Sunday, May 11, 2008

Japanese for "sweet"

“It changes all the time,” warns Kelli Bernard of Amai Tea & Bake House.

Spoken like a true Sweet Freak, it’s just not that easy to declare one — or three or five — favorites from the menu. And it doesn’t help that she has a selection that’s as meandering as it is delicious. But here, she does her very best to steer us towards her must-eats:

1) “I have to say the green tea cupcakes because those are crazy popular. They’re bright, so they’re perfect for spring.” But don’t shrug off the lavender chamomile or chocolate & peanut butter options.

“People come in all the time just for our croissants. A lot of bakeries buy the dough for their croissants, but we make ours from scratch.” I had a chocolate croissant: indeed, insanely buttery and decadent.

3) “Tea cookies are our specialty. We have seven different kinds, and those are really good.” Made from tea leaves and spices: green tea, earl grey & currant, hojicha & sesame, lemongrass & ginger, white tea & strawberry, chai almond and rooibys & vanilla.

I can’t help but feel we’re neglecting a lot of really great stuff though. What else?

“It’s hard to pick because it’s whatever you’re in the mood for!” But just to show you how eclectic and irresistible the menu is, she rattles off a few more sweets you should try: mango & pineapple parfait, mandarin brownies and the green tea muffins.

171 Third Avenue

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