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I am so spoiled. Truly. I live in an enviably hip neighborhood where everything I really care about is close, convenient and stylish. My tree-lined street is dotted with a couple cool bars, a clean bodega and the two boutiques I need to keep my wardrobe updated: Tokio 7 and Barbara Feinman. It’s heaven. Because of this, and because I work out of a home office, I am that rare Manhattanite who can go for days and days without climbing down into the pit of a subway. I’ve been a devotee of the East Village since my NYU days and except for the unfortunate propagation of Chase Bank outposts (multiplying like funckin’ bunnies, I swear…) it just keeps getting better. Especially for the food-minded.
David Chang is here; Momofuku, Saam Bar, and Ko. Jack and Grace Lamb operate Jewel Bako, Oyster Bar and Degustationwithin three square blocks of one another. We have solid, affordable classics like Li’l Frankie’s and intriguing newbies like Back Forty. Perfect pizza—there, I said it!—can be found at Una Pizza Napolitano. I take-out from Caracas because they have legendarily great arepas, and I brunch at the E.U. or at Belcourt. I often sit in the window at Via Della Pace with my computer and a snack of crusty, toasted pannini. And for cocktail hour or after-hours drinks, I haunt Death & Co., Solex, and Bar Carrera and don’t even have to risk leaving my iPhone in a cab getting home. I have Terrior and Setagaya to look forward to and 2nd Ave. Deli to mourn (except I don’t because I hate Matzo Ball soup and pastrami sandwiches). It’s a good food life over here, east of 3rd Ave and south of 14th St, I gotta admit.
And I have nothing to complain about. But I am picky and if things can ever be more convenient, moreaccessible, more delicious, I am all for it.
When, about a year ago, Whole Foods opened on Houston, I was there for the inaugural evening rush. I went straight to sniffing around the cheese cave. I sampled avocado cream pie at the pie counter, and I took stock of which celebrated chocolatiers were represented in the sprawling “fine candies” section (Christopher Norman, Voges, etc. for the record). I don’t cook. Ever. But I am devoted to Whole Foods’ prepared foods section, and it’s where I pick up my refrigerator staples, like organic milk and baby spinach. I’d been shopping at the Union Squarelocation for years, but when Houston Street finally opened, I sighed with relief since the store would be one-and-a-half whole blocks closer to my apartment than the already near-by Union Square location. Honestly, when I’m carting home my Kashi oat puff cereal and a bag of local, Honey-crisp apples, it makes a big difference!
Alright, not “big,” but a difference, nonetheless. These are long blocks, I’m talking, after all…
So, a couple of days ago, when I was sipping away at a beautifully rich and perfectly textured cappuccino (an obsession) at 9th St. Espresso (@ Ave. C), I overheard the scruffy barista telling a skinny musician-type at the counter about the impending 9th St. Espresso location in the old Thompkins Square Bakery spot on the north side of the park, between Aves. A and B. I rejoiced!
“That’s a block-and-a-half closer to me than Ave. C” I thought!
The super-cold weather is just about over, but I am still ecstatic about having my absolute favorite espresso spot just a little closer to home. I feel like I’m a magnet, slowly inching choice food destinations ever-closer to me. I have willed it. Whole Foods, then 9th St… maybe my powers will reach all the way to Texas and bring a Luna de Noche to the East Village.