September 3, 2004 1:26 AM | By Adam Roberts | 1 Comment

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?


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:


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:


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

1 Comment

City Bakery is the greatest place to stop in for a treat. I always convince myself that if I go to the salad bar and get lots of salmon and chicken, I'll be getting good value. That, of course, is a good way to end up spending a wad of money at City Bakery...because of course I can't get through to the cashier without some cookies and tarts to take home...

Maury signed my tart book several years ago...he's usually pretty happy to do that when he's around, so you can call, find out when he'll be in and bring yours back if it's not already signed -- and if you care about that sort of thing. The book alone is quite droolworthy, and even though I could probably try to make them myself, every few months I need to go there for a dark chocolate custard tart...and a creme brûlée tart...and and and...

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