Meats, cheeses, fruits, and veggies line the counters and display cases at DaVinci Gourmet Market, where chefs draw upon a palette of fresh ingredients to compose take-home entrees and catered meals each day. To-go containers nearly overflow with wild-rice salad or crab cakes, and entrees of grilled salmon or roasted chicken make for ephemeral table centerpieces. The sun rises over omelets and traditional two-egg breakfasts, and the lunch menu’s specialty paninis invoke the Leaning Tower of Pisa with their stacked toppings and unstable groundwork of toasted ciabatta bread.
A cake draped in fondant cherry blossoms; a cake crowned with an edible gift bow; a cake that could be mistaken for an elegant purse—sweets such as these are custom-designed for weddings, birthdays, and baby showers at Sapienza Bake Shop. The Italian bakery has been in the Sapienza family for three generations. Guided by old-fashioned recipes, rather than whatever appears in the encyclopedia under “food,” its culinary team crafts crunchy biscotti in flavors including coconut and chocolate chip, as well as confections such as the tri-colored rainbow cookie, layered with chocolate and jam. Their éclairs and sfogliatelli, a flaky pastry filled with semolina and ricotta, delight the sweet tooth, as do pies, cheesecakes, and other delicacies.
Each morning, the bakers at Gourmet Bake Shop fill pan after pan with large batches of dough, kicking off the process of baking fresh, piping-hot breads, pastries, and cakes. After cooling, cake rounds are stacked with layers of fruit fillings, topped with buttercream frosting, and sometimes carved into a custom shape such as a champagne bottle, heart, or Dora the Explorer. The shop also whips up Italian and French pastries and seven-layer cakes, which dazzle palates and geologists with a variety of cakes and fillings in each bite.
In the early 1970s, after years spent as an analyst in the cocoa industry, John Whaley began experimenting with chocolate in his home. As he worked, he devised a simple recipe for truffles: a secret concoction of whole cream, butter, and cocoa powder. In 1973, he founded 5th Avenue Chocolatiere to preserve and share his findings. Though only three people and one ominous floating brain know the recipe today, shop staff reveals that they hand-craft all of their confections using 100% natural Belgian chocolate.
Each day, the staff casts chocolates in more than 10,000 molds such as motorcycles, New York icons, and dinosaurs. They also turn strawberries and apricots into chocolate-covered fruits, and inject more than 15 flavored truffles with fillings such as raspberry, green tea, and champagne. At children's birthday parties held in private rooms, certified teachers help children mold their own candy on a 40 ft. enrobing machine, as well as dip their own pretzels or little sisters' toys in chocolate.
Tasty Crêpes's capable crepe craftsmen flip sweet and savory griddle cakes, artfully dressing them in delectable toppings that include local and sustainable fruits and vegetables. Strolling down a cafeteria-style line, patrons belly up to the serving counter to admire cooks as they sizzle traditional or whole-wheat batter on hot plates and then shout out specialty ingredients to customize their edible pouch. In honey-mustard crepes ($6.50), chicken, honey mustard, and herb crème shimmy through fluffy caverns, and chocolate brownies and bananas sweetly cohabitate inside the Brownie Passion crepe ($5.50). For satiating self-expression, diners can color a plain flour canvas ($3.99) with an assortment of cheese, meat, fruit, and nut toppings ($1 each). To wash tender morsels down hatches, nibblers can sip a 100% juice fruit smoothie—a much safer way to get your daily dosage of fruit than ransacking a still-life art class.
Each membership level offers a distinct set of benefits, ranging from the simple tonal bliss of the basic bronze-level experience to the top-tier transformative power of lounge-chair tanning with the diamond package. Depending on the individual level and bed, guests can enjoy on-board amenities that may include the use of climate control, cool misting sprays, aromatic fragrances, and MP3 player inputs. Certain beds even have an open-air design to help alleviate feelings of claustrophobia and burritophobia, the fear of appearing delicious.