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Friday, September 11, 2009

The Enlightened Traveler: New York's Best Bakeries

We're crazy about good bread and cookies – not necessarily in that order.

Over the years, we've sampled our way through loaves and tempting treats of all kinds from San Francisco to San Juan.* No place in North America has more fine bakeries than New York City.

Mitchel London cupcake
Mitchel London cupcake: not fancy, just fabulous!
We're fond of the deservedly famous cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery, whose Upper Westside location opened earlier this year with, sadly, the same long lines as the original downtown bakery.

Don't feel like waiting? Mitchel London's chocolate fudge cupcakes are equally sublime.

Pick them up at his cafe on East 65th or at Fairway Market on Broadway and 74th, open until 10:00pm.

The hands-down-best-we-ever-tasted almond croissant at the recently closed Payard Patisserie on Lexington Ave. is another passion. Happily this flaky, crunchy marzipan-filled wonder is still available at the Payard Bistro at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. It's hard to imagine a better use of $4.

So many NY bakeries, so little time!

Here are our top Manhattan baked goods. These are the ones we bring Zip-Loc bags for.

Citarella Pecan-Cranberry Bread

Citarella Bakery
Citarella has a bakery. Who Knew?
Long Famous for its fish and meat selections, Citarella, at Broadway and 75th, also has a swell bakery on the premises. We always bring a couple of loaves of the dome-shaped pecan-cranberry loaf (sliced thin) back home with us. Toast it lightly. Enjoy with a smear of sweet whipped butter and a cup of tea or coffee.

Citarella also has locations on the Upper Eastside, in the Village, and in the Hamptons.

Amy's Semolina With Golden Raisins and Fennel Bread

This is the loaf that started it all for Amy's, one of the first artisanal bakeries in New York when it opened way back in 1992. We've never been able to get enough of it. Consume the same as with the pecan-cranberry bread. It's also good with a little strawberry or raspberry jam and complements blue cheese nicely. Both this and the Citarella loaf freeze very well.

You'll find Amy's on Ninth Ave. (between 46th and 47th), in the Chelsea Market, and in the Village on Bleecker St. The semolina loaf is also sold at Fairway Market on Broadway and 74th, a block from Citarella. (Why schlep?)

Levain Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie

A legion of New Yorkers swear that Levain Bakery's chocolate chip walnut cookie is the best around. We agree, although we think that their chocolate chocolate chip cookie is just as delicious.
Levain chocolate chocolate chip cookie
Levain cookie: not to size, it's bigger!
The first thing that sets Levain's cookies apart from all others is their size. They're huge, about the size of a squashed softball or an engorged hockey puck. They're chewey and rich.

The chocolate chocolate chip is prepared with an extra dark French cocoa and semisweet chocolate chips. They come out of the oven with molten layers of chocolate swirling together. Trust us when we tell you that one of these babies will feed two ravenous adults. (Allow one per person if you skip dinner altogether.)

At $4 each, you could get a whole box of store-bought cookies for the same money. But, honestly, why would you want to?

Levain is on West 74th St. between Amsterdam and Columbus.

*In San Juan, Puerto Rico, we recommend the mallorca con mantequilla (a round, flat pastry dusted with confectioner’s sugar and served with butter) and a strong cup of coffee at La Bombonera.

1 comment :

  1. WOW that delicious really it can be a great dish for the coming parties.

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