trading watts for brownies at tu-lu's gluten-free bakery

I'll tell you a little secret: back in 2006, when my dismal state of semi-employment was pointing, uncomfortably, to the necessity of going to graduate school, I briefly fantasized about going to cooking school. I'd been baking a lot at the time, and not in a cutesy, housewife-y kind of way. I was the weekend warrior baker equivalent of those heavyset dudes that build whole houses in their spare time. I sneered at pre-flattened sheets of butter sold for folding into croissant dough, and went to work doing it the old-school way with a knife, a block of butter, waxed paper, and a rolling pin. I obsessed over the crumb of my various sourdough loaves, and remember the day I nailed down that distinctive, gel-like interior. Dry yeast lost its sparkle after I discovered its sponge-y, fleshy, fresh counterpart. I was like Edward Scissorhands, but with flour-covered dough-cutters.
But since stable employment seemed like something I should be looking into, I went to law school instead [yes, LOL]. While my career might not currently be amounting to 400 hours of billables per month, I'm sort of glad the whole professional baker thing didn't work out. Because around the time I developed a peanut allergy a year or so ago [I was pretty sure my gastronomic world ended that day], wheat started to make me sick, too. R.I.P. PB&Js.

By “sick,” I mostly mean “looking like I’m 6 months pregnant” [hence taking some risks while in Paris, because, hi, Paris]. I don’t have celiac disease, but the discomfort can be incapacitating, to the point where I’ve turned back from rides in pain. Corn started to do the same thing, except it felt like I’d swallowed razor blades as well [R.I.P. Mexican food]. Did I mention I’m lactose intolerant, too? [My Mom: do you want to get pizza with us today? Me: …What am I going to do? Lick the sauce?]
With the lack of gluten-free alternatives here in Japan, I kissed everything resembling bread, goodbye. I’m mostly powered by rice, now; it works, but it can get boring. I mean, sometimes a girl just needs a fucking brownie. Like, one that won’t make her completely sick.
Which is my long-winded way of explaining why I ended up at Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery while in NYC. And by “ended up,” I mean I went there three times in less than five days and completely did not care if I was recognized by the guy behind the counter who sold me some phenomenal sunflower seed bread [it’s pricey, but you get a huge loaf], cupcakes, brownies, muffins, and coffee cake. I wanted to buy the entire case and take it back with me to Tokyo. The stuff there is seriously so good, I got creeped out and scared.

“It tastes…real,” I said to Brett, my dairy-based-frosting-consuming, non-gluten-intolerant, gastronomic partner in crime, after my first tentative forkful of an adorable red velvet cupcake. “What if it makes me sick?” I tried to whisper, with my mouth full.
I killed the rest of that cupcake, but braced myself for the bloating and grossness. I waited and waited and waited…and then forgot all about it. Nothing happened. I’d eaten a cupcake – one that was really fricking good, and didn't feel like a stupid compromise – and I didn’t have to spend the next 24 hours bundled up in blankets and sequestered in pain, moaning like a maimed moose.

A couple of days later, there was coffee with a warmed-up hunk of Tu-Lu’s bundt cake and a carrot morning muffin [for the record, as much as I would have liked to, those were shared and not solely consumed by yours truly]. They were amazing. There was none of that dry, grittiness or the dense, heaviness of some gluten-free baked goods. I had toast – toast that didn’t taste like a slab of dry starch! – with my eggs for breakfast. I savored forkfuls of soft, pliant coffee cake while cradling hot coffee. “I’m totally getting fat,” I said to Brett, “wanna go to Tu-Lu’s?”

On the plane back to Tokyo, I realized how much I’d taken for granted when I made the mistake of trying to bite into a prepackaged gluten-free cookie. It shattered into a million crumbs in my hand and all over the front of my shirt. It was a friendly reminder that when Tu-Lu’s isn’t involved, explaining the optimal way of eating a gluten-free cookie can sound like instructions on deepthroating: “try to shove this entire thing into your mouth before it explodes into cookie dust, and if by chance you succeed, then have fun trying to swallow.” Except, you know, if we’re talking cookies, you don’t even get slut points for the, um, consumption.
Apparently, you can, however, earn some fat kid points. My pants have been feeling a touch tighter since leaving New York [and no, I’m not referring to my perma-boner for Tu-Lu’s…], evidence that I totally did it right. I could say the clichéd “I’m so glad I don’t live in New York because I’ll be here all the time and I’ll get fat” thing that seems to be included in every positive Yelp review. I’m not sure if I could ever possibly believe, that; don't tell my coach, but I'd consider trading a few watts for Tu-Lu's.
Tu-Lu’s Gluten-Free Bakery 338 East 11th Street (Between 1st and 2nd)

nyc, mon amour

I'm back in Tokyo after a pretty awesome fucking week in NYC. I miss all of these everythings already.

...So, um, other than, you know, the idea of getting fired and "being irresponsible" and all that, why didn't I ignore my return flight, again?
Miss you guys already...I'll be back soon!

the red hook crit

If you ride a track bike in New York City, and you have a pulse, you’ve probably heard of the Red Hook Crit: track bikes only with no brakes, raced in the middle of the night. What you probably don’t know is that this year it's going to be more awesome than usual. So awesome, in fact, that I am seriously considering putting off my usual old person bed time of 10.30pm to attend.


This year, G+D is not only a sponsor, but also the exclusive retailer for Red Hook Crit t-shirts, and leading the EMS Group Ride to Red Hook on Saturday night. So basically you can go to one guy to both dress you for and lead you to the event. What's more, I folded those shirts, so you will be purchasing vicarious contact with the triple whammy of G+D & Red Hook Crit & Pedalstrike!


But I digress. Come cheer on the racers this Saturday night before wrapping up the morning hours partying with like-minded bike people in Red Hook.
Because this is what riding a track bike in New York City is all about.

equal protection of nyc cyclists

Last Sunday, with temperatures hovering around 40F, I rode outside for the first time in about four weeks.
In those four weeks without outdoor riding, I knew things would change. The blast of aerial pressure on my face would seem new and wholly unpleasant, the bright sunlight burning retinas weakened by constant exposure to fluorescents. I would have to actually dodge things rather than simply stare at other people dodging things on my computer screen. A sports bra and shorts would no longer be appropriate attire to wear while on the bike; if not only to keep hypothermia at bay, social etiquette and modesty would require more layers. Things were going to change when I finally decided to leave the comfortable warmth and windless environment that is my living room.
But in those four weeks, I never expected NYC to become a cyclocross obstacle course.


With what has been labeled the "NYC Cyclist Crackdown," [which is beginning to sound like some undercover drug ring operation] apparently you can't just ride your bike in the city anymore. Or in the park. Or without a helmet even if you're over 13 years of age. SRSLY? OMG. WTF.


Snow-blocked bike lanes and the West Side Greenway being covered in a few inches of ice aside [at one point last Sunday, trying to scoot my way through ice, I ended up doing the Catwoman pose, except way less sexy and with a bike attached to my outstretched leg], tickets are being issued not just to people who ride the wrong way down the street [here's looking at you, you Asian girl on a cruiser who almost fucking killed me], but in Central Park as well. The po-po aren't out there in the park while it's closed off to vehicular traffic, ticketing the masses of pedestrians or anyone else who might be breaking the law. Just, you know, dragnetting anything on a bike that happens to cruise through a red.



Though it can be argued that traffic laws and regulations may not apply to Central Park while it is closed off to vehicular traffic [not an unreasonable argument as it’s unclear how Central Park is actually classified under NY state and municipal statutes], let’s just assume it is for now. Even so, the sudden enforcement of laws which hereto have been largely ignored could raise some due process and equal protection issues [ironically, New York was the only state to ask that the due process clause be included in the original Constitution]. After all, “the purpose of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is to secure every person within the State's jurisdiction against intentional and arbitrary discrimination, whether occasioned by express terms of a statute or by its improper execution through duly constituted agents.” Vill. of Willowbrook v. Olech, 528 U.S. 562, 564, 120 S.Ct. 1073, 145 L.Ed.2d 1060 (2000). Targeting a particular group, with the intent to discriminate against them, [while ignoring other groups similarly situated who are also breaking the law] is a classic equal protection violation. Sure, if one appeals the traffic ticket which would otherwise cost you $270, it appears that it can be knocked down to $70. But you’re still out of pocket $70. As in you, the cyclist, are out of pocket $70 while everyone else who might be breaking the law in Central Park are paying, well, $0.
Given that I pretty much sucked at constitutional law, I have to give you a disclaimer: don't take my word for this. But it is something to think about. And, I will tell you this, and you should listen to this one. With The Crackdown being enforced in Central Park, every cyclist with half a brain is going to haul ass to make those lights. Including me. And now there’s really no incentive to slow down to let that mob of tourists through the crosswalk. Because that’s my goddamn green now, son.
Although I suppose they could always make up some law and write you a ticket for going through a green too fast or something. But that's what attorneys are for, right?