Nothing in common beween the two bakeries, except that they both seem to have been reaching northward...a very nice thing for those who don't always make it downtown.
Fay Da has opened a location right on 34th street at 7th ave. You can now satisfy your craving for a hot steamed bun (many kinds) or a Ji1 Wei3 Bao1 (oblong bread filled with coconut/condensed milk paste), without going all the way down to Chinatown. Huge selections of breads. Their version of Ham and Cheese bread is a tall square shiny bun with whitish savory filling of shallots and thin salty ham bits...Then there's the long steam table with the option of $1.25 per item, or $5 for 5 items over rice. If you ever crave Tomato and Egg over rice, you can get it here.
But, onto the real star - Grandaisy Bakery at 72nd street and Broadway next to Grey's Papaya. I've been reading about the pizza bianca, which i've had from the original location and which didn't really wow me before. What did it this time was the over all style of "less is more". Starting with the Torta de Capas, available until Feb 15 - I called blindly over the phone frantically trying to order one for my brother's birthday dinner the next night. Saw the item on their website and decided to order one for pick up on the day of. I panicked when I saw the unassuming torte that looked like a stack of thin pancakes. Yikes! Is that going to be enough for 12? With the suggestion using the long thin elegant candles it managed to look festive, but wow, the taste was what won everyone over at the dinner. Imagine a giant Stroopwaffle with some coconut bits sprinkled on top, and about 7-9 layers of waffle-dulce de leche stacked together. Indeed a very special treat, especially since they'd just started to offer it on Jan 30th.
The plain croissants were perfect. as was the very reasonable yet good Illy coffee (mine as a small Americano). In fact the two together vanished without a trace quickly. Moments later, the $7 dollar sandwiches that I hesitated at first but then decided to buy one each of...You see I was lucky I was picking up lunch for a small group of people, and boy were they all happy to be the recipients of "one of everything" as it seems that there were no losers. Every type of sandwiches were delicious. Also, I realized that Grandaisy is a great place to get things for vegetarians. The Braesola sandwich was probably one of the only thing with meat. Yet, all the sandwiches were perfectly conceived and constructed. One bite and my concept of sandwiches were now also altered (as was my concept of "birthday cakes"). The thinness of the amazingly flavorful bread worked as part of the interlacing of the fine ingredients - fine in size as well as in quality. I am no longer aware of the "bread" as separate from the "filling". It reminds me of Pointillism drawing, in the way how the food here is put together. I don't know if this makes any sense to anyone else. Anyhow, as one person said it, " I took a bite, and then I couldn't stop and just keep eating it until it was all gone!"
OK, so now I realized that the times when I felt guilty about not being able to eat all the bread of a sandwich, or when I fuzz at how some sandwiches are difficult to eat because chunks of this and that falls out, or that the bread is too thick, or too hard to bite....those were all legit complaints. A good sandwich, a good croissant, a good anything, should vanish easily, and go down smoothly, just like this, and leave you with no particular impression except a sense of well being. This way, you don't hold on to a certain taste or flavor (since if they stood out, they were probably not balanced) and later come to expect it. Instead you get to enjoy the moment of a perfect wholeness each time.
Thanks to NativeNYer for spreading the word about Grandaisy!