A Butterscotch Krimpet falls into the same general category as a Twinkie–it’s small, it’s golden, it’s a snack cake–but there the similarities end.
The Krimpet is more delicious–more refined–than a Twinkie, with sinuous curves and a satiny blanket of ecru frosting (there is no filling, and for that matter no discernible butterscotch). If snack cakes were starlets, the Krimpet would be a pensive, voluptuous dirty blonde.
“She” is also very difficult to find in this town, which of course only adds to her allure. Zabar’s et al.? Hopeless. There have been irregular sightings in the seedy convenience stores that abut the Port Authority, but nothing to give an ardent admirer any real sense of security.
Such admirers include Lespinasse’s Chris Broberg, who was just elected one of America’s 10 best pastry chefs by Chocolatier/Pastry Art & Design magazine, and regularly whips up far more complicated confections (marquise-shaped nectarine tarts, etc.) for his tony employer.
“It’s sweet without being too sweet,” said Mr. Broberg of the Krimpet’s simple charms, “and the creaminess of the butter is of course wonderful.”
Another fan is video installation artist Janet Biggs, who–with the help of a sculptor friend–constructed her three-tier wedding cake, complete with Ionic columns, entirely out of Krimpets, which she ordered by the case for about $50. That was in 1980.
“I haven’t found anything since that I’ve been as committed to, in terms of snack cakes,” said Ms. Biggs, who lives on the Lower East Side.
The Tasty Baking Company in Philadelphia–a kind of indie Hostess whose brand name is Tastykake–churns out 6 million of these treats per week. Six million! Why do so few make it to Manhattan?
“Um, we kind of have an on-again, off-again relationship with our distributors up there,” said Kathleen Grim, Tasty’s corporate and community relations director. “We really couldn’t find a good match on how to handle our product.”
She was vague about what, exactly, she meant by “special” care. “How can I say. It is delicate,” she said. Not like the crude but muscular Twinkie.
Krimpets freeze well, offered Ms. Biggs, who thus savored the top of her wedding cake a year after the actual ceremony.
Mr. Broberg said it probably wouldn’t be that hard to make the Krimpet from scratch. “It’s, you know, a sponge cake, and you could use brown sugar instead of regular for the butterscotch flavor, and then the fondant on top, again, make it with brown sugar … But I’d have to taste it again.”
Good luck. According to a company Web site, the Krimpet–widely sold across the middle Atlantic and much of the United States–is officially available in only two Manhattan stores: Sims on 34th Street and Lexington Avenue and the Royal Deli on 39th Street and Madison Avenue. Here in our little municipality , brags the Web site somewhat smugly, the air is fresh and fragrant, life is sweet, and everything is decorated in the best of taste .
Ms. Grim has worked for Tasty 23 years and naturally gets all the Krimpets she wants. “I love them. I eat one every day,” she said, laughing merrily. “Ha-ha-ha-ha. It’s a fabulous place to work.”
Christie’s Power Doorman
When Christie’s auction house moved from its premises on Park Avenue and 59th Street to its new Rockefeller Center location on April 23, of course Gil Perez went along, too.
Mr. Perez is the super-connected doorman who has been working the door–the whole neighborhood, actually–for Christie’s for more than 20 years. Christie’s values his services so much, in fact, that they made him an assistant vice president.
Some doormen talk to the people passing in and out of the lobby, and it’s just annoying; they can’t quite pull it off. But Mr. Perez? He can definitely pull it off, with a demeanor that is at once cocky and personable. He’s good with kids and he small-talks with chief executives. He can also make traffic cops and deliverymen bend to his will–while seeming very friendly about it, of course.
On the afternoon of April 16, Mr. Perez, 47, stood outside of Christie’s chatting to passers-by. He held a wad of fives and tens inconspicuously in his right hand. Everyone knows Gil–the execs, the Park Avenue brats, the ladies who lunch–especially the ladies who lunch. Mr. Perez is exceedingly handsome and, with his thin mustache and neat blue uniform and cap, he looks like somebody. Sure, he gets offers.
“You always get that,” he said. “There’s always someone who comes over and who likes to flatter you. But I’m very happily married. I’ve got my two kids.”
So it’s just a simple No thanks?
“I don’t say it in that way,” said Mr. Perez. “I try and change the conversation around. I don’t want to make them feel bad or anything like that. I’ll twist things around in the conversation, talk about the traffic or the weather–like I didn’t hear it.”
To no small degree, Mr. Perez’s life has been made by his remarkable ability for chitchat. Back in 1977, he was working the door at the Monaco hotel, where some Christie’s board members were staying. “I got to know them well,” he said. “They liked the way I did service for them. One thing led to another, and we became friends. I happened to be at the right place at the right time and they hired.”
A guy in a camel-tan trench coat and black suit passed by and went through the black tinted revolving doors.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Barney, good to see you,” said Mr. Perez. “What I like about it so much over here is that you hear things, you see people coming from different angles and you have the street. You catch everybody coming by. You have a clear view of the whole avenue. I can see people coming three blocks away. You know it’s very different from the hotels and the apartment houses. In a hotel, you’re just waiting for people to come and leave. In this job, you’re always involved, you’re always going beyond just doorman duty. You’re going the extra yard. I help people out in the neighborhood. You go out of your way to get them cabs, help them carry their packages and boxes. The traffic cops, I get together with them. We give our clients a break. There’s a lot of limos here and we let them stand here for a little more than 15 minutes. We work together and help each other out.”
The new Rockefeller Center place comes with its challenges.
“It’s gonna have its ups and downs like anything else. It’ll be just a matter of getting to know the people in the neighborhood. Getting to know what the system is like there. Because everything has a system in life. So once you get to know that system, it’s just a matter of breaking through it. Slowly. The door won’t be on the street. That’s the only thing I personally don’t like about it. It’s more tucked in–about 40 or 50 feet away from the curb.”
Though Christie’s made Mr. Perez a vice president, he doesn’t think much about what’s inside. “I’m not that much into the art. I just focus on my work, my job and the people. They gave me the title, but to me it means nothing. I’m not into the stuff, you know, I don’t care. I sit in at their meetings, we get together and discuss things and go over plans. But I don’t really focus in much. I don’t let it get to my head–the power. My thing is here outside, helping the clients.”
Some people tell him he should be doing something else with his life.
“A few people make me offers–movies, modeling,” he said. “But how can you give up this? This is the best job in the world. You may not think so, but it’s true. You’re outdoors. I don’t have to go home now and work on my computer. I don’t have to go home and do paperwork.”
By now, Mr. Perez had grown irritated with the reporter.
“I’m gonna let you move on now,” he said, strong enough to make his point, but not wishing to offend.