I’ll have what YOU like

I’ve never really been a cinnamon roll kind of girl. They’ve always just been too much for me. Too sticky, too messy… maybe even too sweet? I don’t dislike them but I don’t love them either, and it’s a pretty rare occasion when I’ll order one.

One of those rare occasions though, is if I’m somewhere and am personally recommended one. Because if there’s another type of girl I am not, it’s the kind that asks a server or other employee for their recommendations and then goes with something totally different, disregarding whatever the person just said. Especially offensive, in my opinion, if you’re at a restaurant and a server tells you how much they personally love a particular dish and rattles on about the ingredients or how it’s made. I just figure if you go out of your way to ask someone what they themselves like from a menu, unless it’s something you really don’t want to eat, just go with what they like. Otherwise, why ask? (I should also explain that many moons ago, when I was in college and studying abroad, an annoying girl I lived with used to do this constantly. We always went to the same restaurant and she’d always ask the waiter what he liked, but then, like clockwork, would go with something else. It got to the point where every time she asked, I just rolled my eyes and wondered why she was wasting everyone’s time.)

So when I found myself at the front of the line at Winner in Park Slope one morning, and the guy at the order window told me they didn’t have what I was looking for yet (grape focaccia, which wouldn’t be available until the afternoon) I asked him what he thought was good. Even with just their morning menu, which included croissants, scones, muffins and coffee cake, there was a lot to choose from and I wasn’t sure which direction to go.

“Definitely the cinnamon roll,” he said, without hesitation. “They’re my favorite.”

Welp, I thought, that settles it then, and ordered the cinnamon roll.

I initially opened the container it was in just to take a photo of the cinnamon roll before I ran back home with it to eat after a shower. (In retrospect I see how absurd that plan was, but that’s also who I am: a girl who will go on a run to a bakery, to then run back, holding a small take-out box with a cinnamon roll in it.) The second I got a good look at it though, I decided to eat it then and there, on the corner as people on morning walks went by with their dogs.

It was about the size of my palm and covered in a thick, even coat of icing, which for a very brief moment made my teeth ache in sugary anticipation. The moment I bit into the pillowy softness of the roll I was so glad I had asked though, because if I hadn’t, I would never have experienced the deliciousness filling my cheeks like a chipmunk. Inside, the glistening, cinnamony filling oozed from the still-warm swirls of golden, fluffy dough, and while it was on the messy side, I didn’t even mind.

I don’t know that I’m a full-blown cinnamon roll convert just yet, but if you ask me what to get at Winner, I’m gonna tell you to order the cinnamon roll.

Where pies go when they die

“This must be where pies go when they die” reads a small hand-painted sign next to the door at Four and Twenty Blackbirds in Park Slope. And truly, it must be.

It’s also not far from what I imagine one version of heaven might look like either, depending who you are. If you like a pie shop that’s simple and cozy, just perfectly worn in and charmingly old fashioned, where you can sit at an old wooden table and be wrapped in the smells of butter and vanilla and coffee while you dig a fork into a wedge of pie so good it feels like God himself might’ve slipped it down to you through a break in the clouds, then yea, you must be where pies go when they die.

IMG_4928

Pecan pie’s never been my favorite but this bittersweet chocolate pecan could change my mind.

I know I tend to speak in hyperbole when it comes to food, but the pies at Four and Twenty Blackbirds are deserving. I’ve had seven or eight different kinds, sometimes at the shop on a little white plate with a metal fork, other times in a to-go container when I couldn’t stay, and sometimes from the plastic packaging they come in when you order from grocery delivery service, Fresh Direct. They’ve all been delicious.

IMG_6194

Coffee custard pie with fresh whipped cream. A dream.

Their chocolate chess pie was velvety and rich, the chocolate custard like a perfect pudding cozying up to a buttery, flaky crust. The Salty Honey pie was pure decadence, all butter, caramelized sugar and honey, sea salt sprinkled on top like snowflakes. The matcha was silky and calming, the bittersweet chocolate pecan gooey and indulgent, the coffee custard like a perfectly, creamy coffee in pie form.

IMG_5013

Lemon lavender pie, not at all floral, just creamy, summery sweet.

Every time I’ve gone to the little shop on 3rd Avenue in Brooklyn, I’ve wanted to stay for hours. And every time I’ve had a mouthful of Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie I’ve thought, “My God this tastes like heaven.”

Surprisingly delicious

When it comes to food in this city, I hear about a lot of things and think, “I have to have that.” Blue cheese gelato was absolutely one of those. I mean, really, how could you not?

Blue cheese and chocolate gelato

Blue cheese and chocolate gelato

I’ll admit I wasn’t completely sold on the idea since blue cheese is far from being one of my favorites cheeses, but curiosity was enough to get me over to Park Slope to try it anyway.  And you know what? L’Albero dei Gelati’s blue cheese gelato, made from ash-veined Vermont goat cheese, when paired with a rich, creamy chocolate was not only one of the most surprising ice cream combos I’ve eaten but also one of the best.

The pale grey gelato was unmistakably cheesy, with the creamy tang of blue cheese bright in each bite. It might’ve been too much on its own, but the chocolate subtly toned down the savory aspect and added a sweetness that made for a perfect balance in flavors.

I had to have it when I first heard about it and now that I have, I’m thinking yup, I have to have that again.