Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z Is for Zaro's

Two weeks ago I took the train from Grand Central Station to New Haven Connecticut. I was meeting my friend Lonni. We were planning to spend the day in Saybrook, Connecticut, down the Connecticut coast from New Haven. In order to get to New Haven and have enough time for the things we wanted to do I took the 8:02 a.m. train. During the week the Station would be crowded with commuters arriving at 7:50 and the expanse of concourse would be filled. But it was Sunday and the lone pigeon could stroll in peace.

I had another coffee place in mind, but their doors were closed and the staff waved me away. The only place open that I could find before 8:00 on a Sunday was Zaro's. Though the coffee wasn't great -- maybe a B- --, Zaro's gets an A for availability. I was so grateful to have a cup of coffee to take on the train with me and watch the Bronx become Westchester, which then became Connecticut.  One item at Zaro's I highly recommend is the black and white cookie, center top. I am an enormous fan of them and Zaro's makes great "black and whites."

If I were doing A to Z for bread, I would put Zaro's on the list. I'm a fan of the raisin walnut.  

This was the scene in Saybrook waiting for Lonni and me. Definitely worth getting up early, taking a subway and a train and drinking less than perfect coffee. Definitely. Lonni's daughter will be getting married here in July and yes, the excitement is building. Please pray for a day as clear and beautiful as this one was.

As Shakespeare wrote, "Our revels now are ended..." But, even with the end of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, our coffee drinking throughout New York City isn't over. I've had the best time and I've had the good fortune to share my coffee revels -- great name for a blog! -- with friends new and long-standing. By popular demand and personal pleasure The Coffee Revels will continue. As long as there's a new place to try, an interesting bean to sample, the Coffee Reveler will return. It may only be once or twice a month, but I'll be reveling and writing about coffee. In the interim regularly scheduled programing will resume. There are books to chat about, events to write about and I need to get back to Coffee Light and Mysteries (Mostly) Noir, which has been very sadly neglected.

With a little over two hours until the Challenge is over, I pass the finish line. I appreciate everyone who joined me in this endeavor, either in person or with your thoughtful comments.

So much coffee to drink, so many mysteries to read and so little time! Thanks for revelling with me. 

Y Is for Yorkville

When I first moved to New York in 1975 I lived around the corner from Two Little Red Hens. The space then was occupied by a very good German Deli, which I often frequented as I walked home from the subway. Yorkville, the neighborhood that I moved to had long been a German neighborhood, and there were still a number of German restaurants and food stores. There are now two left in the area, Schaller and Weber on the left of this picture and the Old Heidelberg, which is to the right of the bakery. If this were 1975 I would have gone to the long departed Viennese restaurant on East 86th Street to sample their coffee with whipped cream.

But it's 2016 and I chose Two Little Red Hens, and stopped in for a cup of coffee. I didn't sample the baked goods which looked fabulous, and in an effort to stay pastry abstinent, I didn't even photograph them. I had a cup of very good coffee, made by Irving Farms, our choice for "I."

I moved from this neighborhood twenty-five years ago this summer and haven't been back very much, although it's a bus ride across town. The window of Schaller & Weber has changed very little, but the neighborhood has changed a lot.   

After decades of discussion the Second Avenue Subway is finally scheduled to open at the end of this year. It will be several more decades -- in my opinion -- until it runs from the Upper East Side to Coney Island. When that glorious day arrives it will make traveling from this neighborhood and all sections closer to the East River in Manhattan much easier.
One of the things I've especially enjoyed about my coffee project is learning more about New York City. Two blocks east of Second Avenue is York Avenue, named for Sgt. Alvin York, one of the most decorated American soldiers of World War I. York Avenue led to the description of the neighborhood as Yorkville. Though fewer and fewer people remember Sgt. York and the wonderful movie with Gary Cooper, the name of the neighborhood stands as a reminder.   
We're off to "Z." So much coffee, so much enjoyment! Thanks for visiting.

X = Cost

This writer/journalist/blogger appreciates questions and this post is an answer to a question posed by Susie at She Junks. Susie, who lives in Indiana -- and writes a great blog about her life there -- asked about the price of a cup of coffee in New York City. During my travels around the city I took a few pictures to answer this question.

Life in New York City, especially Manhattan and Brownstone Brooklyn, is expensive. No question. A cup of hot coffee at my local cart is a dollar and the iced coffee is two dollars. Zaro's -- which will be our stop for "Z" was pricier than I expected when I looked at the prices. At my local spot, Tal's, where I am a regular, the price of iced coffee is two dollars and seventy five cents.
I passed a very upscale Starbuck's near Penn Station this week and got a picture of the prices of their single source brands. The places the coffee is imported from include East Timor, Malawi and Burundi and a cup of hot coffee starts at three dollars and fifty cents. Pricy, yes, but not totally out of the norm for single source. Though I'm not keen on "S" coffee I'd like to return to try one of these Reserve Coffees.

My friend Deborah was visiting from North Carolina and we went to  Gregory's, both for location and my desire to try the San Fernando coffee from Peru, one of their single origin coffees. My cup of San Fernando, ordered as an iced Americano was three dollars and ninety five cents. I think this may have been my most expensive coffee of the month.  

I was fascinated by the process. It took at least five minutes for the coffee to be made and it was worth it. It was not a big glass, but what it lacked in size it made up in flavor. I am giving my San Fernando an A-. It was a terrific glass of iced coffee.  

It's practically winter again in New York, and despite the cold I'm off to an outdoors craft fair. I'll be back later for our visits to Yorkville and a return to Zaro's.

So much coffee and just ten hours to go for the Challenge.  As ever, thanks for visiting and keep sipping.

Friday, April 29, 2016

W Is for Williamsburg

We're now sipping in Williamsburg. We've may have gone across the Williamsburg Bridge (built in 1903) in the background or taken the subway, but we are now in Brooklyn. The settlement of Williamsburg began in 1638 when the Dutch West India Company bough land from the local Native Americans. Williamsburg was primarily a farming area until the middle Nineteenth Century, when it was rapidly industrialized. This was a center of manufacturing, including Domino Sugar. It was also a center of immigration. By the 1960's the manufacturing had gone into a significant decline and Williamsburg fell on tough times. It was "rediscovered" about twenty five years ago, but it's in the last ten years that the neighborhood has seen tremendous gentrification.   

I like exploring Williamsburg and have several places I enjoy. One is the 12 Chairs Cafe. There are several in New York City, serving Middle Eastern and Eastern European food. I especially like their lamb kabobs. The name comes from their origin as a small café with literally twelve chairs.
But I'm not here for a restaurant review. I'm here for coffee. When I'm at 12 Chairs, I order a cappuccino and I haven't been disappointed. It's neither watery nor bitter, the disastrous extremes of cappuccino. It's a tad on the strong side, which most people prefer, and I'm giving it a solid B+. 

We finish up tomorrow with a discussion of the cost of a cup of coffee in New York City, a visit to Yorkville and our final cup in Grand Central Station. I've loved our adventures and I hope you have, too.

So, so much coffee and so little time! As ever, thanks for joining me on our coffee adventure.

V Is for Veselka

Most of my A to Z blog friends are done, but I've gotten behind and it's a dash to the finish tomorrow. Get ready for a flurry of blog posts from Manhattan and Brooklyn as we come to Z in our search for the best coffee in New York City. 

V brings us back to the East Village -- also the site of City of Saints -- for a visit to the Ukrainian restaurant, Veselka. The East Village has had a fascinating history and has been home to Little Germany, Yiddish Theatre and the Beat movement. It also experienced significant Ukrainian immigration after World War II. Veselka, founded in 1954, is one of the last of the many Ukrainian restaurants that were found in this neighborhood. 

Truth in blogging, I didn't come here for the coffee. It is a great place for breakfast -- I need to come back later in the day and try some of the other Ukrainian specialties -- and the coffee is fine, but it's not a coffee site. I had an enjoyable breakfast and had a good time exploring the streets in the area -- lots of fun new stores.
I'm a pierogi fan and have been thinking about what I would enter in this contest, but haven't come up with anything yet. What would you put together if you designed your own pierogi?

On my way to Veselka I passed St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery,  the oldest site of continuous religious practice in New York City. It goes back to 1660, when Peter Stuyvesant, Governor of New Amsterdam purchased land for a farm and built a family chapel here. Throughout the centuries the church has been at the center of writing and theater in the neighborhood. There is still artistic activity in the East Village, but there is a lot of it has gone to other neighborhoods. One of them is Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Through no special planning that is our next stop on the coffee express.

So much coffee and so little time! Let's keep sipping.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

U Is for Upper West Side

Another semi-selfie with Columbus Avenue in the reflection. 
My friend, Pene, and I met up for lunch last week at a local sandwich chain, Lenwich. It is not a place I would chose in my quest for the best coffee in New York City, but it is a convenient place for a sandwich or salad. I've been there before, but never noticed the coffee sign on the door. 

In the past I might have ordered a diet coke to enjoy with my salad, but since this month is coffee month for me, I ordered an iced coffee light. Despite the sign on the door, my expectations were relatively low. However, the sign on the door showed a commitment to coffee and I was pleasantly surprised. I had a solid B iced coffee. Lenwich's coffee is not in the running for the best coffee in New York City, but it's a good choice to accompany lunch or if I'm nearby and want a treat.

I've been delighted by being able to share my coffee journey with friends. I've gotten great suggestions and enjoyed great company as I've travelled throughout New York City exploring and drinking coffee. It's been a wonderful way to spend April.

So much coffee and so little time! As ever, thanks for visiting and happy sipping.     

Simple Pleasures

We're taking a coffee break this morning from New York City and coffee and subway travel and all things urban. On my travels around New York I've had the enjoyment of reading Simple Pleasures, by Marianne Jantzi, thanks to my friends at the Litfuse Publicity Group. What good company I've had!

Marianne Jantzi is an Amish wife, mother, writer, who lives in Canada and her essays describe the simple pleasures of her life. We follow her days and the seasons of the year. We also follow the cycle of life and I especially enjoyed chapters on birth, death and weddings.  I enjoyed chapters as I sipped my coffee or rode the subway to the East Village, and I was reminded that simple pleasures with people I care about are the best ways to spend my time.

I enjoyed this book very much and happily recommend it. Marianne Jantzi is a good writer and I very much enjoyed learning about her community and getting to know her family. This would make a great Mother's Day gift.

Later today we return to our coffee talk -- thank you, Saturday Night Live -- and enjoy some simple pleasures in New York City.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

T Is for Tisserie

T is for Tisserie, and what a find. Excellent coffee -- the Stumptown I wrote about in "S" --  good snack food and a comfortable place before or after a concert in an expensive and somewhat mediocre neighborhood.
We were right around the corner from City Center and Carnegie Hall. 

A. got this salmon sandwich for a post dance performance snack. She gave it high marks. 

Neither of us ordered a muffins, but they looked good. I'm still pastry abstinent, but if I take a break, I am considering these muffins for my treat. Though they join a long list of goodies I've seen during this experience. 

Six more letters to go and a book review to post tonight. It's a sprint now at the end of this marathon and I can see the finish line. I've got my photos ready and have just one more place to sample, "X." Thanks for staying with me on the Buttercup Coffee Wagon.

So much coffee and so little time! Let's keep sipping and have a great day. 

S Is for Stumptown

Earlier this month my friend A and I went to City Center for an open rehearsal of the Dance Theater of Harlem. Great dancing and a fascinating look at how performances come together. After the program we went to a great coffee place -- featured in the next post for "T" -- for a snack and coffee. 

Stumptown was the featured coffee. Stumptown is a coffee roaster and retailer based in Portland. There are also a few Stumptown branches in other cities, including New York. I have visited the New York Stumptown, and I've had the brand at several other coffee places, as well. I generally think of it as too strong for me based on a less than good experience several years ago, but I found that wasn't the case this month. As A pointed out, "A good cup of coffee depends on a lot of variables." My iced coffee this time was just right. It was a solid B+ to maybe an A-. It was strong and flavorful. The Stumptown website has a good discussion of how they buy their coffee beans from local producers all over the world. I've been doing a lot of reading about coffee this month and I found this information especially informative.

As  a sidenote, I am not a particular fan of the very large coffee sellers also beginning with S. I've found their staff friendly, their shops clean and comfortable and I appreciate the bathrooms, but I'm not a fan of their coffee. Do I drink it? From time to time, yes. Mostly when I am with other people who are fans and don't want to try other places. I didn't want to let "S" go by without acknowledging their presence. There are four (!) within eight blocks of my apartment, and they are all crowded.

So much coffee and so little time, but I'm sipping away. As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.

Monday, April 25, 2016

R Is for Regular

I first remember hearing the term "regular coffee" when I moved to New York City in 1975, and I didn't know what it meant. The definition I found gave the location for this description to New York City and Eastern Massachusetts (Boston). I'd lived in New England, including Western Massachusetts, but I don't remember the term being used there. I quickly learned it meant coffee with milk and one sugar.  

After my spinal surgery in 2012 I was slowly regaining the ability to walk, one block at a time. After the first couple of weeks I felt comfortable going out by myself and could walk two to three blocks slowly. I was also going stir-crazy from being indoors. My exercise for the day was to walk two and a half blocks -- there were benches along the way, if needed -- and get an iced coffee at Tal's Bagels. I'd bring my New York Times or a magazine and enjoy being out of my apartment. By the time I was ready to go back to work they knew my order. I was a "regular."

When I retired I did a more comprehensive sampling of my neighborhood's places for iced coffee. Excepting the big chains -- Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts are within two blocks of my apartment -- I found I liked Tal's coffee the best. Tal remained my favorite. Is it great? No, but it is a very solid B.   

Sometimes -- often -- I got a bagel, too, and I think they have some of the best bagels in New York City. I love bagels -- sesame with butter -- and I'd love to do an A to Z of bagels, but I might need a new wardrobe when the month was finished. 

Tal's isn't fancy, at all. But it's a place where everyone knows my order and I'm happy to be a regular.

I'm off to Yorkville on the Upper East Side for the elusive Y. I hope to be back later for a discussion of Stumptown Coffee. Blogging is a tough life, isn't it!

So much coffee and so little time! Have a cup for me and enjoy your day.  


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Q is for Queens

For "Q" we take the subway across the East River to Queens. To keep my blogger integrity, I need to add that I took the R train to Coffeed, but I did take the 7 train on my return to Manhattan.

This is the view from the subway station in Queens, with Manhattan in the far distance. I worked in Queens for eight years and this was one of the subway stops I used every day. When I first started working in Long Island City there were two places to buy coffee near the office. Sadly, neither were very good. Seven-Eleven opened after five years and Coffeed opened the year before I retired. 

Coffeed was my answer to this question. I'd been waiting for good coffee for seven years and finally it had arrived. 

Coffeed is a community-oriented coffee shop that roasts their own coffee and only uses coffee of single origin. It's a neighborhood meeting place and a very pleasant casual place to have good coffee.

I got the house brew of the day, which was from Burundi. This was the first time I'd encountered coffee from Burundi this month, but I have since found it at Gregory's as well. I varied from my usual order and had a cup of hot coffee. It was strong and flavorful and a solid B+. I'd thinking of a return visit to sample the dark roast from Sumatra.

The days are winding down for the A to Z Challenge and I've got the end of the alphabet to complete. There are going to be several days with two posts and even one book review. It's going to be a busy blogging week ahead. I'm adding this post to the fun at Pink Saturday. I've certainly had fun with my coffee adventures.

So much coffee and so little time! As ever, thanks for visiting and have a great week.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

P is for (Margot) Patisserie

We're staying in my Upper West Side neighborhood today for a visit to Margot Patisserie. Although it's close to home, it's not one of my usual stops. When my friend, Jane, suggested it, I thought it was time to stop in and see if it had the best coffee in New York City.  

We were there three weeks ago, on what may have been the last snowy day of this season. It's hard to imagine that three weeks ago I was trudging around in boots and today is a balmy sixty eight degrees. I ordered a hot coffee, light for this sampling. The company was good and the coffee was okay. It wasn't bad and it was served hot -- I've found hot coffee isn't always as hot as I like it -- but it doesn't make the cut for best coffee in New York City. While I didn't sample the pastries, they are definitely photo-worthy.   

The cookies looked delicious and I especially liked the packaging. 

Yes, two cookie photographs. They looked that good. 

I was particularly intrigued by the smiling faces tartlets. I'm a fan of lemon and if I wasn't pastry abstinent, they would be my choice to sample.

Thanks all for your kind Passover good wishes. I joined friends last night for a wonderful Passover Seder. It was an evening to be thankful for so much, but especially the Exodus from Egypt so many thousand of years ago. The evening was particularly sweet for the presence of the latest generation, two lively little boys and their adorable four month old cousin.

So much coffee and so little time! As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.

Friday, April 22, 2016

O Is for Oren's Daily Roast

Real life is getting dangerously close to derailing my A to Z blogging. But I'm returning to semi-regularly scheduled content from my detour for "N." I'm also chopping vegetables and fruit for tonight's Passover Seder, which starts in just about five hours. I know everything will get done -- it usually does -- but I do want to do a post for "O." We're staying in my Upper West Side neighborhood for a quick trip down the street to Oren's Daily Roast.
 I stopped here last month -- it's about six blocks from home -- before I began to take my interest in the variety of beans and roasting. This is one of my regular spots for a coffee treat. My only change in routine was to take photographs. I ordered my iced coffee light and as usual, enjoyed it. It wasn't especially memorable, but definitely worth drinking and liking, a very solid B+.  

A sort-of-selfie in Oren's window. 

I enjoyed the display of the coffee beans offered at Oren's and I'm interested in a return visit to buy beans to take home. In warm weather I'm out and about more and treat myself to iced coffee, but yes, I do make coffee at home, especially first thing in the morning in cold weather. 
I need to resume my fruit and veggie chopping, but wishing all who celebrate Passover, a sweet and happy holiday. 
So much coffee and so little time! As ever, thanks for visiting. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

N Is for Nine Eleven

We're taking a coffee break today.

When I got off the subway on Monday en route to the Wall Street area I realized I was very close to the 9/11 Memorial. I hadn't been there since it opened and decided to sidetrack from my schedule.

This sign in the subway reminded me that there were several "N" things to write about, including the  9/11 Memorial, National Museum of the American Indian and other interesting sites on New York State's Path through History.

This was my view when I exited the subway station, looking north. 

The Memorial and Museum are built on the site where the Towers stood. I had a very disorienting few minutes when I first got here. I had a lot of trouble remembering where the buildings stood and what the Plaza looked like before September 11. I worked about six blocks south of here in 2001 and walked to the Trade Center often to take the train home from or shop in the Concourse below the Trade Center.  

One small section of the Memorial and a dozen lives remembered. It looks very somber -- and it is -- but my photograph doesn't clearly show the water on the inside of the Memorial, which gave me a  sense of eternity. 

This is the area from a different view, with St. Paul's Chapel on the right.   
After these sights I thought it was time to take a few minutes to reflect and remember. Yes, there's so little time and so much coffee, but there are days when we take a coffee break.

Monday, April 18, 2016

M Is for Midtown

Friday was a day for running around. I went from home in the Upper West Side to Queens. I came back via Midtown East -- a stop to get my glasses fixed in Grand Central Station, and then I walked to Gregory's in Midtown West. I climbed a lot of subway stairs, had lunch with friends,
got my glasses fixed and had two coffee samplings in one day. Yes, I was tired when I got home.     

This is where I crossed from the East Side of Manhattan to the West Side. Fifth Avenue is the dividing line.

I passed this park on West 45th Street as I walked across town. I made a left turn on Sixth Avenue -- officially renamed Avenue of the Americas -- another left turn on West 44th Street and arrived at this branch of Gregory's. I am sure that there was a closer branch to Grand Central, but this one was (sort of ) on my way home.

In my attempt to sample all of the noteworthy coffee places in New York -- an impossible task in a month -- I've been doing a lot of research. One name that I see consistently is Gregory's. My order was an iced coffee -- I'd sampled hot coffee for "Q" in the morning -- and it was very good. It wasn't an "A" -- they are few -- but somewhere between a B+ and an A-. My grading system is starting to flag. I've had so much really good coffee and I'm finding it difficult to compare them. This isn't like my college experience. There is no Bell Curve. My goal is to discover places to drink great coffee. It's almost always positive in Buttercupland.     
The coffee I ordered wasn't made with these beans from the Cuzco area. The description sounds fabulous and I'd like to try Peruvian coffee. I need a return visit for this sampling.

The view from my seat at Gregory's on to West 44th Street. 
I'm off to sample "N." It's a beautiful day in New York City and I'm taking a trip to the New York Stock Exchange area for some coffee, shopping and picture taking.
So much coffee and so little time! As ever, thanks for visiting.