Sunday, September 30, 2007

Oh, Almondine

Too much chocolate is never enough.

I already know the response to my criticism but here it goes: Almondine’s pain au chocolat is delicious. Superb, even. Light, flakey pastry, slightly browned and crunchy at the ends. Chewy and moist, it tastes like it was only moments ago pulled from the oven.

But it needs more chocolate.

If I’m going for the pain au chocolat instead of a plain croissant, I want chocolate, and lots of it. The demonstration of French restraint is commendable, but this pastry needs another dollop of chocolate goodness to really put it over the top where it belongs.

But there are plenty of other Almondine treats beckoning for a return visit: chocolate chip cookies, financiers, chocolate fondant, madeleines and a killer looking cupcake to name a few. It will be a happy autumn day when I go back under the bridge, settle into the wee bakery on the cobblestone street, and break out the chocolate barometer once again.

85 Water Street

Sunday, September 16, 2007

5 Best Plates of French Toast

• Extra Virgin: Banana French Toast
With caramelized banana and whipped mascarpone. Ridiculous.

• Café Cluny: Brioche French Toast
With raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Perfect for one. Bonus points for Cluny’s adorable atmosphere.

• Jane: Vanilla Bean French Toast
Brioche bread, crème brulée batter, confectionary sugar. Big enough to share. Be prepared to wait for a table.

• Good Enough to Eat: Fruity French Toast
Cinnamon swirl bread and fresh fruit, like peaches. Ditto on the wait.

• Norma’s: Very Berry Brioche French Toast
Selected from an overwhelming variety of cakey options, an obscene portion of bread saturated in sugar and syrup, topped with fresh berries. Enough for a family of four.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Mad About P*ong

Give your palette a break from the usual vanilla.

Although there is nothing expected on the menu at Pichet Ong’s P*ong, you can expect each dessert to have a little something crunchy (crushed walnuts, cookie crumbs), a little something creamy (sherbet, mascarpone), and a little something exotic (wasabi, lemongrass). It’s these surprising combinations that set apart this West Village eatery.

Take the soufflé, for example—it’s a walnut-crusted stilton cheese soufflé served with basil-arugula ice cream. Perfect for someone who wants an alternative to a cheese flight for dessert. Likewise, the chevre cheesecake croquette is light, fluffy and savory, save for the sweet diced pineapple. The rosemary shortbread cake stacks roasted pluot with crisp shortbread in honey sabayon, and is paired with peach wedges and sherbet.

If you’re holding out for something more familiar, there’s the malted chocolate Bavarian tart. Creamy ganache filling hides within a chocolate crust beneath a layer of crunchy caramelized bananas and is served with Ovaltine ice cream. It’s decadent on every front.

150 West 10th Street near Waverly