Friday, August 17, 2012

Twice-Baked Almond Croissants

My love affair is in the bottom right corner.
"Do you have any more of the twice-baked almond croissants in the back?"
"We have a dozen that will be ready in a few minutes."
"I'll take ten."

This was my dad's recent exchange at Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle. My parents sought out this establishment on their vacation because they knew that this pastry is one of my biggest cravings since leaving the Pacific Northwest. (The other major cravings are Mighty O's French Toast donut and Agua Verde's mango quesadilla with a cup of Mexican chai.) They were not disappointed...and neither was I when they brought some back to share with me.

Tweaking = Blurry pic.
Twice-baked almond croissant, how do I love thee? Let me drool the ways. A flaky, chewy croissant with a slightly crisp (not crunchy) exterior and a sweet-n-nutty almond filling that--gasp!--tastes like almonds and thankfully NOT like its sloptart cousin marzipan or its wino uncle amaretto. Crowned with a toppling layer of toasted sliced almonds and a just-right touch of powdered sugar to balance the buttery bread, it is a beautiful sight to behold. Furthermore, this pastry is not dainty--compared to my size 12 shoe, it appears to be about a size 8--but even though it's enough to fill my stomach, my fingers still scrape up the fallen almond slivers itching for more.

On vacation in Seattle? The twice-baked almond croissants at Bakery Nouveau are reason enough to visit West Seattle, but don't miss these other attractions. Eat the freshest of seafood at Seattle Fish Market. Take a walk on Alki Beach looking over at Magnolia or the Olympic Peninsula. Or drive over to the east side to get a panoramic view of downtown Seattle. Take in the work of funky local artists at Twilight Artist Collective. Shop at the appropriately legendary Easy Street Records, or get brunch if you have sworn off tangible music products. Just make sure you save room for French pastry!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ben & Jerry’s Summer Flavors for 2012

As they have in the past few years, Ben & Jerry’s has two flavors it is offering exclusively at Target stores that are meant to encourage volunteerism. As part of they Scoop It Forward program, if you sign up to volunteer you can receive a free pint of ice cream. Not a bad deal. Onto the flavors…

Volun-Tiramisu (Coffee Mascarpone Ice Cream with Cocoa Dusted Coffee Run Lady Finger Pieces) – I personally prefer my tiramisu to be heavy on the cream and chocolate and light on the espresso, so I tasted this flavor with caution. Happily, the coffee flavor wasn’t overpowering. I wouldn’t say anything about the flavor tasted like tiramisu, but it was a pleasant flavor. Pleasant, like the taste of shampoo…before it tastes like soap. The texture of the “lady fingers” was nice and chewy—chewy lady fingers?—similar to maple blondie bites.

Berry Voluntary (Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream with White Chocolate Chips & Raspberry Swirls) – Ben & Jerry’s usually does cheesecake ice cream really well because they play up the subtle aspects of cheesecake. Sadly, they missed the mark on this one. The white chocolate chips (which are not great quality) overpower the subtle cheesecake and even more subtle raspberry flavor. Perhaps if the white chocolate chips were balanced with a dark chocolate chip and swirl of raspberry sorbet or fro yo. Mmm, now we’re talkin’.

Sorry to say it, but I might be giving up on Ben & Jerry’s. The quality of their ice cream has really gone down. I know a lot of companies are looking for ways to cut costs, but when a food company sacrifices high quality ingredients for filler it seems misguided. I’ll give Ben & Jerry’s another shot in the spring when they release the next batch of flavors.