I had the great opportunity to travel to New York City over the weekend to visit family and try some of the breads I’ve been pining for 🙂
Jeff’s uncle and aunt live in New Jersey and offered to give us a proper tourist experience of the city. And, with the help of the New York Cookbook written by Molly O-Neil back in 1992 that Peachie provided, I was determined to obtain a proper “New Yawka” bakery experience!
As you know, Peachie and my father are from Long Island, pronounced, “Longuyland.” I was not born in NY so I lack the bad-to-the-bone accent, but as I was raised by them, still came away with an appreciation for “real” bread and desserts.
When Peachie found out I was going on the trip, she begged me to pick up a loaf of Jewish Corn Rye. She has many pleasant memories of her father picking up a loaf and all of her siblings smearing butter on pieces once warmed up.
So, I found Andrew Coe’s piece (Serious Eats: New York – how did it take me so long to find this!) on a corn rye competition of sorts. Of the four bakeries participating, the consensus was for Stork’s Bakery in Whitestone. Chiffon’s Kosher Cake Center, Teena’s Cake Fair, and Lord’s Bakery followed in that order.
Not knowing the geography, I ruled out Stork’s since the address wasn’t in Brooklyn and that’s where we were going to be. So, we searched out the second one, Chiffon’s only to be disappointed and (me) a little embarrassed that we were hoping a Jewish bakery would be open on the Sabbath.
We ended up at Teena’s Cake Fair in Canarsie, which was fortuitous on multiple levels. As I would later find out, the corn rye was good, but the desserts were better. They had every imaginable cookie, turnover, and cake and thanks to Jeff’s uncle we sampled a very high percentage of those available 🙂 I especially enjoyed the Apricot Rugelach. Teena’s also had Raisin Pumpernickel which was on my list and very good.
Later on in the day I would try my first cannoli (the chocolate chip variety) at Mazzola Bakery, but as it’s a dessert, I’m mentioning it here. I really am ashamed to admit that this was my first one. I just didn’t realize what all the fuss was about. Yeah – now I know, they’re awesome! 🙂
It was not obvious to me initially, but I made an interesting observation the next day as we continued to sample the cookies. The desserts were not overly sweet. They were delicious in their own right – you could taste the various spices, butter (oh yeah!), and crumb. And they were beautiful too with various shapes, fillings, colors, sprinkles, chocolate coatings, oozing fruit, and sugar crusts. Less focus on sugar (which is fleeting and nutritionally not beneficial) and more on the satisfaction that comes from the rest of our senses like the touch and the visual. This is one of the defining aspects of Peachie’s Treats and I didn’t even realize it until now.
Finally, my ultimate goal was to find and try the much acclaimed Prosciutto Bread. I knew that places listed in the cookbook may not still be in operation, which turned out to be the case in this instance. The D&G Bakery on Spring Street that featured it, that had been in operation for over 100 years, closed in 1997. Yet, with the help of Google, I found the piece by Max Falkowitz (also Serious Eats: New York) where he profiled two places, one of which was called Mazzola Bakery which I visited.
This bread is every bit as good as they say it is! Max Falkowitz aptly describes it as a savory cake. I also found it to be chewy, dense, warm, flavorful, and interesting. I am terribly excited to try the Prosciutto Bread recipe in the New York Cookbook with a few of my own variations. More to come on that soon!
After a string of bakery stops, we became tourists and visited the Freedom Tower and 911 Memorial at Ground Zero, Wall Street and Bull, Battery Park and the Statue of Liberty (at a distance), the Empire State Building, and Times Square.
I was so inspired by this trip that I’m already hatching plans for the next bakery tour 🙂
Update: We visited NYC just one week before Hurricane Sandy hit. I can’t believe the devastation that ensued, being there just days before. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected and we are encouraged by their spirit and the way that so many are helping.
corrie @ Peachie’s Treats