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Friday, 28 November 2014

The Gods of Cake at Duchess Bake Shop

Somewhere, wrapped deep within one's obligatory adult layers of pleasantries, manners and social mores, is a five year-old with an insatiable appetite for cake.

Hyperbole and a Half's Allie Brosh explains this phenomenon best.

Though there were social mores a-plenty at Duchess Bake Shop's recent cookbook launch (a fine volume that is well worth a purchase), I suspected that, lurking just barely below the surface of smart dresses and neatly pressed pants, was an entire army of five years olds at the ready, just waiting for their cue to strip the universe of sweetness.
 
 
Towering, many-hued macaron edifices, a multiverse of tarts, and sparkling petals of madeleines waited - no, veritably tempted and practically taunted. A silent, siren song of sweets. Kitchen tours set to the gentle strains of cellos and other string instruments produced little tidbits, like how Duchess's key lime pie sprung fully formed from the brow of a happy accident, namely, an unexpected shipment of limes. Or that French bakers always open a shop in Tokyo, because the Japanese public has a relentless desire for French baked goods. Or that no one - absolutely no one - order Paris Brest when Duchess first opened shop, and co-owner Giselle dutifully ate countless Parisian dainties for breakfast when the public spurned these international goodies in favour of more recognizable fare.
 
 
And so it goes. No more do baked goods wait in vain, yearning for a lover of pastries who will never arrive. No; Duchess outgrew its original space and expanded next door, opening "Provisions" in its natal digs and conjuring up a Parisian-Victorian room of jeweled chandeliers, backlit shelves (on of which proudly sports a tiny, gilded ornamental reindeer head), and counter upon on counter of baked goods. Fodder for the wildest childhood fantasies of everyone's inner five year-old.


Duchess Bake Shop on Urbanspoon

Monday, 24 November 2014

Credo Coffee - I Still Believe

Credo Coffee quietly turned heads when it opened shop downtown. Deftly pulled macchiatos were a timely antidote to overwrought extra-large double-doubles, and Credo's airy, sunlit, art-filled space breathed new life into downtown's dusty bricks. Fast forward a good five years and the rich brew of Intelligentsia beans still wafts from Credo's doors.


This time, though, the downtown set is not Credo's sole beneficiary. A smart flight of polished concrete steps on 124 street leads down to Credo's second-born. This shop hardly feels like it's below street level; floor to ceiling windows and a walk-out basement door lend this Credo the same sensations of light and approachibility as its downtown predecessor. The macchiato brownies (top left) are as deep, dark and devilishly delicious as they are on 104 street, and a frothy mug of London Fog (top right) is a heady brew of woodsy bergamot and sweetly astringent tea with hot milk.


Chewy granola bars (above) are a far cry from the corn syrup-laced bricks found on grocery shelves. No; here, chocolate chips, oats and raisins sidle themselves somewhere in between a bowl of hot oatmeal and a Grandma-style oatmeal cookie in terms of overall naughtiness. Espresso macchiatos (bottome left) are as rich and bold as an Italian race car mogul - and just as beguiling. Jewel-esque Jacek Chocolates (bottom right) are almost too pretty to eat. Almost, but their aesthetic appeal seals their fate. Set among the concrete ceiling and hyperlinear track lighting at Credo the Second, it's nearly impossible to sense that this stretch of 124 street is on the verge of something momentous, just like 104 street was that pivotal half-decade ago.

Credo Coffee on Urbanspoon

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