Goodnight Glaser's Bakery

 

When I worked on the Upper East Side I used to take walks over to Glaser's to get a donut or a black and white cookie. The 116 year old bakeshop is a wondrous blast from the past with that teal green sign, the intricate inside, and of course, those iconic New York City cookies. They were even featured in a Mad Men episode.

When I heard they were closing a few months ago, I made a strategic decision to go early to get my last black and white. I'm glad I had my little goodbye back in April. I carried a box home with two cookies on the crosstown bus like a funeral rite.

The sunsetting of Glaser's makes me think of the book I'm currently reading, St. Mark's Is Dead by Ada Calhoun, a great rumination on the constant change of New York City seen through one of the city's most iconic streets.  Calhoun strikes a nice balance of nostalgia for the wonders of the past city and thinking forward on the nature of urban change. She shows us how the city has always lamented "those newcomers" ruining everything, with residents wishing for the mythical past.

I'm stuck then somewhere between loving the ever changing, ever contentious, beat of New York City and feeling pretty downtrodden that the commercial rent is so high that all we get are banks and big brand pharmacies. I understand why a family would want to end their 116 year old store because generations change and grow, that's kinda the American story too, but perhaps it would be less sad if we knew the diversity of stores in New York could keep going.

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Glaser's Bakery 1670 1st Avenue New York, NY 10128

Gray's Papaya on 72nd Street

Gray's Papaya on 72nd. The best part of this year of living on the Upper West Side is exploring all The Very New York Institutions that exist up here on a casual basis. It's been fun to just see movies at Lincoln Center, walk by the farmer's market at The Natural History Museum, and sit for a slice of cheese cake at Cafe Lalo.

And in the this neighborhood, the intersection of 72nd Street feels like one of the most cinematic and iconic. Perhaps I feel this way because of You've Got Mail but I also learned that it's a background in Die Hard, too. I think my subconscious remembers that scene.

The yellow and bright Gray's Papaya at 72nd is a perfect storefront symbol for the neighborhood, an open 24/7 stalwart on the corner beaming in yellow and painted signs.

Now that the spring is really here, I feel a craving for a hot dog with mustard, but never ketchup. Yep, that's how I like my papaya dog.

-- Gray's Papaya  2090 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

Absolute Bagels

Bagels are a reason I can't leave New York. Growing up in pretty basic New England town, we had one guy who made bagels the New York Way. They were good, not great, but chewy in a much better way than most non-metro area bagels tend to be. Then I moved to New York and started eating Bagel Bob's all the time. Hello, pimento olive cream cheese. A bagel love affair began in my life and has yet to cease.

Currently my favorite bagels are found at the edge of the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights at Absolute Bagels. This is a non-frills, kinda grimy, bagel cafe.It is not meant for Instagram selfies with matcha and pink walls. But they are one of the best in New York according to Eater!

The bagels are just right: they're chewy, not too big, not too small, salty and perfectly New York-ish. You can literally watch as the bagels are boiled and baked here, emerging from the giant oven like little golden nuggets of joy. The everything bagel is perfectly garlicky and salty, which is my real taste test for a bagel. If there is no salt I am done, that's it. Your bagel is dead to me.

I can't describe it actually but you just know what a good bagel is when you take that first bite.

Spring for the Thai iced tea if you're an iconoclast. It makes a good bagel friend.

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Absolute Bagel 2788 Broadway, 108th St.