I know I said just a few days ago that there were way too many sweet-related national food holidays on the calendar–not that I mind sweet! but savory foods should get their place in the spotlight!–but I totally take that back for today. Because, I mean, CHEESECAKE. It’s one of the best things about living in New York, getting the perfect taste and consistency to a rich, dense cheesecake, made with only the best cream cheeses and graham cracker crusts. Other places in the country, and the world, can make you a cheesecake, but nothing comes close in my opinion to the authentic New York slice. Heavy or sour cream actually makes the New York cheesecake “New York”: the sour cream makes the cake more resilient to freezing, which is why a New York slice tastes best when super chilled. Add a delicious mix of cherries in their juces or jam on top of the cake and you’ve got yourself one of the best desserts you can find in the city
And where better to get one of the best desserts in New York than Eileen’s Special Cheesecakes in SoHo. This tiny little bakery sells only–you guessed it–cheesecakes, made by Eileen herself for going on thirty years. The cheesecakes are old family recipes, and you can taste the quality and care that goes into each cake. There are a lot of varieties on hand, including mocha, caramel pecan, and pumpkin (one of my true guilty pleasures coming out of college), but Eileen’s plain cheesecakes are her best sellers–and are anything but plain. Simple cakes topped with fresh fruit really shine when your expertise is stellar and your ingredients are top-notch, and that’s what Eileen’s always provides. The “Special” in the name isn’t just there for show, people: you’re not getting a store-bought, flash-frozen cheesecake here. This may be the first time I’m highlighting Eileen’s for a national food holiday in New York, but considering the different varieties of cake here (and the altogether deliciousness of each one!), it may not be the last.
Eileen’s Special Cheesecakes
17 Cleveland Pl (between Kenmare St & Spring St)
“Eileen Avezzano’s mother used to make cheesecake for special occasions. To honor that memory, and because she needed a way to support her two young children, Ms. Avezzano started baking her own version of those cheesecakes for a Queens deli owner almost 30 years ago. Eileen’s cheesecake is ethereally light, and not too sweet. It’s sold from one of the cutest stores in Manhattan.”–Serious Eats
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“I love that Eileen’s has a variety of sizes and flavors, especially those cute mini cheesecakes. I had a mini cherry cheesecake. The texture was light and creamy. The fruit was fresh and not overly sweet. It’s the perfect combination! This has become my favorite cheesecake in the city.”–Steph C.
“Fluffy and creamy no matter what flavor is purchased, the cheesecake I’m most familiar with is that topped with cherries, strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple (blueberry was always my favorite, even if it was coated in a sugary syrup). It has a fabulously mealy graham cracker crust, which I prefer to that of Junior’s. In fact, though I love Junior’s, I find Eileen’s to be better in many respects: it’s less heavy, better-sized, and simple. Go for it.”–Liz E.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!