Eggnog almonds save the day!

In a word: addictive

Seriously, there is no place on earth that pushes the limits of my sanity and makes me want to punch people in the face quite like the Trader Joe’s in Union Square. For those of you who don’t live in New York and have the great fortune of never having been to this particular supermarket, the closest comparison might be… oh, I don’t know, maybe one of the inner circles of Dante’s inferno.

I was there recently, stuck in a too-narrow aisle, jam-packed with passive aggressive shoppers, at least one screaming toddler and a woman who knocked over a glass jar of tomato sauce (yay for spills and shards of glass!) when I saw something in someone’s basket that turned everything around for me: egg nog almonds! Everyone, out of my way!

These just make everything better.

The thing I love about Trader Joe’s, and one of the reasons I continue to shop there, are their fun, seasonal items, like pumpkin butter in the fall and now egg nog almonds to fuel my obsession during the holidays. Each almond is coated in a smooth, glossy layer of egg nog flavored white chocolate, making this the ideal sweet, creamy, nutty, crunchy thing to curl up with on the couch while watching holiday themed TV shows.

Even if it means braving the herds, I think I need to stock up on these before they’re off the shelves. Post-traumatic TJ’s rage (a real condition in my case) would be a lot easier to deal with if I had these delicious egg nog almonds.

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Granita for one, please

Gelato's great but I'll have a granita di mandorle, thanks

I’m now approaching week 2 of having an ocean between my boyfriend and I, and let me tell you, it sucks. No way around it. Beyond all the obvious reasons, I hate that he’s gone because of all the awesome food I know he’s eating in Italy without me.

I was in a particular funk the other day on my way home from work when I decided to make a pit stop to cheer myself up. When I lived in Florence, one of my favorite places for an afternoon snack was Grom, a gelato shop I didn’t realize was international until I moved to New York and saw it in Greenwich village. I was originally really excited about until I saw their outrageous prices, but on this particular day, I said to hell with it.

Now yes, their gelato is pretty damn good, but my favorite thing to get (the only one I ever get, really) is something else: the granita siciliana, a creamy, frosty treat (originally from Sicily, hence the name) similar to a slushy but infinitely better. It has a thicker, more coarse texture, and none of the wateriness. You get a spoon, not a straw, and with it, nothing but sweet, refreshing deliciousness.

It’s available in different flavors, but I’m not even sure what they are because I always get the same one: mandorle, or almonds. It’s sweet in a milky, nutty way that feels natural and not sugary. And because it’s subtly grainy but still icy cool, it’s really one of the best things to cool down with.

The beau might have Florence, but I at least still have my granita di mandorle. And that’ll just have to be enough to hold me over.

Forget the dessert menu, I’ll order from the bucket list

Most people who’ve only lived in New York for a short time and aren’t originally from the city or the tri-state area have New York bucket lists. They’re full of those touristy things that we want to do at least once just to say we’ve done them, and then never have to do again. (Or only do again the next time you have guests in from out of town who insist you do them again with them.) Examples: riding the boring-as-all-hell Staten Island Ferry, paying an arm and a leg to visit the Empire State Building, and meandering around Times Square like you’ve never seen electricity in action before.

The insanity sundae

Along with all of these, one thing that’s been on my NY bucket list was getting dessert at Serendipity 3 in the Upper East Side. “It’s so overrated,” said the people who’d lived here before me. “There’s better ice cream elsewhere. Oh and it’s so expensive. Ugh. Total tourist trap.” I didn’t care. I wanted to do it. So I did. Just a bit after two years of living in this zoo.

Yes, it was expensive. Yes, it was a bit overrated. And yes, there certainly is better dessert and ice cream to be had in the city, but like buying hot dogs and pretzels from street vendors, going to the Top of the Rock, and seeing (and being disappointed by) Little Italy, getting one of the ridiculous sundaes at Serendipity was just something I had to do.

Flaneur and I split a monstrosity of ice cream called the Insanity Sundae, a towering mountain of tooth-achingly sweet, sticky pecan pie, creamy butter pecan ice cream, rich hot fudge, candied walnuts, sliced almonds, and at least a whole can worth of fluffy whip cream. It was probably the most appropriately titled thing I’ve ever eaten, and a small miracle that my teeth didn’t immediately rot and fall out of my mouth.

Do I want to eat another one again? No, believe it or not, I don’t really. But like walking around the Financial District, eating enormous pastrami sandwiches at Katz Deli, and crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, I’m ready to do it again if I have to.

Serendipity 3 on Urbanspoon