Sometimes the best gift is the simplest gift.
For a loved one who adores culture, Gallerist can think of no gift as superb and straightforward as a ticket to a local museum. And such a gift carries a remarkable bonus: you can go with your beloved, sharing quality time communing together in the company of timeless art.
A trip to a museum can also be relatively inexpensive. Adult admission to the Studio Museum in Harlem, for example, to see its remarkable show about the legacy of Romare Bearden, can be had for just $7—about half the price of a Manhattan movie ticket. On the pricier end, the Metropolitan Museum of Art asks $25, but remember that is a suggested donation. (We prefer to lay down a fresh Benjamin Franklin note to impress our companion. It works.)
If you truly care for someone, go the extra mile to show your commitment: buy them a sweet pastry during your museum visit. In the slide show above, Gallerist offers some suggestions for pastries to accompany museum trips. And remember, if budgets are tight, there is no shame in taking a long promenade through one of the city’s gallery districts, picking up a sumptuous treat along the way. We have that covered too.
All photos are by Andrew Russeth, except where noted.
Whitney Museum | Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie
Restaurateur Danny Meyer, the man behind Union Square Cafe and the holy trinity of restaurants at the Museum of Modern Art, truly outdid himself at Untitled, his new restaurant at the Whitney. The menu is rich with sweets, including classic pleasures like red velvet cake, brownie sundaes (the ice cream comes from the redoubtable Brooklyn shop Blue Marble) and a chocolate egg cream that inspired a New Yorker Talk of the Town article that featured Leonard Lauder. But nothing is so superb as the sizable slices of piece on offer from Gowanus's Four and Twenty Blackbirds. The flavors rotate, but the unsurpassed quality never wavers. Why not eat it while contemplating the 2012 Whitney Biennial's artist list?
Neue Galerie | Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte
The Neue Galerie's Café Sabarsky is the gold standard of museum restaurants, and is perhaps the most romantic such venue in the city. Its menu is filled with German and Austrian delicacies, savory and sweet, and includes no less than—wait for it—16 types of cake. Gallerist reps the schwarzwälder kirschtorte, a chocolate cake blessed with cream and sweet, dark cherries. Did we mention that you can get coffee doused with whip cream? We are going to propose marriage here one day.
Museo del Barrio | Lucuma-Flavored Milk Pop
Befitting its mission statement, El Museo del Barrio's has an impressive collection of Latino desserts, including a strong flan and a bracing bread pudding, but the ice and milk pops are the highlight here, especially the one seen here, flavored with the lucuma fruit, which has a subtle caramel flavor and is said to rival vanilla and chocolate ice cream in popularity in Peru. Understandable!
Guggenheim | Carrot Cake
While the Guggenheim's flagship restaurant, The Wright, has a formidable selection of desserts (most priced at $10) to enjoy in its Liam Gillick-decorated, sometimes one wants a quick, modestly priced snack—especially when enjoying (one uses that word with hesitation) Maurizio Cattelan's current retrospective with a loved one. The museum's Cafe 3 was designed for such moments. Pop in for a perfectly pulled espresso and this carrot cake, which was impossibly rich, and studded with hints of citrus and raisin when we visited. Look at that cream cheese frosting!
MoMA P.S.1 | Carrot Cake
MoMA P.S.1 has carrot cake on offer as well. Like the storied institution where it is served, the cake is no frills and focuses on the essentials: moisture, carrot, sugar—but not too much sugar. P.S.1 is also, of course, about adventure, and for that its cafe offers a hulking selection of café, presenting an ideal way to spend a day at museums with a dear one.
Museum of Modern Art | Sundaes at Terrace 5
As we mentioned earlier, the dessert selection at MoMA's three restaurants—Cafe 2, Terrance 5 and The Modern—is just absurd. Cafe 2, for instance, has gelato and sorbet from downtown artisans il laboratorio del gelato, including a toasted almond gelato and a pear sorbet at the moment. But the height of decadence can be found at Terrace 5, which features a selection of absurd sundaes. The one pictured here—with raspberry and fromage blanc sorbets, cheesecake, fresh berries, vanilla sauce—is not available at the moment, but a bourbon pecan caramel one is currently on offer. Sounds heavenly.
Museum of Modern Art | Claes Oldenburg's Pastry Case, I, 1961-62
After a long time on view, Mr. Oldenburg's masterpiece is currently packed away, but tell your companion about it as you eat, or show them this slide show on your telephone. Keep the conversation going.
Chelsea Galleries | David Robbins's Ice Cream Social
Whenever possible, it is classy to integrate your art and pastry experiences. David Robbins's Ice Cream Social, which was on view at Greene Naftali earlier this year, sometimes offers an opportunity to partake. Gallerist will let you know if such an event arises nearby. In the meantime, you can get a sense of the fun in the video embedded below.
New Museum | Birdbath's New Museum Cookie
Thinking intelligently about its brand, the New Museum debuted a cookie that shares its name last year, which was designed by the environmentally conscious bakery Birdbath. It has dried mango, chocolate chunks and quinoa, which sounds disgusting, but is actually pretty good if you're in the mood for an adventure—and if you've just been to Carsten Höller's topsy-turvy show, we suspect you are—or if your guest is interested in staying healthy or supporting green causes. If you and your friend are looking to get more serious, venture upstairs to Mr. Höller's Love Drug (1993/2011) piece, a vial filled with an odor that is said to induce amorous feelings.
Studio Museum in Harlem | Mudslide Cookie
The Studio Museum only got into the food game recently, opening its Atrium Café, but it has a nice selection of cookies. We opted for the chocolate mudslide cookie, which uncannily contains parts that are chewy, parts that melt in your mouth, a few parts that crunch intensely. It is a symphony of texture. The shop also sells cupcakes from Harlem's Tonnie’s Minis, which we sadly have yet to sample.
Lower East Side Galleries | Bisous Ciao Macarons
Want to engineer a perfect afternoon in the city? Start at the Reena Spaulings gallery on the southeast edge of the Lower East Side gallery district and then work west on Canal, stopping by 47 Canal. Head up Orchard Street—the neighborhood's main drag—and then east a bit to spots like Essex Street and Ramiken Crucible, stopping for a donut at Donut Plant along the way, perhaps. End the journey at Bisous. Sure, the name is terrible and they are a bit pricey, but they offer some of the best macarons in the city and—unless you have acquired a work of art or a donut—you have not spent a dime. And remember: as The Times put it last month, "Your slacker boyfriend gives you a cupcake; your lover gives you macarons."
Metropolitan Museum of Art | Coconut Macaroon
If the one you are treating prefers American-style macaroons (shredded coconut doused with sugar and egg whites), the Met's Petrie Court Café has your answer. And just look at that slice of chocolate devil's food cake! It is a feast for just $4.75.
Metropolitan Museum of Art | Apple Strudel with Walnuts
But do not stop there at the Met! It is an encyclopedic museum and offers an encyclopedic pastry selection. Behold the pastry case in its basement cafeteria. We're partial to the apple strudel with walnuts, but the peanut butter cupcake looks beautiful too.
Wave Hill | Lloyd's Carrot Cake
Wave Hill's cafe is a solid affair—good coffee, good pastries—but when we journey up to Riverdale, we can rarely resist visiting Lloyd's Carrot Cake, at 6087 Broadway, which offers the best carrot cake we have ever had. It's about a mile walk to Wave Hill, but the neighborhood is relaxed and tranquil, perfect for walking hand in hand with someone you care about, your bellies filled with cake.
Wave Hill | Lloyd's Carrot Cake
Photo: North River Food/Flickr
Special Commission | A Will Cotton Cotton-Candy Extravaganza
If you have some money to spare and you want to make one grand, sweeping gesture, give the Mary Boone Gallery a ring and see if Will Cotton is available to create a unique, never-to-be-forgotten art and pastry experience. The photo here is from Mr. Cotton's Performa 11 project, Cockaigne.
Why not treat your lover to a museum ticket and a pastry?