"I have the simplest tastes. I am simply satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde

"I came, I saw, I ate." - Au Gourmand

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Levain Bakery - December 31, 2010

In the good old days at the end of the twentieth century, half way around the globe in the capital of food and fashion, the ultra-thin models allowed themselves to indulge in an occasional treat: the chocolate baguette sandwich. Since they could not possibly consume a pan au chocolat, or God forbid, a chocolate croissant, these deprived souls invented a substitution as a solution to their gnawing hunger. The result was a piece of a dark chocolate sandwiched between the crunchy, salty and fragrant baguette – a complete harmony of sweet and salty.

I do not know whether Levain knew about the craze in Paris, in its quirky little hole half-buried underground, but their counterpart of sourdough rolls stuffed with dark chocolate – chewier and heavier – were more than adequately delicious, which drew me over from time to time, along with their solid oatmeal raisin scone (not the English scone, however).

Chocolate Chip Walnut

The first thing I need to point out is their admirable choice to use walnuts; it was about time someone combined the two against convention – seemingly, to many purists’ horror. However, why should there be any problem in the conjugation of chocolate and walnuts? Dissenters: Speak now or forever hold your peace. All I can find among the loads of toasted walnuts and chocolate chips are good logic and even better flavor. The cookie, about the size of the fist of a 5-feet-10 man, is baked crispy on the edges and half raw in the middle. Perhaps that was not picturesquely descriptive; let me rephrase it: A light brown shell encases a soft, chewy and crumbling center, where the chocolate chips have melted to almost blend into the dough and to interweave the toasted and aromatic walnuts. By the way, I think dentists should consider changing the laughing gas to the aroma of Levain’s chocolate chip walnut cookies – more incentive to keep your teeth fit, don’t you think?

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

Levain grabbed my heart with both hands, or, their peanut butter chips did. So far, I can only count two places where I have been able to constantly find peanut butter chip cookies: a cafeteria on a twenty-six floor and Levain. The conventional form of peanut butter cookie, while it can be good, has nothing inside to offer – no chocolate chips, no nuts, which, in my dictionary, translates to “adj. 1. boring; 2. lacking.” On the other hand, peanut butter chips are creamy and, what’s more, they melt like chocolate chips into warm gooey delicious globs of pure joy. The dark – almost bitter – cocoa infused dough perfectly counterbalances the sweetness of my beloved peanut butter chips.

Levain Bakery
Address:  167 W 74th Street, New York, NY 10023
Phone:  (212) 874-6080

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