Back in December, I had the opportunity to attend the National Immigrant Integration Conference. Once I found out it was to take place in Brooklyn, I may or may not have said "Pick me! Pick me!" to my executive director as she was asking who wanted to represent the organization there.
No shame, remember?
Anyway, I was picked. (Yay!) And I flew into New York via a red eye flight and arrived bright and early Saturday morning. As the conference didn't start until Sunday, I had a whole day to kill. Whenever I've gone to New York in the past, I've always stayed with my very good friend, Nana. She offered to let me crash with her this time as well, but because I knew she would be busy all weekend with maid of honor duties for a friend's wedding, I decided to just stay at the hotel where the conference was held. It's not like I had to pay for it.
Since Nana was unavailable, I didn't really have a solid plan that first day in New York. I figured I would just walk. And walk. And of course, eat.
Nana recommended a couple places in Brooklyn to check out. Bien Cuit was really close to my hotel, so I stopped there first:
It was everything I expected from a neighborhood hipster cafe:
I didn't feel like walking around the city holding a pastry, so I ordered at the counter, collected my goods, and then ducked into the back corner of the cafe, where I claimed a small table for myself.
Nana specifically said to get the almond croissant, so of course I had to obey:
So glad I did. Almond pastries can often get too...fragrant, for lack of a better word. Almost perfume-y. I'm not a fan of that. This croissant was crackly and flaky on the outside and oozing with almond paste inside:
The filling wasn't overly sweet or flowerly, which I appreciated.
What I would have appreciated even more would have been someone to share it with. I actually had a bit of a hard time finishing that croissant.
On top of that, I detest eating out alone. It was painfully awkward sitting there by myself. I didn't even have a laptop to make me look productive and purposeful. Instead, I just sat there avoiding eye contact and fiddling with my phone in hopes of appearing less...lonely.
My personal hang-ups aside, I enjoyed the laid back atmosphere at Bien Cuit. And the yummy croissant. It was a tad pricey though. A pastry and a small chai latte set me back slightly over $8. Yikes.
After scarfing down the entire croissant, I walked from Brooklyn to Grand Central Terminal to the Met and then back down to Bryant Park. I stopped by The Halal Guys cart for an early dinner, but almost died when I decided to be adventurous and try their red sauce for the first time.
I quickly learned that red sauce should only be added in miniscule drops...if at all. After two bites of my chicken over rice, my mouth was on fire. I shadily returned to the cart, squirted a shit ton of white sauce into my tin, and then fled the scene like the moron I was.
I didn't get really far though. I became caught up in the masses of Santa Con revelers and tourists gawking at the Christmas lights. For a few seconds there, I despaired and thought that I would never be able to escape the crush. I couldn't move forward and I couldn't move back. Luckily, me and my over-sauced tin of chicken over rice eventually made it back to the hotel in Brooklyn in one piece.
Back in the safety of my hotel room, I discovered that even a shit ton of white sauce and two cups of tea with powdered creamer are not enough to cure the flaming hell that is The Halal Guys' red sauce.
My taste buds will never be the same again.
120 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11201