New York: a journey through Brooklyn and Manhattan

The Dumbo district in Brooklyn accommodates one of the shops of the famous chocolate manufacturer Jacques Torres.

In any case, one should definitely pass by this place, even if it’s only for the view. Brooklyn Bridge + warehouse = ecstasy… But let’s seize this opportunity for tasting the best chocolate cookies in New York. On your right is situated the workshop where the chocolates are manufactured, to your left you can find the tea room.

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The reason our journey takes us here is (ah, ah, ah…) to leave the hot chocolate be and go directly for some cookies. And, oh my god, I did not know that a thing that small could be so tasty. Oh, look: our first bite unveils not one but two layers of big chocolate chunks inside. Surrounded by pastry that couldn’t be more buttery, we’re left with sticky fingers and a chewy texture. Mrs R and I were astonished at this little thing’s degree of perfection! And I haven’t even told you about the peanut-caramel chocolates with salted butter…

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Grimaldi’s Pizza, of which I’d read many positive reviews, is an excellent choice to go for lunch. It is part of the category “traditional pizzeria, slightly cliché but excellent, where queuing is well worth the wait”.

The decoration is inspired by the old New York style, not unlike in a Scorcese movie. The room is really crowded, 1/3 tourists and 2/3 locals, with a busy buzz everywhere. The pizzas are quite copious and if two people share one, nobody minds. The menu is very simple, consisting of a pizza base with a range of toppings to choose from, that’s all. The price will rise rather rapidly depending on the number of toppings (four or five) one chooses from. We ordered a classic tomato-mozzarella-bacon-basil pizza. The base is nowhere near that of Otto, it is much thicker. The mozzarella is cut into industrial style small cubes. Not really the paradise we were promised. Not bad either, but very forgettable. Disappointing for a place which sounded so promising.

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Later, we went for a walk to visit this amazing bookstore. Not far from the Jacques Torres, it is ideally located if one wants to combine gourmet food and food for thought.

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First important observation: the ample space. Instead of squashing as many books as possible into one square meter, the selection is small but choice. A lot of books treat subjects like design, fashion, architecture, photography… there is even a culinary section where I had the possibility to make a few new discoveries (for someone who looks up a lot of this stuff at least a few hours per week on Amazon, that is a nice surprise). Impossible to leave the store empty-handed, as there is a great selection of literature that can’t be found in a store like fnac and co.

For example: The works – Anatomy of a city by Kate Ascher, a nice book on New York, explaining the functioning of a mega polis. It treats a vast range of topics including electricity, the subway system, the postal service and even the waste collections. All the implications concerned with the creation of a large city. It is also filled with graphs, drawings and diagrams, and for those who are interested: it contains more information than anyone would need. If you’d like to consult the book, write to Mr G and Mrs F, avenue…, Belgium.

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Next, after the crossing of a bridge, we’re back in Manhattan to explore the National Museum of the American Indian. As the name indicates, it displays the culture of the American Indians in all its forms. It exhibits both textiles, with vests and feathered headdresses that make you want to get to your sewing machines, and ritual practices as well as ordinary customs with their traditional outfits, whether worn to war (nothing more efficient than a good disguise to frighten the enemy) or for feasting purposes.

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It conveys a rather modern spirit and some of the exhibits are of a quite recent date; the consumerist that I am will offer a pretty sum to the first designer bringing a replica of these pretty wonders onto the market. Beautiful rooms devoted to photography, with a lot of doppelgängers of Mrs R, my sidekick during my stay. Then there are the paintings on skins, naïve and almost childish, but so much more touching than many famous artists.

A must-see if you want to get to know American culture in its entirety and if the prospect of seeing beautiful textiles makes your mouth water.

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