Finally, in part 3 would like to keep hold of my multitude of wonderful culinaray experiences in DC and NYC.
I know I can claim to be lucky as I had the chance to live the whole last summer in Paris, had some weeks of holidays afterwards in Vietnam, am living in Vienna, a.k.a. a place that claims to have a long and important culinary past and present. (I could speak on that for ages. About how much culinary inheritance matters for the Austrian self-understanding, about how many Austrian chiefs are misunderstood as being German, about how much that hurts Austrians - you can't imagine! - , about the influence it still has on other cuisines and especially on desserts/pastry. I better stop here...) And I am or did profit of all this in the last year in a culinary sense at the fullest.
Americans, on the other side, are in my altitudes not know for being gourmets. For many, that might be still true. I remember the latest Jamie-Oliver-initiative (not that I would be huge fan, and I even think you can be very critical about this project). I remember the US administration's reaction when they found out that children do not eat healthy enough and especially lack vegetables in their school-menus (declaring ketchup as vegetable). I remember lots of asian girls involuntarily slimming during their first time in NY because their stomachs couldn't deal with the huge amount of fat in american dishes. And I often heard Americans wondering that in Europe, yes, big, adipose and fat people also exist, but it is just not as common and as much a problem, especially speaking about kids. And all that did not happen in kind of a mesolithic stone time, aeons away, but just in the last years (except the ketchup story - this was the Reagan administration). But I also have to aknowledge, that limiting American food culture to this:
I guess the Simpsons have something to do with that), and what I have seen in other series (on Friends or Seinfeld they sometimes ate Muffin). But I couldn't name a place where you could have bought them in Vienna, and I had no idea about the almost infinite possibilities for these little "cakes". And, yes, I have to admit, I only know that something called "Cupcakes" exists due to Sex and the City. Donuts did fit my image of american taste very well. Extremely sweet (Still, I think that many american sweets are way too sweet and I guess that is not only my impression. Sweets in Europe are just made with less sugar), fried, very very fat.
Nevertheless, I was excited, curious and forward looking to my trip to Washington and NYC also in culinary way. What happened?
First, since last summer my impression of the food/americans-combo got all mixed up thanks to this dude and this gal. Secondly, over the years I did not only get used to Brownies, Muffins&Co., but integrated them in my eadible favourites. (Double-chocolate muffins at Starbucks, this almost completely black treat with the cheesecream in it's middle and the dark chocolate chunks... oh my goodness, thanks so much for them!) In fact, in Paris I ate a lot more typical american than french patisserie.
And secondly, since I started to bake myself, I am dealing a lot with american sweets, chefs, home-bakers and recipes. And I found out that there is so much to discover, so many people, amateurs and professionals, putting a lot of lot of love and effort in their kitchen-adventures. I follow the mostly american crowd on TWD, and have to admit that they all are far better then the snobbish "I am Austrian - what do you want to tell me about baking?"-me, and they all are very inventive and creative. And, last but not least, I just had to give in that if you start to go into it, you (i.e. me) have to rethink your prejudices...
[I am wandering from the subject.]
In DC, it started with a cupcake from Cakelove at U-Street. There I saw for the first time in my life a Red Velvet Cupcake (believe it or not... that's something that didn't make it over the ocean up to now!). I found an absoultely wonderfil little chooclate shop, Biagio Chocolate on 18th street. The salespersons there where so really interested in what they sell. You could see that they are not just employees but really interested. Besides a whole lot of chocolate, many american brands I never heard of before, they sell pralines, caramels, individual chocolats and truffles from mostly local createurs. They are lovely, perfectly looking, and taste wonderful! And I always like to taste things from local producers.
Cookie Bar. My train was very late and my New Yorker friends live in Brooklyn, so the only chance to grab some cookies was to directly go there with my huge suitcase. Must have been a funny picture. Nevertheless, it was so worth it! It was just the week when the group made Dorie's Best Chocolate Chop Cookies, and I was very excited to see how they were ment to be originally. Additionally, I took a Peanut Butter Crisscross, a Chocolate Chunker and a World Peace Cookie. Boy, they were all so good! I never had a World Peace Cookie before and was overwhelmed. How can only one cookie have so many different textures and tastes combined and assemble to one perfectly fitting piece?
I continued my prawl at Junior's with a Chocolate Cheesecake and a Carrot Cake Cheesecake. No, I didn't eat it all on my own. :o] I can't imagine that anyone can eat a slice of them alone. Well maybe one. But for sure not two...
I spent some time at the Chelsea Market. Ok, to be honest: I spent a lot of time at the Chelsea Market. Not only for the many great food stores, but I also liked the atmosphere there!