Tag Archives: cookies

Jane on Fillmore: a neighborhood café to die for

JAne

As bustling of a food-city that San Francisco is, I’ve always been disappointed by the lack of bakeries or coffee shops with awesome home-baked goods. New York City is chock-full of them – from Amy’s Bread to Billy’s Bakery, there’s a bakery available to the cookie obsessed and the cake fanatics in every neighborhood. Sure, San Fran has a few cupcake shops (I love Kara’s cupcakes off Chestnut), and incredible artisanal bakeries that aren’t as accessible to the Pacific Heights resident (Tartine is amazing), but homey cafés with an abundance of cakes, muffins, cookies, scones, and other butter, flour & sugar concoctions are SERIOUSLY lacking. Maybe my 4 years working at UC Davis’s Coffee House, which pumped out cakes (and cookie samples) by the hour, caused my withdrawal. Whatever it is, it’s a well justified concern.

jane from second floor

jane from second floor

Thankfully, Jane on Fillmore street has recently come to the rescue. Over the last few weeks of fun-employment, despite having the chance to explore all my neighborhood has to offer, I just can’t get enough of this café’s almond milk cappuccinos and scrumptious baked goods. The plentiful case displays more than enough options, but I can proudly say that I’ve pretty much tried every single one of them. They’ve got a buttery citrus brioche. A savory scone with ham, chives and cheese. Banana bread – both vegan and regular. A vegan pumpkin chocolate chip muffin for those sweet-craving mornings. The blueberry-banana muffin for the days I’m pretending to eat a healthy breakfast. There’s also a “Cooking for Breakfast” cookie that’s subtly sweet and stuffed with dried fruit and oats, for those who those who like that sort of thing. The cookies – which include flavors like sprinkles, salted white chocolate chip oatmeal, chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate toffee chip, and peanut butter-quinoa-millet are to die for, especially the ones that sandwich a scoop of cream cheese frosting. As I write this blog, I’m noshing on a “Crazy Cookie” filled with chips, chocolate chips, toffee, and marshmallow. True, it doesn’t get much crazier than this.

cappuccino

cappuccino

my fantasy display case

my fantasy display case

cake of the day

cake of the day

savory quiche

savory quiche

But that’s not all – Jane has amazing food to order as well, all homemade and most of the time organic. The granola – both vegan and regular – is like crack. I’ve bought them both, and I eat the oats by the handful. The breakfast sandwiches, like the one with egg, cheese, avocado, and roasted tomatoes stacked between two thick-cut pieces of griddled sourdough bread, are the perfect hangover helper. And the salads (there are about 10 of them) are fresh, healthy, and delicious, especially the ones with their house-made green goddess dressing. And how could I forget the energizing green smoothie with apple, lemon, kale, and ginger?

chopped veggie salad with green goddess dressing

chopped veggie salad with green goddess dressing

salad nicoise

salad nicoise

smoked salmon platter

smoked salmon platter

egg white breakfast sandwich

egg white breakfast sandwich

The space itself is beautiful as well – the natural light and the black and white motif are the perfect setting for zoning out on a laptop. And, though it’s always bustling in here, the energy is contagious, not overwhelming.

To put it lightly, I am freakishly obsessed with this place, and I fear that my pre-business school food budget is going to rapidly dwindle if my daily habit continues. But when I’m saddened by the thought of a day without a creamy almond milk cappuccino, I realize that it’s totally worth chipping into my school books’ budget. I’m just waiting for the day that the barista remembers my name.

Grade: A+
Location: 2123 Fillmore between Sacramento and California Streets
Website

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Filed under Brunch, Cheap Eat, Erin's Favorites, San Francisco

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

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Sugar Surge: Breads Bakery – the most buttery and delicious chocolatey treats

I am a bakery fiend, you should all know that by now. So when I heard about the Breads Bakery opening near Union Square, I put a reminder on my calendar to head there as soon as time allowed. What excited me most about visiting this Israeli-run bakery is the rugelach, crescent-shaped Jewish cookies traditionally made with cream cheese and filled with chocolate or fruit. They’re awesome, and I’ve been eating them since I was sitting in my mom’s grocery cart at Grand Central in SF.

When I went to Breads the $1.50 tiny rugelach was the first thing I purchased. To my surprise, it was hands-down the best, flakiest, chocolatiest rugelach I’ve ever tasted. Most have a very dense, chalky texture, but this one is as light and fluffy as a croissant. The inside is soft, and the outside is golden brown and crispy. Absolutely addicting.

tray of rugelach

tray of rugelach

rugelach

buttery rugelach

The second time around, they were giving samples of their ridiculous triple chocolate chip cookie, which did its job in leaving me no choice but to buy one. I thought I knew the city’s best cookies, but I evidently failed to acknowledge that one of my favorite versions can be found here. The golden crust surrounds a chewy, soft dough layered with milk and dark chocolate rounds. It’s magic.

cookie

cookie

Then, just over the weekend I stopped by for a quick snack while shopping – how could I resist when the sign caught my eye while walking down fifth avenue? I almost went for a savory treat – the cheese sticks are delicious – but I again opted for the sweet chocolate bread. Amy’s Bread makes a wonderful sourdough twist with chunks of dark chocolate. This, however, takes the cake, and while it’s not as rich as a chocolate croissant, it packs the same dark chocolatey punch.

I’m three for three at Breads Bakery – every single chocolate treat I’ve tried has been a score. And with tons of samples for tasting, they’re my favorite type of place! Next time I’m committing to one of the cheese & egg tartlets.

Grade: A+
Location: 18 East 16th Street between 5th Ave and Union Square West
Website

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Filed under Bread Basket Breakdown, Cheap Eat, Sugar Surge, Union Square

Chelsea Market Adventures: Carla Hall Petite Cookies

timthumbGiven that one of my favorite pastimes is perusing Chelsea Market for a treat on my way home from work, I’ve decided to launch a recurring “Chelsea Market Adventures” post to feature a new tasty food item from one of the market’s many amazing purveyors. In honor of my Zagat Cookie post this week, today we’re talking about Carla Hall Petite Cookies, smaller-than-bite-size cookies in a dainty cylindrical container. I found these amidst the boat-loads of cookie varietals in my beloved Chelsea Market Baskets, a store that has every specialty food item you could ever imagine. The cookies come in unique sweet and savory flavors – oatmeal with white chocolate and cherries, cheddar pecan, Hawaiian wedding to name a few – and they’re the genius solution to my usual craving for “just a taste” of something sweet throughout the day. After popping more than a few of these almond-ginger nuggets in my mouth, I have no doubt this new venture will be successful. They’re dense, buttery, crunchy, subtly sweet and a perfect topping on ice cream – just the kind of cookie I like.

photo (2)

tiny little buggers!

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Where to Buy

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Oreo Cookies at One Lucky Duck

There’s quite a split between those who hate the raw food vegan trend and those who live by it, but I’m somewhere in the middle. I could never, ever be a vegan (cheese). That said, I actually love some of the options available at One Lucky Duck’s raw and vegan food shop in Chelsea Market, and it’s getting to the point where I crave them throughout the day. Tonight I couldn’t leave work without grabbing a Lucky Duck Oreo Cookie, which was served cold out of the refrigerator and made of cashews, cocoa butter, maple syrup, cocoa powder, agave, and a few other random ingredients that make it look almost identical to the real thing. It tastes a thousand times better, and when these raw, health conscious ingredients come together they transform into a creamy and magical delicacy (and it should at $6 a pop).

mm oreo!

I prefer my cookies better cold (thanks to memories of my friend Sarah’s mom’s frozen chocolate chip cookies), so this ice cold, deep chocolate cookie really hits my sweet spot. Anti health fanatics, don’t knock it ’til you try it – you may be doing yourself a favor when you discover this thing can actually pass as healthy.

Grade: A

Location: 75 9th Avenue, Chelsea Market

Website. http://www.onelucyduck.com

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Sarabeth’s Bakery

Walking through Chelsea Market I couldn’t help but drool over the variety of Christmas themed goodies beautifully displayed in each shop window. Between Amy’s Bread’s holiday cookies, Eleni’s carefully frosted santa clause cupcakes, Jacques Torres’ milk chocolate lolly pops, and the Nut Box’s yogurt covered christmas tree pretzels, I was totally overwhelmed by the prospect of selecting a mid afternoon treat. In an effort to be more decisive I headed over to Sarabeth’s as soon as the sign caught my eye. The smell of baking bread wafted through the store, and the display case was filled to the brim with stacked scones, cookies – I knew instantly that the damage would take place here.

Despite the array of gorgeous, luscious treats, my eyes zoomed in on a subtly decorated reindeer sugar cookie. Though I obsess over chocolate, and frown upon desserts that don’t involve chocolate, I whole heartedly appreciate the purity and beauty of a plain and simple sugar cookie. Every now and then I get a sugar cookie craving, and seeing this festively shaped option at Sarabeth’s, I couldn’t resist. Call me crazy, but I like sugar cookies with sharper edges, not round or smooth ones, because these edges tend to be crispier and crunchier -the reindeer was perfect and had a good number of breakable pieces. In my attempt to be fully transparent about my cookie selection thought process, I sound completely insane.

Anyway, though I rarely blog about one-item purchases, the perfection of this buttery Christmas themed cookie motivated me to spread the word of its discovery. Though sugar cookies are very simple to make, they are fairly easy to spoil. Eleni’s cookies, for example, are horribly dry and crumbly. This cookie was crisp, golden brown, and adorable to say the least. Strolling under a sea of glowing Christmas lights with a reindeer cookie in my right hand, and an English Breakfast Tea with milk in my left, I felt a sudden sense of appreciation to be in such an amazing market within such an incredible city during my favorite time of year. It’s amazing what kind of emotions a Christmas sugar cookie can evoke – but if happiness comes with the purchase, I see no harm in making this a daily affair. Luckily, I work in the building!

Grade: A+ for the sugar cookie
Location: In Chelsea Market, 9th Ave between 15th and 16th streets
Website: http://goddessofbakedom.com/sb/sarabeth/

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Rubyzaar Cookies

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the many eccentric Christmas markets that pop up around the city. Though these markets are generally filled with over-priced crafts and useless trinkets, there are a few eclectic jewelry stands and food vendors that justify the visit. While wondering through the Union Square Holiday Market today, I came across the Rubyzaar cookie booth selling a variety of homemade, fair-trade cookies with ingredients ranging from dried peach to fresh mint. Being the sucker for baked goods that I am, I couldn’t resist trying these daring variations of the classic American cookie.

Half-eaten Bissau and NY Pretzel Cookie

After much internal debate, I selected the Bissau with peanut butter, dark chocolate, and banana, and the NY Pretzel, which reminded me of the delicious Compost cookie at Momofuku Milkbar. At $2 a cookie, I had high expectations. The cookies were soft, thick, and chewy, just as they appeared, and the flavor combos really worked. The chunks of sundried banana in the Bissau cookie added interesting texture and gave the cookie a true banana bread taste. My favorite, however, was the sweet and salty NY Pretzel. My only complaint was that the cookies lacked the “chocolate chunk” that their descriptions promised – the chocolate was in reality evenly laced throughout.

Taste aside, I really commend Rubyzaar for taking a risk to throw together ingredients normally foreign to classic cookie baking (sundried peaches, earl grey…). Definitely visit their booth when you’re at the holiday market, and let me know which unique cookie flavor you decide to try.

Grade: A-
Location: Union Square Holiday Market
Website: http://rubyzaar.com/

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Lulu Cake Boutique

You don’t have to be my friend to know how much I love bakeries. The world would be a better place with more bakeries. I was so thrilled to discover that a new cake shop called Lulu’s opened up just a block away from work, and a five minute walk from my apartment. From the website, Lulu’s came across as pretentious and expensive, similar to Eleni’s (looks over taste), but I made it a priority to stop by this week to make a fair assessment.

From the outside Lulu’s appears to be the Pinkberry of bakeries – with bright white walls, floors, and chairs, sales people in uniforms, and pristine display cases, this is one of the less “homey” bakeries I’ve visited, and more of what its name claims it to be: a cake boutique. Scanning the display case of neatly aligned treats, I had no sudden urge to buy a slice of cake as I normally do. The cakes are pre-sliced and far too fancy to entice me. The cookies and bars, however, appeared to be the best of the selection. I decided to stick to cookies for my first visit and purchased 4 to taste: an oatmeal raisin, a whole wheat walnut chocolate chip, a poppy seed thumb print, and a chocolate raspberry rugelach. They all appeared chewy and delicious, but when I got home to sample, I was disappointed. The whole wheat walnut chocolate chip, which appeared the roundest and chewiest of them all was actually crumbly and too tough to sink my teeth into. The oatmeal raisin was worst of all – with a texture as crisp as a matzoh cracker, it defied all rules of the American classic. The thumb print was pretty tasty, and fortunately, its butter content helped soften up the base, but there was nothing unique or stellar to make me say WOW when tasting it. My favorite of all was hands down the rugelach. Unlike the other cookies, the rugelach consisted of many layers with multiple flavors and textures, and I could actually bite down without crumbs exploding from my mouth.

Considering this place focuses on cakes, I can’t say that I’ve had sufficient experience to give it a fair review. However, I come away with the expectation that their products will never top what I can find just steps away at Amy’s bread, and my bakery of choice has no risk of shifting.

Grade: B-
Website: everythinglulu.com
Address: 112 8th Avenue btwn 15th and 16th streets

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Milk and Cookies Bakery

I’ve lived in the West Village for over two years now and I have always complained about the lack of bakeries in the area. I was utterly stunned to find out last week about a cookies-exclusive bakery off of 7th avenue on Commerce Street, and still in disbelief of its existence, I made it a priority to visit this weekend. After making the trip, I understand why I never knew about the place until now – on an isolated residential street, Milk and Cookies Bakery is definitely unnoticeable, especially when situated next to the infamously traffic-heavy 7th avenue.

The place is adorable from the outside, and a perfect match against the backdrop of quaint and gorgeous brownstones lining the street. Inside, a chalkboard menu outlines the cookie offerings, as well as their creative combos of ice cream sandwiches. I came with one motive – to taste the chocolate chip cookie. Though I was one of 2 customers inside, I was told that they sold out all chocolate chip cookies. It was only 5pm, so I was  disappointed to hear that a so-called cookie shop ran out of the most iconic American treat, but the man behind the counter was kind enough to break up a variety of samples to assist me in making my cookie-purchasing decision.

 After taking a few bites of each, I opted for the dark chocolate toffee and the double chocolate. The milk chocolate caramel lacked sufficient chocolate, and I’ve never been a fan of the snickerdoodle. The peanut butter cookie tasted pretty bland, and saltier than a cookie should be. I noticed immediately that the cookies here vary greatly – they aren’t uniformly thick like those of Levain, or uniformly chewy like those of Jacques Torres. The dark chocolate toffee cookie was thin and crisp with lines of dark chocolate running through it, while the double chocolate cookie was smaller, chewy and thick with large chocolate morsels. Both were enjoyably sweet, not excruciatingly so like some cookies can be, but they didn’t taste as fresh out of the oven as I would have liked for a bakery that has “cookies” in its name. I enjoyed both kinds, but the double chocolate was a bit mundane – a little variety in the chocolate chips, or less dough would have made the cookie better.

Both cookies were tasty, and while not the best cookies I’ve ever had, I am still thrilled that this place exists to fulfill my cookie craving when it comes around. Service was accommodating and friendly and the place is a gem. I’m tempted to try the ice cream sandwiches on my next visit – I’ll fill you in if I do.

Grade: B+
Website: http://www.milkandcookiesbakery.com
Location: 19 Commerce St between S 7th Ave & Bedford 

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Filed under Sugar Surge, West Village