working at the bakery wasn’t just glorious, and every day was different. but there is one thing i always loved:
the early mornings.
definitely one of my favorite memories of my first working year in new york.
starting at 7 meant (for me) getting up at 6:45; washing my face, brushing my teeth, putting on my bakery t-shirt and my flour-and-dirt-covered converse and walking the quiet streets to the next block over, west 74 street.
going down the stairs into the lower-then-street-level bakery, finding 2 bakers busy baking bread, bombolocinis, muffins and scones; music playing; ovens working at full speed – a new day.
quickly putting on a bandana i start preparing the small store: making coffee, putting the baskets that hold all the goodies in place, cleaning the signs, putting away milk, butter and other groceries, and filling the racks with warm bread. of course accompanied by a big cup o’ joe – the best coffee in new york can be found at levain if you ask me.
this early morning hour i loved. chatting about the weekend with colleagues, the freshly baked goods, the small store still empty and for the rest just coffee and music to wake up with – getting everything ready for a new day at a relaxt pace.
8 o’clock – opening time. we carry the bench outside and greet the few people that are waiting. the first hours consist mostly of regulars stopping by – people who come here every day for their morning coffee on their way to work (coffee to-go is the only option), or stopping by while walking their dog. blueberry muffin, cinnamon brioche, sourcream coffee cake; most regulars know what they love & stick to it. the atmosphere still feels a little sleepy at such an early hour; a friendly place where you can start your day off on a good foot, or find a little silent comfort if you didn’t wake up feeling great that day. the ‘romantic’ image of the (or any) bakery was most true during those early hours, i think. a cappuccino, a warm scone, and a little chit-chat (or no chit-chat) to start the day – nothing better then that.
there they come: the good spirited ‘2 large coffees’ cyclist who always has some words to share; the dark-haired ‘1 black ice coffee’ woman who never says anything but sometimes -almost unnoticeably- smiles; the ‘coffee with cream’ guy who works at the metropolitan opera and is either completely quiet or witty and talkative; the mom with her baby that we see grow up just a little bit each day – and the old man who, with a glistening in his eye, orders a dark chocolate chip cookie and a small black coffee for breakfast every time he comes in. oh, and don’t forget the men-in-suit, seemingly on their way to their office, who take a slice of cake with a coffee, the regulars stop by with their dogs (or the dogs that stops by with their owners?) that are fed scones by owner connie, who knows every single dog by name, the tall handsome blond guy who orders a blueberry muffin* – and the old man who sits on the bench with his dog every single day, taking in the daily life in this neighborhood he knows so well. work at the bakery gets busy in the morning, with the coffee machine constantly running, and breakfast goodies selling quickly. but the busier moments are broken up by quieter stretches – making it all so enjoyable.
as the morning progresses, more and more cookies are being sold. school kids, (french) tourists, people who celebrate and people on their way to parties or family stop by for cookies. friends would stop by while i am baking baking, trays full of cookies, one after the other. the cookies are so big that they need to cool down a litte in order to pack them – and always having ready-to-pack cookies at hand in this little space with just two cookie ovens can be a challenge on busy days. while traying cookies in the front, constant ooh’s and aah’s over the smell of fresh baked cookies and comments over how tasty they look come my way. when people ask for recommendations, we bakery peeps hardly ever have to say something; other customers will passionately start recommending their own favorites. more colleagues arrive throughout the morning and into the afternoon – and on fridays the line starts to form outside the door.
around noon, lunch will be ready; fresh tomato-mozzarella-basil sandwiches, baked veggies with hummus, or crispy thin pizza right out of the oven. yum! as the afternoon unfolds itself, the end of my shift comes closer – and between 1:30 and 2 i take off my bandana, grab a slightly misbaked cookie from the ‘staff-only’ tray, try to shake off some of the flour that is everywhere, giving my clothes a heavy, flour-with-cookies-combined smell, say goodbye and step outside into the bright light.
on mondays an afternoon and a work week ahead of me, on fridays a whole free weekend to go. in need of a shower, and a little tired from standing up 7 hours straight, but feeling content; selling coffee, bread and cookies = a good start of the week.
i will miss the bakery, its homey atmosphere and the people. it was the best place to start my (paid&)working life in new york city! and i will keep coming back.
and, much more. to name a few…
- myrthe was here to
partyhelp me adjust to post-bakery life. i now count on foreign affairs to send her here for a couple of years; it was just too good:). and she brought spring! cycling without a jacket, coffee on a terrace, and today (post-myrthe, unfortunately): flip flops!
- it seemed like winter never came. so strange, after the last two winters i’ve spent here. most snow was in october, when paul and rita were here!
- i started a (follow-up) photography course. maybe next post my pics will be slightly better then all these crappy iphone snapshots!
- enjoying my ‘hood on the other-then-monday-and-friday-mornings; like a real
americanenvironmentally conscious person i now have a re-usable coffee cup, and on work-from-home days i take morning walks with coffee (hello park!) in the neighborhood. observing people and a city that wakes up never bores me.
- soaking in all NY has to offer; music, street life, theater, markets, 46th floor apartments with view of manhattan, bars, restaurants, cycling paths and so–much-more
- making -small- progress in our little apartment. last accomplishment: photo wall & desk in bed room!
- matt and i are making plans… about work, travel, school, upcoming birthdays… not much has been decided yet, but the brainstorming / what if / can we?-stage is pretty sweet too. most likely plan for now: china-bound vacation in may, NL early june. will keep you posted!
last but not least… how you doin’?