cardinal, a blue jay, a dove, a hyperactive black squirrel and a fat gray one. 

Every day I put out peanuts and a handful of bird seed on the terrace and they visit to chow down.

The kitchen is, of course, smaller than the one I have in Germany but it has a decent amount of counter and cabinet space.

In case you missed it on the counter above....

The sexiest stand mixer on the market people. Ok, maybe this one is a bit sexier. That raspberry ice color just makes me so happy every time I look at it. Pink is for love. A gift from my husband.

Anyway. The truth is I am well acquainted with this neighborhood because most of the 12 years I spent living in NYC I lived downtown. Also for many years after I moved overseas, my brother lived up the block from where I live now and I used to visit with him often.

Over the last several years the East Village has become a mecca for artisanal food specialty shops. As a result, I am now living in Willy Wonka Land. These are some of the places within a few blocks radius:

Starting with the ice cream selection:

The famous Big Gay Ice Cream Truck has expanded its big gay operation into a big gay storefront.

Super friendly staff

And what's a big gay ice cream shop without a sparkling unicorn mural on the wall?

My pick: the Rue McClennahan - Bourbon soft serve ice cream sandwiched in between pecan praline cookies. So delicious. Thank you for being my friend.

The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop
125 E 7th St
New York NY 10009

Stōgo is an organic vegan ice cream store. 

I am not vegan but one look at the flavors and I was hooked.
My Picks: Hemp Ginger Vanilla Bourbon and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.

The ice cream was light and flavorful, not too sweet and just perfect in texture with no after taste.

159 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Van Leeuwen is another ice cream truck that morphed into a storefront. In previous trips to NYC, I was accustomed to seeing their truck parked on Prince Street in Soho inevitably with a line snaking around it. Now was my chance to sample the goods.

I love the interior of the store.

My pick: The English Tarragon Flavor. Sweet and herby at the same time. The flavor you see underneath is Lemon Grass. Not as good as the English Tarragon IMHO.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream
48 1/2 East 7th Street
New York, NY 10003

Then there are the cupcakes:

Famous Butter Lane is veryclose by. 

At Butter Lane, you pick your flavor cupcake (chocolate, vanilla, banana) and then choose from a decent menu of frostings and they frost it for you on the spot.

When I stopped by with a friend they were offering a few summer only flavors.

I went with a vanilla cupcake with cherry frosting which had fresh cherries in it. The cake was dense but in a good way and the frosting was the perfect balance of flavor and sweetness.

My friend chose a chocolate cupcake with french chocolate frosting. She loved it.

If you "like" them on Facebook at the shop, you get a free frosting shot. What's not to like?

Butter Lane
123 East 7th Street
New York, NY 10003

Have you ever heard of a Chocolate Library? Well, there's one down the block. As I entered I was wondering if one could get a chocolate library card and what exactly that would entitle the holder to. I was immediately greeted by a friendly face. Byron is the owner and the man not only knows his chocolate, he has assembled an impressive stock of yum.

The chocolate is sourced from artisan producers all over the world and the shop is divided into chocolates by regions.

Byron explained the place was pretty cleaned out because of a recent special sale. However, there was enough around to keep the Mad Hausfrau interested and happy. I was able to sample some wonderful chocolate starting with a delicious piece of Dina's organic dark chocolate with Green Tea.

I asked Byron what were the shop's top sellers. His response:

1) Gnosis Aphrodisia Raw Vegan Chocolate Bar - Any bar that has figs and horney goat weed in it has my vote.

2) A Chocolate Nutella bar from Venchi, an Italian chocolatier.

3) Tied for third place are Picari's Chocolate Blueberry and Chocolate Lemongrass bars. Picari is organic chocolate from Equador. Both were rich with amazing flavors.

Two Honorable Mentions:

1) Divine's White Chocolate Bar with Strawberries. Divine is a fair trade chocolate company that is 45% owned by the farmers. They go one step beyond fair trade to a partnership. Makes this bar doubly sweet.

2) Toffee Taboo Belgian chocolate with toffee encrusted nuts. After I had a sample, I wanted to eat the whole bar pronto. Seriously amazing.

My Pick: The Aphrodisia Bar. The herbs and figs gave it great texture and unusual flavor.

The Chocolate Library
111 St. Marks Place
New York, NY  10009

Right across the street from The Chocolate Library is the adorable Jane's Sweet Buns. Just look at this interior:

The shop sells sweet buns in classic and unusual flavors.

My pick: The Dark & Stormy. Modeled after the cocktail, this sweet bun is a delicious blend of lime, rum and ginger flavor. the frosting was sublime.

The bun part was just OK but I want to go back and sample a few other flavors before I pass judgment.

Jane's Sweet Buns
102 St. Marks Place
New York, NY 10009

Momofuku Milk Bar is way tooclose even though they moved across the street from the location where I visited them last year.

I popped in briefly to see what was new and had a fabulous cake welcome.

The cake truffle flavors seemed to have expanded.

But I was fascinated by the cookie flavors.

I snatched up confetti and blueberry & cream cookies and was headed out the door when I spied these:

Croissants in pistachio flavor and black sesame with strawberry and cream filling. Oh my and oh well.

My Pick: The confetti cookie was excellent but the Blueberry & Cream cookie was outstanding. Chewy, blueberry-ee with sweet white chunks, it was a very special treat.


Milk Bar East Village
251 East 13th Street
New York, NY  10003

Believe it or not, this is just a small selection of what's available in the vicinity. Good thing our flat is a 4 flight walk up. If you'll excuse me now, I need to run up and down the stairs a few hundred times.


  1. LOL! You're too funny. I will now have that Golden Girls song in my head all day. Well, there are worse things... I love your new neighbourhood! A chocolate library? Seriously? As an ex-library professional, that just tickles me in all sorts of ways. I've decided I'm going to lose 50 pounds, then come and visit you and put it all back on again. You've been warned.

  2. You know what's sad? That i have lived in this city for 24 years and have been to exactly ONE of these places! I have some serious eating to do!

  3. I so enjoyed *walking* your neighbourhood with you. What lovely shops and people. The interior of Van Leeuwans is gorgeous, love the upper cabinets!
    I noticed next to your KA your beautiful butter dish, love the pattern and the handle. A little jealous that you have a cardinal coming to visit the city no less. I live in the country and haven't seen one yet in the three years we've been here. Lots of blue jays but the cardinal remains elusive :)
    Thanks for the link to the Swarovski KA!

  4. Your pics and descripts rock!! But you're making me all nostalgic for the kind of baking talent, intricate ingredients and visual excitement I soooo miss here in So Orange County - where mini malls rule. I guess I'll have to savor the taste vicariously...

  5. What a great tour for a foodie!

  6. Oh my gosh. now I'm definitely coming back before christmas. I want to go to EVERY one of these places.
    have you tried Milk and Cookies?? We brought a bunch home, really good. The peanut butter sandwich cookie was my fave. LOTS of filling!!
    Can't wait to get back!!

  7. Oh I'm a little jealous of your new home and your little squirrel friend and your pink sparkly mixer and the huge amount of amazing delicious looking stores about. I'm tempted to invite myself to visit :) Its great your enjoying your new/old neighborhood.

  8. You're killing me!!! :-) We have a couple of fun places, but nowhere near the variety you have just in your neighborhood!

    Now I feel like I need a Rue McClennahan. I'll probably have to make it at home, though, because being smack dab in the middle of a red state and in the Bible Belt, we're probably not getting a Big Gay Ice Cream Shop any time soon. I guess I just need to save my pennies for a trip to New York!

  9. You are living in a wonderful location. I'd gain a gazzilion pounds living there. I was especially taken with the chocolate library. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  10. I forgot to mention how HOT that sparkly pink mixer is!!! I'm in the market for a new mixer, but I don't think that pink one is big enough...bummer.


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