Archive for the ‘Pastry & Dessert’ Category

Momofuku Milk Bar

Posted 08 May 2012 — by S.E.
Category Food Alert Trends, Pastry & Dessert, Warms My Heart

Milk Bar Cold Case

Momofuku Milk Bar isn’t fancy. The minimalist design including strand-board casework, small front counter, simple packaging, and chalk board menu suggest a place staged with simplicity and profit in mind. Fact is, I have never been overly impressed with the interior of Milk Bar and probably wouldn’t seek one out except for the fact that I am completely addicted to Chef Christina Tosi’s strawberry lemon cake truffles. Her candy bar pie is incredible too but the truffles draw me in whenever I am within a block of a Milk Bar outlet (usually the one in midtown). My trips to New York always place me within walking distance to the store on West 56th street, lucky peach indeed.

W56th St. Milk Bar

So it was with great joy that I watched Christina Tosi edge out some of the best chefs in the country to receive the 2012 Rising Star Chef of the Year from the James Beard Foundation. The honor is awarded to “a chef age 30 or younger who displays an impressive talent and who is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come” according to the foundation web site. That she is so talented, heads a growing empire of stores, is teamed with one of the most recognized chefs in the country in David Chang, and leads a team of folks mostly under the age of 25 is a testament to her talent. That she does all this in one of the most competitive and hyper food markets in the world is monumental. She deserves this recognition (even though I am a huge Dave Beran fan!).

Chef Christina Tosi (2012 James Beard Awards)

On stage, Tosi looked radiant in a black sleeveless dress with red pumps, her shoulder length hair straight and parted. Relaxed, she accepted her award with grace as chef Grant Achatz looked on (he won the award in 2003). She made sure to thank the Beard Foundation and, more specifically, to thank her extended team (as any good leader would). She showed tremendous poise and humility while also exuding great confidence. What a great role model at such a young age.

Congratulations Christina and the entire Milk Bar and Momofuku team…

Milk Bar Cookie Baskets

Strawberry Lemon Cake Truffle

Strawberry Lemon Cake Truffle Interior

L-R, Compost Cookie, Chocolate Chocolate, Cornflake Marshmallow Cookie

Candy Bar Pie

Burdicks Chocolate, Walpole, NH ~ A Mighty Chocolate Mouse

Posted 15 Sep 2010 — by S.E.
Category Fine Dining, Food Alert Trends, Pastry & Dessert


As I write this, I am just finishing a delicious dark chocolate mouse, an L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates signature confection. It was a mouse made from dark chocolate ganache with fresh orange juice and a covering of dark chocolate. Over the past 23 years, thousands of others like it have helped place Burdick’s at the forefront of the craft chocolate movement in America. Burdick’s is one of my absolute favorite places to visit and this past weekend, craving a chocolate mouse, I set out on a road trip to the original Burdick’s store in Walpole, N.H. Back in 1987 Larry Burdick dreamed up the launch of his own confections shop and shortly thereafter Burdick’s was born. Back then it was unusual to find someone so committed to the craft of fine artisanal confections and Burdick’s stood out. Larry’s philosophy and extreme approach to quality was a forerunner to the shift toward quality and sustainability that is widespread today. He is regarded as one of the pioneers and catalysts of the America’s high-end chocolate boom while also being one of the entrepreneurial saviors of the small town of Walpole.

When I first discovered Burdick’s I was poking around Walpole (don’t ask why) and found his original store. Wandering in, it became clear to me that this wasn’t a neophyte’s attempt at an imitation chocolate shop targeted at the rare tourist that would pass through town. Although quaint in an undercapitalized but inspired sort of way, the store was pristine when it came to the chocolates on display. Peering back into the kitchen, I saw blocks of Felchlin couverture and all the proper tools, tempering machines and equipment that served as further evidence of a professional working his craft. Up front, the service was inconsistent but, tasting from a tray of samples, the flavor, mouth feel, and texture of the chocolate was astonishing. Delighted, my first thought was what the hell is this guy doing way up here in the middle of New Hampshire?

Turns out, Larry had moved up to Walpole from Manhattan as a respite from the frenetic pace and cost of living. He had paid his dues at some of the best restaurants in the city and moved north to pursue his dream and raise his family. Bucolic Walpole New Hampshire drew him in and kept him as it did the film maker Ken Burns and other well known celebrity and corporate types. Walpole offered Burdick and others like him a more restrained white clapboard and stars and stripes reality than the one created by visiting Saab and Granola urbanites dwelling to the west just across the Connecticut river in Vermont.

Although trained in France and Switzerland, another key to Burdick’s early success in addition to his chocolate mice was his willingness to take his classical training and parlay it into new flavor combinations and techniques. At a time when American born chefs were just starting to cast a vision for where cuisine in America could go, Larry was experimenting as well with combinations that the Swiss and French of the day would have castigated. Today, his bonbons, truffles, and caramels are well past the experimentation stage. One of my favorites is the lemon pepper truffle with dark chocolate, pepper, lemon and cream, dusted with fine cocoa powder (pictured above). The lemon and pepper flavors are so subtle and balanced that you have to inhale slightly to fully taste them after putting the truffle in your mouth and chewing for a couple of seconds. He also makes a fantastic rosehip tea bonbon and a tequila scented white chocolate and pistachio bonbon that are standouts.

As I look to my coffee table, there are five or six more bonbons left in the medium sized assortment I purchased. Getting close to 700 words now, it’s time for me to break away and enjoy another treat. There’s one more mouse left, a white one made from dark chocolate ganache with cinnamon covered in white chocolate. Lifting it up by its blue silk tail, it is now in my mouth and for this split second in time I am sated…