Friday, May 27, 2011

The West Village- Tartine & Magnolia Bakery

In my very limited experience with New Yorkers- Brunch is king. My kind of people. In my mind brunch is possibly the most perfect meal ever. There is no need to get up early and it makes it acceptable to start drinking before 12, I mean really- you can't go wrong with brunch. Sweet or savory, eggs or sandwiches there is something for everyone. Upon posting an announcement of my up coming NYC adventure my lovely friend Katie, who lives in Brooklyn & I had the pleasure of getting to know on my previous trip, suggested that we get together for brunch. I was uber excited to see her as well as indulge in the New York tradition. As most of my adventures go I started with a little Internet research. Ok a lot of Internet research. My goal was to find a very quintessential New York spot in a neighborhood I had yet to explore (two birds, one stone you know). As I browsed spot after spot none quite striking my fancy I finally stumbled on a great piece of luck. I was able to score THREE birds with one stone! Within a block of one another in the West Village were Tartine, raved about in New York Magazine as a great local spot that is always busy, and Magnolia Bakery of cupcake and Sex in the City fame. Win!

Sunday was an important day in Tori and my adventure for many reasons, primary among them was Sunday was the day that Tori rode the subway for the very first time! She was quite the trooper and by our second go around I would even say she became quite savvy! We hopped on a block down from our hotel and a few minutes later popped above ground in the charming West Village. What a world of difference. From the bright lights and tourist bustle of Times Square the village felt homey and quaint with people walking their dogs and beautiful brownstones everywhere. Tartine is tucked right in with all of it, a tiny little cafe with an overhang protecting the tables lining the walk way from the light mist that was still falling. As we approached 3 full sized gentleman were trying to cram themselves onto a tiny table in front of the door. After one almost toppled out of his tiny chair that was precariously slopped backwards on two different levels they conceded the table and a staff member found them a table inside. Being that we were a group of 3 much smaller girls we eagerly jumped on their table since without it we were facing an uncertain wait. One of the things that the Tartine regulars had raved about in reviews was their encouraged BYOB policy. Although we scoured the near by blocks Tori and I had no luck finding a decent place to purchase wine (I'll take the blame for the poor planning here in not investigating an acceptable purchase point). As luck would have it however Katie had shot a wedding the night before and was gifted with a bottle of homemade wine from the father of the Bride. It was definitely a unique home brew but we enjoyed it none the less. The menu featured your standard array of Benedict's, omelette's, and french toast. I was a little dismayed to find that we had come to late and their croissant selection had already sold out. I had been very much looking forward to trying one of their signature delicacies. My sadness was quelled however by how delectable their Eggs Norwegian (english muffin with smoked salmon, poached egg and hollandaise) and country potatoes were. Oh those potatoes. Silky sweet caramelized white onions inter-mingled with soft roasted peppers and potatoes with just a light crispness to the outside while maintaining that perfect soft grainy texture on the inside. Using the potatoes to sop up the excess hollandiase I couldn't have been happier! One of the unique things I also appreciated was their flat $12.95 price for any brunch meal including coffee and orange juice. Affordable and delicious with a local feel it was a great find!As we waddled away from the table we debated if we would even be able to handle the cupcakes we had been so looking forward too. Magnolia Bakery has become a New York staple by way of it's mentions on shows like Sex and the City, Spin City, & the movie Devil Wears Prada. Katie talked endlessly of the pleasure of their butter cream frosting during our brunch so we were amply excited even if not entirely hungry. Adorable from the outside the small bakery shop was packed with people, some helping themselves to the assorted cupcakes in the window display, the rest waiting their turn to pick out their treat from behind the glass front case. It was quite the overwhelming scene! Everything looked amazing but we were on a mission - Cupcakes! Magnolia has been credited by some for beginning the cupcake craze. Although it was difficult to choose I went for a chocolate cupcake with sea foam green butter cream frosting and a red velvet. I honestly don't know what it is about red velvet. I have made it before and it is truly off putting how much red dye goes into that cake. There is really nothing special beyond the fact that it will crank your A.D.D. up about 12 notches and the hint of cocoa powder leaves every debating if it is in fact chocolate or vanilla cake. For popularity's sake I "bit the bullet" and purchased one any way. I actually really enjoyed the cake portion of both of my cupcakes, it had the right sponginess that it didn't crumble too easily, was moist and flavorful, and held up well to the frosting. Oh the frosting. This was truly the main event and Katie in no way over sold it's virtues. I was instantly impressed that they had somehow managed to make cream cheese frosting that was not heavy and thick but in fact silky in texture. It was much lighter than I anticipated and I really enjoyed it. The butter cream was phenomenal. I actually didn't eat this cupcake till almost 8 hours later and it still tasted fresh and the frosting, while maintaining it's shape, had lost nothing in its creamy texture. Over all some of the best composed cupcakes I have yet to enjoy, definitely on par with Los Gatos' Icing on the Cake and putting Kara's and Sprinkles a little bit to shame.

When you vacation do you prefer the tourist locations or do you look for something with local flair?

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