Rhetorical Answer


A response to the question never asked

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Filed under: Uncategorized


Tucked among the brownstones in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village is a take-out bakery called Batch, operated by Chef Pichet Ong. I had heard about this place a while ago, and as someone who makes it her business to know NYC cupcakes, I paid it a visit after brunch at the ever-crowded Jane last weekend. Batch cupcakes are, shall we say, unusual. For example, the ones on the lower center tray in the photo above are topped with bacon. Do I have your attention now?

It was a toss-up for a few minutes as I stared at my options, which ranged from chocolate green tea to pumpkin maple rum raisin. I went with a drunken peppered pear cupcake, and while I can’t say I noticed anything particularly drunken or peppery about it, there were some moist swirls of pear purée in the center. A thin layer of frosting provided all the sweetness, and a sprinkle of coconut shavings on top added texture. The cake portion was less oily than Tonnie’s minis but still held together without crumbling, even as I pulled it apart to share a bite with my companion. The frosting, on the other hand, crumbled at the slightest contact, and I made a nice little mess on the window seat in the shop in evidence of that fact.

The very sweet female proprietor, who I assume is a relation of Chef Ong’s, emerged from a back room to speak with the girl working the counter and stayed to chat with us as we finished our treats. She recommended we stop by later to try the cheesecake at P*ONG next door, and while we did not follow her advice, I did take note of the special (read expensive) Valentine’s Day menu in the window as we left. If you like your romantic dinners in parts puréed, jellied, moussed, and gold-plated, you may want to check it out.

Filed under: Food, New York, , ,

Insomnia Cookies

My friend and I were making our ways home around 12:30 AM this evening after a leisurely dinner at Khyber Pass, an Afghani restaurant on St. Marks Place in the East Village. Icy pinpoint sprinkles swirled in the frigid air, slowly coating the quiet city sidewalks and making my meal of mantoo (steamed dumplings filled with minced beef, onions, herbs, and spices and topped with yogurt and meat sauce) a distant memory. What better way to fortify our constitutions for the rest of the cold journey than to stop in at Insomnia Cookies? If you want warm, gooey smores IN COOKIE FORM any time up to 3 in the morning, this is the place to get them. They also deliver. New York City spoils me so.

Filed under: Food, New York

Korean Tea Meets Danish Design

From the people who brought us HanGawi comes a vegan Korean tea house on Park Avenue called Franchia. Situated across the street from Norman Thomas High School in Murray Hill, Franchia offers a wide range of green and herbal teas. The menu also includes my favorites dishes from HanGawi, as well as a prix fixe Royal Tea Tray for people who like an assortment of savories and sweets to nibble with their tea.

I, however, was not there to mess around with such nonsense. I went to a tea house, and I wanted tea straight up, no dumplings. Franchia has three levels of seating: a ground floor with a tea bar where you can get tea takeout, a mezzanine level that overlooks the bar area, and an upper level with a full-blown traditional Korean tea room enclosed by carved wooden sliding doors. I sat at one of the square wooden tables in front of the tea bar and, as I waited for my persimmon leaf tea to arrive, contemplated the repeating turquoise pattern above my head that was reminiscent of a Buddhist temple ceiling.

The tea leaves came in a simple, white ceramic infuser set in a matching cup. In contrast, the hot water came in a tall stainless steel vacuum jug with a black rubberized handle. As good as the tea was, this jug stayed at the back of my mind long after my cup was empty. A little research revealed that it was made by Danish company Eva Solo and apparently “designed by Tools.” Self-deprecating they may be, but they make one sexy jug.

Vacuum jug designed by Tools for Eva Solo

Filed under: Design, Food, New York, ,

Hugging Hour!

For those of you with children, those who have friends or relatives with children, or those who just enjoy children’s books with beautiful, whimsical illustrations, Aileen Leijten’s new picture book Hugging Hour! is out now. For the locals, there will be a book release party at the charming space that is POMME in Brooklyn on February 7th. Hope to see you there!

Filed under: Writing

Comment Vitriol

In perusing the comments sections of several high-traffic blogs lately – Freakonomics and TechCrunch in particular – I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon: someone will post a comment that the majority of other commenters perceive as overly judgemental, hostile, and extreme. I’m not sure you could call this person a troll or label their comment as flamebait since they usually have a lengthly explanation for why they feel the way they do and will even post follow-up comments to defend their viewpoint against the avalanche of criticism that ensues. Trolls don’t usually care about what they are posting; they are just trying to get a rise out of the population. So in this case, I’ll just call the person the Irritant. Reading through the entire comment list, the Irritant’s viewpoint clearly becomes the dominant one out of all those presented. He may have only commented once or a handful of times, but because so many of the other comments are a direct response to the Irritant’s viewpoint, that viewpoint gets reinforced through repeated analysis, to the point where it becomes more memorable – and perhaps more influential? – than the message of the original blog post.

I wonder if this is so different from the propagandist tactic of repeating a misstatement or lie so often that facts become irrelevant. Not to suggest that the unpopular viewpoint is a lie, but if we consider majority perception of reality as de facto reality, then something that goes against that majority perception could be considered a rebuttal of that reality, aka a misstatement or lie. If repetition is really more influential than reasoned, substantiated argument, then the echo chamber that is the blogosphere suddenly seems a whole lot more sinister that traditional propaganda machines. As my parting line, I leave you with exhibit A. Comments?

Filed under: Reflection, , , , ,


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