Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Cheesecake Nerd

Cheesecake - I always loved it and have been craving it these past few weeks in NYC, so I have set on an altruistic quest to find nothing short of the best. My stomach will know no rest until I have tried all the renowned cheesecakes of NYC; I have been compensating the tender creaminess with a side order of chilling and complex Norwegian thriller, The Redbreast, by Jo Nesbø.
Of the cheesecakes I have tried, the one from the exquisite, tiny bakery Two Little Red Hens, at 2nd avenue and 86th street East, is by far the best I have ever had - ever. Light, not too sweet, tart and fluffy, it's just perfect and well worth schlepping up to the Upper East Side. The people who work there are friendly and you can see how much they care about what they bake. My only regret is that the cakes are served on paper plates with plastic spoons.

The same is true at Magnolia, one of the city's most famous pastry places since a popular TV show I loathed featured it in one episode. The place has a bit of a "chain" atmosphere (I went to their outlet on Colombus and 69th), with an uninvolved staff, and the vanilla cheesecake was pretty good, if too sweet. I took delight, however, is spying on the trendy and elegant girls who came in for a sugar fix - don't you love this young woman's shoes (below)?
As for Yura on Madison (Madison at 92nd), though it came highly recommended, don't bother. The pastry is just okay and the staff just acts bored, barely paying attention to you.

19 comments:

donna baker said...

Mary-Laure, I do the same thing when I travel. I try to find the best chowder, croissant, crepe, carbonara etc. As for the cheesecake, I don't think I've ever had a bad slice, though the plastic spoon would have been only slightly better than my fingers.

Mary-Laure said...

DONNA - ah yes, eating is one of the great pleasures of travel!

Giulia said...

Ooh. Tempting. Very. There are some lovely places in DC, too. But it may be a good thing I can't get out much & snap up a slice (or two). I have a funny story I'll tell in more amusing fashion in the fall. (Thanks for reminding me.) A teaser: Cheesecake was "re-newly" fashionable. Which only meant that it was available, when has it not been great? Housemates & I in our looseish summer clothes, lots of cheesecake, then a cold snap, the autumnal ceremonial putting on of the jeans. Shrieks throughout the house. We'd all gained 5-7 lbs. It was funny, we were young, & the weight was soon gone. But it was my first jolt of "oh, I really can't eat cheesecake every day." My mum said, "Well, no kidding!"

(I am no fan of that series either. That's for another time.)

How is Benjy in France?

xo

Gabbi said...

Now I MUST find cheesecake for breakfast... dairy and bread... Healthy enough right? Also, I'm with you on Magnolia. When there 3 years ago it did have an assembly line feel to it. I guess that's just the price of being too popular. But 'Two Little Red Hens' sounds like a dream. Will try next time I'm there! ♥

Anonymous said...

Yummy. I adore cheesecake. YUM!

Sandy

carina said...

I'm hoping to visit New York this fall, so it's nice to know where to go. Since I must admit I do like the show (for this reason:http://but-then-i-had-kids.blogspot.com/2010/05/what-i-learned-from-carrie-bradshaw.html), I would naturally have gone to Magnolia - but I will think twice now.

Mary-Laure said...

GIULIA - well, to tell you the truth, cheesecake never went out of fashion in my own life. Always loved it.
(Your mum has got a point, though)

GABBI - yes apparently there used to be huge lines at Magnolia. Now they have several outlets in the city and a following that's mostly made up of tourists.

CARINA - oh no, I didn't want to ruin it for you! It's still a very pretty place, with yummy things. Do go and enjoy it!

BENJY said...

Giulia Gattina!
Thanks for asking about me. Really, it takes another 4-legged creature to remember I even exist, since my owner has taken off for distant lands and doesn't seem to remember me at all.
Well, I just spent a weekend in the countryside, by the Loire River, and had a great time sniffing many good end-of-summer smells around the garden.
I hope you are hanging on in your own part of the world, cara amica, and don't forget to meow happily when/if you see a dachshund!

Laura in Paris said...

I'm having breakfast and tasting all those cheesecakes as I read you...

Mary-Laure said...

LAURA - I know that's a passion we share...

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

I do love a good cheesecake. It seems Two Little Red Hens is the place, for now. If only they used better plates and utensils... I'll give it a try this autumn. Thanks.

simon said...

I loath places like that- where the staff are bored... its as if you are intruding on them....

I "found" a place like this in Paris... ( I must stress the only one)..and we simply walked out

Sam said...

I adore cheesecake. The fabulous cake shop op the road from where I live does the most amazing New York cheesecake - it practically floats off the plate it's so light and magical! Yes, I agree food is one of the best bits of travelling!

Mary-Laure said...

SIMON - ah yes, sadly, in Paris, the staff is often not very friendly! I've had such experiences myself.

Sofia said...

Какие клевые балетки))

Sammi said...

Yum, yum. Sounds delicious!

Kai said...

I love, love, love cheesecake! In Germany the make it with Quark and it tastes quite different. Hence I now make m own.. if you want the recipe, drop me a line! :)

Mary-Laure said...

KAI - oh yes, please I'd love the recipe! I'm guessing maybe it's like the cheesecake one finds in Eastern European Jewish stores...?

mina said...

I went to Magnolia when I was in NYC because several people recommended it. The cupcakes tasted like plastic. :(