First things first, this post is going to stray off topic just a little bit. I am going to share with you another one of my passions. I promise to bring it back to food at the end. If you’re too much of a philistine (KIDDING, food is totally a good reason to skip ahead), scroll down or hit “Continue Reading” and you’ll hear my two cents about some coffee and treats in Chelsea Market.
A must-do for any visitor or resident of NYC is gallery hopping in Chelsea. It boasts more than 350 art galleries, most of which are free (almost enough of a reason to go in itself). The galleries feature both famous artists, up-and-coming artists, as well as lesser known artists. This art district is particularly great for that reason; the juxtaposition of these artworks has always caused me to reconsider my view of art and the art world. Before you go, be warned… SOMETIMES, you will have to wait in line to enter the gallery. I recently waited two and a half hours (no exaggeration at all… this is why you need to bring coffee and treats with you) on a cold and rainy Friday morning for Doug Wheeler’s “Infinite Environment” exhibit at the David Zwirner gallery.
You inch forwards until you realize you have effectively walked past the “wall” that you had initially seen. You keep walking and soon you lose all sense of space and dimension. There are no corners in the room. No boundaries at all. The lighting tricks your eyes into thinking that the “room” is endless… like a massive cloud. This is definitely a very trippy and mind-boggling experience. You are excited, scared, and confused at the same time. You almost feel like you have to pinch yourself to make sure this is reality.
Our bodies are wired such that our eyes see and our minds process that information to estimate our environment. On a daily basis, our minds never really encounter anything that is completely absurd or difficult to process. We are conditioned to respond to the things we see in an appropriate manner. When you “see” a wall, you are not supposed to question whether there is or isn’t a wall. We would go crazy if our minds could not confirm what our eyes see. Wheeler’s exhibit forces our minds to break out of the conditioned response. It was truly a crazy brilliant exhibit.
Okay, so I might have also been a little famished during my visit to this freak-of-nature exhibit… but I promise I was not literally hallucinating. I ran over to Chelsea Market after the show and dived right into Sarabeth’s Bakery.
I got a cappuccino and a “chubbie” cookie to appease my growling stomach and to ponder about the crazy excursion I just had. I don’t know why you would ever call a cookie, “chubbie,” but it was delicious nonetheless (and hopefully not too chubbifying). The Chubbie wanted to be a cookie, fudge, and brownie at the same time. As good as that sounds, mind you, this is definitely an adult treat. The chocolate that Sarabeth used was dark chocolate so retained the bitter qualities of fine cocoa and the walnuts in the treat added a delicious nutty crunch. The coffee was very mild, which was great for the occasion because I don’t think my brain could have used any more stimulation.
I later read that Sarabeth was the 1996 James Beard Award-winning pastry chef. Not too shabby. She began her business very modestly in the early 80’s with just her various jams and marmalades. She has since expanded and opened quite a number of restaurants and bakeries in the city. She has even branded her line of jams and sells them nationally in all kinds of gourmet food stores such as Williams Sonoma and Dean & DeLuca. Pretty inspirational. I wouldn’t exactly go out of my way to find a Sarabeth’s but would definitely choose to come here over any Starbucks.
note: photo of exhibit courtesy of david zwirner gallery. we were not allowed to take any pictures.