Food Friday: Metropolitan Ice Creams

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It is shaping up to be a hot summer. Which is a good thing. It gives us something to reflect upon fondly when we are scraping ice off our windshields in February. Mr. Friday and I will remember the week we just spent vacationing in New York City, where the heat was hellish, the sidewalks were soft and sticky, and there was an endless parade of cooling, delicious summer ice creams forever strutting before us, beckoning us, luring us with chilly, sweet siren songs. And as good tourists, we obliged by eating as much ice cream as we could.

July is National Ice Cream Month. Thus our gobbling up ice cream was not only good manners, it was patriotic. Since we missed this week’s ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes for the U.S. Women’s National Team’s victory lap, I’m glad to say we celebrated the international competition of ice creams with gusto. Cautionary tale: since coming home, I have taken my plump little self back to the gym every damn day. But it was worth it.

On our first day in New York we ambled over to the west side, up on the High Line, and under the hulk of The Vessel, the new M.C. Esher-like landmark built for photo ops and tourist initiations to pedestrian challenges. https://www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com/discover/vessel The Vessel stands in the once industrial Hudson Yards, where Long Island railroad cars are stored before they make their return journey. Now there is a sleek urban mall with hideously expensive residences which rises above the trains, in a city that already has much of the world’s chic and pricey shopping. Take heart – not every shop is as tony as Neiman Marcus or Cartier. In the lower level you will find the bustling populist world of José Andrés’s Spain.

Our first steps into Andrés’s Mercado Little Spain fed us right into colorful whorl of people, murals, maps, small plates, hams, breads, wines, food cases, and this display of ice cream and ice cream sandwiches. I could not think of anything more divine than these cubic feet of frozen delight. For a more detailed description of this Iberian food paradise, please read Rachel Sugar’s New York Magazine piece: http://www.grubstreet.com/2019/03/jose-andres-mercado-little-spain-hudson-yards-nyc.html

I admire José Andrés’s World Central project where he and his people feed folks who have been stricken by natural disasters. His good work is a lesson to us all. And so I felt justified in supporting him by buying an extravagant ice cream sandwich – before meeting friends uptown for dinner. (Mr. Friday, in the meantime, scarfed down a large plate of paella, in case you wondered.)

Another day of walking the Museum Mile found us battling Stendhal Syndrome: an overwhelming, heart-stopping abundance of gawping and wonder. What can you do? Why not have a gelato or two? After a morning spent in the Planetarium, whizzing around the universe with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and mingling with dinosaurs, the great blue whale and a few grizzly bears at the American Museum of Natural History, we strode across Central Park, and into the Mecca of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We walked with the Egyptians and sallied into the American Wing to pay obeisance to my favorite painting, John Singer Sargent’s Madame X. https://www.metmuseum.org/en/art/collection/search/12127 The only thing to do after that humbling experience is to find ice cream. As the crush of humanity to get into The American Wing Café was unbearable, we perched on some uncomfortable chairs wedged into the Chinese porcelain collection in The Great Hall Balcony Café and spooned up some fortifying gelato. There must surely be a special place in heaven for the inventors of ice cream! Grazie molto!

On our last night we got gussied up and strolled around the Lincoln Center complex, sad that we had not booked tickets for My Fair Lady. Instead we watched little girls in tulle tutus chasing each other around the spouting fountain, while member of various orchestras rushed by, clad in black, hauling their instruments across the marble plaza. Then we ambled north to our restaurant, Café Luxembourg, for a final night of cosmopolitan living. I had a French 75 cocktail, which is always best when served on a silver tray by an obliging waiter.

Mr. Friday had Wellfleet oysters and classic moules frites; I had steak frites, because there was not going to be any frite sharing, I can promise you. But we did split an adorable serving of profiteroles, which were made with ice cream, and not the crème pâtissière we had expected, and it was a sweet and cool way to end our vacation. Tired and happy, heady with wine and frites and sweets. We loved New York.

(And thank you very much, Chef Andrés, for this helpful culinary hint:”Buy the best quality sorbet or ice cream from a local ice-cream maker. It’s the perfect ending.”)

“What’s the use of a great city having temptations if fellows don’t yield to them?”
― P.G. Wodehouse

About Jean Sanders

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