Now that finals are upon us, I decided to try a coffee shop closer to campus so that I wouldn’t spend too much time away from my work. I wish I had known ahead of time that Irving Farms’ location on W. 79th St is the perfect place to study. The second I walked in, I noticed the comforting and trendy atmosphere as well as the multitude of tables. Unlike most coffee shops in Manhattan, which are extremely cramped, Irving Farms’ location on the Upper West Side is massive. This location has both a front room and a back room, each of which are larger than most New York coffee shops. Though it was quite crowded, I was still able to find a table because the shop was so large. I encountered numerous students who definitely had made Irving Farms their frequent coffee shop because they had come prepared with all of their studying materials.
In addition to the multitude of coffee options available, there is also a menu for those looking to have a meal while enjoying their coffee. I decided to take advantage of both. I ordered a medium vanilla latte and a caprese sandwich with Narragansett fresh mozzarella, slow- roasted tomatoes, and homemade seasonal pesto on a ciabatta. My latte was probably the best latte I have had in a long time. The sandwich was also delicious, but nothing out of the ordinary. Though both my latte and sandwich tasted delicious, honestly, they did not compliment each other. I still enjoyed both, but I would have enjoyed them more if I had tried each separately.
I definitely plan on going back to Irving Farms and next time, I will be sure to bring studying materials with me. It is definitely the perfect place to study during exams if you are looking for a calming atmosphere that isn’t too crowded (the exact opposite of Butler). I also look forward to trying another one of their many other locations in Manhattan. I would recommend this coffee shop to anyone looking for good coffee and/or food as well as students looking for a nice spot to study.
On a chilly Sunday afternoon, I decided to go with my friend, Victoria, to find and devour some delicious cupcakes. We took the 1 train down to 86th Street and walked to By the Way Bakery, a gluten and dairy free bakery with excellent Yelp reviews. Unfortunately, they did not have any cupcakes, even though there were photos of cupcakes on their Yelp page. So I decided to go to a nearby bakery famous for its delectable mini cupcakes: Baked by Melissa.
When I walked into the store (after longingly examining the Christmas trees for sale right outside the door), I noticed that the inside was very plain and modern. There were no tables or chairs, and the room itself was completely undecorated. It was like the Apple store of cupcake shops. But while the store itself was lacking in color, the cupcakes were certainly bright and fun to look at. Having had Baked by Melissa once before in my life, I knew the cupcakes would be little, but I forgot just how tiny they are. Each cupcake couldn’t have been more than an inch and a half in diameter. Furthermore, one cupcake costs $1, which is definitely not a bargain. I decided to buy six cupcakes for Victoria and me. The flavors we chose were cookie dough, chocolate chip pancake, cinnamon bun, mint cookie, sugar cookie cheesecake, and triple chocolate fudge.
The cookie dough cupcake is a yellow cake with cookie dough in the middle, chocolate frosting, and even more cookie dough on top. This cupcake had a wonderful texture; the cake and the cookie dough were very moist, and the chocolate chips added nice variation to the softness of the cupcake. In addition to having excellent texture, the cupcake had an intense and delicious cookie dough flavor, especially for such a tiny cupcake. Overall, they nailed this cupcake!
The chocolate chip pancake cupcake is a yellow pancake cake with chocolate chips throughout, topped with maple syrup frosting and even more chocolate chips. As a pancake aficionado, I was really intrigued by the idea of turning a pancake into a cupcake. I found that the cupcake did resemble a pancake, but it definitely didn’t taste identical to one, which was a slight disappointment (to be fair, it was an ambitious goal). The cupcake itself was quite sweet, perhaps even too sweet, but it still tasted good.
The cinnamon bun cupcake (part of their winter collection) is a cinnamon bun cake filled with vanilla glaze, topped with cinnamon frosting and a white chocolate drizzle. Unlike the pancake cupcake, this cupcake tasted exactly like the breakfast food it was trying to emulate. The soft cake, delicious glaze, and cinnamon frosting combined perfectly to mimic the experience of eating a cinnamon roll. My only wish is that the cupcake had a bit more cinnamon in it, as I love a strong cinnamon punch, but otherwise this beautiful cupcake was excellent.
The mint cookie cupcake is a mint cake with a fudge filling, mint cookies and cream frosting, mint cookie butter, and green drizzle on top. The first thing I observed about this cupcake is that it is a bold green color, which I thought was playful. Victoria and I thought the flavor of the cupcake was lacking in mint, but the cupcake was still satisfying and had a nice crunchy element.
The sugar cookie cheesecake cupcake (part of their winter collection) is a vanilla cake with a cheesecake filling, topped with sugar cookie frosting, and red and green nonpareil brittle. This cupcake certainly looked festive, with the red and green decorations on top. The flavor itself was a bit strange: we came to the conclusion that it tasted like a sugar cookie, vanilla cupcake, and bread combined. But the texture of the cupcake was wonderfully creamy. Overall, it was a solid cupcake, albeit a little unusual.
Of course, I saved the chocolate cupcake for last. The triple chocolate fudge cupcake is a chocolate cake with a fudge filling, topped with chocolate frosting, and a chocolate cookie crumble. The moment I bit into this cupcake, I knew that I made the right decision to eat this one last. It was without a doubt one of the best bites of a cupcake I’ve ever had. It was rich, bitter, and decadent – everything a chocolate lover wants in a cupcake. In a small dose, it was absolutely incredible, though perhaps it would be too much if it were a normal sized cupcakes. This cupcake was the perfect finale to my cupcake-eating adventure.
Baked by Melissa has their baking down to a science. Each cupcake was moist and complex. My only complaint is that a few of their cupcakes – mainly the cinnamon bun cupcake and the mint cookie cupcake – could have used a bit more flavor, as a mini cupcake should be packed with flavor to make up for its diminutive size. Baked by Melissa is certainly one of the most expensive cupcake places I’ve been to, so don’t go there expecting to leave with a full stomach unless you have $20 to spend. But on those days where you need to treat yourself, you can’t go wrong with Baked by Melissa.
Nearest Location: 2325 Broadway, New York, NY
Hours: Monday through Thursday – 9am to 10pm, Friday – 9am to 11pm, Saturday – 10am to 11pm, Sunday – 10am to 10pm
Emerging from the 23rd Station on the 1 line, I found myself in an unfamiliar area of Manhattan, one currently dominated by scaffolding and construction. Yet amid all that, the twinkling window lights and cursive lettering advertising La Maison du Macaron stood out clearly, even from the opposite side of the street. Upon entering, my eye was immediately drawn to the macaron display case, showcasing at least 20 different flavors. This is the brightest rainbow of macarons that I have ever seen, from traditional flavors like chocolate and raspberry to more unique ones like apple cider and mango.
After taking in the abundance of macaron options, my gaze moved to the front of the store, decorated with lavender accents and elegant detailing. The quaint, delicate nature of the entrance and display cases is juxtaposed with the cozy sitting area in the back of the store, full of mismatched leather couches and wooden tables and accented by exposed brick walls. This fusion of styles creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, perfect for doing work, meeting with friends, or just relaxing with a macaron or a pastry.
Before eating my macarons, I wanted to try something slightly more substantial, so I decided on the friand, which is almost like a small tart of croissant dough, enclosing ham, melted cheese, and béchamel sauce. It is like a Croque Monsieur but with a light, buttery exterior that melts in your mouth. My lunch was presented to me on a silver tray, and I promptly devoured it within minutes.
After lunch, it was finally time for my favorite part of the afternoon: picking out and tasting macarons. Although there were many box sizes (in purple and gold), I opted for the less expensive option of a clear box for 6 macarons (still not cheap at $17). After much deliberation I selected: caramel flour du sel, almond, vanilla, raspberry, passionfruit, and pink champagne.
In terms of aesthetics, I loved the pink champagne macaron the most, with its hot pink interior and gold-dusted exterior. But in terms of flavor, my favorite would have to be the almond, which surprised me. Usually the more decadent flavors (like passionfruit or caramel) tend to be my favorites, but the subtle sweetness and smooth texture of the almond captured my attention this time around.
Next time I visit, I will definitely bring along a book or some work to do in order to extend my time in this cozy atmosphere – and to provide an excuse to eat more macarons.
Just 10 blocks south of Columbia, Doaba Deli is a hidden gem serving delicious Indian food. This family owned restaurant is small, but the food is certainly excellent.
Doaba Deli Info
945 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10025
b/t 106th St & 107th St
Sun-Sat. 6am-5:30 am
When you step in, you only see about three different tables and a glass display case with various foods. Though this eatery is small and easy to pass by, the food is both affordable and tasty.
I ordered the palak paneer, which consists of spinach, a tomato gravy and paneer (a type of cheese). It was spicy and delectable. Although the dish is not served with rice, you can order the various types of breads or rice on the menu. This is a bit of an inconvience, but the food that I tried was still appetizing.
I also ordered the mango lassi (of course) and it was a bit thinner than some other lassis I have tried before. Though it was not my favorite, it was still tasty.
Everything is under $10, so this place is perfect for those of us who do not have too much money to spend on outside foods. Doaba Deli is also not that far from campus, so it is easy to stop by if you have some time during the day. Though it is not a fancy sit-down restaurant, it is an excellent option to consider when you want to eat some no-nonsense foods.
Most of the food on the menu is vegetarian, and they make it very apparent when you look at the available dishes.
Therefore, I would give Doaba Deli three and a half Bobby Flays.
Thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday, but almost just as exciting is the day after.
No, not because Black Friday deals. No, not because the ban on politics at the dinner table is over. It’s because NOW, we can sing CHRISTMAS CAROLS.
And make HOLIDAY FOOD.
And all the lights in our dorm rooms have purpose again!
But let’s go back to that second point…and think about what it means as we go into finals season.
Soon, some of us will start spending our lives (or more of them, if that’s possible) in Butler. Others will resort to leaving passive agressive notes to Butler seat-savers, or crying alone in our rooms. We’ll get more stressed, more tired, and more feeling like why are we doing this again than we have for most of the past semester.
The bright spot?
29 November is Giving Tuesday! Just in time to kick off the giving spirit.
And what better to give than…food?
More than that, food from the heart.
There are lots of ways to do this. First off, there is the GS Student Council Food Bank, which is conveniently collecting donations every Tuesday for the rest of the semester. Despite Columbia’s millions of dollars in endowment, many of our classmates face food insecurity on top of the stress of class and finals. It takes maybe a dollar to donate something – stop by Lerner from 11-2 on a Tuesday with some cereal, pasta or something else on their suggested list! It’ll take maybe 10 minutes, and we all probably need a study break that long anyway.
If you’ve got about 50 more minutes and want to bring more joy into people’s lives, I’ve found cookies are surprisingly effective at doing so. One batch of the recipe below makes THREE DOZEN. Two cookies each for EIGHTEEN people.
What are you waiting for?
BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES RECIPE
Special thanks to my mom for making them and to the Crisco shortening package for the inspiration.
3/4 cup Crisco® Butter-Flavored Shortening (or 3/4 cup + 1.5 tbsp butter)*
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (1 package) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Cream shortening/butter and brown sugar. Mix milk and vanilla until well-blended; beat in egg.
3. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into other ingredients until jussstt blended.
4. STIR IN THE CHOCOLATE CHIPS (a bit at a time works best!).
5. Taste some.
6. Roll the dough into whatever size you want your cookies to be, and press them onto an ungreased cookie pan.
7. Taste one.
8. Bake 8-10 minutes for chewier cookies, or 11 to 13 for crisper ones!
9. Taste one.
Well, there you have it folks – how to spread the love on Giving Day and beyond.
tl;dr: Give to the GSSC Food Bank on Tuesday, then make cookies to brighten a few more people’s days.
And remember – soon we’ll see the light again! Be they for Christmas or just all we’ve been missing from the sun while in Butler.
Nestled in the heart of the Garment District is an adorable little coffee shop that goes by the name of Culture Espresso. I would argue that the culture itself comes from the artistry in the coffee being served along with the decor.
This picture does not do the coffee shop justice. Inside, it felt like a little oasis in the middle of Manhattan, somehow away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. While I sat looking out the window drinking my coffee, I felt, for just a little while, that I was no longer a part of the stressful and fast paced world of New York. Sitting looking out the window, I was just an onlooker, not a participant. Finally I had a break.
I decided to be boring this time around and order my usual drink, but there was something slightly different about this vanilla latte compared to most. The vanilla syrup that Culture Espresso uses is homemade, along with their maple syrup. I wish I could say that I tasted a difference between their homemade syrup and any run of the mill syrup that most coffee shops use, but I could not.
My latte definitely looked like a one of a kind masterpiece, but it did not taste like one. The espresso in my latte was very flavorful, but it was overshadowed by the amount of milk that was added to it. I honestly tasted the milk more than I tasted the espresso, which was very upsetting, especially considering I am not a big fan of milk to begin with.
I also ordered a chocolate chip cookie with my latte. I was hoping it would taste better than it looked, but sadly it did not overall. The cookie was very hard and crunchy, which is not something I ever want in a chocolate chip cookie. One redeeming factor was that the chocolate chips were melted inside the cookie, giving it a molten center, similar to that of a chocolate lava cake (my favorite dessert).
Ultimately, I would not recommend this coffee shop from my experience, but it does have excellent reviews, which make me want to give it another try at some point.
Getting the package: As promised, getting a package from Hello Fresh really felt like a Christmas gift from Santa. I got a call from the desk attendant at 620 to inform me that there was a perishable package waiting for me at the desk. I had asked Hello Fresh to deliver the ingredients to my dorm instead of sending it through Barnard mailing since they tend to take longer to process and deliver packages.
2. Plan: I had signed up for the 2-person plan that sends a weekly package with pre-packaged and measured ingredients for exactly three recipes that serve two people. One downside of the subscription was that the 2-person plan is the minimum, which might end up being too much food for just one person. However, on the up side the quantities are ample for 2 people, and the selection of recipes is pretty good. The three dishes came with respective recipe cards with prep time, allergen warnings, ingredients list, nutrition information, tips and required utensils.
3. Cooking: I chose to cook the Indian-Inspired Eggplant with Tandoori-Spiced Basmati Rice and Cilantro Yogurt Sauce. It took a total of 45 minutes, a little bit more than anticipated mainly because my friend and I were being slow and getting distracted in conversation! We also added more water than necessary and it took some time to boil it off. Apart from that following the recipe was a breeze. Below you can see how what the process looked like:
Step 1: Chopping & Prep
Step 2: Roasting the Eggplant
Step 3: Cooking the Aromatics
Step 4: Cooking Rice
Step 5: Making Yogurt Sauce
Step 6: Plate, Serve & Enjoy
The full-fledged cooking experience of cooking Indian-Inspired Eggplant and Rice for someone with minimal prior experience was absolutely hassle-free. I had a wonderful time making this meal and it tasted great! More on this service and other meals in the upcoming post, stay tuned.