Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This place was just a dream

It’s hard to describe the joy, awe and adulation that all three of us felt upon stepping into Debailleul on rue du Bailli in Brussels.

It was a rare case where words and descriptions just aren't necessary.

You agree, no?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Oh beautiful millefeuille

I had the pleasure of lunching at the La Cuisine the other day. It’s the fabulous restaurant inside the glamorous Royal Monceau. It’s also where Pierre Hermé, (whom I spied while leaving!) created the dessert menu—including a little “spin-the-wheel” carte that lets you create your own millefeuille.

From the luscious ingredients including caramel and lemon choux crème, flecks of dark chocolate and plump berries, I went with one of my favorite combinations...

Pistachio and raspberry.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Look out, Nolita!

The Brooklyn-spawned Little Cupcake Bakeshop has landed squarely at the intersection of Mott and Prince, and it promises to be for Nolita exactly what Magnolia is for the Willage—a blessing or a curse, depending how you see it.

The uber girly space and especially outrageous menu is guaranteed to make both fans and enemies.

For example, Fruity Pebble Treat, anyone?

How about jelly and peanut butter three-layer cake, Nutella swirl cheesecake or oatmeal whoopie pies?

If only I hadn’t already been on a sugar rampage before I visited.

I think I could have had fun sampling the smorgasbord of cupcakes that are maybe a bit much, but probably delicious.

Strawberry, lemon, devil’s food...

French toast, blue velvet, coconut…

with frostings as varied as mocha buttercream, cream cheese and meringue.

Before you get too huffy and puffy that New York needs another cupcake shop as much as you need another accidentally-expensive shopping spree in Duane Reade’s beauty aisles, take note of their good points:
• Little Cupcake Bakeshop is carbon neutral and all their equipment and (biodegradable) products come from certified green companies.
• It’s LEED-certified and runs on wind turbine and hydroelectric power—you should be able to see its carbon scorecard in the window s of its two stores.
• It regularly donates to the Carbon Fund, a non-profit organization that plants trees that soak up carbon to balance carbon emissions released by the bakery.
• The Little Cupcake Initiative is their community outreach program that has created educational campaigns and volunteer activities to advance education, sustainability and green establishments.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chocolat chaud season

Of course it was wonderful to share chocolat chaud with Sylvia and Lionel last month. But one must indulge in Angelina every season.

Ann and I were on the fast track to have pitchers of le chocolat Africain. But then Ann had an idea: should we step up to Jean-Paul Hevin’s new cocoa salon? And see if he was worthy of Le Figaro’s top nod in the city?


No stranger to this master chocolatier’s phenomenal quality and creativity, I was all too eager.

From the pitcher…

…the pour…

And the verdict? Delish.

Not too thick or chocolaty. Not too rich or sugary. The perfect temperature and a beautiful afternoon treat. But for me, not top-top in this competitive city.

But I’m also not opposed to go back, maybe sit at the counter and watch the chocolabarista at work, mixing in beautiful flavors of matcha, ginger or raspberry.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A good chocolate chip cookie is hard to find

Not so much in New York as in Paris.

This, I was reminded after annihilating a chocolate chip cookie from Birdbath last week. The stacks of deliciousness beckoned to me from the sidewalk, and I, dutifully, went inside for one.

There is something about the gritty-sweet combination of the butter and sugar. The simultaneous texture of crisp and chewy. The studs of dark chocolate. Birdbath’s cookies make my heart sing.

For a year and a half, I’ve been trying to find a replacement fix in Paris. So far, no luck. Eric Kayser is as close as I’ve come.

I know, I know—it looks quite delicious, right?

All those melty pieces of chocolate and the golden, crackling surface?

Looks are deceiving. Or maybe it’s just that I know better. While Paris is gunning to take the torch from New York for cupcake mania, no one has is onto chocolate chip cookies. Yet.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dessert at Gramercy Tavern

I was just about to state the obvious: that Gramercy Tavern has phenomenal desserts.

But then again, the Danny Meyer landmark is renowned for its cocktails, its environment, its friendliness, its quality, and for its very affordable soup and sandwich combo. What’s not to love about this restaurant?

After indulging in all the aforementioned, Bennie and I didn’t need dessert, but, being who we are, we decided to split one thing, my choice. Always a sucker for bread pudding, I chose the butterscotch bread pudding. Paired with its sweet-tangy pear sorbet, topped with a buttercrunch disc, it was perfection.

But, hey, our kind waitress asked, you don’t mind if we give you another dessert, do you?? Just because? Here, chocolate pudding with a thick layer of salted caramel and toasted brioche croutons.

Giant miam.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Just a little something from Momofuku

Qu’est-ce que c’est??

These funny little balls are wickedly sweet, wacky in conception, perfect over-the-top-deliciousness.

Cake truffles from Momofuku!

I popped into the East Village bakery for a cornflake marshmallow chocolate chip cookie. But, when confronted with the selection, I remembered my friend Mr. B—steadfast source of brilliant music, cocktail and sweets recommendations—telling me I must try Momofuku’s birthday cake truffles.

Still not pleased with the bakery’s decision to individually wrap everything (a disappointing result of the baking no longer being done on the premises), I rationalized that three treats per cellophane baggie is better than one. Besides, it’s my duty to try new things. And listen to Mr. B.

So there I was: with six little cake truffles. Think denser, cakier, sweeter and more granular Munchkins. Genius.

The birthday cake truffles are rainbow cake, vanilla frosting and sprinkles. Eating one is just like being an eight-year-old on a sugar high at a piñata party.

The banana cake truffles are banana cream, hazelnut crunch and gianduja fudge. They're moist little flavor bombs.

The chocolate malt cake and apple pie truffles? A girl can only be so gluttonous. Those, I still have to try.