It’s been pretty brutal in the city that never sleeps lately. Icy, snowy, sleety, plus slippery sidewalks and (extra) cranky denizens. So don’t visit right now; it’s horrible here.
However! What you can do, from the comfort of your own home, is drool over some of the city’s finest fare: mozz, lox, and donuts. New York, arguably, does them better than anywhere else in the world. (There, we said it.)
Documentarians, apparently, agree. The last couple of years have seen a flurry of films about NYC vendors, including: Joe’s Dairy, a historic, now-closed cheese shop recently profiled by Calvin Trillin; Peter Pan Bakery and its famous Red Velvet donuts; and Russ & Daughters, the Jewish “appetizing shop,” in the recently premiered documentary, “The Sturgeon Queens.”
The documentaries vary in aesthetic accomplishments, but all succeed in portraying New Yorkers at their salty, story-telling best. The accents are probably strongest at Joe’s:
At Peter Pan, a manager somewhat dourly refers to her customers as ”flocks of hipsters”:
The Russ & Daughters trailer features cameos by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Maggie Gyllenhaal (among other rabid fans) along with centenarian Hattie Russ Gold and her sister, 92-year-old Anne Russ Federman. The duo have worked in the smoked fish shop since they were teens. According to Federman, one local woman walked in and said, “‘Gorgeous girls. Who’s not married?’ and they pointed to me, she says, ’Have I got a BOY for you! ’” (A wedding photo in the trailer suggests that conversation ended well.)
Oh, and a bonus: For a glimpse of our finest in louche drunks, check out this quick flick from Grub Street, chronicling the memories—or lack thereof—of regulars at the dive bar McSorley’s Old Ale House, which just celebrated 160 years of beer and bad decisions.
Happy (hic!) birthday to McSorley’s, and to Russ & Daughters, who celebrate 100 years in 2014. Go ahead and buy a ticket to visit when the city actually has its hair and makeup done (June, not July or August, when the whole place melts into a puddle of humidity and rage), and see you soon.