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Seeing a little more of us lately?

Judging from the numbers on our bathroom scale, I'm going to say that one of our major activities while we were visiting the East Coast was eating. Often. Since our Inner Clocks were all thrown off because of the West-Coast-to-East-Coast time change, we just ended up eating whatever, whenever, no matter if we were hungry or not…not to mention that walking around Manhattan in the 23-degree weather only serves to force you to stop[ into countless numbers of warm shops and restaurants. Some highlights of our gastronomic tour, Part One:

Dean & DeLuca: For some reason we always get their catalog in the mail at home (flip, flip, flip, test tube spice rack, flip, flip, tea from Russia, flip, dried meat, flip, flip, $200 teapot, blah, blah, blah&#41, and let me tell you, the catalog does not do this store justice. I thought that it was just going to be a big, boring gourmet food store. I underestimated. As I stood in front of the cheese counter that happened to be just about as long as a full city block, in spite of my stout non-religious nature, I asked, "Have I died and gone to heaven?" I have never seen so much cheese in my life. They have an olive bar, which I've seen before, but they also have a bread bar, which I haven't seen before. They have a gazillion different kinds of loaves of bread and rolls and muffins and mini-bagels on grand display from which you choose, and the counter people then give you a non-display loaf to take home with you. They have pates galore, ready-made hors d'ouvers like olives wrapped in anchovies and bacon, a butcher counter, a fish counter, a dried-meat counter to complement all the bread and cheese, and they make a damn fine latte. Of course, all this wonderousness will cost you, but where else can you find Meyer Lemons and Key Limes right next to each other in the dead of winter?

H & H Bagels: We visited the Upper West Side twice during our trip, since it had the most stores open on the Christmases Eve and Day. Luckily for us, H & H Bagels was also located there. Now, I know everyone claims to have access to the place that they believe makes "the best bagels in the world, mmm!" but H & H is the real place. No kidding. The place is just a counter in front of a bunch of bagel-makers. No tables, no place to sit, no cutesy-poo ready-to-go cream cheese schmears or anything else. Just bagels, a cooler along the wall filled with drinks and pre-packaged cream cheese, and a long, single-file line that ran out the door. And definitely none of those new-fangled "gourmet" bagels like the ones I was just reading about in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the ones I found on a list that was supposed to tell you where to find the boiled type of bagels rather than the steamed type. The list-makers actually used as a positive selling point the fact that these places had so-called "bagels" in "flavors" like dill-cheddar and pesto-garlic and spinach-parmesan and banana-hazelnut and one monstrosity of a kitchen accident called the "amigo" with jalapenos, serranos, red peppers, salsa, onions and garlic. See, Californians have a nasty habit of trying to put a West Coast twist on everything, but usually end up making a mess of it all. I say, if you can't buy a hot bagel and eat it plain, standing in the freezing cold weather while it warms your hands and absolutely love it, then go get your money back, 'cause it ain't a bagel.   

[Part Two to follow shortly.]

Posted in Smirks.

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