I stopped saying I was from New York during the first week into college. Everyone mistook this introduction, which had served me well up until that point, as me saying I was from the city. When I would correct them with, “Oh no, I’m from Long Island,” there would be a noticeable decline in their interest. Perhaps this was because many people actually have no idea where Long Island is and don’t understand what its relationship to the city is. No matter the reason, the first week of college–when you’re going through your introduction spiel fifty times a day–was the perfect time to rid myself of this alleged false identity. To others, I am no longer a New Yorker, but a somewhat obscure subcategory known as the Long Islander (long pronounced as lawng).
This summer, I have followed the hordes of interns flocking to the hubs of bustling business-attired people and have taken up residence for a month in New York City. My internship spans the summer, and I worked from home for a little bit. However, I was offered a subletting opportunity at a nice apartment for an excellent price so I decided to take advantage of this chance to finally live up to the title of “New Yorker.”
Thankfully, I wasn’t a complete stranger to the city. I’ve been to Manhattan many times before and frequent Flushing, Queens, so I already understood how the subway system works and knew where some key areas are. Of course, this didn’t stop me from almost entering the wrong subway platform a few times or from walking around with my head buried in the Google Maps app on the phone trying to find the nearest grocery store. Keep reading if you wanna hear about my first week of adapting to life alone in New York City.
I moved in July 5th, but I had been in the city since July 4th for celebration reasons. You can read about that in my post about July 4th. On the 5th, before I moved in, I grabbed lunch from The Greek Kitchen. The pork souvlaki sandwich was delicious. Their pita is some of the best I’ve had, and the pork was so tasty and juicy.
That first official night here as a resident, I got pizza and went with Jen and Malcolm to see the Phantom of the Opera (at which, I discovered my favorite Christine of all time: Kaley Ann Vorhees. She’s amazing and everyone should see her perform.) The next morning, I got an egg bagel with cream cheese. With these two NY staples in my belly, I felt like I was ready to take on anything.
That Monday, I took a trip to Trader Joe’s after work and discovered the crazy warzone that is post-work/rush hour grocery shopping. The line wrapped around the entire first floor, and this was clearly such a regular occurrence that the employees had signs made up to direct everyone. Of course, in classic Trader Joe’s fashion, despite the chaotic state and heightened stress levels of everyone there (or was that just me??), the employees were extremely polite and just happy to be alive. I generally like to ponder my groceries for a long time, thinking about exactly what dishes I’m going to make and whether or not I’m getting all the nutrients I need, but this was not the right environment for this type of dawdling.
If I had thought rush hour after work at the local grocery store back in Philly (where I go to school) was bad because I had to wait behind 5-8 customers, well, this was a whole nother world. After grabbing a few things from the upstairs, I jumped on the line and shuffled along with the entirety of New York City and their grandmas. This part was also stressful because if I saw something along the shelves we were lined up against, I had to make a quick (and potentially rash) decision about if I wanted to take it or no. Otherwise, the line would move up and I would have to plop my basket down and awkwardly walk through the people standing behind me in line.
After this entire ordeal, I lugged two giant bags 8 blocks back to my apartment while raining sweat and ultimately disgusting the couple who held open the door for me when I arrived. Mondays are great.
The next day, to prepare for a homemade dinner with my friend, I attempted to find the Whole Foods by Columbus Circle, was thrown off by a solicitor for a nearby hair salon after I denied his offer by saying, “I just don’t have that kind of budget,” (and therefore precluding myself from walking by him again), and ended up irritating the cashier at a Morton Williams by accidentally pressing “No” when “Is this amount correct?” came up on the screen. I think I’m off to a really good start.
The rest of the week was pretty mundane: I sweated my way to work every day (northeast cities are very humid, in case you didn’t know) and then came home and made dinner. Tame bedtimes around 11-midnight all around. “Is she an adult?” the people asked. “I think she’s trying!” they cheered.
During work, I re-discovered Food Gallery 32, a Korean/Japanese food court in K-Town on 32nd street, which is right around where I work. The last time I was there, I went to Spot Dessert Bar, which is definitely a hip place to check out. Their desserts have great presentation, including one that looks like a plant, and their green tea chocolate lava cake melts in your mouth. I was also introduced to Speedy’s by my fellow interns. It’s a deli/bakery/buffet-style pay-by-weight fast food place, and there’s nothing like rushing and being jostled to get your food to make you feel like a New Yorker.
Friday evening, I met up with Jen and got dinner at Da Andrea, a nice Italian restaurant. I got the saffron fettuccine with vegetables and black olive puree.
That night, Jen, Malcolm, and I finally made it to Momofuku Milk Bar right before it closed at midnight. Instead of going to the tiny location on 13th, we headed to the one on 56th. The last time I went to Momofuku Milk Bar, I got the crack pie, so this time I tried the cereal milk ice cream and a compost cookie. The cereal milk soft serve ice cream tastes exactly like cereal milk (so, not exactly a big surprise) and I got it with corn flakes, which turned out to add a salty flavor as well as the crunch. Check out the #socialmedia page for some older photos of crack pie and cereal milk soft serve.
The compost cookie, which has chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crumbs, potato chips, pretzels, oats, and coffee in it. It kind of reminds me of Honey Bunches of Oat-style cereal (aka when they just put a bunch of different ingredients and textures in). I can’t distinctly pick out the taste of potato chips or pretzels because it’s very sweet, but there is a somewhat savory feel to it. I ate it in pieces throughout all of Saturday, and every time I take another bite, I discover another one of the flavors.
My first Saturday of being a NYC resident was spent meeting up with my parents, who came in for the day, and my brother, who lives in the city, and his girlfriend. We went to Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque, where we got the brisket, burnt ends, pulled pork, and spare ribs. It was all very delicious, although I’m personally not the biggest fan of pulled pork. I particularly enjoyed the burnt ends. Super juicy.
We then hit up Momofuku Noodle Bar for some ramen, which was pretty good. The pork belly in the Momofuku ramen was the best part, and the broth tasted very strongly of the pork. However, I enjoyed the fried egg buns more than the ramen. I have a weakness for runny egg yolk, especially in beautifully poached eggs.
After parting ways with my brother and his girlfriend, my parents and I went to Washington Square Park, and we basked in the humidity and colorful New York culture.
Once we pooled enough sweat, we headed over to Chinatown to get the famous Chinatown Ice Cream Factory ice cream. I got the almond cookie flavor, and I had never paired the name “almond cookie” with this particular flavor despite being very familiar with it, so it was very shocking to finally connect the two.
This ice cream deserves top marks. It was so creamy, and the flavors were not fake or chemically-tasting at all (I also tried my parents’ red bean and lychee). There was a crowd outside, but the service was very fast so we were in and out. If you feel like navigating through sweaty crowds on narrow sidewalks for a well-deserved treat, go to Chinatown and hit up this place.
Thus concluded Saturday and my first week here. Check in next week for another round-up!