I’m a fraud.
Only a few weeks ago, I posted about the new heights of health I’d reached. Through months of careful, committed diet and exercise, I’d gotten to my ideal body composition. I’d dropped to under 20% body fat and built muscle. I looked fit. I felt great.
Then I went to New York. I indulged in every sweet that caught my eye… and gained back every single pound I’d lost. While the results of my regime were very real, they most certainly weren’t maintained. As I write this, my hard-won abs are obscured by a pleasant little layer of padding.
Was it worth it?
You tell me.
Dean and Deluca
Whimsy and Spice’s hazelnut whiskey sandwich cookies
I made a beeline for the first Dean and Deluca I saw, determined to live out my fantasy of being Felicity Porter. My disappointment from not becoming Keri Russell was softened when I saw the store’s sprawling pastry case. Better yet, nestled in nearby baskets were sweets from Whimsy and Spice, a baking operation run by one of my favorite bloggers and her husband. I, of course, purchased a set of hazelnut whiskey sandwich cookies and tucked into one of them while waiting for the bus.
I’ll have to be honest here, however — they weren’t what I expected. The cookies were neither crispy nor chewy, and the filling a bit too sweet and chalky. It may be that I got a bad batch, or that, perhaps, packaged desserts simply don’t do well on the shelf. Either way, I ended up returning the costly cookies. I still have faith that Whimsy and Spice’s goods are delicious; I simply had to strategize my indulgences. You’ll see why, as there were many…
Lady M’s green tea mille crepe cake
A few days later, I returned to the Soho Dean and Deluca for something else I’d spotted in their sweets section, a cake made from alternating layers of crepe and pastry cream. Everything I’d heard about Lady M‘s popular dessert turned out to be true: incredibly airy, clean, delicious. The green tea flavor was faintly sweet and highly addictive, making it a perfect companion for a cup of tea. I’m definitely going to try to track down a Bay Area version of this refined lil’ treat.
Guimauve chocolate coco and cassis violet macarons
During a different rambling walk through Soho, I spotted the newest location of Ladurée, the famous French macaron house. Jay and I, sweaty from trekking through the New York heat, were visibly uncomfortable in the très chic, ultra bourgeois tea parlor, but we (I) persisted. I tried a violet and blackcurrant macaron and another with a chocolate shell and coconut marshmallow center. Though I preferred the traditional ganache filling of the former, both my picks were, unsurprisingly, paragons of macaron excellence.
Crème brûlée, chocolate hazelnut, and fresh blueberry doughseeds
Though I love fancy macarons, I’ll always choose donuts over them. The ideal situation? Fancy donuts. I was determined to find these at Doughnut Plant, a Lower East Side institution that fries up flour. Though I was tempted by their cake donuts, I’m firmly in the yeasted camp of donut design. I ordered three of their doughseeds, fluffy donut holes filled with seasonal creams and jellies:
- Crème brûlée: a milky, sweet custard and a crackly, caramelized coating;
- Chocolate hazelnut: iced with chopped hazelnuts and encasing a rich Nutella-like filling; and
- Fresh blueberry: featuring fresh blueberry glaze and pumped with vanilla cream.
All of them were, needless to say, divine. That said, I’d be curious to try their other items, including the plain yeasted donuts (in order to better experience the risen dough) and the famous Brooklyn blackout and tres leches cake options.
My favorite baked good of all may be one of New York’s most recognizable baked goods: the great babka. I’ve lusted after an authentic version of this Jewish yeasted cake for ages now, having tried a pretty wonderful re-creation at my local farmer’s market. Breads Bakery supposedly makes the best chocolate variation in the city — so there I went. The babka involved swirls of buttery layers, chocolate chips, and fudgy hazelnut, all folded into each other and baked until gooey. It was like the very best cinnamon bun thrown into a vat of Nutella. I saved some of the loaf to take back to San Francisco and eat, warmed, with ice cream. It felt like I was in Midtown all over again.
So! Having borne witness to my trip of treats, let me return to the original question. Was it all worth it? Was the loss of my hard-earned physique worth the glut of sugar, flour, butter, cream, etc?
In a word… duh.
Dean and Deluca (multiple locations)
New York, NY 10012
Ladurée (multiple locations)
398 W Broadway
New York, NY 10012
379 Grand St
New York, NY 10002
18 E 16th St
New York, NY 10003