Sweet Detour: Beurre & Sel

beurreandsel2Dorie Greenspan is a cookbook author who’s worked with some of the best chefs in the world, including Pierre Hermé, Daniel Boulud, and Julia Child. She’s also penned hundreds of her own recipes for her award-winning pastry guide, Baking: From My Home to Yours, and my favorite Sunday dinner cookbook, Around My French Table. I love her books because she guides you through each dish as if you were cooking with her in your kitchen; each recipe weaves in stories from her family, her travels, or simple, elegant dinners with her friends in Paris.

When I heard Dorie and her son Josh opened a cookie boutique just a few stops from my apartment on the F train, you can imagine my joy. Their new venture started as a pop-up shop called CookieBar, appearing annually at a salon on the Upper East Side. Now called Beurre & Sel, they’ve established permanent homes in the Essex Street Market and La Marqueta.

beurreandselshopRamsey and I stopped by a few weekends ago to check it out. They have a selection of 3-inch cookies like Coconut-Lime Sablés, Chocolate Chunkers, and Dorie’s famous World Peace Cookies. The tubes you see in the wall are filled with smaller cookies-to-go. Their offerings are split into a Cocktail Collection (Sesame Sea Salt, Cocoa Cayenne, Rosemary Parmesan) and a Sweet Collection (Espresso Chip, Port Jammers, Classic Jammers, Sablés, Chocolate Mint, and the aforementioned World Peace Cookies). We got a tube of sablés and two large World Peace Cookies to enjoy right away.

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An Ode to Momofuku Milk Bar

I found myself at a bar in the East Village on Saturday night after dinner and a movie around Union Square. After introductions to friends of friends, we hit on something we all had in common: a love of Momofuku Bakery and Milk Bar. It’s not that uncommon in New York, as Momofuku is now an institution with constant buzz and hoards of fans between its four locations (Milk Bar, Ssam Bar, Noodle Bar, and Ko), but for some reason, passion for the Bakery and Milk Bar always seems to surpass the rest.

We started to exchange descriptions of our favorite items. The pies, the cookies. I gasped in horror when they revealed they had never tried the pork buns. This was warranted horror, as the mingling flavors of thin cucumber slices, hoisin sauce, scallions, and pork belly on a soft steamed bun is as close to culinary transcendence as I’ve ever been.

The pork buns are really not the stars of the Milk Bar though. They can be found at all of the other Momofuku restaurants. At the Milk Bar, it’s all about the desserts. Christina Tosi, Momofuku’s pastry chef, has developed a menu that takes all of your childhood dreams of sugary breakfast cereals and prized lunch bag snacks and melds them into ice cream, cookies, cakes, and pies. Their current soft serve ice cream flavors include red licorice and fireball, and you can have them topped with Nerds, Lemondrops, or Twizzlers. The compost cookie™ (yes, trademarked) has almost every kind of cookie variety melded into one. It’s pictured here along with the chocolate-chocolate cookie that (I believe) is a chocolate cookie with chocolate brownie chunks.

There are of course what would be considered “fancier” desserts, such as the chocolate chip cake with lemon curd, chocolate crumbs, and coffee buttercream, or the playful Arnold Palmer cake with iced tea jelly, lemon mascarpone cream, almond tea crunch. However, I always return to the cookies. It’s the perfect polyamorous marriage of convenience, comfort, and taste, with everything you need in one little handheld package.

It was the desire for those cookies that pulled all of us out of the bar at 1 AM on Saturday morning; six twenty-somethings walking through the streets of the East Village recalling Saved by the Bell episodes in search of a taste of childhood. When we finally arrived after a short walk, the store was mostly dark and two workers were wiping down the counters. The door was locked. FYI: They close at midnight.