Thursday, November 20, 2008

Visits and the search for Key Lime Pie

Last week, my friend, Hilde, was in from Norway visiting. She knows the city well and has a much more passionate love affair with it than I'll ever have. While living here last spring, she fell hard for the big apple, resulting in her coming back to visit just 5 months after she last left. Walking around last week, she would point out all of the pretty and fun things about New York, things I tend to overlook. I guess I've been so busy trying to get settled in New York, that I forgot to look around and take in a lot of the great things about it. The visit was kind of like having a sleepover continuously for 12 days, of course with a whole bunch of food and fun and NYC mixed in.

Although there was a lot of great (and luckily cheap!) food involved in Hilde's visit, the best food day was last Monday when we went on an adventure with Alex Jones: on a quest in search of the allegedly best key lime pie in the city, possibly the world. Alex Jones had been talking about this pie for at least a month, and we had designated the day to find it.

We started out in Williamsburg, because when heading out on any quest, one must be sure to be well fed ahead of time. We met up with Alex for lunch at a cute and trendy cafe/lunch/brunch type place on Bedford ave, Fabiane's Cafe and Pastry (718-218-9632, 142 North Fifth Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211). Everything's under 10 dollars and everything's scrumptous. Their specialty is baked eggs, which they serve all day, but their sandwiches are also killer. I had a duck and brie sandwich with fig spread, which was more than decent, and Hilde's chicken salad sandwich with dried cranberries was out of this world, as were Alex's baked eggs with salmon and potatoes.

While sitting at Fabiane's, the guy at the table next to us, who was eating alone, started talking with us. He had lived in the neighborhood for ever, and due to his eavesdropping (which apprently is okay to admit to), he had gathered that at least one, maybe two of us were not natives and were visiting, so he decided to give us a list of places we had to go in the Williamsburg area.

We took some of his advice and walked over to McCarren park, frolicked a little in the autumn leaves (as one should take time to do) and then made our way down to the water to see the awesome view of the Manhattan skyline in the beautiful sunshine. However, the day was pushing on and we had places to be and it wasn't the Norwegian sea. Or the east river. But that doesn't rhyme.

It was Red Hook, aka the home of the city's best key lime pie, so we got on a bus. After being on this bus for half an hour, we realized that if we were ever going get to Red Hook in this vehicle, it would take us at least another good hour. Fun as riding buses is, we opted to get off in Downtown Brooklyn and hop on a subway, which then led us to another bus. The bus let us off not too far from Ikea and then we started walking.

I don't know if you know anything about Red Hook, but the area is nothing but warehouses.

"Are you sure this is where the Key Lime Pie is?" I asked Alex Jones.

He was sure.

10 freezing cold minutes later, we saw the sign. KEY LIME PIE, it read. Oh man. We followed more signs, all very dainty and cute, and finally found ourselves in a huge warehouse that smelled like a warehouse (and not key lime pie). I was skeptical, but we didn't let it deter us from our quest. We got one regular key lime pie and two key lime pies on a stick, dipped in chocolate. This, we learned, is called a swingle.

We sat outside the wearhouse, with our key lime pies on a stick and dug in. The sun was just setting on the water by the warehouse. The pies were indeed incredible. I'm not entirely sure how they manage to make key lime pie like that in New York, plus anything you put on a stick and dip in chocolate automatically becomes at least twice as good. The pies didn't last very long and it was definitely worth the trip.

For those of you who are in New York, or ever visit, the place is called "Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies" (204 Van Dyke Street, Pier 41, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY 11231, 888-450-5463) It's a good idea to call ahead because they don't keep any normal hours and sort of just close whenever they feel like it.

Amazing key lime pie in a warehouse in the middle of Red Hook, and dipped in chocolate and on a stick on top of it? What will they think up next?

Here are some of the other places Hilde and I hit up during her stay:

-Grey Dog, (33 Carmine Street, (212)462-0041) a cute cafe in the west village with AMAZING sandwiches and cookies so big they have to roll you out of there. Get the grey dog turkey club, and if you can muster it, a chocolate peanutbutter cookie...

-Noodle Cafe Zen, (31 St. Marks Place, 212-533-6855) a japanese restaurant, where all of the sushi is half off, including sashimi and special rolls. We stuffed ourselves on sushi for 10 bucks each.

-Pie by the Pound, (124 fourth ave, between 12th and 13th, 212-475-4977) a pizza place with yummy thin crust pizza where you pick how much pizza you want, they weigh it and you pay by the pound.

-Coffee Shop, (29 Union Sq W Ste 1, 212-243-7969) this place isn't cheap, but Hilde treated me to dinner. The place has a chic vibe to it, a mix between diner and late night cocktail bar. We got the Cobb salad and it was awesome.

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