We thunk it about time to plunge into New York proper – enough with the hipsters already – time for Katz’s Deli on the lower east side. Naturally to prepare for this foray we started with a healthy sleep-in and rose at the crack of 10. A quick coffee and while we were at it, a quick but small egg and bacon just to keep the tummies in optimum working order. The quick coffee and breakfasty snack would also sustain us for our ‘via’ destination which was 5 Pointz on Long Island, the graffiti epicentre of the known western world.
5 Pointz is in imminent danger of destruction and replacement with some kind of condominium development which will doubtless have all the sterile appeal of some kind of condominium development. But until then, it’s a disused and crumbling factory that serves as a monumental graffiti exhibition, where permits are required and only issued to those who provide portfolios deemed worthy and correctly completed applications. It’s also dubbed the Institute of Higher Burning and guides roam the site explaining the imagery and recurring motifs of each artist’s work. Number big son had been the main driver of this excursion, but we’re glad to have seen it. The street outside is also, I found interesting, the street food carts cemetary, although more correctly, the street food carts repair shop, where the battered and past-their-prime carts are dragged and renewed. There are hundreds of them. Food carts and spray paints done, we prepared to scale the pinnacle of pastrami; that sacred mount of corned beef; that birthplace of the holy Reuben sandwich – Katz’s Delicatessen. We had time to sit in quiet contemplation during our twenty minute version of the Camino del Santiago, except we rode the M train instead of hiking the through French and Spanish mountains carrying a gourd and a clam, but it’s always the journey, isn’t it? After a small number of u-turns and uncertainty about which way along Essex we needed to hike, we made the summit and the queue to Katz’s. There were about a hundred in the queue and the buzz along the line was that no one had seen this kind of queue here before – the hapless restauraturs whose empty joints are adjacent to Katz’s kept wandering out to see if anyone knew what was going on, or why there were TV crews in Katz’s – not a clue they said.
The queue moved quickly and the kindly man mountain on the door issued us with three tickets and a warning not to lose them, lest we would need to pay $50 to exit. Then we were asked if we wanted table service or the less appealing option of somehow ordering at the counter and then waiting to see if a table in the free-seating area became available. No choice – table service it was. Soon enough a waitress led us through a sea of tables groaning under the weight of 6 inch thick corned beef sangas and sat us down. The place seats about 350 among walls completely covered with pictures of celebrities, former presidents, sports stars and Misses America, and the vibe is vibrant, to say the least. Our table received a cheesesteak, a turkey sandwich which featured about a half kilo of turkey meat and little else, and a cheese burger with a side of fries, before kwafee and cheesecake. The cheesecake was based upon the solid premise that if one was going to eat a piece of New York baked cheesecake, then the Katz’s Deli New York baked cheesecake would probably be the one that the aforementioned one might eat. The tummies we had so meticulously primed were now barely operating and the street offered sweet respite from the foody onslaught.
Our course now set, if set is the word, for a record store in Soho. Our mapping systems seem to have difficulty in New York, with the blue dot of indication of your current position not being particularly reliable in pinpointing your current position or heading. Needless to say, several more headings off in the wrong direction and about an hour walking, fortunately through some of the more arty gallery-ish parts of Soho, we arrived at the record store, or more accurately at the construction site that used to be the record store. Back to the Essex St station and onto our M train for the trip over the Williamsburg bridge to the first stop in Brooklyn – our stop, Marcy Ave. Blistered feet, buggered knees and aching calves rested, Pip and I headed off to Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, and more partucularly to a Vietnamese restaurant called, An Nhau for some much needed vegetables and healing Pho. This was followed by more self-administered healing with eclairs and creme brulee up the street at Fabiane’s
All healed and ready for bed now. Tomorrow is a journey to a food market called, Smorgasburg.