Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Saying Goodbye to De Robertis-Part One: "Life Is Uncertain - Eat Dessert First"

There's a story about Jackie O.  She was battling cancer.  A friend took her to lunch at 21 or the Four Seasons or some place like those rarefied places that were her versions of my diners.

The dessert cart came around.  The friend watched Jackie O., a woman who exemplified "never too rich, never too thin", pick one of each, line them up and dig in.  That's when she knew Jackie had decided to stop battling.

That story haunted a bit tonight.  For years, in and out of De Robertis, buying boxes of sweet pastries for others or having a perfect cappuccino or steamed milk with friends and once in a blue moon, a little pastry of my own, the fantasy was that one day I would walk up to the front glass counter and pick one of each of everything they had on display.

With the family closing their 106 year-old pasticceria whenever the pastries run out which looks like maybe Wednesday or Friday, it was time to forget a healthy dinner, gather some friends and, as much as middle-age limitations allowed, start picking.

We tried our best.  But, walking home with a stomach that could no longer handle the aftermath, I pondered wasted years of not picking out the best dessert the neighborhood had to offer and eating it first.

Related Posts:

Saying Goodbye to De Robertis-Part Two: Snapshots of Parting, Such A Sweet Sorrow

Saying Goodbye To De Robertis- An Encore: Thirty Years Of Pressing My Nose
Up Against The Bakery Window

The Last Meal


judith said...

I love you Claire, but your memory sucks. We were hanging out at De Robertis long before the '80s, long before you adopted the Jackie O approach to indulgence.

For the longest time, I thought I was the only one who knew De Robertis existed. It was one of the first places I discovered on my own, independent of my mother. This is where, sometime in the '70s, on one of many walks from my childhood home on East Broadway to "uptown" (14th St), I discovered cappuccino. And the tiny, not-too-sweet, perfect-for-dunking, sesame-seed covered regina cookies. Decades later, living in Seattle, desperate to re-create the cookies, I mentioned them to a Sicilian friend, who knew exactly what I was talking about and sent me his family's recipe. According to this source, reginas are referred to affectionally in Italian or Sicilian as "angel turds." Which, I suppose, they might very well resemble. You and I, Claire, shared many a plate of angel turds. You enjoyed them. I'll make you some soon.

It Was Her NY/my private coney said...

LOL, yeudi, if I didn't have your memory to count on I'd have no history to speak of.

But not a clue of ever stopping by before the 80's so thank you for filling in the big blanks of my past.

And if any other readers have memories of De Robertis please comment away. All decades qualify.