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
The 97th Street Greenmarket is not only a convenient subway trip away, but also it has a good collection of fresh fruits and veggies. Like most markets, the Greenmarket consists of a patchwork of smaller stalls where it’s easy to find a variety of regional produce, parts of which change with the growing seasons. Because the haze of Fall has descended for the moment, many of the stalls currently boast gourds, pumpkins, and at least thirty varieties of squash.
Beyond vegetables, there are also stalls devoted to seafood, where long, fine cuts of bass, salmon and other nautical creatures cool on ice. When I went, I didn’t spot any stalls with a similar set up for meat, but I will check again when I return (and return I will). The market also has several stalls with prettily, and sometimes not so prettily, wrapped baked goods and a new, interesting addition—a stall that sells only different types of mushrooms. There is something absolutely fascinating in seeing contrasting varieties laid out together, as any Biology majors would probably say.
Overall, the market is pleasant, but it has the highly curated feel of a market that aims to serve as a pretty compliment to regular store bought produce without usurping it. There were also few items that were interesting or experimental enough to hold my attention—except for the mushrooms—and if I was looking to branch out my palate, I probably wouldn’t find any particularly exciting ingredients here. It’s unequivocally “nice,” in a cookie cutter village way, but it lacks any kind of serendipitous “NYC edginess”. Anna Wintour would not buy squash here, but your mom’s friends would.
Absolutely come if you…
…want your shopping experience to have that small town, neighborhood feel with the added anonymity of not being directly near Columbia
…are looking for good quality seafood that you might look at but probably won’t buy because one of your suite-mates is allergic to shellfish
…are trying to expand your curated Instagram collection of pictures of gourds by a massive amount
…need an excuse for a fast, fun trip downtown while listening Vanessa Carlton’s forever iconic “A Thousand Miles”
…have never gotten off at 96th Street despite always transferring trains there and want to convince your mom you’re still “exploring New York City”
…miss your grandmother’s tart, flaky baked goods as much as your grandmother herself
As soon as I stepped into Georgia and Aliou’s Tiny Treats Café, I sensed an immediate difference from every other bakery I have visited in New York City. This bakery truly felt like a local neighborhood spot, with regulars entering in a steady stream, their names and orders already known by the staff. One woman confided in me before she left, “This is the only place I go to buy my bread. I don’t go anywhere else.” This approval from a dedicated customer only intensified my excitement to sample from Tiny Treats’ wide selection of items. The display case was packed full with an arrangement of gorgeous floral cupcakes, French pastries, whimsical smiley face cake pops, breads, and so much more.
When I first entered, I was immediately drawn to a brioche cinnamon roll, generously topped with icing. Choosing to pair the pastry with a latte, I sat at a table by the window, observing both the passers-by outside and the constant flow of entering customers. The cinnamon roll had just the right amount of cinnamon filling without being overly sweet (though I didn’t like it as much compared to the other items I bought later). I normally add a fair amount of cream and sugar to my coffees, but this latte only needed one sugar packet for me to find it delicious.
The eating area was a cozy space with warm red walls and small tables, but with added touches of elegance, like a chandelier and gilded frames. The atmosphere is best suited for an intimate breakfast/lunch date (due to the majority of two-person tables) or some alone time, a chance to catch up on reading emails or just relax.
After realizing I just couldn’t leave without trying one of the delicate and detailed desserts, I selected the Dacquoise, without really knowing what it was. I just knew that anything chocolate topped with toasted almonds was bound to be good, but my expectations were immediately surpassed after I took my first bite. The inside was filled with almond meringue and mocha buttercream, dotted with whole almonds, giving the pastry a different taste with every bite.
Yet again, I realized that it was now lunch time, and I couldn’t leave without selecting something from their additional menu of sandwiches and lunch dishes. For the low price of $7, I bought a quichette, filled with turkey, bacon, onions, and mozzarella, which came with a side salad. Though it looked small initially, the quichette turned out to be very filling, the perfect accompaniment to a day of resume editing.
Though Tiny Treats Café might not technically be in my neighborhood, I know that I will definitely be returning in the future, in the hopes of one day becoming a regular customer with a weekly bread order.
In the midst of midterms, it seems like I am always overwhelmed and constantly counting the days till the warmth of spring break. So when I was figuring out which bakery to try this week, I expected to just make a quick stop and hurry back to campus for some more studying. But when I entered Mille-feuille Bakery, something made me want to stop and stay for a while. Maybe it was the friendly smiles that greeted me as soon as I entered or the hip New York City atmosphere infused with the charm of a French patisserie. Or perhaps the bright and colorful display cases full of macarons, pastries, croissants, sandwiches, and so much more. Whatever the reason, I quickly shed my heavy winter coat and claimed a seat with a prime view of the desserts.
Like always, I was immediately drawn to the seasonal fruit tart, a dense and flavorful cake topped with raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Of course, I had to purchase some macarons to go, and the classic flavors of raspberry, dark chocolate, and salted caramel shone through in these hand-made treats. The flavor that really stood out to me, however, was the rose macaron. Although it seems like a strange flavor, the faint sweetness and scent of rose does not overwhelm the macaron, but rather, gives it a softer and more unique flavor.
However, possibly the best moment of my visit to Mille-feuille occurred when I was given a free baguette. I still have no idea what I did to obtain said baguette, but I happily accepted it without question and enjoyed it later in my dorm room.
With these sweets in front of me, I let the soft guitar music with French vocals lull me into a much-needed moment of relaxation that I had not had in a very long time. Although the space is relatively small with the atmosphere of a cozy neighborhood bakery, there is still plenty of space for me to return, this time with my backpack full of homework. Because everyone knows that Environmental Science reading is much easier when accompanied by a macaron.
From the very first time I tried a macaron in Paris, I was instantly hooked. Macarons (not to be confused with the coconut macaroons) have a unique texture that cannot be found anywhere else: a crunchy outer shell while soft and gooey on the inside. And of course, their vibrant colors make them beautiful to just look at. Although I have seen macarons as an option in many French bakeries, I had never been to a place whose main focus was the macaron, and I was eager to try a specific patisserie that I had read about over winter break.
Just a short walk from the 86th Street station, Macaron Parlor Patisserie is a safe haven for macaron addicts tucked away on the Upper West Side. With a modest exterior and a cozy seating area, it has all the character of a small neighborhood bakery, allowing the macarons to take center stage. The display case is full of a wide range of colors and flavors, and it will undoubtedly take a while to pick your perfect box (it took me a good five minutes of just staring at the options).
Macaron Parlor prides itself on offering traditional macaron flavors like dark chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, but the patisserie also has fun creating unconventional flavors that cannot be found anywhere else – notably Cheetos, Red Velvet, or Candied Bacon with Maple Cream Cheese.
As an avid lover of the raspberry/chocolate combination, I immediately fell in love with the chocolate ganache inside my raspberry macaron, and the bright pink interior helped to ease my sadness that Valentine’s Day (the day to eat chocolate and sweets with absolutely no shame) is over. I was pleasantly surprised with how similar the red velvet macaron tasted like my favorite cake flavor, down to the cream cheese filling.
Though I was not feeling quite adventurous enough to try a savory flavor like Cheetos, I am excited to pick out new combinations for my future purchases. These little, colorful pieces of heaven are just enough to brighten up any dreary winter day (and it is impossible to take a bad picture of them).
For my last post of the semester, I wanted to find something a little different from the other vegan restaurants I had been going to. Most vegan restaurants are sit-down restaurants, whether they are fancy or more on the casual side, but Blossom Du Jour is a healthier and vegan version of a fast food restaurant. They have five locations, one of which is not too far from Columbia, located at 449 Amsterdam Avenue between 81st and 82nd Street.
The restaurant was very small inside with a decent amount of counter space. A lot of people get take-out, but many also sit at the counter to eat. If you sit at the counter, there is a nice view of Amsterdam Avenue through the windows. It is a nice spot to eat alone, but you can also bring a couple of friends to enjoy the food with.
I decided to try the Strawberry Banana Burst smoothie and it was truly amazing. It was made with strawberries, bananas, and apple cider. I couldn’t even tell that there were no diary products used to make the smoothie!
I also tried the Midtown Melt sandwich, which is made with cajun spiced seitan, vegan cheese, agave, guacamole, lettuce, and chipotle aïoli. I could not even tell that the cheese used in the sandwich was vegan! Also the guacamole and chipotle aïoli tasted great together, along with the other ingredients in the sandwich. I would have to say the best part was that my food was all made in under five minutes and it tasted like food that I would order at a restaurant, which would take more than quadruple the amount of time to make.
I really enjoyed going to Blossom Du Jour, and I will definitely be going back sometime soon! I have never been to a vegan fast food restaurant before, and I’d have to say that it was a great experience. I recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a quick and delicious meal in a casual and comfortable atmosphere.
Everyone loves dessert, and luckily, Manhattan is home to numerous bakeries for all of us dessert lovers in the city. The problem is that it is almost impossible to find a good vegan bakery, even in Manhattan. I made it my mission to find a good vegan bakery and I found the Peacefood Cafe, which is both a vegan restaurant and vegan bakery.
The cafe is a nice, casual, and cozy spot to have a meal with a friend, while enjoying their many vegan options. It is definitely a stress-free atmosphere! It is located in the Upper West Side on Amsterdam and 82nd, so it isn’t too far from campus. They also have another location in the Village.
The bakery part of the restaurant had many vegan desserts, which all look like they must be made with diary products. Upon walking in, I even wondered if their desserts were actually vegan! In place of the dairy products normally found in these desserts, the Peacefood Cafe uses healthier options, such as avocados. Not only are these desserts vegan, but also many of them are even gluten free.
I had a chocolate chip cookie sandwich and a slice of the raw chocolate mousse pie. The chocolate chip cookie sandwich was two large cookies with chocolate inside, which made them stick together. Without the chocolate inside, the cookies were some of the best I have ever had. The chocolate inside was so rich in flavor that it made the cookies taste even better. The mousse pie was made with avocado, which made me a little nervous to try it, but it was amazing! The taste of the avocado was undetectable and if anything, it made the chocolate taste even richer in flavor. I will definitely be going back to the cafe to get both of these desserts again!
I also had a mango lassi while I was at the cafe, which I was a little nervous about because it is a yogurt-based drink. The mango lassi was pretty good considering it was vegan, but it wasn’t as good as the non-vegan ones I have had in the past. The yogurt used in the drink tasted like regular yogurt, but the lassi tasted too much like yogurt and did not have enough of a mango taste. Overall, it was good, but I think I will try a different drink next time.
I look forward to going back to the Peacefood Cafe to try more of their vegan options! I definitely would recommend this cafe to anyone looking for a nice to spot to eat and hang out with friends or anyone looking for a good take-out place. This cafe is great for both vegans and non-vegans, alike!
This week my NYC coffee-shop scavenger hunt led me to the UWS’s very own Irving Farm Coffee Roasters. Although they originally opened downtown in 1996, the UWS location is currently their biggest. This neighborhood staple on 79th draws customers from up and down Broadway, and it’s common to see Columbia students making the 1 train pilgrimage down to escape the campus bubble.
Apart from the range of milk-inclusive drinks – Irving Farm is well-known for their latte art – they have rotating espressos, pour-overs, and drips. I went for the House Blend, and it did not disappoint. The coffee is creamy and comforting, medium strength, and tastes almost as if it was French-pressed. No standout flavor, but then again, the idea is to create a cohesive blend rather than showcase one or two particular notes. To go with their brews, the café has an extensive food menu ranging from Mediterranean-style appetizer platters to pressed croissants to both hot and cold sandwiches, all made to order (the salad of the young woman next to me is big enough to feed at least 3 people, for the record). For the libation-minded, they also serve draught beer and even have a $6 happy hour deal.
Irving Farm’s baked goods are supplied by a variety of bakeries, Ovenly and The Good Batch among them (you may have tasted Ovenly’s pastries before – they supply the Joe’s in NoCo with cookies and scones). I ordered the innovative Pistachio Agave cookie (pictured), which may not be worth the nearly $4 price tag if you’re trying to quench some hunger pangs (it’s only 1 inch big!), but definitely delivered in the taste department. Thanks to the softening effect of the agave syrup, the overall texture is chewy and the aftertaste is nutty and flavorful, though some more discerning tastebuds may find it too sweet.
The hourglass-shaped Kalita pour-over containers stand 3 in a line, ready for coffee action. It’s amazing how aesthetically pleasing coffee-making equipment can be; I think I could furnish an entire apartment with just Chemexes and turn it into an art deco masterpiece. I’m telling you, La Marzocco coffee tables are going to be the next big thing.
The rest of the décor is pleasantly unpretentious: exposed brick walls and nearly-bare lightbulbs are mediated by a bar made of stacked-wood patterning reminiscent of Jenga, and photos of various coffee plantations line the walls. It’s obvious you’re not in SoHo or the West Village anymore – the décor is more classic than grunge, and the clientele represents the UWS rather well, with a hearty mix of ages and urban social groups. The level of socializing is notable, too; Irving Farm doesn’t offer wi-fi, meaning actual human-to-human conversation drowns out the sound of computer keyboards and the turning of magazine pages. *insert lament about 21st century tech ruining our social lives*
The little things count at Irving Farm – the baristas are (generally) smiling, the flowers on the communal table are real, and iced drinks are served in mason jars. They’re serious about their coffee, but the atmosphere is just playful and warm enough to create the perfect nook for rainy days. If it’s sunny out, I recommend trying to snag a spot at the counter by the window or go for the patio, which, like the coffee shop itself, is a half-floor below street level and so provides a nice little alcove from which to people-watch and savor a mason jar full of iced deliciousness.
After being a non-vegan for two months, I have decided to return to practicing the non-animal product lifestyle. In result, I have to do some hunting for NYC eats for vegans that are highly acclaimed but of course may be overhyped. For my first destination of checking out NYC vegan restaurants, I headed not too far from campus to The Peacefood Café on Amsterdam and 82nd Street (there is also one located at E11th Street and University Place).
I went to the Peacefood Café on a Sunday night at around six in the evening, where there was dim lighting and an earthy smell which created a warm and homey vibe. One can choose to stay and dine, order to go, or deliver as well. The waiting area, which consists of three seats, is filled with pamphlets of vegan recipes. Depending on what one orders the wait may range of 2 minutes to 10.
The menu consists of sides, entrees, desserts, with indicators of what is gluten-free, somewhat gluten-free, and what is raw (meaning nothing was cooked, but still safe to eat). There is also a special menu that is available for order from 5pm-10pm daily, which includes “cheeseburgers”, a vegan version of chicken parmesan, thai curry, among other items. A special breakfast menu, which includes granola, tofu scramble, quinoa porridge, etc., is available to order after 10am until the items are sold out.
Both times I’ve gone, I’ve ordered to go and have only tried the raw items. The first time I tried The Peacefood Café, I had the raw sushi roll, and this time I ordered the raw lasagna which came with “the other Caesar” which is a vegan interpretation of the typical Caesar salad. The sushi roll, which is walnut pate and veggies, is delicious with lots of flavor. It is topped with avo, and on the side are jicama and carrots. The lasagna was pesto and marinara separating layers of zucchini. The taste in both were extremely rich, and while raw, both were extremely filling and satisfying, this goes for “the other caesar” as well!
As a vegan, finding satisfying desserts that don’t taste “vegan” are hard to find. Both times I’ve gone to The Peacefood Café I’ve gotten a dessert. The first time I tried out the raw key-lime pie, which was full of flavor, tasted like a key-lime pie, and as I had the last bite I wished for another slice to appear so I could finish that one off too. The next time I went I tried the raw cacao mousse pie, thinking that no other raw vegan dessert could live up to the standard set by the key-lime pie. No disappoint whatsoever. The cacao mousse pie was to die for and lived up to all my expectations. It was rich, and creamy, and did not taste “vegan” at all, but rather tasted like any other cacao mousse pie.
Overall, I would highly recommend The Peacefood Café for everyone, vegan and non-vegans. Definitely a good place to go to try something new; the desserts are a must and highly recommended for all.