Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Love Affair with Carbs

Chelsea Market is a danger zone for carboholics. Five bakeries, including Fat Witch Bakery, which specializes in brownies alone, taunt me on my way into work each morning. Amy's Bread, Ruthy's Bakery, and Sarabeth's all feature expansive windows exposing their bakeries and bakers. Visitors can peer inside to see where the magic happens, as bakers shape loaves of bread, and rolling racks of golden crusty goodness await passport into their mother shops to be sold.

The bakers at Amy's Bread

Amy's Bread 
75 9th Ave
(between 15th St & 16th St)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 462-4338

All this week I've been unable to resist temptation, and have been plotting my daily breakfast choices before I even arrived at Chelsea Market. I am hoping (and totally planning) to try some treats from the other bakeries in the future, but this week I've been focusing my energy and stomach on Amy's Bread. One of three locations in New York City, Amy's bread could quite possibly contain enough awesome carby goodness to justify a complete carb overdose, and I wouldn't feel guilty!  In fact, I have plans to purchase both their cookbooks in the future, in case an Amy's Bread location is ever out of reach :)

Amy's Bread

My breakfast treats so far have included a delicious grilled cheddar biscuit filled with ham and oozy cheese. It was definitely cheese-squared, with a lovely buttery biscuit texture that blasts every other biscuit-based breakfast sandwich I've had before it. A good savory choice for sure.

Grilled Cheddar Biscuit with Ham and Cheese $4.25

A staff member insisted I try the cinnamon challah knots, and who am I to argue? It was chewy, lightly cinnamony, with a nice sweet glaze. A great not-too-sweet breakfast baked-good choice. I would definitely get this again. It was like the grown-up, socialite sister to the far-sweeter, heart-clogging, gooey cinnamon bun. Thanks for the recommendation :)

Cinnamon Challah Knot $1.95

I also really loved the almond brioche toast.  It was rich and tender and tasted like sweet Amaretto, even though I'm pretty sure it was alcohol-free (I will look at the recipe in the in-store cookbook again later).  The flavor and fragrance almost knocked me off my chair, so incredibly flavorful, and yet not overwhelmingly sweet, the perfect breakfast or snack!  I stand by my choice!

Almond Brioche Toast $3.25

I am a huge fan of pain au chocolat (or croissants filled with chocolate) so I knew I had to try those as well.  The best I've ever had were in Paris (of course), but these were very acceptable for American versions.  They were flaky, but the chocolate was pretty cold.  I would have loved it it the filling was still gooey, nothing beats that!  I know they are fresh, but they certainly had time to cool off before I purchased one.  Oh well, they still satisfy the craving until I can get back to France, or I can probably just refresh it in the toaster oven for a few minutes next time to warm it up!

Pain au Chocolat $3.25 

Amy's has a variety of bread twists with both sweet and savory flavors.  In fact, there are two different chocolate varieties... TWO!  One uses their challah dough while the other uses sourdough.  I bought both chocolate twists to try and decided to warm them up a bit in the toaster oven before enjoying them.  What an excellent plan!  The chocolate got super gooey and the breads warmed up just enough to freshen them up a little.  My favorite was the original chocolate twist, made with challah dough.  It was chewy like the sourdough one, but softer and with a great, mild flavor.  The sourdough was more dense and had that characteristic sour flavor, which was good, but not as preferable with the chocolate.  Warming them up was a great idea, but even without that extra touch, I'm sure these would be delicious!

Chocolate Twist (rear) and Sourdough Chocolate Twist (front) each $1.65

I purchased one of Amy's prepared sandwiches for a long bus ride, and was sold on the goat cheese, eggplant, olive tapenade, and roasted tomato one on a baguette.  It was wrapped in plastic, and had probably spent most of the day suffocating in there, because when I bit into it, it lacked any crust that may have existed when the sandwich was first prepared.  It was quite disappointing, but the delicious fillings mostly made up for it.  I loved everything in the sandwich, so I generally enjoyed the sandwich a lot, but I definitely noticed the bread didn't taste fresh.  Just a note on the prepared sandwiches (wrapped in plastic, mind you)... they just aren't as good as freshly made. *Note: the photos below were taken on my lap, haha!

Goat Cheese, Eggplant, Olive Tapenade, and Roasted Tomato Sandwich $7.25

We had some ciabatta rolls from Amy's at work, and I took a few home with plans to stuff them with cheese for a simple dinner. Good ingredients make up good dishes, and I already had the good bread. I stopped off at Lucy's Whey also in Chelsea Market, looking for a soft cheese. I tried a piece of Grayson cheese from Virginia. This raw cow's milk cheese has been compared to Telleggio. I loved its stinkiness (I was the smelly-cheese girl on the subway) and strong flavor. It melted beautifully in my mini ciabatta grilled cheese sandwiches and I will definitely splurge on more of this cheese in the future to pair with this great bread. What a match made in Heaven!

Finally, I purchased a whole loaf of bread!  It was impossible to select one, they have dozens of varieties that all look incredible.  I had planned on doing a smoked salmon tasting this weekend and needed some bread that was good quality, but rather neutral in flavor so it wouldn't affect the flavor of the different salmons.  I decided to try the simple organic country white batard, which was sold in either half or whole loaves.  I purchased a whole loaf after work and then planned to eat it the next day.  I knew the crust would be less than fresh, but Amy's website had a great tip on how to refresh your bread.  It suggests sprinkling or misting the bread with water (I actually brushed some on with a pastry brush) and placing it in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 6-8 minutes.  The bread was hot, flaky, and crusty as soon as it emerged from the oven!  Slicing it was a pleasure, as bits of crust scattered around the cutting board, a sure sign that the bread was like new again!  I loved the texture, a great balance of chewiness and crunch, which was perfect for my smoked salmon!  Check back soon for the full results of my smoked salmon tasting, and a lot of appetizing photos!

Organic Country White Batard $4.75 (whole) or $2.40 (half)


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