I met Robyn for the first time today, a New York City food blogger whose foodie adventures I've been following for some time. She suggested we meet at Economy Candy on Rivington Street.
One push of the door and sweet tooth heaven beckoned. Walls of shelving held jars of individual sweets, boxes of chocolate and aisle upon aisle of sucrose, fructose and chocolate satisfaction. There were old-school Lucky candy cigarettes (long outlawed in Australia), Pop Rocks, gobstoppers, giant one-metre Pez dispensers, Jelly Bellies and they even sell M&M's by individual colour!
I spotted Violet Crumbles and Crunchies here too, both Australian bars of chocolate-covered honeycomb. Robyn was spotted immediately and we headed out for a bite to eat.
After a brief meandering tour of Rivington Street, we finally found Robyn's restaurant of choice, El Castillo de Jagua, a specialist in Dominican cuisine. The dishes were unsurprisingly meaty. We shared two dishes: roast pork and an oxtail stew. Each came with gigantic plates of rice (we both chose yellow rice over white) and I threw in a last-minute side order of fried plantain bananas as well.
The papaya juice had been highly recommended and when it came out it was thick, frothy and somewhat painfully sweet. There was way too much food and even Robyn had to give up after valiantly consuming 2/3 of her rice. The rice was tasty. The waitress said it was only yellow from food colouring and nothing else was added, and although it looked like basmati it almost had the sweet sticky texture of short-grain glutinous rice.
Pork was meaty and the crackling was generous. The oxtail stew was tender and the plantain bananas were delicious at first, but the taste of lard started to coat my tongue by the third mouthful.
We rolled out of the restaurant bloated and replete. We could not fit in another thing... until the mention of dessert opened the emergency stomach.
Robyn led the way to her favourite dessert destination, Sugar Sweet Sunshine; an alliterative cafe name which begged the corners of the mouth to creep upwards in joyous anticipation.
There were plenty of things to crow about in the cosy cafe and bakery: a display cabinet filled with perfectly decorated cupcakes, a shelf of puddings, and an array of biscuits, slices and gourmet teas. It was enough to make you skip around the room with delight.
We must've spent at least ten minutes drooling over the choices... there was much pondering, deliberation, elimination and finally negotiation. We ended up sharing so we could double our dessert bases.
A slice of peanut butter ice box pie was had--a nutty gooey concoction of happiness in a sugar-encrusted buttery pastry base; as well as a pistachio cupcake, a delicate fluffy peak of perfection, swirled with pretty buttercream icing and sliced open to reveal genuine pistachio green within.
Our forks dug in greedily and as the last crumbs disappeared over mouthfuls of ginger and lemongrass tea, Robyn commented that "It's really bizarre but I feel like I could start eating all over again".
She was right. I felt exactly the same way.
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12/16/2005 11:59:00 p.m.