Monday, January 31, 2011

Argo, Grom, AQ and Ferrara: Coffee at Columbus Circle

I have a friend who says she can remember every meal she ever ate. She is a foodie, but I was still struck by that. I usually can't even remember what I did yesterday. Now it turns out that I can remember almost every cup of tea or coffee I ever drank. And thinking about certain hot drinks can set off a whole chain of associations in my head, causing entire parts of my life to come into sharp focus. I think Marcel Proust wrote some sort of book about that effect.

Cup of the Day #65
by Gwyneth Leech
White-out and India ink on 
ochre printed paper coffee cup

Today, however, I am remembering a quest for a hot drink rather than the actual brew. I met up with my teen daughter on 57th Street and 7th Avenue one afternoon. She had a window between her orthodontist appointment and her piano lesson and she wanted a snack. We have been several times to Europan, the closest to were we stood, but it is awful.
"I know where we will go," I said, heading us towards Columbus Circle and the southwest corner of Central Park.

On the East side of Broadway just short of 58th Street, we were surprised to see that a whole string of brand new cafés had opened up! And what strange names : Argo, AQ Kafé, and Grom.
We went into each in turn, but Megan wasn't satisfied. Grom was all about ice cream, AQ was table service and very formal. Argo was promising, but their selection of teas was so large - fruit, floral, herbal and spice -  we didn't know where to start.

"Really, I know where we will go", I said again, and we pushed on right to the corner of the park.
This is actually just about my favorite place in the city - a kiosk outpost of Ferrara Café. The home bakery is on Mulberry and Mott in SoHo. The cannolli and strawberry tarts are delicious, the espresso excellent. They are open all year and you can comfortably sit in the sun at little tables under the trees on all but the coldest days.

Having told her all this, I was shocked to see in front of us the shuttered green kiosk. My heart missed a beat - could  Ferrara Café be out of business? A small hand-written note relieved my worst fears;
"Closed today for the celebration of Saint Michele Feast Day". Never heard of that holiday, but phew!

"Mom, I am hungry and thirsty and now I don't have much time. Where are we going to go?"
I began casting around: Wholefoods café under the Time Warner Center across the street? How about a nice whole wheat and seed cookie from the organic café at Equinox gym next door? A kebab from Mohammed food cart by the traffic light?

"No, no, no."

"Ok, I give up. Where do you want to go?"

"Starbucks," she said, pointing to one across Broadway on the corner of 60th Street.

And so, dear reader, we went.

Ferrara Cafeé in Central Park
Open every day!
Phtoto by John Arun, January 2011

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