Thursday, May 15, 2014

City Bakery- Union Square

City Bakery has been on my to do list ever since I heard that it does the best hot chocolate in town. Now that we are entering spring and summer I knew that I had to try this out before the summer heat hits and hot chocolate becomes less tempting. 

Now, City Bakery may have built their reputation based on their hot chocolate but they also have a fantastic array of baked goods and salads. 

The decor- the main service counter dominates the room with little tables hugging the walls. It has quite an earthy feel with its wooden floors and metal structure. Inviting and spacious, it is a great place to hang out. 

I opted for one of their massive chocolate chip cookies (I will admit I had to share it in the end) and a hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is not massive but really is the perfect amount! Thick, rich and super chocolatey, this is for real hot chocolate enthusiasts. I normally like marshmallows on my hot chocolate but had been told to avoid this here and don't feel that I missed out on anything by opting for a marshmallow free treat.

Overall, this may not be the cheapest of places but a great stop off when you have a craving for something sweet!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Passing Through Madrid

"Nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night." - Ernest Hemingway 

Although I have never lived in Madrid, I have spent a few summers on the outskirts and when I lived further afield (Extremadura) I would still have to pass through the capital on my way home. 

As such, I have visited Madrid more times than I can count. It may not be my favorite Spanish city but it is the thriving centre of the country and great for a weekend away. 

There is something very authentic and quaint about the winding streets of Madrid, many parts feel almost provincial. This bustling city feels lived in and well loved.  

Of course the Gran Via is more reminiscent of New York and its other large city counterparts. Great for shopping but certainly very touristy. 

My favorite thing to do in Madrid is to take the teleferico out to Casa del Campo. The views are breathtaking and it is a good relief from the intense summer heat. Taking you out to the spanish countryside with stunning views of both rural landscape and city, this cable car is also seriously interesting and educational. With stunning views of the Almudena Cathedral and Royal Palace, a voice over the speakerphone gives you historical and cultural information throughout the ride. For roughly 5/6 euros return ticket, it's not only a different way to view Madrid, its also great value!

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Basque Bakery in Soho

My family home is in the South West of France, deep in the Basque CountrySo when I stumbled across a basque restaurant in Manhattan, I just had to go in for a taste of home. With two locations, one in San Sebastian and one in New York, this authentic restaurant is staffed by Spaniards and serves traditional basque food. 

I love gateau basque (traditional basque desert made with almond flour and pastry cream) but have to say I wasn't taken with their version of it. Heavy pastry and filling that wasn't quite light enough- bit stodgy. 

But their thick spanish hot chocolate was fantastic. I also tried a peach pocket and a freshly squeezed orange juice. 

This quirky little cafe/restaurant is perfect for a spring afternoon, its doors open up onto the street and the indoor plants climbing up the walls blur the line between indoors and outdoors.