Depending on the browser you’re using to read this, about here you’ll see what layout designers call trapped white space. I learned about trapped white space, and that it was something to avoid, from, if memory serves, Mr. John Bailey, the contracted liaison between the high school yearbook staff I worked with and whoever our publisher was. I never forgot the lesson, and in fact much of what I learned about photographic composition comes from cropping photos for the yearbook, even though I wouldn’t pick up a camera for some years after that. So if you happen upon a 1983 or 1984 Aetonian, and find a photo of my friend Jim waving from across the school library, his hands strategically, and unintentionally, spread from a vortex formed at the base of a crucifix (thank you, Society of Jesus, for the strong education); well I didn’t mean to crop out the top part of the crucifix – it was an editorial decision made above us.
As this digression may have entirely negated the trapped white space I was afeared of, let us continue apace.
New York hotels don’t often have the “continental breakfast” that many chain hotels offer guests, but The Mave (on Madison Ave) had good coffee and okay pastries available from 7-9 every morning. But getting up before 9 in the morning in New York isn’t something I normally do. So to fuel up for a morning of browsing in the Antiques Garage, I wracked my brain and then Google to find the name of the sandwich shop I’d seen written up in the blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York for their exemplary formulation of the iconic New York drink, the egg cream.
Eisenberg’s is the name, and at 22nd and 5th just south of the Flatiron Building it’s another of those places I’ve probably walked right by a few dozen times, blissfully unaware of the deliciousness within. When I found the place, I couldn’t even remember resting my eyes upon it for even a glance before. I had the pastrami and eggs: juicy, spicy, tender pastrami, the best I’ve ever had (and that include’s Katz’s Deli).
That’s the egg cream. I haven’t had enough egg creams to maneuver the nuances of seltzer-to-syrup proportions, but I can vouch for its tastiness.
Not pictured: the cortado from Joe’s the Art of Coffee on 23rd St. near 9th Ave; the best cuppa joe I’ve had since returning from a trip to South America last year. Which reminds me. Among the culinary discoveries I made in South America, besides the fantastic $9 steaks to be had in Buenos Aires and the revelatory bacon cheeseburger I had in, of all places, a Ruby Tuesday’s at the Santiago airport, was agua con gas. In restaurants, diners are offered the choice between agua con gas or sin gas, the latter being regular tap water and the former being the carbonated water known here by the brands Perrier or San Pellegrino, and the generic seltzer.
In DC it’s easy to get Perrier or San Pellgrino or club soda in single-serving bottles. But seltzer is a rarer bubbly animal. Merriam-Webster defines it, with endearing circularity, as water from the German town of Selters (what genius added the “z”?!), and if I am reading the wikipedia article correctly, there appears to be no real difference between seltzer and other carbonated water
. But seltzer is a lot more fun to say and write, and hear, which you can do right now from the disembodied neutral voice of Merriam-Webster online
. And it is part of the regional lore of New York, so much so that the city was abuzz when the last remaining seltzer-delivery man
had to take time off to recover from an injury in 2009.
Which is a long way of saying I get seltzer, be it in egg cream or in its raw form, whenever I’m in New York. Your corner bodega chooses Canada Dry, but the seltzer syndicate is in completely different territory in Penn Station, where Hudson News proudly stocks only Seagram’s seltzer.
The foodstuffs pictured above and adjacent to these spring-watery passages are, first, what remained of the fish special at Cucina di Pesce. I never got what the name of the fish was, despite hearing it at least three times from my friendly waiter Sal; and the beginnings of a heavy night’s sleep brought on by the same restaurant’s tiramisu. I wish there were an Italian restaurant this good in DC, but I know that if there were, it would cost twice as much.
Apologies for the trapped white space.
Part three: Flushing and back again.