Thursday, November 16, 2006

Smart Cookie

Snacking our way to a more sustainable future.

Before going to Build a Green Bakery, a minute eco-friendly spot in the East Village, it’s worth visiting their web site. explains how the floor is cork, the walls are colored with milk paint (“We’re a bakery, what could make more sense?”), and both the cash register and light fixture are throwbacks to previous generations. In short, it’s a “green” business. But it’s quite clear the cookies, made with certified organic flour and other natural ingredients, don’t suffer for the principles.

Artfully displayed atop a recycled denim and bamboo serving table, everything appears as decadent as a sugar junkie could hope for. There, behind the luscious mixed berry scones and squat blueberry corn muffins, stacked between the oatmeal raisin and reverse chocolate chip cookies, is the quintessential afternoon snack: the chocolate chip cookie ($2).

As cookies go, these are monstrous. About five inches in diameter, they’re flat, golden and studded with, not chips, but blocks of rich chocolate. With each bite, you can taste the butter and brown sugar banding together to deliver a perfect, chewy texture. Complementing the soft middles, the edges are hardened just so.

Cookie connoisseurs might recognize these juggernauts as sneakily similar to City Bakery’s. They wouldn’t be wrong. Build a Green Bakery is a project of the Manhattan giant known for its chocolaty treats — a project that should fly with both sweet and organic purists.

Build a Green Bakery
223 First Avenue

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sweet Tarts

Every day deserves a happy ending.

Once upon a time, there was a small bakery south of Houston Street in the big city of Manhattan. Although it was less than a block away from four lanes of traffic and steps away from trendy clothing boutiques, this bakery quietly churned out wholesome sweet and savory treats. Inevitably, all those who stumbled across it came to love this bakery.

So it is in New York. Often the most charming (not to mention, delicious) establishments are those that take you far, far away from the incessant hustle of city life. At the SoHo bakery, Once Upon a Tart, the humble café décor and home-fresh baked goods offer the perfect respite from a harried workday or ambitious shopping expedition.

Although they offer salads and sandwiches, along with classic sweets such as cookies and muffins, they shine in the tart department. Being the height of autumn, ’tis the season for flavors such as apple and pumpkin, but other more imaginative options, like pear & almond, also reign baker Jerome Audureau’s menu. And, as evidence that everything’s better with chocolate, the chewy and dense banana & chocolate tart is a must-eat. Sized at five inches ($5.50), the tarts are perfectly portioned for self-indulgence. Unless, of course, you get two. Or three.

Once Upon a Tart
135 Sullivan Street