Monday, February 25, 2008

Brownie, you're doin' a heckuva job

Back on a Sunday afternoon in October 2005, Hardy, Will (my favorite roommates ever), and I were sitting around watching the Food Network. Specifically, a documentary about the history of brownies. Fascinating, mouth-watering stuff. Towards the end of the show, the narrator made a throwaway comment about December 8 being National Brownie Day. Hardy immediately jumped out of his seat, walked over to our big dry erase board, and wrote "Dec. 8 Brownie Day." And we've been celebrating it ever since.

That first year, the three of us hosted a Brownie Day party, inviting our entire ward over to eat our brownies, bring some of their own to share, and watch some classic Christmas mation (clay- and ani-, Rudolph, the Grinch, etc.). It was fun, but in subsequent years I've been too busy (and lacking my collaborators) to throw a big party, so National Brownie Day has become more of an individual celebration.

But celebrate I did. I began planning several days in advance, asking friends at FHE where to go in the city for good brownies, then seeking similar advice from strangers on the Internet. When Brownie Day rolled around (conveniently on a Saturday in 2007), I had a plan of attack.

I rode the A train down to 14th St. and walked over to 9th Ave., looking for a place called Fat Witch, which came highly recommended by several web sites. But I couldn't find it. There was a Starbucks at that intersection (surprise, surprise), and I wondered if Fat Witch had been absorbed into that evil empire. Or maybe I just wasn't looking in the right place, which wouldn't be too surprising considering what happened next.

I walked up to 23rd St. in search of a bakery named Big Booty, which my friend Roseline had tipped me off to. I walked up and down 23rd where it was supposed to be, both sides of the street, but I couldn't see it. I started to worry that I might not be able to celebrate after all. Somewhat despondent, I got some lunch at a place literally two doors away from Big Booty (I obviously didn't realize that at the time).

A few weeks later I arranged for Roseline to help me find this place, and while waiting for her in the area, I found it without any problem. I finally got a Big Booty brownie, and it was pretty good. Here's a pic of my friend Larissa recreating the pose from the store's window so perfectly, I have a hard time telling which one is her and which one is an advertising mascot (just kidding, Riss). I still have no explanation as to how I couldn't find the place that first day.

So I've had a number of brownies in New York, but I still hadn't had any on Brownie Day!

I had to resort to my emergency plan: Times Square...on a relatively warm Saturday December. It was ridiculous how many people were walking around. I eventually squeezed my way through to the ESPN Zone, where it took me about an hour to be seated even though I was a party of one.

But, because I was on my own, when I finally got in they took me down to the front, where they've got a row of recliners set up in front of dozens of big screens and a few humongous screens, all showing various sports related programs. When I sat down the hostess told me there was a $10 an hour minimum for those seats, which makes sense--I could see myself ordering a drink and sitting there for hours. It was pretty outstanding.

I ordered some cheese fries and their brownie dessert, which the above-mentioned Larissa had suggested to me. Now this is how you celebrate National Brownie Day.

This picture was taken by Julie, a nice woman who was sitting next to me. She works as some kind of special events coordinator at the Pittsburgh campus of Penn St., and was chaperoning a group of students who came into the city to do some Christmas shopping. Which means she's obviously a good person, maybe even a saint. We had a good conversation, but I ignored the promptings I received to try and lead it to gospel-related topics, which I very much regret now. I've tried to find her on the website, but to no avail (I unfortunately didn't get her last name). I know it's a very long shot, but if anyone reading this can figure out a way for me to find her, let me know.

So now you all know about National Brownie Day (I'd love to create a National Blondie Day, by the way). I should note that, while brownies are fantastic, I'm much more of a cookie man. But I eat cookies on at least 200 days out of the year, so I have no problem devoting one day to the brownie. You all should do the same.


Tamara said...

Oh my goodness...there is a brownie day??? I usually never need an excuse to eat chocolate, but I will take it. If you need someone to go along with you next year...I am your girl (I am sure that Doug would tag along as well). I am going to put it on my calendar today. Yummy;)

jeff said...

The next Brownie Day is still over 9 months away, which means there's plenty of time to have practice or warm-up celebrations. This is the kind of thing you can't over-prepare for.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by "promptings you received"?

jeff said...

I'm not sure what your religious background or personal beliefs are, anonymous, so this may require further explanation, but basically I felt like the Holy Ghost was telling me I ought to try and talk to this woman about my beliefs. But I didn't do it.

Kendra Leigh said...

Hey- did you ever find the Fat Witch Bakery? Cuz we know where it is.... inside Chelsea Market. Who doesn't love a good brownie??
~Matt & Kendra Cope

jeff said...

I've been back to the area since, and figured that's where it must be, but I didn't go in and look for it.

angelalois said...

JEFF!!!! I'M SO EXCITED. I found a new Web site. Someone at work was wondering if there was a National Cupcake Day and I had to look into it. Check it out: SURE ENOUGH, your "national chocolate brownie day" is December 8. Oh, it's beautiful. Next week is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week!!!!

jeff said...

For me, pretty much every week is chocolate chip cookie week, which is why I make sure brownies get their own day to shine (well, their greasy goodness makes other things shine).