Tag Archives: bakeries

SusieCakes: another SF bakery to the rescue

l

Thanks to SusieCakes, I now have a place where I can find the perfect slice of cake – chocolate, red velvet, coconut, or carrot cake-mood alike. The thing that gets me about most cupcake shops is that 1) they limit themselves to cupcakes when they could easily make cakes and 2) the cupcakes are laden with excess, sugary frosting, and 3) they are just too fancy for my taste. SusieCakes stocks their display case with a variety of beautifully frosted treats that are straight forward, homey, and scrumptious. It’s my west coast Amy’s Bread. My favorite? The red velvet mini cupcake, but for any homestyle flavor you’re craving, you really can’t go wrong here. They even sell SF Giants cupcakes.

tiny shop

tiny shop

red velvet

Halloween treats!

Halloween treats!

Definitely worth a special trip if you’re not in the neighborhood, or check out one of the 8 locations throughout California!

Grade: A+
Location: 2109 Chestnut btwn Steiner and Pierce Streets
Website

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Featured U.S. City Posts, San Francisco, Sugar Surge

Pain Quotidien: the king-size chocolate chip cookie

le pain

Ever since I wrote my Zagat article, I’ve been discovering new cookies that would have surely made my top 10 list had I known about them months before. I was kicking myself after the chewy triple chocolate chip find at Breads Bakery, and now I’m frustrated that I didn’t add the massive round found at Pain Quotidien to the list. I love Pain Quotidien. It’s a place that despite being a chain, has really remained true to its core values of good bread, clean communal eating and heathy food. I rarely tap into the pastries or sweets here, but on Easter Sunday, my memories of chocolate Easter Baskets and Cadbury cream eggs drove my eyes straight to the 10-inch diameter, toasty-brown, crisp chocolate chip cookies that lay like a tall stack of pancakes behind the display case. When I brought a broken one to the waitstaff’s attention, instead of throwing it out, he graciously handed it to me. The cookie may have tasted better because of the generosity that he surrounded it with, but when I sunk my teeth into this flat, brittle, Frisbee-sized disk, I was in chocolate chip cookie heaven. This is the ideal cookie for those who want something consistently crumbly, brown-sugary and crisp. And each bite is sure enough to give you at least 6 chocolate morsels, which  are smaller than the average chip. At around $4 a pop, considering this cookie could likely feed three or four people, it’s definitely a deal. And because I’m sandwiched between two Pain Quotidiens only blocks away, I think I know where my go-to cookie will be found the next couple of months.

Chef Aki with cookie (after saying he didn't want any)

Chef Aki with cookie (after saying he didn’t want any)

Grade: A+ (especially since it was free)
Location: Multiple
Website

1 Comment

Filed under Cheap Eat, Sugar Surge

Landbrot: the God of gooey gouda pretzel pockets

landbrot

Have you ever heard of a pretzel pocket? I hadn’t, but the concept of melting cheese inside a pretzel is sheer genius, and I’m ashamed that I was remis to think of it before trying it last week. It was the hectic night of Super Bowl – the 49ers were losing, the Mercedes Superdome power was out, and there were ten trays of delicious food (including an assortment of Parm sandwiches) around calling out my name. Amidst the chaos and distractions, I needed something simple and comforting to munch, and that’s when I reached for the glistening, golden brown Landbrot pretzel pocket. And then I couldn’t stop – as the game progressed I pulled apart piece after piece of the pillowy, buttery pretzel dough until my stomach felt like I had consumed a brick.

undeniably cheesy

undeniably cheesy*

Over-consumption aside, this is an urgent must-try for any bread and cheese lover. I often say that my favorite foods involve these two staples (quesadillas, pizza, brie on baguette…), and I’ve just added another to the list – I’m lucky this place is close enough for unbeatable cravings, but just the right distance away to help me to resist when I don’t feel like walking.

Landbrot’s serves a wide variety German salads, sandwiches, cakes, and desserts, and the space itself is modern, bright with natural light, and decked out with displays of copious amounts of German bread and pretzels for sale.

Grade: A+
Location: 137 7th Ave btwn Charles and West 10th
Website
Photo from Girl Eats City

Leave a comment

Filed under Affordable Date, Bread Basket Breakdown, Fun Group Dinner, German, West Village

Sugar Surge: Mille Feuille cake at Lady M and Cafe Des Amis

Ever since Sushi of Gari ran out of the Lady M Green Tea Mille Feuille cake I had SO looked forward to eating, I was on a mission to try the luscious 27-layered dessert as soon as I could get my hands on it. Fortunately a trip to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center placed me near Todd English’s Food Hall, so I didn’t hesitate one second to splurge when I spotted the cake at the hall’s very own Lady M stand. For $8, the piece is small, but each layer of whipped cream makes every bite taste like a thousand cakes in one. The sweetness is subtle, the creaminess is undeniable, and for such a densely layered cake, it achieves the quality of lightness that most cakes do not. But despite it’s beauty and deliciousness, I can’t ignore the fact that it lacks in some diversity of flavor. Maybe I should’ve opted for the green tea, or maybe I’m just used to ingredient-packed Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but the cake needs something to brighten its mildness.

photo 2

the display @ Todd English Food Hall

photo 4

Lady M Mille Feuille

photo 3

count the layers!

Fast forward a few weeks and I find myself sitting in front of San Francisco’s Cafe Des Amis version, which they call the “24-layer crepe cake,” served with orange chamomile syrup. At first I was shocked at the adulteration of such a wonderful classic, but when I took a bite, I instantly knew the problem had been solved. The citrus added a necessary brightness to the otherwise dull taste of the traditional version, and I was happy as a clam.

Cafe Des Amis version

Cafe Des Amis version

I’m sad to admit that a somewhat random restaurant’s version of mille feuille cake beat out that of the critically acclaimed Lady M. My recommendation to Lady M, if it ever were to make a difference? Add a little lemon zest in the whipped cream to really bring out the flavors of the crepe.

Lady M Location: Multiple locations; 41 East 78th Street @ Madison
Grade: 
B+

Cafe Des Amis Location: 2000 Union Street @ Buchanan
Grade: 
A

Leave a comment

Filed under Sugar Surge

Kitchen Adventures: First Class Feast a la Chef Nicole Gonzalez

I love restaurants, but nothing can replace a feast with friends in a beautiful home. This weekend, my family’s long time friend Nicole was in town from Miami and invited a few people over to share the plethora of incredible food items she had been collecting since Friday. Nicole isn’t just any food lover – she’s a trained and experienced chef who, like me, can make a weekend out of researching quality food spots and navigating the city to find them. She definitely showed me up last night.

Image

When my sister and I arrived to Nicole’s New York home-away-from-home last night, I was stunned by the overwhelming sight of plate after plate of my favorite foods. I was there to meet her children, but my priority soon shifted to eating the bright white globe of fresh buratta surrounded by basil, and a salad of golden yellow and deep red heirloom cherry tomatoes marinated in fragrant extra virgin olive oil. A stack of Amy’s nut bread and the softest, freshest Frech baguette from Fairway Market lay next to a plate of Murray’s cheeses – one of which was a deliciously creamy, mild blue called “Caveman” and was instantly added to my brain’s subconscious list of “favorite cheeses”. An inch to the left, there lie a platter of beautifully transparent slices of fresh Scottish Salmon placed on crispy bialys. Delicately sliced italian meats, a bowl of sheep’s milk ricotta with truffle honey, a refreshing cucumber orange avocado salad, and a thinly sliced apple salad with blue cheese and crushed candied almonds covered the rest of the little available space on the table. I arrived full from brunch, but all bets were off the second I saw this array.

ImageImageImage

My jaw dropped in disbelief when Nicole alerted me to the three pastas she planned to prepare after I had stuffed my face with buratta – a raviolini with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, a butternut squash ravioli simply prepared with butter and freshly grated parmesan, and a long pasta with rock shrimp, crab, and a simple sauce made of onion, garlic, tomato paste, cream, and thyme. I knew that I couldn’t let my stomach stop me from tasting her creations made with the freshest noodles (stuffed pasta from Eataly, noodles from Murray’s) and ingredients (rock shrimp and crab from The Lobster Place). They were all astoundingly good – professional quality in a layman’s kitchen – and demonstrated her preferred method of cooking, which is my preferred type of eating: a few high quality ingredients that result in a masterpiece of simple and heartwarming food.

The thought of dessert was frightening, but when I saw the stacks of pastry boxes adorning the labels of the city’s best bakeries, my will-power dissolved in thin air. As Nicole unveiled each box, I grew more and more impressed by the fact that not only did she have the heart to share this all with her friends, but that she also managed to gather these things from all corners of Manhattan in two days while lugging around grocery bags and her two kids! The amount of dessert was endless, but I was in pure bliss: my favorite Jacques Torres chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip, and chocolate chocolate cookies; a coconut cream pie, an award-winning Brooklyn Blackout cupcake, a peanut butter chocolate cupcake, a key lime angel food cupcake, and a moist square of gingerbread from Two Little Red Hens; a custardy, light mille crepes cake from Lady M; banana cake, pineapple upside down cake, and a pistachio cupcake from Billy’s Bakery; italian rainbow cookies and ricotta cheesecake from Veniero’s Bakery; and my new favorite discovery – banana pudding and coffee pudding from the new East Village spot Puddin’. I surprised myself with what I gravitated toward – instead of my usual chocolate frenzy, I was in bliss over the creamy concoctions: coconut cream pie, mille crepes, and the banana pudding. After a bite of almost everything that lay before me, I had no other choice but to force myself to stop in fear of spontaneously combusting.

the crime scene

No, this is not a series of lies. Nicole truly purchased and prepared all of these things, and we really ate all of these things. The cab ride home and the remainder of the night was a painful one of belly rubbing and swearing off dessert for the rest of the week. Sadly, after my peanut butter bar snack today after lunch I’ve already failed at my own game, but the feeling of gluttony was 100% worth all of the amazing food I was able to try. Nicole, you’re welcome back to New York anytime – but warn me in advance so I can work up the stomach space.

1 Comment

Filed under Kitchen Adventures

Fat Witch Bakery

I pass Fat Witch Bakery on a daily basis as it’s housed in Chelsea Market, home to the Google office where I work. I remember being so naive as a New York newcomer two years ago, assuming that Fat Witch brownies were the best around as a result of their marketing and eminence among NY tourists. 1000 free samples later, I can confidently say that I couldn’t have been further from the truth. Fat Witch Brownies are the worst brownies I’ve ever tasted.

free samples - one redeeming quality of fat witch

I was reminded of this fact when I found a box of them in our office kitchen today, the remains of a client meeting. Knowing that I’ve never been impressed by them, I still decided to sample a piece to get a chocolate fix. Why, I’m not sure, because the brownies don’t even taste like chocolate. If I had chewed with my eyes closed, I would have surely guessed that I was eating some kind of blondie drenched in butter. The flavor that first comes to mind when eating a Fat Witch is the butter – overpoweringly greasy, mouth oiling butter. Where’s the chocolate??

Caramel Witch

Flavor aside, I do commend Fat Witch for their unique theme (each brownie has an original, play on “witch” name), and their cute and creative wrapping. They are tempting to buy as gifts, as they can be assorted and shipped around the country. They even have minis, which they call “Witch Babies.” Still, when you’re selling one product and one product only, there’s just no excuse for it to be less than damn good.

There’s my rant for the day. For those concerned, I eventually made up for the wasted chew-time with a delicious slice of red velvet from Amy’s Bread, courtesy of my cube-mate.

Grade: C-

Address: Chelsea Market, 9th Ave between 15th and 16th Streets

Website: http://www.fatwitch.com

*pictures courtesy of Yelp

1 Comment

Filed under Chelsea, Sugar Surge