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Entries in Bakery (22)

Friday
Jan132012

Madonia Brothers Bakery in the Bronx – Carbing Me Up Since 1918!

If you read Wednesday's post you know that John, Marmo and I had an all-out food fest last Saturday on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. It was nuts. We left the Bronx with the car packed to the rear-view mounted EZ-Pass with pastas, pastries, wines, cheeses and BREAD.

Between John and I, I am probably the one with the carb fixation. We've discussed this. It's a problem that I don't wish to fix.

So when we walked past Madonia Brothers Bakery and I spotted this in the window, I seized up a little bit:

Prosciutto bread? In a fancy ring that I could potentially wear as a floury bangle bracelet and take occasional (ok, constant) nibbles from all day long, like it was one of those candy necklaces you had in the third grade?

Yes, please! I'll take two - one for each wrist.

In reality the prosciutto bread rings are much larger than bracelet sized. But while they are unwieldy as an accessory, they are excellent for actual eating.

The above photo provides a close-up view of the prosciutto chunks nestled between the crispy, bubbled golden brown crust and the soft salty insides. Cracked pepper speckles the ring and provides a little bite and also a nice contrast to the salty prosciutto.

Dip this in some olive oil, melt some provolone on top – you won't be sorry.

But I didn't stop there. Marmo is often like a little blonde food oracle. And when the food oracle speaks, I listen. Or pretend to, anyway. Marmo's advice at Madonia's was to get the Cheese Bread. "You MUST," said she.

And so I did, and dove in immediately after they handed me the freshly sliced loaf. The cheese is integrated so seamlessly into the bread that it feels and tastes like part of the batter. The result is a soft cloud where flour and cheese intermingle with tiny flecks of pepper.... I should have purchased more than one loaf as it didn't last until the next day.

I then spotted a Cranberry Walnut bread staring me down by the cash register. It laughed in my face. It said, "You think you're going to walk out of there without me? Think again, lady."

Now, I've met some Cranberry Walnut breads in my time. They aren't modest. They pack themselves full of berries and nuts and just let it all hang out, unembarrassed and unashamed. They want you to butter them. They like it.

The above photo demonstrates this well-deserved berry and nut conceit. This is another loaf I should have purchased in bulk. I've been toasting it with some currant jam, plopping poached eggs on top and calling it a night. Or a morning. Or a snack... A little cinnamon cream cheese will do the trick too. To say nothing of butter.

While we were there the FDNY Tower Ladder 58 rolled up and invaded the bakery.

The roof was not on fire, literally speaking anyway. The group of firefighters walked in and purchased 1/3 of the inventory of the place. I'm glad I got mine before the hungry firemen.

Not even a week later and I only have a little prosciutto bread left. I stupidly handed over my other prosciutto bangle to The Box. I'll be headed out for a return trip, as should you! Even if it's for the very first time!

Madonia Brothers Bakery
2348 Arthur Ave
Bronx, NY 10458

(718) 295-5573

Wednesday
Apr132011

Tell Him About The Twinkie



I may have mentioned this before, but possibly my favorite movie of all time is Ghostbusters. John and I used to quote this movie to each other quite frequently. We still do from time to time. I recently watched it and was comforted to know that this 80's movie stands the test of time. It's still funny (Art Deco, very nice), and Bill Murray is....well, he's just a genius.

And speaking of things that stand the test of time, how about a Twinkie? According to the Hostess website, Twinkies have been been hanging around on bodega shelves since 1930 (some of them quite literally). President Clinton even put one in a time capsule. I wonder what that one looks like now...

Dan Akyroyd and Harold Ramis (stars and writers of the film) were not immune to the immense power and omnipotence of the Twinkie. They worked it in to one of the best scenes in the film as seen below:


And now I'm going to tell you about a Twinkie. One that I found at Lulu Cafe in Chelsea. I had gone to Lulu in search of Intelligentsia coffee which they brew in their 8th Avenue shop. I found a whole lot more including some homemade Twinkies in different flavors.

At first I was intrigued by the sign (who wouldn't be?):



And then the flavors! They offered:

Red Velvet Lulus
red velvet snack cakes filled with cream cheese frosting dipped in white chocolate

Lemon Lulus
lemon snack cakes filled with lemon curd, dipped in white chocolate

Brooklyn Blackout Lulus
chocolate snack cakes filled with dark chocolate pudding dipped in chocolate

Passionfruit Lulus
yellow snack cakes filled with passion fruit cream, dipped in white chocolate



I decided on the passionfruit variety and was not disappointed. The cake was moist and dense. In my opinion, real Twinkie cake is a bit insubstantial. I want CAKE. And by that I mean a mixture that is a touch hearty. This one was. And the passionfruit filling was a nice contrast: light, airy with a hint of that fruity flavor piped expertly through the center of the vanilla cake.

A few shavings of coconut graced the top along with a glaze of white chocolate to give the whole thing a graceful "petite-four" flair. I loved it.



So when your spirit storage facility is at capacity and your collection of spores, molds and fungus is getting a little out of hand, don't panic (and DON'T cross the streams!). Just:



And then call Ghostbusters

.

Friday
Mar252011

A Coffee Roundup



We have been heavily caffeinated for weeks now. Well, I have. John's been on a steady stream of downers just to counter my coffee buzz. I thought it might be helpful to post a round up of all the coffee sites I've visited complete with locations so you can try them on your own.

But first! One last coffee shop: Cafe Grumpy!

The Scene: I popped in there just yesterday for a morning latte. It was bustling! There was quite a line-up for coffee, but it was all so well organized and everyone was so patient and good-natured about it, I didn't mind at all. At one point, a girl waiting for latte turned to me and said, "Were you in front of me or behind me in line?" I honestly didn't know, but the barista cleared it all up for us - he had been mentally keeping track the whole time. Nice work.

The Coffee: This latte was exceptionally well-frothed. In fact, my favorite part of the Grumpy Latte was the milk. It was so rich and creamy (hooray for full fat milk) that after I finished my drink, I took a spoon to it and scooped up the last bits of froth that were leftover. Now that's good foam.

I also have a fondness for the logo, which is indeed grumpy:



Luckily, I didn't feel like the above drawing after sipping my latte.

Overall Coffee Drinking Experience: Napoleon Dynamite, The Offbeat Success

And now, onto The Roundup!



For all things Van Leeuwen, you can read:
Our first review, discussing their Greenpoint store and Panda Truck.
Or view Tim's (from the Panda Truck) Latte Art.

Van Leeuwen Store locations:
632 Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint, Brooklyn
81 Bergen Street, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

Truck Locations: Follow them on Twitter to find out where they are!



Stumptown is coming up Aces at the Ace Hotel.
Stumptown at the Ace: 18 W 29th St. New York, NY 10001
6am – 8pm daily



As is Kava Cafe, opened by Ace Hotel's partner John Saric.
Kava Cafe: 803 Washington Street



Take a walk to one of Ninth Street Espresso's locations:

Chelsea Market
75 9th Ave. (Between 9th & 10th Ave)

Alphabet City
700 East 9th Street (Between Ave C & D)

Tompkins Square
341 East 10th St. (Between Ave A & B)



And if you find yourself in the Italian Mega Market, Eataly, their espresso counter is worth checking out.
Eataly: 23rd and 5th Avenue



Meanwhile on 13th Street, Joe the Art of Coffee serves up delicate lattes and off-the-wall art.

550 west 120th (Northwest Corner Building)
New York, NY 10027
212-851-9101

514 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024
212-875-0100

141 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10014
212.924.6750

9 East 13th Street
New York, NY 10003
212.924.7400

44 GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL
212.661.8580

And before we forget: The WINNER of our LATTE ART Contest? Tim, from Van Leeuwen. You blew the competition out of the to-go cup, Tim. Nice Job.



And if you need MORE coffee, don't forget to check out:

Amy Ferraris' The Perfect Cappuccino Trailer and our recipe for Espresso Granita!

Tuesday
Mar222011

Stumptown Coffee at the Ace Hotel



It was a bright, sunny day: partially warm, birds were chirping, clouds had parted and the smell of coffee was in the air. On this almost-Spring day, my morning caffeine travels brought me to Stumptown Coffee Roasters at the Ace Hotel.

The Scene:
The Ace Hotel (at least the lobby and coffee shop) combines a well-designed and eclectic interior (see Exhibit A) with a dash of playful humor (see Exhibit B) and amusement park style attractions (a photo booth!! - evidence of which can be found in the above image).



Exhibit A



Exhibit B

As I queued up with the rest of the Flatiron District for my morning brew, I couldn't help but notice some other stand-out accents like the beautiful Spring time flora:



And the turn of the century, Victorian Era inspired packaging:



The Coffee:
I ordered my usual latte and was presented with a perfectly frothed, whole milk infused beverage decorated with a teeny-tiny heart. There really is something about steamed whole milk that is exponentially better than steamed skim: FAT. Milk fat just tastes good, especially with coffee. It's rich and velvety without being too sweet – a perfect balance to deep, bitter coffee. Which is exactly what happened here, and why I had to commemorate the image below with a little Victorian Era decoration of my own.




So impressed I was by my latte drinking experience, that I returned TWICE in one week to the scene of Stumptown at the Ace. This time I mixed it up and ordered a macchiato. Macchiato is an espresso with just a touch of steamed milk. In fact, the word "macchiato" means "stained" or "marked". So this is an espresso drink with just a little stain of steamed milk.

As you can see, my mark arrived in the shape of a heart, which very much brightened up my morning. More than just pretty decoration, the steamed milk was just enough to balance the deep, dark espresso. No sugar required (cuz I'm sweet enough....oh, I'm just kidding, people). The thin film of foam draped over the surface of the robust espresso is also a nice textural and taste contrast.



Emboldened by my macchiato, it was then that I decided to try out the photo booth. They put it there for people to use, right? Maybe not just one person with coffee in hand, but who cares? Certainly not I. So I snapped a few pictures as evidence of my macchiato enjoyment (see the first photo).

In addition to coffee, I ordered this fancy little brioche roll. Those white crystals gracing the surface are actually sugar crystals (one might confuse them with salt). Brioche is one of my favorite breads because of the ever-so-slightly-sweet, mushy center and its glossy, amber, super-thin crust. This one did not disappoint, the sugar crystals adding a bit of extra CRUNCH.




The Experience:
All in all, I would have to say that Stumptown Coffee Roasters at the Ace Hotel is:




But since I should really attach a movie experience, I give it: The Godfather – The Perfect Game.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters at the Ace Hotel
18 W 29th St.
New York, NY 10001
6am – 8pm daily

Monday
Mar142011

Let's Stay Caffeinated! Joe the Art of Coffee



So far in my quest to be slightly late for work....um, I mean find good coffee, I have visited the following caffeine-dispensing institutions: Kave Cafe, Ninth Street Espresso (two locations) and Eataly. We also featured an epic journey to the Van Leeuwen store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with bonus shots of the Panda truck (23rd and 6th).

I plan on continuing this research until I collapse in a heap of over-caffeinated exhaustion. Sounds pleasant, right? Anyway, I've been asking for coffee shop recommendations, and one that popped up was Joe the Art of Coffee. Joe has a few locations around Manhattan, but I chose to visit their 13th Street locale.



As you can see from the above two photos, the signage conveyed some very promising messages. I was intrigued.

The Scene:
The 13th Street location is a wonderful hodgepodge of art, mini tables and piles of pastries. A small flight of stairs brings you to the seating area, with the coffee counter just behind. In the mornings, there is usually a line up the counter, but there is plenty of entertaining art lined up on the walls to amuse you while you wait. Like this little number:



and at the tip jar:



The Coffee:
I ordered a latte (I may have mentioned this is my favorite coffee beverage). Sometimes I think good graphic design makes food and drink taste better. I'm definitely guilty of buying wine by the labels, and this to-go cup is an excellent example of well-designed, portable information:



But back to the latte itself! The taste was smooth and light. I would say I would have liked a little more kick – a little heavier on the espresso in the espresso-to-milk ratio, as I felt that the coffee flavor was too mild. However, the milk was steamed to a delightful, drinkable froth that wasn't too foamy or too liquid.





I'm going to start giving points for latte art. This one was pretty good, but a little undefined – especially on that left side. I do like those feathery wisps that are seeping into the milky-white blob, though. And the leaf-topper is well done.

Coffee Drinking Experience: Top Gun

Overall, Joe the Art of Coffee is a great place to grab a giant scone and a morning cup, hang out at one of the little tables and listen in on other people's conversations (I overheard a fascinating one between a teaching assistant and a professor....something about the conjugation of German verbs...). The latte taste was mild, but very well prepared. It just didn't give me the "juice" I was looking for.

And yes, we will be giving out latte-art awards.