Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Seattle Bakeries

If you'd like to skip the digressions, skip the next two paragraphs. After that, the digressions are mined in with the bakery talk, so you're on your own.
I showed enormous restraint this morning at the doctor's office. My immune system and lungs have once again gone on strike for better benefits, so to the doctor I went. I like my doctor. I like the staff at my doctor's. Still, I think it would be safe to say that if you're a doctor looking for laughs in the morning, the nerdy medical humor of "well, the good news is that it's not pneumonia, ha,ha," might be lost on a patient whose ribs hurt from participating in such rowdy activities as breathing. I was tempted to share hockey humor by sucker-punching her in the gut and laughingly saying "At least I didn't hit you in the face!" See: restraint, if not much class. Given that I do not have the world's best poker face, my punching thought bubble was probably fairly easy to read.

Although I have merely plain vanilla bronchitis, antibiotics and I are once again BFFs. The car, apparently feeling neglected, decided to take a moment to conk out, thereby wresting my attention away from the antics of my lungs and (lazy ass) immune system. Fabulous. Very exciting, as usual.

So, the bakeries.

Trophy Cupcakes. Beauty queen cupcakes. Those suckers should be displayed with sashes reading "Miss Vanilla" and the like. My favorite is probably their chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. The cake in their chocolate cake is moist and rich. However. Although their frosting is beautiful (and tastes just fine), there’s just a little too much (unless you are six, and eat only the frosting and the very top of the cupcake, in which case go for their red velvet, a favorite of my resident six-year-old).
Bakery Nouveau. Probably the best all-around bakery in Seattle. While not every single item is tops in its category, their overall quality is excellent. Their croissants and pain au chocolate are good. Their chocolate cake is the best in town. Seriously. Best. In. Town. Their chocolate √©clairs are solid (but not the best in town). Stumpy is an enormous fan of the mocha eclair there. Their BLTs are amazing. Their baguettes are scrumptious (and get our vote, narrowly, for best baguette in town). And their olive fougasse (laminated or not, pictured above in standard issue) may well be my very favorite bread in the city. Stumpy will eat half a loaf of olive fougasse as if he’s turned into Cookie Monster (pre-healthy food bullshit makeover) attacking a cookie, crumbs flying everywhere, snorting with joyful abandon as he guzzles, before he remembers that he’s supposed to share and looks guiltily around.

Columbia City Bakery. I like Columbia City’s coffeecakes (when the flavor combos suit me. I love coffee cake, but am- shocker- rather picky). Their cookies are very good. Their sandwiches are delicious. But their plain-Jane baguette is the very best thing in the shop, and it is sensational. Whether or not it’s better than Bakery Nouveau’s is a matter of personal taste. Both baguettes are immensely appealing, and Columbia City Bakery has the added advantage of being across the street from Geraldine's Counter (have a nice breakfast, pick up a baguette for dinner, and maybe a piece of coffee cake for the next day). I should say that although their cupcakes are very appealing, and the cake itself is very good, I do not care for the frosting at all.

Caf√© Besalu. It’s probably a good thing for the seams in my pants that this place is across town, in Ballard. Hands down, no contest at all, winner of the best pain au chocolat in town. Just unbelievably, joy-creatingly good. Great croissant and fruit danishes. Their quiches are wonderful. And although I am not a biscuit/scone girl, their ginger biscuits are delectable.

Dahlia Bakery. The Dahlia Bakery is Curly’s current favorite, in no small part, I think, because of any bakery we go to, the staff there areamong the better-informed about potential nuggets of allergy-induced death in their food. And the Dahlia Bakery delivers the goods, baked goods-wise. I am not fond of peanut butter, or peanut butter cookies, but the Dahlia Bakery’s peanut butter cookie is unbelievably good. The kind of good that you make detours for (yes, I have made detours just to get myself a damn cookie). The coconut cream pie is maybe not as good as the hype, but still pretty damn good. Eclairs are strong. The seasonal-themed frosted sugar cookies are cute, and the kids eat them happily, but I’ll say again: I don’t really care for sugar cookies. Their breads are very, very good. Their seasonal fruit pies are also scrumptious, and not overly sugary (I also like their pie plate deposit program). The reigning champ of their baked goods for both Curly and my boy, right now, is their darkly delicious chocolate truffle cookie. Also, the bakery recently started making home-made Twinkies, which I thought was funny, so I bought one and gave it to the kids to split. They asked what it was, and I said it was a home-made Twinkie. My boy looked at me and said "what's a Twinkie?" Eating local is great, but maybe I should lighten up and let the kid eat a little more plastic "food" now and then. It seems a little wrong not to know what a Ding Dong tastes like (you should taste it before you turn your nose up at it, right? Right?). I can't believe I'm defending Ding Dongs. Side effect of the antibiotics? The handout did say I might want to check how drunk I feel before I operate heavy machinery.

next up, but probably not until after Thanksgiving: Le Panier, Chocolopolis (okay, not technically a bakery, but... there might be a baked good in that store. Somewhere.), Macrina, Bella Dolce, Le Fournil


cook eat FRET said...

now listen

i remember last year
yes i do
and i can no take another winter of you being sick, ok?

it's just too hard on me

Jeremy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Meg said...

Claudia- funny, my mom said something very similar. My immune system, unfortunately, has a tendency to go for the drama.

the italian dish said...

Incredible post on the bakeries. Hope you are feeling better. We live in Michigan but Seattle is our favorite place. We go there every year to visit. Will save this post for future reference!

Decorno said...

I've been in Seattle for 6 years and only recently drove through that little retail strip that is Columbia City. Totally adorable. Look what I have been missing...

Ali Scheff said...

OK, so I don't agree with you re the chocolate croissant. The VERY best one is at Sweet and Savory on 31st in Mt. Baker. No way there's another that's better. And also try the cream cheese danish next time you're at CC bakery. It's really good.
Also, add to your list the little French bakery that popped up in Ballard this fall, Honore. The guy makes wonderful unusual pastries.

Bee said...

Since bakeries are one of my very favorite things in life, I am now desperate to move to Seattle and feast on these baked goods.

I came across the concept of a "homemade Twinkie" at the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, NH this summer. Funnily enough, it still had that plastic taste. (Since my children didn't experience a 70s childhood, they hadn't tasted them before either - although I think that the basic knowledge was there.)

Hope you are better now that you've gotten some drugs. :)

Meg said...

Italian Dish- thanks. there's certainly not a shortage of bakeries here.

Decorno- it's been really cool seeing Columbia City revive, but 6 years ago it was maybe not as cool.
Try La Medusa (right on Rainier there) if you get a chance. It's fantastic.

Ali- Sweet & Savory does do a killer chocolate croissant, but I still vote for Besalu's. I admit, some of my bias for them comes from a summer day when my son and I got Besalu's chocolate croissants and took them to the locks. The wind was blowing coldly off the sound, so we sat in a sunny, sheltered spot behind the lock house, he snuggled up against me and we ate our still-warm pastries and watched the salmon leaping around. Their pastries gained about a million goodwill points from me, just for that memory.

Bee- isn't the whole home-made twinkie idea hilarious? I can't really resist food that's funny. Unless it contains liver.

Meg said...

Ali- thanks for the Honore suggestion (and the danish suggestion). We'll give it a go ASAP, although given holiday craziness, that probably means in January.