31 May 2010

Sweet Shop: Billy's Bakery in Chelsea

How can you not love a place called "Billy's Bakery"? After seeing the Martha Stewart show in the heart of Chelsea, my friends and I happened on Billy's while walking to Pastis where we planned to have lunch. But how could you walk by? There was a guy in the window frosting cupcakes! The entire shop was not much bigger than a cream puff. And it was filled with delights--layer cakes on pedestals and under glass, lemon bars, peanut butter chocolate bars. Cookies. I bought a white cupcake with turquoise buttercream frosting that had little sprinkles on top and had it placed in a cute colorful square box with a handle (like a cupcake purse!)that cost extra (but was worth it). Many cupcakes are disappointments--they look so sweet and delectable but turn out dry and flavorless.
This little number was not one of those. It was delicious. Very delicious. Definitely worth a stop. PS Down the street (Ninth Avenue) was another little shop called Three Tarts. Another winner and worth another stop.

18 May 2010

Sweet Thoughts: Reading a good book

There is nothing more lovely than having a good book to read! I have a stack by my bedside. Right now, I am in the middle of Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz. Winner of a 1988 Nobel Prize for literature, it was originally published in Arabic in l956. It's the first in the author's Cairo Trilogy--about life in post WWI Egypt. (Palace of Desire and Sugar Street are the other two.) I also have the book A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller by Frances Mayes nearby. I have already finished it, but still like picking it up and finding various lines that I love. Nice to read right before falling asleep.

"Travel pushes my boundaries. Seemingly self-indulgent, travel paradoxically obliterates me-me-me, because very quickly--prestissimo--the own-little-self is unlocked from the present and released to move through layers of time. It is not 2006 all over the world. So who are you in a place where 1950 or 1920 is about to arrive?"

Of course, I have a few bedside cookbooks as well. Viana La Place's unplugged kitchen is a personal favorite pre-summer cookbook read. Chapters have titles like: 'a late morning breakfast on a small Italian Island.' The menu lists: " blood orange juice, tender egg island style, ripe figs, caffe latte".

Instead of armchair travelling, I call it bedside cooking.

Art Credit: Quint Buchholz "Lesende Frau"
Aus Dem "Buchbilderbuch", Sanssouci Verlag