“If I'm going to eat it, the calories have to be worth it."

Fiona; over many years...

After years of wistful longing I'm finally in NYC with couple of places to allow ones self to indulge in pure calorific enjoyment without even a hint of guilt...

My first day and still on semi-French time we were up and ready to hit the streets at 9am, ready to explore Chinatown... Errr, a little different to what I imagined from this insomniac, deserted streets and manic traffic? Childs-play in comparison to Paris!

Undeterred, we padded the paves, window shopping whilst bathing in the aroma of roasting duck, sadly too early for Ping's Seafood or it's neighbouring Peking Duck House. Meandering towards Little Italy (aptly named in comparison to the sprawl of Chinatown!) with it's promise of gelato we recharged at Ferrara Café, loved for Italian coffee and pastries (110 Mulberry Street) and relished my first real coffee since abandoning the shores of France.

What followed was a mediocre lunch (ZAGAT reviewed too), but lifted our spirit by visiting The New MuseumGeorge Condo and what I can only describe as a
quite bizarre installation by Lynda Benglis - check out the link and see if you are able to reason sense?
(fabulous building) with a thought provoking exhibition by

But back to the purpose – calorific indulgence...

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and the reputed Magnolia Bakery

Ice cream isn't what I'd associate with Chinese eating but the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory's publicity sets legend that ice cream is associated to the Chinese during the Tang Dynasty. What owner Philip Seid has done is to combine America's most popular dessert with an exotic Oriental twist. Alongside popular everyday favourites find durian, avocado, green tea, red bean and my own choice, black sesame. The busy-but-helpful assistants are happy to offer tasters and wait for a final choice: one (huge) scoop could easily be shared but, I greedily enjoyed my scoop to myself. A difficult flavour to describe, the overwhelming roasted sesame taking away the sweet edge and richness but together with a perfect balance and creaminess of both texture and flavour. A return is a must and I shall try to persuade them to allow half a scoop of this together with half of of green tea.

One of Chinatown’s oldest businesses, find the
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory at 65 Bayard Street, New York City
$3.75 for a single scoop dish that could serve 2

Immortalised by Sex and the City, this charming bakery-come-coffee shop is a essential for those with even a hint of a sweet tooth. The Magnolia Bakery opened in the summer of 1996 with a mission to provide an old fashioned environment in which to enjoy coffee and a sweet treat. Since those early days there have been many changes including a 2007 change of ownership and opening of 6 stores, including Dubai but It's patinated interior is subtle and though busy, a relaxed atmosphere prevails.

Cakes, cupcakes and desserts are made on the premises, all day, everyday and the young, energetic team can be seen working in the background. Glass fronted counters with tray's of sprinkled, decorated cupcakes line the shop and the choice is enormous. I had virtuously decided to skip breakfast and by the time we reached Culumbus Avenue lunchtime was in sight so ordering a mini Key Lime Cheesecake didn't appear too utrageous.... Hmmmm, from the first nibble to the last was sweet-heaven (the whole cake actually defeated me, and sadly its squishiness refrained me from taking away leftovers). I hasten to add that Phil managed to munch his way through both a Peanut Butter Toffee Bar and a White Chocolate Fudge Brownie and as we headed towards Central Park could be heard muttering that he thought that he he had slightly overdone things!!

Magnolia Bakery
, 200 Columbus Road, New York City

also branches at Grand Central Terminal, Rockerfeller Centre and Bleecker Street, NYC