Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday in the park with Philly

Yuca Bar on Avenue A on the border of the East Village & Alphabet City does the best huevos rancheros I have ever eaten. It’s a posher version than is usual round my way, where the plate is typically an unedifying slump of beans, rice, eggs, tortilla and salsa which tastes delicious but looks like a car crash.

Yuca’s version starts with an exceptional chargrilled refried bean quesadilla topped with two crispy fried eggs, then with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and grated queso fresco, with a light bean purée spiked with lime and coriander (cilantro) in a puddle around the plate. It’s a harmonious whole, satisfying and not too heavy.

I often eat there alone, with my huge pile of Sunday papers for company, but I like it also because it’s the first place that JD & I went for brunch when we first arrived in Manhattan last year to start our NYC adventure. I’m still here and very grateful for that, so brunching there today, almost exactly a year on, was a kind of toast to me and to JD.

After brunch I took myself across the road into Tompkins Square Park in the bright glorious sunshine. Spring has certainly sprung here, although there’s a pretty strong nip under the heat of the sun. After buying some Northern Spy apples (an indigenous American apple) from the Farmer's Market, I watched the dachshunds shooting around like sausage shaped missiles in the Park dog run (& wept a little tear for the babydog, at home in London with my sister), called my father in England who made me hoot with laughter*, (scaring the squirrels foraging in the bins), and then found a bench in the sun and spent a couple of hours with the papers.

I looked up at one point to see a fifty-something guy rollerblading past. But that wasn’t what I noticed: it was the small furry animal curled up in the crook of his arm. I caught his eye and asked him if it was a chinchilla, so he whizzed over – and handed it to me, where it nestled in my arms, whiskers quivering, wide eyes staring at me, with its long tail wrapped around my forearm. Bliss.

And then the piece de resistance: he reaches inside his leather bomber jacket and brings out another small cute furry thing, this time a baby chinchilla, just a few months old, and the size of his hand. I am in paroxysms of furry joy by this point, and there is quite a crowd surrounding me and my new friends. After I while I give Philly the chilly back and watch as he burrows back into the safety of the jacket, and he & his dad scoot off through the park together.

To quote Cindy Adams, only in New York, guys, only in New York.*(He had bought a how to speak Spanish in a day book at Heathrow and, whilst in Madrid on business, & attempting to buy some turron for my mama, was a bit insulted that the confectioner’s assistant replied to his Spanish in English. On returning home he asked my fluent sister how she had known he wasn’t fluent when he thought he had done so well. Apparently he had said in his best Spanish:” I love you. And may I buy some turron?”)