Jihye Chang

Bread and Chocolate, Berkshire Mountain Bakery

I love reading Saveur. And I have somewhat naive trust over whatever that magazine recommends. Plus I have a soft spot for the Berkshires (memories of Tanglewood, Lenox coffee, Chocolate Springs in Pitsfield, etc.) So when I read an article about an artisan bakery in the Berkshires in the Saveur’s December 2012 issue, I HAD to order some.

Berkshire Mountain Bakery’s website is very simple and you can easily place an online order. However the shipping cost is really high – for the states that are not close to the east coast, an order of $50-60 will cost you $45. I know food items should be shipped overnight, but $45 seems pretty steep. And the minimum order is $50. But like I mentioned above, I had to try it.

So I ordered a box of stuff – 2 loaves of cherry pecan, 2 loaves of the holiday Stollen, 1 loaf of multi-grain sourdough, and 2 loaves of the infamous Bread and Chocolate, which appeared on Food TV’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” show.

I placed this order on the 23rd. I expected nothing to happen until the 26th. (They ship on the Tuesdays.) But there was no shipping notice, so I had to make a call in the afternoon of the 26th. They said they were handing out my box to the UPS guy as I was talking to them. For $45 shipping, I would expect it to be an overnight service, but it’s a 2 day air UPS shipping. I waited all day long anxiously on the 28th, and it arrived at the end of the day.

All the breads seem to have the same sourdough base. I liked the cherry-pecan bread a lot – great balance between the dough and the cherry! (I would have liked a bit more pecan ratio, though). Multi-grain was not as good. Stollen was a little disappointing as it was a bit too chewy, and not fruity enough. But the Bread and Chocolate – this was worth all the effort and the shipping cost! The loaf is loaded with dark Callebaut chocolate pieces, and it’s somehow magical to have the tangy flavor of a sourdough bread and sweet and deep chocolate flavor together. It actually is better than chocolate croissant. And it’s quite large, too. I think it’s a really great buy ($5.95 for a loaf) if you can just get it in store. I enjoyed both loaves of Bread and Chocolate for about 5 days, trying to imagine how much better it would be if I had it right out of the oven!

I don’t think I will order it online again, but this made me want to go back to the Berkshire area very much. I should make an excuse or an occasion to go back there sometime soon.

Tallahassee Eats;-Root Cellar on Mikosoukee

It’s been a year and a half since I moved to Tallahassee. Although I feel that the restaurant selection is rather limited in Tally, I have found a few places that I frequent besides the ones I wrote last year.

One of the newly discovered places is the Root Cellar on Miccosukee. It’s been open for just over a year as I am writing this on New Year’s Day 2013. It has some things to improve upon but I do love the concept of this place and what the owner/chef are trying to do.

Concept – Farm to Table, Local and Organic, Made from scratch

This I like very much. I think there should be more restaurants like this in any city. A small business trying to work together with other local business. The Root Cellar works with several farms and producers near Tallahassee, including Sweet Grass Dairy, Orchard Pond Farm (organic veggies and grass fed beef), Turkey Hill Farm, Thompson Farms, and so on.

Menu – Seasonal, with one or two daily specials. Somewhat limited and not too often changed

Their menu is not big. They have a fish special that changes often, and some special vegetable and cheese choices. But after three visits I was already a little bit bored with the options.  I especially wish they would have more options for appetizers and vegetable plates/side dishes.

Atmosphere and service – Casual, a bit noisy, friendly, and unpretentious. Could be slow but it’s the kind of ambiance that invites waiting around and lounging.  I personally think this kind of restaurant should make you feel good – good to eat sustainably produced food, to support local business, and to be in a friendly space for a relaxed time.

Food – I like their “Picnic Basket” with cheese, charcuterie, and in-house made pickles. It seems a little pricey, but I do like what they put on the little chopping block. (Although it would be so nice if they could provide more toasted points or crackers to accompany..!)

Among the regular menu items, our favorite is the meatloaf. Very simple and straight forward, but always moist and well prepared. The tangy sauce (with some beer mixed in) comes along with it is very tasty, too.  We also enjoy the salads and anything with hand-picked crab meat. The dessert selection is also limited, but I like the buttermilk pound cake. Yum! Some of the main dishes and soup can be hit or miss (for example, the jambalaya in my photo gallery was a little too watery and chicken-heavy/ squash soup was too heavily spiced for my taste, etc.), but overall it’s a place that I would go back to. I and my husband always felt well treated after eating there.

Overall, given the presentation and short-ish menu, the price point is a little on the high side.  However, this is the kind of restaurant and enterprise that makes Tallahassee a better place, and I feel good about supporting their creativity and commitment to sustainable practices. And hey – it’s same for a lot of the other decent restaurants in Tally. Even a Thai restaurant can charge you over $25 for an entree (which I never experienced in any other Thai restaurants in the states)!

Address: 1311 Miccosukee Road (at Magnolia Crossing)

Phone: 850-597-7419

Hours: Tuesday till Saturday, 5pm till around 9-10pm, maybe a bit longer on weekends (depends on the crowd, I think)/ No reservations accepted

* Website: http://miccosukeerootcellar.com – This is more like a blog run by the owner, Ruben. I hope they will add more updates on menus and specials soon!

* A lot of people on Google/ Yelp review seem to have had some bad service experience – but I had none upon my three visits. Things can be a bit slow, but I am OK with that.

Tallahassee favorites #1

After living in Alabama, North Dakota and Minnesota, I am now living in northern Florida – Tallahassee, to be exact. I have many friends who lived in Tally for a few years or who currently live here, and they all had their favorite places to eat. So I started exploring those places first – Kool Beanz, Food Glorious Food, Clusters and Hops, and so on.

After spending 4 months in Tally, the restaurant I and my husband frequent the most is…Kool Beanz. It’s usually very packed and noisy, and service can be slow. But this restaurant has a charm and flavor that appeal to me. I also like the fact that they try to use local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. They change the menu daily, but some items do come back. Here are a few things that I like: coconut cream cake (very sweet but so smooth and delicious!), any fried fish (a lot of their main dishes are fried or deeply sauteed, and they are usually yummy), crab cakes (when Steve is in the kitchen – other times they were not as good). My husband likes their fried chicken (not drumstick or bone-in, but a big piece of chicken breast!) and flank steak with gorgonzola herb butter. The price is not too expensive, although some people might feel it is bit pricey considering the atmosphere. To me this restaurant feels like a fun place to try out a lot of southern style or southern inspired food.

Both my husband and I need to eat super hot Thai food every now and then. We tried every Thai restaurant in town and decided to go to Reang Thai when we have that Thai-hot craving. Reang Thai’s price is a few dollars more than one would expect from a Thai restaurant, but this was common in other Thai restaurants in Tallahassee as well.

Good facts at Reang Thai: vegetables and other ingredients are fresh and well prepared. Thai-hot dishes are quite fiery and flavored with Thai chili peppers, not with some chili sauce or hot sauce. Crispy duck, Larb, and Green curry with tofu.

Not so good facts: Like I mentioned, more expensive than what one expects from a Thai restaurants. Some common dishes (Pad Thai, Pad See Yu, Khao Pad) are not as good as what I am used to, and a little different. (For example, the chef might not put egg in the noodles unless you specifically ask for it/ curries are not as sweet or thick as some of the other Thai restaurants I tried) Some stir-fried dishes can be very sweet.

For Pad see wu, Pad Thai, Tom yum and Thai fried rice, I go to Siam Sushi on Monroe.

Oh, and I am happy that there is a locally owned French style bakery in town – Au Peche Mignon! I try to go there when the croissants and brioches just come out of the oven, which is around 10:15am. The brioches are nice with soft texture and yeasty flavor. (I like their brioches more than the croissants.) APM’s croissants are fine when they are warm, but I prefer the Patisserie 46 style with a bit sweeter and crusty exterior. But still their croissants are folded by hands and have buttery, soft flavor. I also like a few of their pastries – mocha tart with chocolate casing, coffee flavored butter cream, and almond flavored tart/ hazelnut merringue/ tiramisu. Their chocolate truffles are also fine. I am not a big fan of their cakes and macarons, though. (I like Japanese style soft cakes with delicate decoration and macarons with finer texture and more inventive fillings.)

Other things we liked so far:

* Mac and Cheese with collard greens and tasso at Food Glorious Food – this is quite yummy!

* Trufle Mac and Cheese from Cluster and Hops.

I have yet to try out and find some good pizza places, Italian restaurants, seafood and BBQ joints, and Cajun restaurants in town. I hope I will find many more good places to blog about in and around Tally!

P.S. I will write about Liam’s and in Thomasville later.

Brunch @ Cosmos, Graves 601, MSP

I and my husband stayed in Minneapolis for 10 days in October, in an apartment on 9th Street above Hell’s Kitchen. On my last day (Sunday) I needed to grab some brunch before our performance at The Cowles Center. It was around 11:30am, and the wait at Hell’s Kitchen was 90 minutes. Key’s Cafe down the street was no better – 30 minute wait. Both places were totally packed and so loud. When it seemed almost impossible to grab a seat or any food, my friend who invited us to the brunch had a brilliant idea to go to a hotel near The Cowles Center – Graves 601. We headed to the 4th floor and voila, there was no wait and their brunch was one of the best I have had in a long time. (Later I found out that this is a very well rated and highly favored hotel/ restaurant.)

My husband ordered Eggs Benedict with breakfast potatoes; I ordered Eggs Benedict and a half order of Belgian waffles.  We also had coffee. Our dishes came with a complimentary shot of fruit smoothie.

Food: Eggs Benedict often comes with overcooked or runny eggs, rancid or sour tasting Hollandaise sauce, and almost burned muffin. But not here! Our Eggs Benedict had very delicate Hollandaise sauce. Eggs were beautifully poached, and the English muffin was soft and warm. Canadian bacon was delicious and juicy. Belgian Waffle was also very satisfactory – not too big or soggy, crispy outside and buttery inside. I think the blueberry compote and mango creme fraiche were almost unnecessary, but the waffles were still delicious with some maple syrup and butter. The coffee was also very good – much, much better than what you can get at any regular brunch joints. And the waiter kept refreshing the pot, which was nice.

Price: Eggs Benedict for $12/ Belgian Waffle for $12. (Our friend paid for it, so I don’t know how much the half order waffle was.) Everything on the menu seemed reasonable. It’s a restaurant in a high-end hotel, and the menu was much better (and better priced) than other hotels in downtown Minneapolis.

Service: A bit stiff, but still very good and professional.

Atmosphere: Sleek and modern. Nice dishes, silverware, and furniture. Not too pretentious.. maybe a bit “cold”

Overall: A great place for a quiet brunch – what a nice surprise and a find! I just hope I am not spilling the beans or anything.  Great food at a reasonable price with good atmosphere and service. I checked out their dinner menu, and it looks great. A lot of restaurants in downtown MSP are over-priced (Vietnamese spring rolls for $11?!) and sub-par, but this restaurant seems different. I would definitely go back for their dinner.

Phone: 612-312-1168/ Website: http://www.cosmosrestaurant.com

George’s, real charmer in Alys Beach

George’s is charming and precious. I just don’t know how else to describe this little white restaurant on the Alys Beach.

georges

One of my dear friend – a beautiful Southern lady, who enjoys playing tennis and doing all kinds of volunteer work – introduced this restaurant to me when I was visiting her in Rosemary Beach, FL. One of the owners of this restaurant (Ann Hartley) loves frogs for some reason, so the restaurant is full of frog-themed objects. The menu is simple enough – burger, fish taco, BL(green)T, and some fried seafood plates and salad items. The service can be a bit slow as it’s always packed with people. But it’s just so …charming! If this restaurant was in downtown somewhere, I don’t think it’d be the same. It just works beautifully with the pristine beach, friendly owner who’s mostly there unless she’s traveling to Paris, and fresh seafood.

The food is really great. I have had their grouper sandwich (“misbehaved”, meaning fried), fish taco, vegetarian soba salad, and a few desserts. They always use great ingredients, and whatever you get is not too salty, but always very flavorful.

Some people complain that it’s overpriced, but I don’t feel that way. It’s on a beach that’s a vacation place. And the food and the charm make you happy. I would be OK paying $12-15 (or $20 with a dessert) for my little happiness.

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Below was a pecan crust tart with local berries and honey. So yummy! (and big.)

georges5

This restaurant opened only about 3 years ago (in 2008), but has many loyal followers. If you are ever in 30-A area, visiting Rosemary Beach or Seaside, make sure you go visit George’s. You may have to wait for your table and it may get very warm and noisy inside, but that’s part of the charm. 🙂

Great Cafes in America #4, Stumptown NYC at Ace Hotel

I took a short trip to NYC in November 2010 to check out a few of the New York’s Best Cafes (mainly for their espresso drinks). I chose about seven cafes recommended and rated by various magazines and New York Times), and visited Abraco, 3rd Rail Coffee near NYU, Joe’s Art of Espresso, 9th Street Espresso (the Chelsea market location), Cafe Grumpy, Stumptown at the Ace Hotel, and Blue Bottle in Williamsburg. They were all good and great, but my favorite were 9th Street Espresso and Stumptown. It would be better if I visited all of them more than once before writing about them, but then good places should be good at any time for any visitors, eh?!
Stumptown Espresso hails from Portland, but New Yorkers can enjoy it at the lobby of Ace Hotel in Manhattan.I once ordered the “Hair Bender” espresso blend from Stumptown and did not like it at all as it was too acidic. So I hesitated a little bit before I made the trip downtown after getting super caffeinated at the Blue Bottle. But then I thought, “I am in NYC for only 3 days, so why not get super-duper caffeinated?” The baristas at Stumptown Manhattan were quiet, skilled, and professional.

I ordered a double macchiato – my favorite drink, and something that I order to see if the cafe is to my liking or not – with a bottle of sparkling water. Stumptown’s macchiato was really superb – acidity was very present, but in a very pleasant way. Mouth-feel was heavy and balanced,  and there was a bit of sweetness.  My memo states “Very nice! Mellower and better than what I remember. More edgy and has some smokiness. Also a bit of strange woodiness..maybe jasmine?”

Excited by the macchiato, I ordered a double small cappuccino. This was also good, but I liked the macchiato better.

Overall, it felt like a great cafe with really cool and unpretentious atmosphere and well skilled baristas doing a good job. I would love to go to their original location on the division street. Maybe next year.

http://www.stumptowncoffee.com/locations/nyc-ace

MSP Greats #4, Quang’s Deli

Minneapolis – St. Paul (Twin Cities라고 흔히 부르죠)에는 주로 스웨덴, 노르웨이 출신의 이민자가 많지만 의외로 베트남 출신 이민자들 숫자도 꽤 많습니다. 제가 좋아하는 Little Szechuan (http://blog.naver.com/jhjascha/110035232189) 이 위치한 University Avenue에는 중국 식당보다는 베트남 식당 및 식품점이 즐비하고, Hmong Cultural Center라는 곳도 University Avenue에 위치해 있지요. 오늘은 그 수많은 베트남 식당 중에서도 남편의 사촌형이 강력히 추천해준 Quang’s 라는 곳을 추천해볼까 합니다.

Quang’s는 New York Times에도 소개된 적이 있고, Minneapolis의 각종 잡지에서도 최고의 베트남 레스토랑으로 뽑힌 적이 많은 레스토랑입니다. Pho 가격은 6.95 – 8.95불 사이이고, 짜죠는 두개에 2.95불, 스프링 롤은 두개에 3.25불이니까, 이것저것 실컷 시켜 먹어도 한사람당 15불 이상 넘어가기가 힘든 가격이죠. 어딜 가나 미국의 베트남 음식점들은 이 정도의 가격대를 유지합니다.

일단 Quang에서 맛있는 음식으로는 번팃짜죠 (Bun thit cha gio)를 꼽을 수 있습니다.

베트남식 스프링롤인 짜죠와 숯불구이 쇠고기 (불고기 맛 비슷한 달달한 쇠고기 구이), Pickled carrots and radishes, 쫑쫑 썬 파, 땅콩을 쌀국수 위에 얹고 베트남식 피시소스-라임쥬스 드레싱을 뿌려 먹는 국수 샐러드인데, 여름에 먹으면 참 산뜻하고, 포만감도 있지요. 단순한 것 같아도 국수 양이 너무 많다던가, 피클 종류가 맛이 없다던가, 쇠고기 구이가 맛이 없다던가 등등 조금만 밸런스가 어긋나도 그 감흥이 덜한 요리인데, 쾅에서는 갈 때마다 맛있게 먹었습니다.

Bun Bo Hue라고 불리는 Spicy beef noodle and pork hock soup도 정말 맛있습니다. 돼지 족발이 들어간 매콤한 국수인데, 이 국수는 Hue라는 지방 특유의 음식이고 취급하지 않는 식당도 꽤 됩니다. 혹 메뉴에서 발견하면 꼭 드셔 보시길요! (식당에 따라, 매운맛이 좀더 강한 곳도 있고 새콤한 레몬그라스 맛이 더 강한 곳도 있어요~)

Quang’s 의 번보후에는 면발이 보통 포와는 달리 굵직합니다. 6.95불이라는 가격인데, 건더기도 엄청 충실하죠? (옆에 보이는 건 미리 포장된 베트남신 아이스커피. 음.. 베트남식 아이스 커피는 천천히 내려서 연유랑 섞어서 먹어야 맛있는 건데.. 좀 아쉽더군요.)

국 수의 질에 비해 쾅의 Fresh spring roll은 그다지 특별하진 않습니다. 말린 모양새도 그냥 그렇구요. (단단하게 말려 있으면서 길다란 부추가 밖으로 살짝 빠져나와 있는 것이 맛있고 보기에도 좋은데 말입니다.) 그래도 한국에서 먹는 단무지, 맛살 들어간 스프링 롤보다는 훨씬 더 맛있습니다.

아 래 사진은 엄청 진한 국물의 Pho dak biet입니다. 양지, 사태, 미트볼 등이 골고루 들어가 있는 모듬 국수라고 보시면 되지요. 푸짐한 양과 건더기에 역시 푸짐한 basil, mint, cilantro, 숙주, 풋고추, 라임..! 국물맛이 너무 진해서 다 먹기가 조금 힘들 정도예요. 얄팍하고 달기만 한 육수보다는 물론 몇배 더 맛있고, 약간의 달콤함과 시나몬 향과 양파의 맛이 아주 조화로운 육수입니다.

My Favorite Restaurants in Montgomery, AL

I lived in Montgomery, AL, for about a year (2006 -7 ) and visited quite a few times after moving up north. It’s not a huge city but has enough good restaurants to feed a hungry visitor.

La Jolla – located in the East Chase shopping center. This is a huge restaurant with modern deco and sophisticated menus. Their lunch is better than the dinner. Ahi-Tuna salad with Asian vegetables and seaweed was my favorite, and their dessert is also very good. Whenever you see something “Southern” on the menu, grab that! (6854 East Chase Parkway/ 334-356-2600/ www.lajollamontgomery.com)

City Grill -I ate here only twice, as this is one of the most expensive places to eat in Montgomery (along with the Olive Room and ) but I really liked what I had. It’s a quiet and elegant place. (8147 Vaughn Rd./ 333-244-0960)

Olive Room – located downtown. A huge place with elegant deco, good service, and good menu. Probably a good place to take out-of-towners or first-time-visitors. (121 Montgomery Ave/ 334-262-2763)

Michael’s Table is also cute and nice. Some things are Tapas-inspired, and they use good ingredients. Creative (sometimes a bit pretentious) menu, and friendly staff. Some inconsistency in the dishes, but I think it’s worth a visit.(2960-A Zelda Place/ www.michaelstable.net/ 334-272-2500)

Cafe M at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts has a beautiful view and big windows, and their chicken salad is good. It’s a lovely space with lovely staff, if not the best food in town. And I love the Shakespeare park! (One museum road/ 334-240-4338)

Derek’s Fillet and Vine sells fried chicken, vegetable sides, and selection of soup. I love their seafood gumbo, although it’s not made everyday. (431 Cloverdale Road/ www.filletandvine.com/ 334-262-8463)

Oh, and if you have a friend who has a membership to the Wynnlake Country Club, their food is excellent. (Better than the Montgomery Country Club, in my opinion)

Montgomery has quite a few Korean restaurants (thanks to the Hyundai plant), Japanese, Thai and Chinese restaurants and an Indian restaurant plus a Vietnamese restaurant.

Indian Palace is pretty good. I have a friend who lives in Troy, AL (45 minutes drive) who drives frequently to Montgomery just to eat their food! (3007 McGee Road/ 334-281-1200)

Among the Thai places, I think Ala Thai is the safest choice. It has three locations, and my favorite location is the one on the railroad. Good Pad Thai, spicy and tasty Num-Ttok, and spicy basil stir-fry dishes. Some people preferred Lek’s, which also serves sushi items.

Arirang – their kitchen does not seem to be too clean, but this restaurant serves BBQ on the table grills (and the BBQ items are better than other items on the menu). Try the Galbi or Spicy pork. Their dishes tend to be salty, but it’s a little better than the other Korean restaurants in Montgomery. (1633 Eastern Blvd./ 334-215-3251)

There is no good Chinese restaurant in Montgomery, though. Everything is like fast food Chinese or sad buffet. Emperor’s Garden on McGhee Road was the only place I and my husband would go when it was absolutely necessary.

For sushi rolls, I liked Miyako the best. (I would not order any nigiri or anything fancy like Uni in any small cities in America. Just rolls or other cooked Japanese dishes.) I like the Lobster roll (although it has a lot of mayonnaise) and spicy tuna rolls. Miyako also makes “Hoe-Dup-Bap,” if you special-order it! It’s a Korean style sashimi dish with rice that comes with a lot of raw fish, lots of thinly sliced vegetables, and spicy sweet and sour Gochujang. (8173 Vaughn Rd/ 334-215-2275)

Montgomery did not have a good bakery or a coffee shop that served good espresso. Cafe Louisa or Cool Beans downtown are the closest thing you will find. (Their espresso drinks are far from being excellent, but the best in Montgomery.)

Cool Beans – It’s in downtown. A good place for a quick lunch and coffee. I loved their morning orchard muffins! (115 Montgomery Street/ 334-269-6200)

Cafe Louisa – walking distance from the Huntingdon college. This place has nice smoothies (a bit expensive, but made with real fruit and yogurt) and great bread pudding. Their sausage-cheese biscuit is excellent, too. This place uses Higher Ground organic coffee beans, but their beans tend to be a bit over-roasted and give burned flavor. (1034 E. Fairview Ave/ www.cafelouisa.com/ 334-264-4241)

Tomatino next door to the Cafe Louisa has nice pizzas. (www.tomatinos.com/ 334-264-4241)

P.S. I used to like Nancy Paterson’s Bistro, but it appears that they have closed the restaurant. That’s too bad.. I will miss the mocha cake!

P.P.S. I also never ate at any of the BBQ joints or a true Southern places with meat and two..but people seem to like Dreamland. Also there is a popular seafood restaurant called Jubilee in Old Cloverdale. Straight-forward fresh seafood, and fun staff.

Jeonkwangsoo Coffee in Myung-Dong area

Again, I introduce a gem in a very busy area without decent coffee culture – that is Myungdong. It’s always jam packed with young couples, tourists, and shoppers of all ages.

Of course there are a lot of coffee shops in Myungdong, but they are mainly chain cafes such as Starbucks, Beans Bins, etc. There is an old fashioned cafe called “Gamu,” but it’s a place to visit more for the nostalgia not for excellent coffee. (They serve “Vienna Coffee” which is strong coffee with lots of whipped cream, not made from milk fat)

For someone who’s looking for a decent single-serve coffee or a good cup of macchiato using the micro-roasted beans, Jeonkwangsoo coffee is a safe choice. Mr. Jeon is one of the so-called “2nd generation coffee people,” and has almost 20 years of experience in the coffee business. Well trained baristas work here, and the price of the “hand-drip” coffee is between 5000-6000 won ($5-6), which is pretty good for the location and the style. They roast their own beans, and there is a coffee academy next door. Their espresso machine is Dalla Corte.

It has become a bit too famous during the past 1-2 years, and they have a few branches all over Seoul and one in Wonjoo. Sometimes the cafe is just too busy (especially when there is a large group of middle-age women. Oh boy they are loud.) But still it’s a cafe where you can be assured of a decent cup of coffee.

They also serve “Thick-Faced Toast” (낯두꺼운 토스트) with butter and jam, but the toast is a bit too thick and dry. Nice jam, though!

Location: Namsan-Dong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea (Take the subway line #4/ get off Myungdong station/ Go out via exit #3/ Take the left fork in front of the Pacific hotel and walk for 1-2 minutes. You will see a small coffee shop with a big window on your left.)

Hours: 10am to 10pm

Website: http://jeonscoffee.co.kr/next

Phone: (82) 2-778-0675

MSP greats #2, Patisserie 46

Early morning with a just-baked baguette or a warm and flaky croissant and a cup of double espresso macchiato – these are some of my favorite things in the world. I get happy just thinking of them. Recently I found a very happy place that makes wonderful baguettes, croissants, and French tarts and pastries along with decent espresso drinks, called “Patisserie 46.” (I found it while reading a magazine about Minneapolis.)

Patisserie 46 is located in a nice neighborhood. A tasteful sign that blends well with the red bricks welcomes you.

46

My first visit to Patisserie 46 was during a sunny, cold weekend in late February 2011. There were a lot of people enjoying themselves and it was quite noisy and loud. I asked if I could take photos, and the manager said “yes, of course – fire away!” There were so many people that I shied away from some details, but I think one can get glimpses of this wonderful place via a few of my photos.

I got a piece of quiche Lorraine with organic salad – crunchy, buttery crust filled with nicely balanced egg, cream and bacon bits. The organic salad had a mustard-y dressing and delicious yellow cherry tomatoes! And this was only $7.  My husband got a corned beef and steamed cabbage on baguette for about $6.5. I loved the jute-string presentation, but this sandwich fell a little short compared to the quiche (nothing special or extraordinary, but still good). I also had a chocolate croissant ($2), Canele de Bordeaux ($2.5), and 3 macarons (Pistacchio, Earl Grey, and Mango with white chocolate, $1.75 each)

 

Their double espresso macchiato ($2.75) was good enough – nothing to compare to famous espresso bars, but good for a bakery. No complaints! And the condiment bar has organic cane sugar packs. They source their coffee from Wisconsin’s Great Rivers Roastery, and they use an Astoria machine.

I got their macarons purely out of curiosity. Macarons have become the next best thing after cupcake fad in Korea, and people are crazy about them. I understand that these little meringue cookies are super tricky to make, and the flavor selection can be very interesting. I liked the mango macaroon the best – earl grey was too strong, and pistachio was a bit boring. I think these make a very good dessert option when you’re so full but still wanting something sweet to finish off a meal.

Patisserie 46’s chocolate croissant is awesome – lots of butter flavor, really moist inside, and crusty outside without being too messy.  Canele was good, too. I took home a plain croissant, almond financier, and l’Opera cake as well as a baguette. Their plain croissant was one of the best croissants I have ever had, even compared to the ones in France. The almond financier was also very good. The opera cake was a little bit disappointing as the sheet was too thin and there was too much syrup. I think I will give it another try next time I visit. I am just happy that they carry this fancy little cake! The baguette was also very very good..crusty outside, yeasty and fragrant inside that is moist. I like the baguette at Rustica a little bit more, but both are very good baguettes. Lucky MSP people..!

On my second visit, I bought more macarons, one apricot mousse bomb, and a blood orange tart. The apricot mousse bomb was fantastic! It looked so precious, and it had an amazing construction of custard cream and apricot mousse inside the caramel coating. The taste was so refreshing and complex. I highly recommend this! The blood orange tart, by comparison, was just OK. I also tried three more flavors of macarons – mango and white chocolate, strawberry rhubarb, caramel and orange. These are very well made and just fancy enough (but not too fancy like a foie-gras macaron), but I think I would rather spend my money on more substantial desserts from now on. Macarons are just not my cup of tea. (BTW – someone on an online review site commented that the macarons at Patrick’s are better than Patisserie 46’s. I went to check it out and concluded that really people have different tastes and opinions..)

Other good things: The orange colored walls and dark brown furniture create a warm and playful atmosphere. Nice clerks. They also serve many kinds of chocolates and gelato along with many selections of desserts in the showcase.

Something to keep in mind: Coffee drinks can take a while.  It’s always packed and it’s a very clanking, noisy place. It might overwhelm a first-timer as you need to line up as soon as you enter the store and one of the clerks will ask “Do you know what you want?” before you take a look at the showcase and the tiny little menu items. Oh, and you might experience that many things are sold out as early as 11am.

John Kraus is the owner and the baker of Patisserie 46. Quite famous guy..! I talked to him a little bit on my second visit, and he was so pleasant. (He was the winner of USA Pastry Championship in 2002. You can check out his interview with “Heavy Table” here:  http://heavytable.com/john-kraus-of-patisserie-46/

Also you can check out his short bio here:  http://www.usmenuguide.com/frenchpastryschool.htm

I made a few more visits after my initial 2 visits, and every time I am pleased. I hope this charming neighborhood gem will make many more people happy for many more years!