I grew up in a little resort called Sunriver in Central Oregon. It's beautiful, and I was so fortunate to have been exposed from an early age to the outdoors: cross-country and downhill skiing, tennis, canoeing, swimming, biking. But the closest town, Bend, at the time was significantly limited in its cuisines. And I use the term 'cuisine' very loosely.
Fortunately my father was a pilot for TWA and we got to travel quite frequently; experiencing the cultures and cuisines of the world. It was fabulous! I was so smitten that I have since lived in three other foreign lands. I can show you the best little spots in Tokyo, give you a tour of Siena, or take you to a bouzouki bar in the Greek isles where you can dance with the locals and break plates. But I had never really traveled within my own country. I'd been to New York numerous times, but always did the touristy things; never seeing the true 'locals' New York.
Then Barnaby, a native New Yorker, took me to the great city one long weekend and my world opened up. Truly, New York should be given it's own status as a country within a country. Like San Marco or Vatican City.
New York made me -the 'world traveler' - feel like I was born in a barn. I saw foods that I'd never seen before. And the one type of food that knocked my socks off? Jewish. I'd never heard of the likes of rugelach, matzah brei or kugel. In fact, I'm so naive in the ways of Jewish food that if you looked up shiksa in the dictionary there would be a picture of me.
Barnaby had an agenda of all the places he wanted to show me. One such spot was Zabar's. Zaaaabaaar's! - I sing in falsetto. I was like a kid with her first lump of Play-Doh. Taking a sample here and there, then licking the goodness off my fingers. (Come on now, stop wrinkling your nose like that. You know you ate your Play-Doh! Probably your paste too).
Zabar's is magic. Heaven. It's Nirvana to the gourmand. They have everything from a bevy of coffees and teas to an eye-popping delicatessen. They hand slice their smoked fish! I know you New Yorkers are now saying, "well, yeah," but we don't do that on the West Coast. Their cheeses will make you weep, their take-and-heat-at-home dishes divine, and their Housewares department will make you drop coin faster than the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.
Upon my reluctant departure, I passed patrons entering for their evening shopping. The smart ones, and there were many, all had their own folding shopping carts. I gave them a knowing wink, like I'm some cool New Yorker.
You just don't leave with only one bag.