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Cheesecake Race 2007: Will It Survive?
Peter Tatara - December 28, 2006

For the better part of the week, I've been pestering my girlfriend about cheesecake. New Year's is coming up, and our plans have shifted back and forth on an almost hourly basis. Originally, she was coming to New York City. Now, I'm traveling to Boston. We were first going to spend the whole night out and wander in around 3 AM. Then, my girlfriend learned she has to work the morning shift on January 1. Swirling, morphing, and shifting, at times involving an IMAX Happy Feet experience, at times culminating with fireworks in Grand Army Plaza, it's today crystallized in a final albeit minimized form. I'm heading up to Boston to spend the 31st with my softer, cuter counterpart. We'll spend the day ambling through Boston to do research for a novel she's supposedly working on and end up having dinner with friends at Fugakyu, a chic Japanese place in Brookline. My girlfriend's excited because Fugakyu offers more choices of champagne than beer. I'm excited because you can design your own entree. (Tempura Soba Curry, here I come!) After dinner, we'll retire back to her place, watch a movie or two, and share a legally-obligated kiss at midnight.

Sounds good? I think so. While not the extravagant cruise around lower Manhattan I was initially planning, the new plan, austere as she is, works. However, traveling to Boston to see my girlfriend also means seeing her parents. Don't read any dread in those words. There's none. But, visiting her parents means bringing a gift to her parents, and my previous attempts to bring them satisfactory gifts have gone rather the opposite of well. This time, though, wanting to prove myself a competent and capable suitor, I want to bring the perfect gift, something that says "I'm a good guy, and you shouldn't worry about your daughter moving to New York to be with me."

I've been going back and forth with my girlfriend to decide upon this perfect present. I wanted something smart, something mature, and something that gave off a New York taste. I first proposed cheesecake. From there, we looked at cookies, brownies, pizza, pickles, NYPD shirts, Coney Island taffy, a signed copy of Adam Gopnik's Through the Children's Gate, and Gangs of New York on DVD. Ultimately, we returned to the cheesecake. Junior's Cheesecake, baked in Brooklyn since 1950, is a slice of New York. Presenting this to my girlfriend's parents would make them see me as metropolitan rather than metrosexual. (I should probably choose to wear either a scarf or blazer when I meet them -- not both.)

So, I'm getting a cheesecake. How am I getting it to Boston? Not wanting the thing to accompany me on my six hour ride from New York City, I decided I'd have it shipped ahead. Huh? While Junior's does ship cheesecake all over the world, they can't get one to Boston in two days? I want the cheesecake to be there when I arrive. Looking over their website, if I sent one now, it'd only get there after I had returned to Manhattan. Not good. Fine. I'm bringing the thing with me. Can I? Can a cheesecake stay firm after six hours on the road? I'd really rather not poison my girlfriend's parents. Googling the matter, I was informed that cheesecake goes bad after two hours without refrigeration and also that there's no problem leaving it out overnight. I learned that if you freeze cheesecake it can keep fresh for months but also that you should never, ever freeze cheesecake. Ain't the internet grand?

Not too keen on to believe anything posted on a blog, I went down to Junior's today, and after talking to three different folks who all pointed me in different directions, I finally came to meet Tarsha, a girl working in their bakery. I explained my situation to her and why getting a delicious, luxurious cheesecake to Boston for New Year's Eve was of paramount importance. Tarsha just smiled, and then, setting out some fresh rugelach, she calmed my fears. Just freeze the cheesecake overnight and it'll last ten hours before needing to be chilled again. Beautiful. She told me to come back to Junior's the night before I leave and pick up their freshest cheesecake, pop it in my freezer, and take it with me in the morning -- needing to worry about it not one bit. Perfect!

So, that's that. I'm picking up a cheesecake on Friday on my way home from work. We'll see what happens. I trust Tarsha, but I admit I'm still a bit nervous that I'll have to devour a whole wobbly, warm cheesecake just prior to meeting up with my girlfriends parents -- meeting them empty-handed and with a frosting-covered grin. Will it happen? We'll find out. I plan on taking pictures of my cheesecake every fifteen minutes on my way to Boston. It's an experiment I soundly believe to be worthy of a silver medal at an elementary school science fair. But I've still got a few days before I pick up my cheesecake. I think I'll spend the time picking out which scarves and blazers to bring to Boston.

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