New York Bagels

I recently took a trip to New York City with my mom and sisters for my mamma’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. Ever since I can remember, she’s always wanted to visit the city, but has never gotten around to it. Between you and I, I think she has always wanted to go because one of her favorite movies is Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Anyhow, so my sisters and I wanted to surprise her with a destination trip for her big day. We didn’t tell her exactly where we were going but rather told here what to pack and how long we’d be gone. Once we got to the airport and printed our boarding passes, we told her she could read her pass and then we yelled out, “Surprise!!!” She practically cried and then people stared at us like we were crazy. It was awesome and grand and everything she never knew she wanted. And just in case you didn’t read all about it already or see all of my instagram posts during the trip, you can check it out here

My sisters had never been to New York either so I wanted to make sure we did as much as possible and visit all of the places they wanted to see. The great thing about visiting a city with people who haven’t before, is that you get to experience it for the first time all over again. We did most of the tourist things that I didn’t even do the times I’d gone before. So that was nice. Aside from all of the incredible sights we saw and museums we visited and walking we did, the best thing about New York is the food. There are literally a million places to eat. Everywhere you turn there’s something else. So of course that makes it a bit hard to settle on something. We did have some incredible food while on our trip though. Almost too much food. Almost. I say that with a grain of salt because there isn’t such a thing as too much food. Well…maybe on Thanksgiving, but even then I’m not sure. 

One of my favorite meals was in the East Village at a small restaurant called Caracas Arepa Bar. It’s a little spot with barely any space for sitting, let alone walking, but oh man was it good. I ate all of the arepas and a micheladas. The place had to close down for the day after that because I ate them all (not really, I wish). I did eat delicious Lobster Bolognese at City Crab and Seafood Company for my mom’s b-day dinner celebration, though,  along with a few (okay more than a few) Moscow mules. One late night I convinced my mom and sisters to eat hot dogs and tater tots with me from Crif Dogs. Any place with tater tots is an ace in my book. The best thing I ate during the entire trip was a bagel at Tompkins Square Bagels that I washed down with a fresh watermelon juice with a hint of lime. Winning combination. It was an everything bagel with the works. We loved them so much we went back the next morning and did it all over again (on my sister’s persistence). The second morning I had a breakfast sandwich with an everything bagel and it was even better than the first time. So here I am now, back home wishing I was still in New York and dreaming about those bagels. Except now I’ve made my own at home and came to the conclusion that I need a New York style bagel every morning for the rest of my life. 

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Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

The air is still and there is no sound to be heard anywhere. The dead silence, that of which would normally instill fear, is actually quite comforting. It is a different kind of silence. One that is alluring and peaceful. The sun has yet to make its presence this Sunday autumn morning. Bluish-gray shadows are cast throughout the sleeping house. The hour is far too early for anyone. Yet I awaken and get dressed. I wrap myself up in warm clothing. A heavy coat and scarf. I step outside into the chilly morning air. It hits me like a razor cutting my face, and it takes me a minute to register how cold it actually is. For a split second I rethink my idea. The warmth of my bed and the prospect of more sleep calls back to me. That second passes and I leave my home, a destination in mind, my family still sleeping. Still dreaming. I walk at a brisk pace, mostly because I have long legs therefore I naturally take long strides, but mainly because I am freezing and I figure walking fast will fix this problem. There is no doubt in my mind that fall has arrived. The leaves have changed their colors to those of an orange, yellow, red and brown hue. They have begun to fall, swirling through the air and gliding as with a purpose. A purpose to die. I marvel at how autumn makes everything look so beautiful. In my head I tell myself, “Jonathan, autumn makes everything look so beautiful.” Even small ordinary things that I would never have noticed before seem to stand out during this season. I glance around taking in my surroundings. The houses lining the streets seem so peaceful and festive with their pumpkin littered porches. Halloween decorations appear every now and then and I get excited. An excitement that appears during this time of year. Halloween is almost here, one of many holidays to come.

I walk through a park, a path of trees with nothing but nature on both sides and an empty playground. The leaves crunch under my feet as I continue towards my destination. The light begins to warm up and I stare up off into the distance and there like a beacon of hope, the sun has begun its decent. Through the mountains and the clouds, the trees and the leaves, the bushes and the grass, rays of sunlight creep through each crevice and hit the ground. The shapes and shadows that the light creates onto the fallen leaves brings back memories of elementary school. The days when life was so carefree and I knew nothing about worries and work. As a child, I’d throw myself on the ground, onto the grass and the leaves. I’d roll around and play without disturbance or burden. Life was so simple then and I am reminded of how one must cherish every moment in life, for it does not always last. I snap out of my trance and I remember of my goal this morning. I start up again, exiting the park and back to civilization.

I approach a small local mom and pop convenience store. Nice to see that they too are not immune to autumn and halloween. The glowing fluorescent light through the glass doors and windows invite and entice me. I walk up the steps onto the porch and I reach for the door. I enter—bell ringing—repeating the same words in my head, “Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese. Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese. Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese.” I repeat it over and over so as not to forget. I could have just written it down but I was far too lazy this morning. After all it was early. I gather my groceries and check out, bidding a thank you and good day  to the “I-would-rather-be-sleeping” clerk. Mom and pop decided to sleep in apparently. I exit, the bell jingling once more. I make my way back home, groceries in hand. I hold on to them tightly hoping that I do not have a Home Alone moment where the bags rip causing my groceries to fall on the floor. Luckily I make it home without such a travesty. I walk in and remove my scarf and coat. I hang them on the wall, taking off my shoes and schlepp the groceries to the kitchen. My domain. I put away my recent purchases and begin to rattle around through the cabinets. I take out a few skillets, turn on some music on low, and I begin to cook. As I put breakfast together, the house begins to awaken. I hear movement upstairs, the girls starting their routines. I’m greeted with one sister who has now entered the kitchen and begins to set the table. We hear a car pull up and it can only mean one thing, our sister has come for Sunday breakfast. Sure enough a familiar “hello,” echos through the house. My older sister holding her coffee—she has to bring her own as none of us drink coffee in our house—and the Sunday Times. It would not be sunday breakfast without the reading of the horoscopes.

Mom comes down just in time, at the precise moment when the bagels hit the table. Warm and aromatic, cinnamon raisin bagels that I made the day before. The girls stare at them with anticipation, for they know all too well what I was making yesterday. The long process had forced them to wait until this morning to eat one. However they are a perfect addition to the morning menu. Bagels are not as complicated as one might think. They do have various steps that need to be completed throughout an entire day or a two day process but for the most part, they are fairly simple. I often tell people that if I can do it, anyone can do it. We sit around the table, music still on, catching up on the weeks’ occurrences and the news that needs to be shared. I look around at the delicious food, and my beautiful family and I am filled with a joy that cannot be described or explained. Autumn is all about sitting around a table and catching up with family and friends. The fall seems to bring people together and it forces us to appreciate and thank those in our lives who make a difference. I am thankful for these women who have made my life so incredible and for all that they have taught me. The youngest in a family full of women is not always easy but it sure is fun.

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