Finals season is always a stressful time of year for obvious reasons. But this time around, Crystal and I thankfully had relatively light final exam schedules since many of our classes had final projects or presentations due beforehand. This allowed us to indulge in a half-day trip to NYC in the midst of finals week where we gladly destressed and reinvigorated our foodie adventurer spirits.
Arriving in the city by 8am, we made our first breakfast stop at the newly opened Dominique Ansel Kitchen. Having followed the menu updates for their much anticipated opening, which was less than a week ago at the time, we possessed no shortage of excitement for this visit. We ultimately decided to share the Egg-Clipse and a cannele. The squid ink brioche in the Egg-Clipse was crisp, delicate, and perfect for sopping up the generous egg yolk lava while the classic cannele was satisfyingly sweet and chewy with rich vanilla flavor.
We only walked a block away to Chalait, our second breakfast stop, where we sipped matcha lattes in a comfy, eco-modern space. This quaint corner cafe with its natural lighting, clean design, and lattes served at the perfect temperature was definitely my cup of tea!
In light if it being finals week and all, we had planned to do some studying in a public library till lunch time, but unexpectedly, the library was closed when we went and wouldn’t be open for another hour. Turns out this was actually a blessing in disguise as we ended up studying along a shady bench in Union Square. The white noise of the city mixed with birds chirping and a light breeze made reading power point slide after power point slide much more pleasant.
After the most enjoyable study session ever, we were off on a quest for lunch. Since we had attended a talk given by Eddie Huang at Penn and watched a good chunk of Fresh off the Boat‘s first season, we were itching to visit Baohaus, owned by none other than Eddie Huang. Here we tried the Birhaus Bao, which was surprisingly on the sweet side given its crushed peanuts and Taiwanese red sugar components. Glistening in the moody lighting, it was a heavy but delicious and quite fitting to nom on in the haus’s graffiti-decorated, rap music-blasting turf.
Vanessa’s Dumpling was right down the street so we stopped by for $1.59 pork and cabbage potstickers, too. Hot, salty, and gloriously crispy they were.
We have yet to complete a NYC trip in which a socially acceptable ratio of salty to sweet is achieved, but this time around I’d say we improved it to about 50:50 (usually its more like 25:75). So for the sweet side of things, we revisited the inexhaustible Dominique Ansel Bakery. We ordered the Frozen S’mores having heard so much praise about it from friends, and after tasting it for ourselves ascertained that praise to be extremely justified. The freshly torched marshmallow was soft, silken, and irresistibly smoky. It was a divine encasement for the chocolate cookie bits (reminiscent of those in Carvel ice cream cake) and the vanilla ice cream center. The combination of hot and cold all served up on an applewood-smoked willow branch made for the perfect summertime treat. And because the pastry case was just so tantalizing, we also decided to share the cherry lychee pavlova. The lychee flavor was sadly muted, but I could still appreciate the beauty and precision of its design and construction, respectively.
Having consumed a hodgepodge meal of fried food and decadent dessert, we opted to walk 2.5 miles to our Megabus stop rather than take the subway. For a large portion of the walk, we zipped along the High Line, an elevated linear park built on a former railroad trestle. For anyone who hasn’t been, it’s definitely worth a visit! With greenery left and right and the bustling city below (and above since there are so many tall buildings!), it’s a breathtaking balance of natural and urban landscapes.
We left the city at 2pm to make it back to campus in time for Crystal’s biochemistry review session later that day, but those six precious hours were all we needed for a mini escape from finals season.