NYC Black & White Cookie Tour 2016

Continuing in our grand New York City food tour tradition, we spent a day exploring some of the best black & white cookies that Manhattan has to offer.

While our ice cream sandwich tour had a decisive winner, in contrast with the cookie’s name, the black & white cookie tour had many shades of grey.

What’s a black & white cookie?

Also known as a half moon cookie (by people who are wrong), the black & white cookie is a yellow cakey cookie topped with vanilla icing on one half and chocolate on the other. Traditionally, the cakey cookie has a hint of lemon, but this isn’t always the case.

It’s a quintessential New York City treat, albeit not as well known.

Cut for four people and optimized for equity.

What’s the story behind the tour?

As with all of our food tours, Lisa researched the hell out of the subject. She read a ton of reviews and plotted the best reviewed and/or most interesting locations on a map. Then we set out on foot. (This way we could burn off some of the calories we took on in cookies.)

Cookie Monster Wo0t!

The overall winner – Zabar’s

The famous New York supermarket and delicatessen had our favorite overall black & white cookie.

Yeah, it’s wrapped in plastic.

The cake had just a hint of lemon and was appropriately moist (which is a problem for a lot of black & white cookies). It was the best cake of the tour.

The vanilla icing was arguably the best of the tour. The other competitor for the vanilla title was William Greenberg. Our group was split evenly on which vanilla icing was better, but we all agreed it was close.

The chocolate was grand and decisively second to Anna’s Bakery.

There were no weak links; every piece played well with the others.

The runner up – Anna’s Bakery

We cheated a bit and brought a box of my childhood favorite black & white cookies from Rockland County (~25 miles north of Manhattan).

While Zabar’s had the best overall black & white cookie, Anna’s had the best chocolate icing. It’s closer to a fudgey frosting and it’s magnificent. The chocolate delightfully contrasted with the vanilla icing as well as the cake.


The rest of the cookie is damn good too, but the chocolate is the star… as it should be.

For the lemon lover – Nussbaum & Wu

This coffee shop and bakery near Columbia University has the lemoniest black & white cookies of the tour.

Their icing is more like a shell, like a dipped ice cream cone. It’s nifty.

They also serve some interesting flavored variants like mocha, strawberry, and mint (which we didn’t try).

First photo of the day… I got lazy after this one.

So if you’re looking for some bold experimentation in your black & white cookies, this is your place.

Other excellent places

William Greenberg

This was our third place cookie. William Greenberg offers one of the highest regarded black & white cookies in the city. We all agreed that it had wonderful vanilla icing. It was damn good.

Look at all of the yummie!

Meredith’s Bread

Purchased on a whim from a farmer’s market we walked past on the tour, this cookie was good, but the cake was a tad on the dry side.


Amy’s Bread

We closed out our tour with a black & white cookie from Amy’s Bread. Had it not followed so many superb cookies, I think we would have loved it, but in comparison, it didn’t hold up.

If you’re in the area and want a black & white cookie, it’s a solid option, but I wouldn’t travel to grab one.

The villains – Glasers

Glasers is famous for their black & white cookies… but we cannot tell you how good or bad they are.

These assholes are closed for the next few weeks, but unlike most respectful restaurant operators, they didn’t post anything to their website or change their voicemail message. They just disconnected their phones and locked their doors.

So… we hiked across the city for nothing.


Except when we got there, some people affiliated with the place were there… and they were snarky shits to us.

Skip it and give your business to one of the many great black & white cookie bakers in Manhattan who care about their customers.

Fingerprints, Security, and the Law

In October of 2013, I wrote a post titled, Device Security: Fingerprints vs Passwords. That post was published about a month after Apple released the iPhone 5S, the first device with Touch ID.

In the post I argued that the choice between password and fingerprint was about optimizing for a particular type of data thief.

On the subject of the police, I stated, “It takes a massive amount of legal proceedings for the police to compel a person to turn over their password.” When it came to fingerprints I argued, “The police can compel you to turn over your fingerprints. There isn’t enough legal precedent to ensure protection from the authorities.

Since publishing this, I have on more than a few occasions been accused of wearing a tin foil hat.

Well my friends, the police are in fact compelling US citizens to use their fingerprints to unlock their phones in cases where they would not be allowed to compel a person to turn over their passwords.

In this particular instance, it sucks to be correct.

If we don’t defend our civil liberties, then the freedoms that make this country worth defending will wither away.

NYC Ice Cream Sandwich Tour 2015

Following in the tradition of our matzoh ball and gelato tours, and many other insufficiently documented food free-for-alls, Lisa and I set out to find the best ice cream sandwich in Manhattan.

Unlike the matzoh ball and gelato tours, there was one single winner.

No caveats; Melt won.

Luca & Bosco

Essex Market, 120 Essex St b/t Rivington St & Delancey St

Luca & Bosco Ice Cream Sandwich

Nestled in a corner of the delightfully diverse Essex Market, Luca & Bosco’s makes an ice cream sandwich between a pair of thin chocolate brownies. Their sandwich was great, but has two significant weaknesses:

  1. They pre-make their sandwiches; if you’re not crazy about the flavor of the day, then you’re out of luck.
  2. They are less than a five minute walk from Melt.

They do good work, but if I’m ever near them and looking for an ice cream sandwich, then Melt will always get our money. It’s no contest.

Melt Bakery

132 Orchard St, b/t Rivington St & Delancey St


If you need to know what direction to face when praying to the ice cream sandwich god, it’s in the direction of Orchard Street, just north of Delancy Street. This tiny refrigerated nook of a storefront has by far the best ice cream sandwich we have ever tasted, or really expected to taste.

The staff exhibited a level of care and passion that eclipsed all of the other places we visited. Their enthusiasm also translated into results. Their variety of cookies and ice creams are artfully paired, and given cute names like the Morticia (Crackly Chocolate Cookie + Malted Chocolate Rum Ice Cream) and the Sweetpea (Vanilla Cakey Cookie + Strawberry Ice Cream), both of which were incredible. They even told us to wait to eat the Sweetpea because it was better after a slight thaw.


I’m sure there are ice cream sandwich joints out there that have a product on-par with Melt, but I would be truly stunned to find one that is measurably superior.

M’o Gelato

178 Mulberry St, b/t Kenmare St & Broome St

M'o Gelato Ice Cream Sandwich

M’o Gelato makes an ice cream sandwich panini. It’s not kind of a panini; it’s a full-on, cooked in a panini press panini, with bread that tastes more like donut (which is a good thing).

It wasn’t bad. It had that fried ice cream vibe without the crunch. I think the trouble with it stems from gelato having a higher melting point than ice cream. It didn’t hold up well, and the breading overpowered the gelato.

At their recommendation we had ours filled with Nutella gelato. It was the right choice for the sandwich, but we’re not going to rush back for another helping.

Francois Payard

116 W Houston St, b/t Thompson St & Sullivan St

Francois Payard Ice Cream Sandwich

Payard’s sandwiches are made with macaron cookies. I’m a macaron fan, so I was excited. Lisa is lukewarm on the recently trendy fancy oreo. Both of us left disappointed.

The pre-selected flavor combinations weren’t singing to us, and the ones we had didn’t wow us. The macaron cookie didn’t do anything special when teamed with ice cream. Meh.

All of that being said, Payard’s macaron ice cream sandwiches came in heavily branded, strange to open, custom designed packaging… So if that sort of thing floats your boat, then by all means pay Payard a visit.

Milk & Cookies

19 Commerce St, b/t S 7th Ave & Bedford St

Milk & Cookies Ice Cream Sandwich

Milk & Cookies was the heartbreak of the day. It turns out that our former favorite ice cream sandwich joint has some ill-conceived flavor combinations… And both of the sandwiches we ordered were less-than-stellar.

They have some great flavors, and I wish we had ordered them.

Holey Cream

796 9th Ave, b/t 52nd St & 53rd St

Holey Cream Ice Cream Sandwich

Holey Cream’s deal is that they make your ice cream sandwich in a donut. You pick your donut, you pick your ice cream, you pick your glaze, and you pick your topping. It’s gluttonous, over-the-top, and so very unnecessary… and if ordering one of these things doesn’t fill you with an overwhelming feeling of patriotism, then nothing will ever make you feel like an American.

The kicker is that this is a damn good ice cream sandwich. It’s huge, bring a friend… or three.

Bareburger (honorable mention)

multiple locations

The night before our ice cream sandwich tour we had dinner at Bareburger. They have a great Chipwich-style ice cream sandwich. It’s surprisingly well-executed and yummy.

The big minus for Bareburger is that they insist on dosing their ice cream sandwich in mediocre chocolate sauce. Tell them to hold that shit.

Wrap Up

Unlike our previous tours, nearly all of the ice cream sandwiches we ate were made from noticeably different components. Cookies, brownies, macarons, donuts, and paninis… The variety of sugary, starchy goodness was a pleasant surprise.

If you’re looking to explore the wide world of ice cream sandwiches, there are a lot of interesting options, and none of them are bad. With the notable exception of Holy Cream, all of these places are in close proximity to one another.

That made for an easy tour, but it also means that as good as most of these places are, we’re going to Melt for our ice cream sandwich fix.

(Photos by Ken Liu)

Conversations with Architects & Alternative Uses for Drafting Pencils

I hate meeting architects. I have hated meeting architects for years. It’s a shame, because I used to love speaking to them.

As soon as an architect hears that I work in technology, I have to hear how much they hate that my industry has stolen their name: “Software Architect, Systems Architect, Information Architect… I can’t look for jobs anymore because they are all tech jobs. To be a *real* architect you need a license… you need this… you need that.”

As a user experience designer for web connected stuff, I find the scale and process that architects of physical buildings undergo incredibly interesting. If given the opportunity I could talk to them for hours about the similarities and differences of our work, because they really are interrelated. And in the not-so-distant future, they will overlap more.

Engineers & Designers Don’t Do This

I have never had this type of conversation with engineers or designers who operate in the physical world; those names have been just as coopted by the digital world, possibly to an even greater extent.

I’m not sure what the reason is, but I’m tired of it.

Architects: Next time you’re sitting next to a techie, how about swallowing your pride and having an actual conversation?