Sunday, January 1, 2017

NYC: Bakery Review - Dominique Ansel Bakery

Dominique Ansel Bakery - visited on November 17, 2016

Happy 2017! It's that time of the (new) year where I take a break from baking and I give anyone trying to live up to their new year's resolutions to eat healthy and lose weight a break from any tempting new baking recipes, myself included. I've been saving up the next month's worth of posts to food-chronicle my most recent trip to New York City last November. Because you know I just went there to eat and yes, that's practically all I did while I was there. I met my friend Shawn who was there the first part of the week for work and we spent the last part of the week eating. Just eating.

I love New York....for about 3 days. Then the suburbanite in me starts to feel claustrophobic with the masses of people and tall buildings and honking cars. But for those first 3 days, I don't think there's a better spot on earth if you're a foodie. New York City is my food mecca. I've never eaten anything bad in New York. I spend most, if not all, of my time in Manhattan and I know my local NYC friends would chastise me for not venturing out more broadly. It isn't like I don't want to explore more but it's mostly a logistics issue. I end up having a long list of places I want to go to in Manhattan and by the time I get to even a fraction of my list, the 3 days are up and I'm fleeing the city.

Knowing my timetable, I prioritized the trip. The first priority was to try the original cronut from Dominique Ansel's Bakery in Soho. If you've followed my blog for awhile, you know I "met" Dominique Ansel when he came to talk at my company. I won his baking book and took a selfie with him - that counts as meeting him, even if he more than likely doesn't remember me from the countless other adoring fans he (rightly) has. If you don't follow Dominique Ansel Bakery on Instagram, you're missing out on amazing food porn and a social media look at a man who clearly loves what he does, is amazing at it and loves to share that passion with others. Go to Instagram right now and follow him then come back; I'll wait.

I've tried a knockoff of a cronut from Paris Baguette but I wanted to try the real thing made by the cronut's inventor so that was top of my NY foodie bucket list. To not tempt fate because I'd already heard of the long lines outside of his bakery every morning and the limited number of cronuts available (you'd have to be there at least 1-2 hours before the bakery opens to have a good chance of cronut purchase), I ventured to pre-order. He announces a monthly cronut flavor ahead of time and opens up the cronuts for pre-order for each two-week period.

November's flavor was Maple Pecan with spiced sugar - yum, right? For the time period when we would be there, the pre-ordering opened up on October 31. I confess, I had other stuff going on that day (I know, foodie fail) so I didn't even check the preorder site until that night. Only come to find out the cronuts available for preorder on the Friday-Sunday when we would be in town were already sold out. SOLD OUT. Apparently I had underestimated the cronut craze. Silly me.

Fortunately, we were going to be there on a Thursday-Sunday and there were 4 remaining cronuts available for preorder for Thursday. I don't think my trigger finger ever triggered so fast in securing those last 4 cronuts. They limited preorders to no more than 6 per customer but I figured 4 would be good enough, especially since the website said cronuts are best eaten within 8 hours of purchase. Between Shawn and me, I was confident we could put away 2 cronuts each in an 8-hour period.

Once our cronut preorder was secured, we built the plans for our first full day in New York City around picking them up. Which meant Dominique Ansel's Bakery was our first subway ride and first walk. We were on a cronut mission. I have to say, having heard about lining up 1-2 hours ahead of time to get a non-preordered cronut, I highly recommend going the preorder route if you plan to be in NYC on specific dates and can get your preorder in on time. By the time we got to the bakery, it wasn't crowded and our cronuts were ready for pickup at the 11 am time I had secured. Winning.

It was also winning that I liked November's flavor of maple pecan. The cronut was (not surprisingly) delicious. It really is a perfect blend between croissant and doughnut. Flaky layers, creamy filling, glaze, crunchy sugar coating; all perfection. The only thing that surprised me - and it probably shouldn't have - is I got full on just one. As in, I had no room for the second one in my allotment or for anything else for awhile. That shouldn't have been surprising considering how many calories must be in a cronut but let's be honest, I was disappointed in my consumption capacity. Only another foodie would understand that statement,

Fortunately, we had gotten two of the cronuts packaged up to go while we consumed two onsite in the cute little seating area in the bakery. So we figured we had an 8-hour countdown to consume our second cronuts. And since we were already there and my eyes are always bigger than my stomach, I had also purchased (to go) a DKA or Dominique's Kouign Amann, pronounced "koon ah-man" which is described on his website as "tender, flaky, croissant-like dough with a caramelized crunchy crust." I ate it later in the day and can I tell you those words do not do justice to the real thing? OMG, despite my mission and longing for an original Dominique Ansel cronut, if I had to choose, I would pick the DKA as my favorite.  It was SO GOOD. I've had a kouign amann before, in Paris no less but the DKA was better. The best. Highly recommend.

Thus our first bakery excursion in New York City didn't disappoint. If you're ever in Soho, you need to go to Dominique Ansel's Bakery. Are you following him on Instagram yet?

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