Eli’s Redux

February 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

I really cannot believe I had yet to try the breakfasts at Eli’s Bread before this week. This babka “muffin” just made my life so much sweeter:

The bread could not have been more fresh, its interior impeccably airy and light while the outer edges held a necessary crunch. Like the best, most indulgent cinnamon toast rolled up and dusted with powdered sugar, each bite revealed tiny layers of babka held together by a pervasive cinnamon-raisin swirl.

There’s a reason (and in this case, a perfectly plump and flavorful raisin) for Zabar’s impeccable reputation. Eli, please make me breakfast anytime.

Eli’s

February 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

So I finally purchased something from the new(ish) Eli’s Bread in Grand Central Market:

Banana chocolate chip muffin.

When something has “chocolate chip” in it’s title I tend to assume the chocolate exists throughout instead of simply resting on top of the item in five (yes, I had already eaten one before taking a photo) solitary chunks.

Alas, this really was a banana muffin wearing dainty chocolate accessories. While I never quite got over my initial disappointment at this chocolate-chip letdown, the light, airy, and extremely banana-y muffin still won me over. What a nice change from my usual suspects and perhaps one of the more virtuous breakfast choices that still contains chocolate.

Mini Medley

February 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Our cafeteria has some pretty decent mini muffins, an assortment of which I have been able to sample over the past year:

 

 

Clockwise from top left: Corn, blueberry, and two “mystery” flavors (one might be raspberry?)

Perfect for those mornings when I’m just a tad hungry yet can’t seem to commit to a particular breakfast, one or two of these guys hit the spot. While I think I have tried almost all by this point there are a few varieties whose tastes still prove illusive. I might have to become more scientific in my attempt to nail down these flavors, but for the meantime I’m going to keep eating them in the hopes that my taste buds will evolve. The things we must do for research.

Montrose Pumpkins

February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last week I ended up on the same corner two mornings in a row, leaving both times from two separate stores with a coffee and pumpkin muffin in hand. You might say I was going through a phase; you might also say I conducted an ad-hoc neighborhood survey.

The first was from Cup: decent if not a little bland and uniform in texture:

The second, from Boulevard, was definitely my favorite.

This guy had more punch, more flavor, and just the slightest bit more contrast between crisp outer edge and moist interior. It tasted like real pumpkin, a little earthy and not too sweet.

A combination of Boulevard’s muffin and Cup’s coffee and service would make any decadent Bushwick Ave. breakfast complete.

On rolls

January 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

While bursts of sugar can provide some much-needed early morning energy, lately I’ve been leaning in a decidedly more savory breakfast direction. Behold, probably the most conservative of choices along my saccharine scale:

A walnut-raisin roll and English breakfast tea.

Since they are free in our cafeteria I have long gone for these rolls as part of a lunch, snack or dinner. But only last week, after I was told I needed to consume more iron in order to be a blood donor, did I consider trying this for breakfast. (Fun facts: Raisins are an excellent source of iron! Coffee prohibits its absorption! I learned a lot from my blood drive nurse).

And I have to say, I’ve felt great on the mornings when I opted for this bread: energetic, spirited, yet also calm and focused. Maybe it’s time to leave the coffee and sugar duo behind? But then, I must confess: my good mood could also be attributed to the sizable amount of sugar I added to my tea. While savory does have its benefits, I’m always going to need a little sweetness to balance. It’s in my (now, hopefully less iron-deficient) blood.

House of Small Wonder

January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I often find that Mondays call for an ‘adventure’ to get moving and motivated for the week. After two glorious days without structure, a fixed waking hour is quite jarring without distractions along the way. This morning my legs carried my bleary-eyed self under the BQE and into a darling new shop (appropriately named House of Small Wonder) where I discovered a wormhole into a cozy, anachronistic coffee shop of yore.

An Americano and slice of banana bread, please.

Both of these items were understatedly fantastic, the Americano perfectly pulled and with just the right (barista-added) amount of milk to mellow the harshness without masking any flavor. The bread was incredibly moist and balanced in texture with soft banana, crunchy walnuts and perfectly in-between chocolate chips. A sprinkle of demerara sugar sent me head over heels; this place is no small wonder but an excellent addition to the neighborhood.

Shaking Things Up

January 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sometimes people are just nice.

One morning last week it was raining, I was grumpy, and the L train did not seem to be running to Manhattan around the time of my commute. In a fit of impatience I jumped onto a Brooklyn-bound train and decided to get off at the Graham stop, in search of coffee and a pastry to provide sustenance before attempting to commute again.

Stumbling into Variety Café it appeared I had found my safe haven: no line, wafting Stumptown, and an ample supply of muffins. I asked for a small french press and a pumpkin-apple option– only to discover that the contents of my wallet in no way fit with the “Cash Only” sign on the register.

I told the barista to cancel my order as the rain outside felt ever more appropriate. But then, a miracle! He laughed and asked if I lived in the area. I replied yes and he said, “It’s not a problem! Just come on by and pay us another day. Really, we do this all the time. Don’t worry.”

As emotions were running high that morning upon hearing these words I almost cried; instead I simply told him he was wonderful and that I’d be back that evening.

True to my promise I returned later with a $5 bill in tow. And the muffin? Tasted like the best apples, pumpkins, walnuts and flexible payment schedule I’d ever swallowed.

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