The night before as we’d checked into the Andaz Hotel in Los Angeles they’d mentioned having coffee and tea available in the lobby in the morning. They forgot to mention the basket of palmiers alongside the coffee and tea.
What a happy discovery the next morning!
The Hollywood Hills from the Andaz Hotel's Roof Top PoolRoof top at the Andaz Hotel, Los Angeles
Roof top at the Andaz Hotel, Los Angeles
The Andaz’s palmiers were exactly what palmiers should be. Exaggerated ellipses of buttery puff pastry, studded with droplets of caramelized sugar. They shattered when you took a bite and sprinkled shards of buttery goodness all over you. They was the best palmiers I’d had since I first tried them in Paris 15 years ago.
Lined up next to colorful fruit tartlets, seek mousse cakes, and luscious bon bons, palmiers are easily overlooked in the pastry case. I’d passed over them many times until one day while rushing to catch a train at Gare du Nord, I slipped into a pastry shop for a snack. Lacking the proper French to order the desired pastry, I went with my smile & point routine and injected lots of we’s & merci’s. By the time I realized the clerk had given me the wrong pastry, it was too late. I had to run to make my train.
Once settled on the train, I opened the bag and investigated the pinwheel of pastry. Visually it didn’t set my heart aflutter but it smelled heavenly. With one bite I was hooked. The palmier is to butter, sugar and flour what pizza is to cheese, tomato and bread. A few simple ingredients coming together to make something unusually scrumptious.
Last summer I moved from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn to Park Slope, Brooklyn. Even though Prospect Heights is only a few blocks away I don’t spend much time there anymore. One of the main things I miss from the old neighborhood, aside from my lovely duplex with a backyard, is Joyce Bakeshop. It’s a neighborhood café/bakery that’s always packed with freelancers working on their MacBooks, kids stopping in for a cookie, and commuters getting their morning coffee. Their macaroons are top notch and they’ve never failed me for great cupcakes, coffee, and baguettes.
When my sweet tooth reared its ugly head the other day I decided to walk over to Joyce Bakeshop. I opted for their lemon tart. I love fruit curds (such an awful name for something so delicious). Generally, I only find lemon curd (think lemon bars and lemon tarts) which is good stuff available commercially but there are many other exciting curd options that you can explore if you make your own. My favorite is passion fruit curd which makes a lovely bright yellow passion fruit tart.
When Lauren sent me a text asking if I could meet her at the Chocolate Room, I knew she’d had a rough day. For some people comfort food is mac n’ cheese but for Lauren it was chocolate cake. Not fluffy little cupcakes that are fun & celebratory, but the comforting, melt-in-your mouth richness of flourless chocolate cake.
My friend Lauren was breaking up with her boyfriend of two years, the guy she was engaged to and she needed moral support before doing the deed. The Chocolate Room was our local go-to spot for great desserts and a glass or two of wine. It had been in the neighborhood a long time and being the personable girl she is, Lauren is buddies with the manager and wait staff there. When we entered the manager came over to say hi and he wanted to hear if there were any updates to the Ramon situation.
It became known as the ‘Ramon situation’ early in the relationship when Lauren concluded that Ramon wasn’t the right guy and maybe she should break up with him but before she did that she needed to talk about it a lot. Many, many hours had been logged discussing the Ramon situation. So one year and six months into it, I was skeptical that she would go through with it until she told me that that morning she’d signed a lease on an apartment upstate. She was moving out of the city at the end of the month and Ramon wasn’t coming with her.
I’ve lived within five blocks of Lauren for six years. She’s the person I text when I want a buddy to go running in the park or explore a new bar in the neighborhood. She has my extra set of keys and watches my cat when I’m away. I was going to need the comfort of the chocolate cake too. I hate when friends move away.