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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Sky and I drove to New York City today, under the auspices of going to Pearl Oyster Bar, in order to try the city’s best lobster roll. Only when we were on the FDR Drive did Sky call Pearl and discover that they aren’t open for lunch during the weekend. Well, now what?

Of course, Sky had a number of additional destinations, so we weren’t about to turn around and give up. Our first stop was few blocks south of the municipal lot, at the famous Doughnut Plant.

The donuts sure looked good, but overall they weren’t that impressive. The Valrhona chocolate donuts were gimmicky, the cinnamon buns uninteresting, though with good ingredients. The chestnut was the best yeast donut, and the cranberry the best cake donut. I’m sure I’m going to hell for saying this, but I think I prefer Dunkin Donuts. I certainly prefer Dale’s back in Stevesville. They weren’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t get the hype. They’re moderately good donuts that look gorgeous, but taste meh. The yeast donuts are a bit dry, the cake donuts are a bit dry, and the service was a bit meh. Well, it’s New York City, and everybody is an asshole, so whatever.

Onward!

We ventured (almost by accident) into the Essex Street Market, and hit up Saxelby Cheesemongers, one of the best cheese markets in the entire City. Serendipity indeed. We were greeted by none other than Anne Saxelby herself, and Sky picked up four blues (more on that later). She carries a small selection of domestic artisanal cheese, and knows her stuff. This was definitely the gem of the entire market, looking around afterwards.

From there we hiked north a bit to the Whole Foods Market, to get a hunk of Stichelton, the first raw milk blue out of England in over a century. At $31 a pound, Sky’s quarter pound was one of the more expensive cheeses I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling.

And, there it is. Each bite worth more than a dollar, I can honestly say … it’s not worth the money. It’s a good blue cheese, but it’s nothing so incredible as that. I’d prefer a perfectly mundane Maytag blue (an entirely different blue to be sure) and have money leftover for whatever. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t have anything extra or special over good blues I’ve had in the past. Not for those who mind a blue with a fragrance of funky decay.

This was the first of four cheeses from Saxelby. A goat cheese blue, it was a difficult, spicy cheese. Should have had it last, as it has the ability to destroy one’s palette (who knew). Grainy, pungent, explosive. Not entirely pleasant. Leaves the back of your throat burning a few seconds after you finish. Don’t really need to try that again. I apologize I lack names for this (and the next three) cheeses.

Saxelby #2 was completely bland and flavorless. This may have been partly from the after effects of #1, but overall this was a creamy lifeless cheese with good texture and zero character. Even somebody who hates blues would be able to tolerate it, as it tastes like nothing.

  1. was a perfect snacking blue. It’s the type of cheese you don’t have to think about to appreciate. It’s the sort of thing you’d serve to your friends who don’t appreciate cheese, and you wouldn’t feel bad when they eat it.

  1. jacked up the flavor a bit, was what I would describe as an archetypal blue. It tastes like blue cheese, and was perfectly within the norm of what I’d expect from a blue cheese. A good snacking blue, not too challenging. Appealing to people who like blues, and not funky, pungent, or overly earthy for those that dislike the more challenging varieties of cheese.

Oh well. Enough cheese. We hiked for a bit over to a Ninth Street Espresso location, only not the Ninth Street Espresso. In fact, it wasn’t Ninth Street Espresso, though the address and lookup information indicated otherwise. As the guy behind the counter indicated, the place was bought out from the Ninth Street people, and renamed. Now it’s part of a CSC Theater, and has an entirely shitty ambiance, either way:

The espresso was prepared expertly by a man from the pacific northwest on a two-group Synesso Cyncra, but the beans themselves were stale. As such, it was one of the better lattes I’ve had in a while (especially with my machine offline) in terms of technical preparation, but it’s garbage in, and garbage out. I don’t know if it’s a feature of counter culture coffee, or just a lack of care in the shop, but I don’t really need to go back. I don’t understand why good freshly roasted espresso is so hard to find in the city, when it’s everywhere in Seattle, and can eve be found in San Francisco. Oh well. I’d avoid the 13th street location of whatever the hell this place was called, anyhow, as it’s not nearly as comfortable to spend time at this dump, and they obviously don’t care about their beans. I need now to visit the eponymous 9th street, hopefully they’ll be much more satisfying.

Stopped for ice cream at this shit hole, the lady behind the counter was not cooperative, and all the interest flavors (sesame, wasabi) were unavailable. The ice cream we did try was all terrible, and tasted artificial. At $6 for a “small” cup it was also overpriced. Avoid at all costs. I hope Sundaes and Cones goes out of business, as they don’t deserve to exist, judging from this visit.

Bubby’s Pie Co was much more satisfying. Packed, we ended up nabbing a seat at the bar:

I had a key lime pie (slice), and Sky the sour cherry. Both were good (though I hate fruit pies), and this was probably the most satisfying gastronomic component of the day.

Overall, not our most successful trip in terms of eating, but cheap (driving ended up costing significantly less than the train tickets for two, even with gas, tolls, and parking included), which was nice. Still need to make it back to Pearl sometime, though I fear my next opportunity will not be a month ending in r.