Thursday, May 24, 2007

S'il te Plait

I have a new favorite pastry, thanks to my new favorite restaurant.

While waiting at the bar of Café Cluny for my friends to arrive for brunch, I couldn't help but notice how pretty the three-tiered trays of pastries looked, and how sublime they smelled. Since I was sticking to a self-imposed no-sweets week (I even skipped Cluny's yummy French toast), I didn't taste, just got the name of the supplying bakery.

Which brings me to today: the sweets moratorium is off!

Petrossian is a French-Armenian bakery with 80+ years of history. Since it's also an exquisitely elegant restaurant with an Art Deco interior and Osettra caviar, I never paid much attention (though I'm keen to go for dinner now). The bakery is separate from the restaurant, with a different pastry chef, supplying baked goods and breads not only to Cluny but also Mercer Kitchen, Jeans George and others. Clearly, there's a certain level of sophistication and quality.

Take the apricot Danish for example—my new favorite. Good grief! They're amazing. Flaky pastry dough, (like a perfect Parisian croissant), twisted at either end and dusted with crushed pistachios. Inside, almond paste (one of the best things ever created) and apricot compote make a ridiculously delicious combination. Not too sweet. Not too large. Just a (relatively) modest pastry that's unique in both form and flavor. Another kiss from France.

Seventh Avenue between 57th and 58th

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

5 Best Cookies

• Levain: Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie
Heavy (about six ounces); mountainous (studded with chips); and rich (chocolate on chocolate action).

• Grey Dog: Chocolate Peanut Butter Coookie
Ginormous (a good six inches in diameter?); two great tastes that taste great together.

• Porto Rico: Gingersnap Cookie
Moist & chewy; sweet & savory; under a buck.

• The City Bakery: Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookie
Yummy white chocolate/dark chocolate blend; flat as opposed to fat, but big nonetheless.

• Petrossian: Chocolate Chunk with Pecans
Ordinarily, not a fan of nuts with my chocolate chips, but these cookies are so huge and chocolaty, the pecans break up the richness nicely. (Plus, bonus points for using pecans instead of walnuts.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


A slice of old-fashioned goodness.

On the eve of 2004, before the cupcake craze had really spun everyone's sugar tops, a near replica of Cupcake Central (that would be Magnolia Bakery, if there was any doubt or if you've been detoxing under a rock) opened in Chelsea: Billy's Bakery. Indeed, opened by a Magnolia alum, the style and menu are nearly identical, but there’s one thing Billy’s doesn’t have: lines around the block. TG!

Inside the snug bakery, a couple Formica tables give you a place to sit and inhale luscious baking smells. Key-lime pie, blueberry muffins, snickerdoodles, caramel pecan cheesecake and, of course, cupcakes in myriad flavors are all on the menu to tempt you. But to save you from waffling in indecision, go for the best cake in the house.

A slice of Billy’s Banana Cake is heavy. Not only because it’s ginormous but also because the cake is dense and moist, and the frosting (cream cheese frosting—the better to temper those sugar jitters) is spread unabashedly thick. This is serious stuff. Made with fresh ripened bananas and the goodness of unrestrained dairy like butter and eggs, this two-layer cake is Billy’s most popular. But don’t worry, you shouldn’t be caught short: the bakery churns out a few every day. And if you want to go really bananas, you can special order your own.

Billy's Bakery
184 Ninth Avenue