You know how when you eat something alone in the kitchen it’s almost like it never happened? (Those calories don’t really count because no one saw you do it.) The only drawback is that no one got to share it with you either. There’s no one sitting across the table to delight in the divinity of dessert, no one to to convince, “You’ve got to try this.” There’s also less fanfare for the chef who made it. You swooned in vein.
That’s how I felt about the apple cinnamon muffin I devoured after a four-course meal at Marea. It was a parting gift from the restaurant, baked by the pastry chef, Heather Bertinetti. And it was one of the best muffins I’ve had — wonderfully moist, packed with golden raisins and soft, sweet chunks of apple. Thank god I didn’t know about her incredible baking skills on my first visit or I would’ve eaten the banana muffin they gave me that night on the way home.
It’s a shame that we don’t get the chance to taste the full spectrum of a pastry chef’s talents. Let’s be honest: Few of us have the self-control to pace ourselves and save enough room for dessert. Even when we do, we only get a glimpse of what they can do, which is why I have an even bigger appreciation for the goodie bag. It’s not only free food, but also another chance to taste the pastry chef’s creations.
I’d buy bags of the peanut butter granola that Dovetail‘s pastry chef, Vera Tong, gifts its guests at the end of the evening. The Modern recently switched their goodie bag of tea cakes for a trio of refined chocolate bars — a trio of white chocolate, milk, and dark chocolate studded with hazelnuts. (Perhaps Danny Meyer should consider opening a chocolate shop next.) If you don’t have room, but don’t want to miss out, you can take your pick of petit fours, chocolates, and madeleines to be boxed up for you and taken home at Daniel. If only Quality Meats had a freezer aisle and sold pints of its homemade ice creams. Corey Colton, who trained at an Ice Cream University in Brooklyn, has come up with ingenious flavors, like Coffee &
Doughnuts, butterscotch oatmeal cookie, and Banana cream pie. Someone should open a dessert coop where the city’s best pastry chefs can sell their creations under one roof. I’d buy boxes of Karen DeMasco’s lemon tarts and pistachio brown butter cake. For now, I can order them at Locanda Verde in Tribeca, but wouldn’t it be great to eat one of those tarts alone in the kitchen when no one was looking?