Monday, July 23, 2007

Good Reads and Good Eats

This is my first serious attempt at blogging, if you disregard a brief, misguided myspace stint on running, and it's fitting that it should be about two of my favorite things: Reading and Food. This combination exists in the charming cafe/teahouse at McNally Robinson, Independent Booksellers, conveniently located a few blocks from my temporary pad in Soho. The crisp white awnings provide the first taste of this impeccably clean and well-organized bookstore.

But this is no over-sanitized book selling establishment, the store offers a daily line-up of readings by authors like novelist Carol Hoenig, poet Courtney Queeney, poet Odette Alonso, and memoir writer Judith Lingle Ryan. The store also recently hosted an adults only Harry Potter party (The events and activities of which I'll leave to your imagination, as I did not attend). The book store has an excellent array of magazines and literary journals to satisfy any periodical aficionado.

And now, on to the food. The teahouse offers an assortment of loose-leaf teas served in mini-cast iron kettles with a timer to let you know when the water has absorbed the fragrance of the leaves, as well as the traditional coffee, cappuccino and latte servings. Along with beverages, readers can enjoy an assortment of different scones, cupcakes, and danishes for breakfast or a light snack. If Harry Potter or Anthony Bourdain leave you with an appetite for something more substantial, the cafe offers "bigger bites" in the way of sandwiches and salads that can satisfy the most discriminating palate.

Two of my favorites so far are the melted Swiss and ham sandwich and the open faced warm organic peanut butter and banana sandwich. Coming in at 5.50 and 4.50 respectively, these sandwiches provide a perfect sweet and savory counterpoint to split with a friend. The simple ham and Swiss sandwich gets a touch of glam from five-grain rye bread and herb mustard. The organic peanut butter, although a bit sticky, pairs nicely with a light drizzle of honey, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a sprinkling of fresh blueberries. If you are ever in Soho, McNally Robinson makes for a nice break in between sightseeing or the scenic walk between Little Italy and the Village.

* Added Bonus: Any purchase at the cafe gets you access to the bookstore's wireless Internet.