I think September really is the best time to visit New York. The first time I ever went that side of the Atlantic was about eighteen years ago and it was in September. What I remember most was walking. I loved the block and grid system. So easy to get around. Street level was fascinating. There was noise everywhere and street sellers. All manner of street sellers. The hot dog and pretzel vendors with queues around them jostling to stay orderly. This was where I saw my first ever doughnut seller. A little stand on wheels with poles and poles of doughnuts. I wish I had taken a photo of him but at the time my camera roll was full of the Empire State Building and Yellow Cabs, Broadway and the Statue of Liberty.
A rejuvenated meatpacking district
The area I remember this from was the meatpacking district. An odd place for a fish eating vegetarian to find herself. We were en route to or from the Circle Line and as soon as I smelled them I wanted them. Sugar. That smell of sugar from a doughnut entices me in seconds to savour something so incredibly bad but so delectably good at the same time. I had more than one of course and felt sick from the sweet. But that smell, that taste brings the New York pavement back every single time.
I visited this district again recently and it’s now of course home to some pretty cool and trendy places as well as The High Line. The High Line is a 1.45-mile long walkway built on a section of a disused New York central railroad spur. It’s a work of art that takes you above street level for a glimpse of life top down.
There are still street sellers but I didn’t notice the doughnut men. They seem to have all moved from their bicycles to ultra hip cafes. One such success story is Mark Israel, founder of The Doughnut Plant. His is a long history tracing back to 1910 and giving a glimpse into how American life has evolved. He started in the basement of a converted tenement building in 1994 baking doughnuts all night to his grandfather’s recipe and has since opened two cafes.
We visited The Chelsea Hotel location as it was just a short walk from one of the High Line exits. It’s a minimalist but quirky place with doughnuts on the walls as well as the menu.
Coffee is most certainly the right beverage to counter the sweet, sugary but not sickly creations. But there is also artisan tea. The milk comes from a New York dairy.
Each doughnut was so utterly perfectly balanced.
Can you smell them?
The Doughnut Plant is at The Hotel Chelsea on 220 West 23rd Street and 379 Grand Street. You can also buy their doughnuts at all sorts of locations in the city. Check their website for specials.