No, not the condiment - though that induces its fair share of burning throats and teary eyes. We're talking about salsa, as in burning up the dance floor while grooving to Latin beats. Don't quite see the connection? Let me explain.
For the past year, my Thursday nights have been reserved for salsa class in NoLita. (I wish I could say that my skills have progressed substantially, but my recent "demotion" from Intermediate to Pre-Intermediate class shows otherwise. Sigh. Another topic for another day). When the weather is nice or if I feel like it, I walk the mile and a quarter from the PATH station all the way to the dance studio, and inevitably pass by the numerous tempting restaurants, snack places, and food shops. (Two of them, Eileen's Cheesecake and Rice to Riches, were profiled in this blog previously).
Another of the unique snack places that has managed to entice me is Beard Papa, a Japanese chain offering ultra-creamy delicious out-of-this-world cream puffs (filled right before your eyes!!!), which took NYC by storm when it opened its first branch on the UWS back in 2003. Then, long lines snaked around the block for a taste of these heavenly ultra-creamy delicious out-of-this-world (did I mention this already?) cream puffs. Sadly, a bit out of the way for me, thus it was great that two branches have opened in Lower Manhattan - one in Astor Place and the other in the Village.
On the verge of hunger after an intense hour-long salsa workout plus the fact that I normally don't eat dinner beforehand, my defenses usually weaken and I surrender to the temptation of purchasing a half-dozen cream puffs (usually the regular flavor, but they also come in mango, strawberry, green tea, and others depending on the day of the week). Oh, the agony of holding the box in my hand as I wait for the train back home. As soon as the elevator dings on the 33rd floor, I rush out and once the door to the apartment shuts behind me, I rip open the box and shove a whole piece right inside my mouth (see pic in case you cannot visualize such barbaric behavior)and savor the sweet delight. Somehow a couple cream puffs usually lie untouched till next morning's breakfast. In a few cases, all six spend the night sleeping soundly inside my (rapidly expanding) belly - after all, the store recommends that the cream puffs be eaten within 24hours!. So much for all that salsa, walking, tennis and treadmill at the gym.