Bagels & Co./Morgenstern’s

Early on this fall, I felt that the city had been plagued by a string of cloudy days for a couple dreary weeks. However, one Sunday finally emerged in late September with some sun breaking through the monotony and offering a day that screamed “Make the most of it!”. All summer I had been looking forward to returning to the Fourth Universalist congregation in the upper west side and never a more perfect day had I seen to attend. I eased into my day with simple delight as I boarded the 3 train uptown and saw the New York of a Sunday morning. Families on their way to churches of various types, singles with bagels in hand journeying to central park for a stroll, couples and friends off to a brunch full of Eggs Benedict and mimosas. And still some were coming to and from work, the usually 9-5, Monday-Friday grind not applying to them. Between all these different types of people there is a synergy of a well-oiled machine that is what makes the city on a Sunday the most extraordinary.

With a flame of joy and wonder lit under me after an inspiring Fourth U attendance, I knew I must celebrate this beautiful day in the best way I know how: food. So, a couple blocks north I went until I found myself at Bagels & Co., a small bagel joint packed with people and even more bagels. I got a classic Scout Swonger order (Everything toasted with garlic and herb cream cheese) hastily paid, took my bagel, and wandered over to central park to consume my bagel surrounded by beauty. I found a prime spot on a bench under a tree and dug in. Much to my surprise, the bagel packed some heat. Now I am someone who likes food with a kick, however my tolerance for spice is on the lower side. So, while I was pleasantly surprised by the heat of this cream cheese, I was in fact surprised and therefore unprepared. I soon found myself with my nose flowing, no water, and most of a delicious yet spicy bagel yet to consume. The other park-goers had looks of concern as they passed me, struggling to consume my delicious bagels brunch. But in the end, I made it out on top. An establishment I would certainly visit again, but perhaps with a milder choice of cream cheese. But damn. A good, chewy, flavorful bagel.

But no sunny Sunday in the summer (however late on it is) is complete without ice cream. This urge is especially hard to resist when walking around central park, post-spicy bagel, seeing slews of people with a cone in their hand. So, I walked from the west side to the east side and took the 6 down to Bowery to a place called Morgenstern’s that I had heard much buzz about. When I arrived, there was a moderately sized line outside the classically decorated shop, but I was perfectly willing to wait. When I entered, I was in a pristinely white ice cream shop filled with servers dressed in those cute little white hats and white aprons. If nothing else, they have certainly cultivated an inviting and nostalgic brand. I ordered the vegan bitter dark chocolate and salted pretzel in a waffle cone (I think if possible, ice cream with no toppings should be eaten in a cone, but I am bad at eating from a cone without completely ruining my clothes, so I get waffle cones constantly. The stability they offer is worth the extra dollar to me). The salted pretzel flavor certainly brought the saltiness, which I love in an ice cream flavor. The one thing I would have liked more of in that particular flavor was some caramel, or a butterscotch. It mostly came at you with a lot of salt, with little base flavor. One of the best things about a salty ice cream flavor, and salt in general, is that it enhances and builds on the flavor that is the star of the show. But if it’s almost all salt, you can have a perfectly good time, but it’s simply not serving its purpose to its full ability. However, it was an ideal combination with the bitter dark chocolate, which was the perfect flavor for the salt to play with. Almost like a fancy chocolate covered pretzel. The texture of the ice cream was smooth, no ice chunks to be found. And visually, the scoops were two elegant spheres precariously balanced. Unfortunately, I had little time to enjoy their beauty, for the heat of the sun made the scoops drip instantly and most of my focus was on not getting ice cream all over myself, despite the sturdy (and tasty!) support of the waffle cone. Though I had to eat it speedily, it did not diminish my enjoyment of it! I would be very interested in returning in the future and trying some of their more different flavors, such as burnt sage, crème brûlée, cinnamon whiskey, or cardamom lemon jam. All in all, a day of strong flavors and strong feelings of joy!