We Built This City (Bakery)

I can be very tentative when it comes to spending money on lunch. I don’t shirk from an expensive sandwich if I’m confident I will enjoy it (see: ‘Wichcraft.) But I will shirk from an expensive salad bar that charges $10 a pound when I know that I have a tendency to load up my plate with 80 pounds worth of salad. Which is why three times, before today, I walked through City Bakery, sniffing along the salad bar, and deciding against it because I knew it’d be way too expensive.

However, today I spotted their chicken wings. I remembered reading the Best of New York issue of New York magazine that City Bakery’s chicken wings were the best in New York. So I grabbed a plate, got three wings and some salad and, on the way to the register, spotted the City Bakery tart book. The book was so beautiful, I threw that in for good measure. And then, since I was buying the book and since they’re famous for their tarts, I bought a tart too. I spent quite a bit of money on lunch.

But first things first. The salad, the wings. The wings were dark and grainy and, actually, not wings at all but legs. It didn’t matter: they were delicious. The seasoning was an Old Bay seasoning which, I believe, usually goes with crab and other sea food. Here it was mixed with what must have been cayenne pepper because there was definite heat to it. But I could see how the combination of flavors render these wings the best in New York. I’d love to have the recipe.

As for the tart, I went with “fruit tart.” It cost $5.50. But, people of the United States of Compassionate Blog Reading, how beautiful does this look?

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This goes into the pantheon of favorite pastries ever. The dough itself is the greatest achievement in the history of flour, butter and sugar. It was so delicate, I couldn’t even lift the tart without it seeming to fall apart. It simultaneously crumbles and melts in your mouth. It was tart-shattering.

And the filling—it was a lemon filling and it was a perfect combination of tanginess and creaminess. Plus the fruit itself was marvelous. I’m so glad I bought this book:

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The book is pricey ($25) (I told you I spent severe dinero today) but, in my mind, well worth it. To make the tarts you need flan rings. That’s the secret to their shape. Perhaps I’ll buy some after I file Chapter 11.

Flipping through the pages of the book, though, is already a feast for the eyes. My favorite picture is the Ricotta Cheese Tart with Summer Fruits and Flowers:

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Doesn’t look so hot in that picture, but trust me it’s a work of art. Fortunately, you can buy the book on Amazon.com. Follow this link and help a poor boy buy some flan rings:

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