Crumbs (gluten free)

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted here in a few weeks. Well, there’s a pretty good reason as to why I haven’t shared with you my culinary adventures: I simply haven’t had any.

I’m now on a strict diet, due to a health issue, and can’t eat at restaurants as much as I once did (or as much as I’d like to). Basically, I’m on a low-carb, gluten-free diet, which limits the options available to me in this great big city of food.

gluten free crumbs red velvet and blackout cupcakes

red velvet and blackout

So, what better way to indulge when on such a diet? Try a new gluten-free cupcake joint.

For the uninitiated, Crumbs has now opened a gluten-free bakery down on 8th street in the West Village. Its sterile interior betrays the warmth and splendor of the baked goods that lie within. With no seats or tables to park at, the gluten-free outpost forces patrons to take their baked goods elsewhere. I have to say, the store itself is slightly unwelcoming, save for the delightful faces of staff who helpfully assist you in buying your sweets.

Primarily, this Crumbs sells cupcakes, but they also offer baguettes, quiches, macarons, and other treats to taste. Samples of baguette were carefully cut up and placed upon a platter near the cash register. I tried a piece, and it was pretty good, although the graininess of the bread made it taste less “authentic” than other gluten-free breads I’ve tried.

My Dining Partner (MDP) and I selected two small-sized cupcakes: red velvet and blackout. As for the cupcakes, they were pretty good–no, they were better than Crumbs’ typical offerings. If you’ve been to Crumbs, you are familiar with the ultra-sugary, totally gigantic cupcakes they sell. They’re too sweet and too big, and just too much to even try to eat. In my former life, as a gluten-eating person, Crumbs was way down on my list of cupcake shops. But the gluten-free store surely has delivered. The red velvet cupcake was crumbly and sweet enough with a hint of cream cheese in the this-can’t-be-cream-cheese frosting, while the all-chocolate blackout cake was exquisitely frosted and featured the right texture for any cupcake, gluten free or otherwise.

gluten-free crumbs blackout cupcake

blackout, up close and personal

Here, at the gluten-free Crumbs, their primary target is obviously Babycakes. And, while I truly enjoyed my cupcake at the gluten-free Crumbs, Babycakes still takes the cake, as it were. Read why here.

But, if you’re interested in or need gluten-free confections and don’t want to make the trek all the way down to the Lower East Side, I heartily recommend the gluten-free Crumbs store to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Crumbs (gluten free)

37 W. 8th St.

West Village, New York

Take the N/R to 8th Street. Walk west about a block or so. 

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Red Rooster

I remember a few years ago when Red Rooster opened to much acclaim. I thought to myself, “I’ll never go there because it must be such a mob scene.” Fast forward two years to today, and, lo and behold, I finally made it to Red Rooster. And what an experience I had!

red rooster cornbread

cornbread

I decided to take off from work today and, in step with my culinary aspirations, accordingly made a reservation at Red Rooster for 11:30 am, the only time they had available.

My Dining Partner (MDP) and I trekked all the way up to 125th Street this morning, after a shocking 20-minute wait at our 7 train platform, to get to the restaurant. When we walked in, we were met with smiles. In general, the service at Red Rooster is extremely accommodating, and I felt that the moment I stepped foot in the place.

We sat at a cozy table for two along a banquet that bifurcates the restaurant into a front and back area. In the front, there’s an interestingly shaped bar; in the back, a slew of tables. The restroom is plainly and straightforwardly marked with a sign near the open kitchen.

To start, MDP and I ordered the cornbread with honey butter and tomato jam. You must get this. I think just about every table had a plate of cornbread on it because it’s that good and that cheap ($4). The honey butter tastes incredible and the cornbread itself is moist, dense and delicately ladled with kernels of corn throughout. I enjoyed the tomato jam, as well, but, honestly, the cornbread tastes best on its own, without any adornments.

red rooster burger

burger

Because I recently read that Red Rooster is using a Pat LaFrieda blend for its hamburger, I decided I had to try it. And, boy, am I glad I did! The burger is topped with two slices of New York cheddar, mayonnaise, shredded lettuce and pickles, and is situated nicely on a fresh pretzel bun. I liked that Red Rooster used two, rather than one, slices of cheddar–it enhanced the flavor tremendously. Also, the combination of condiments completely blew me away. This is one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time. And, not to be outdone, the fries on the side were perfectly crisp and brushed with ample handfuls of parmesan cheese. I like that Red Rooster goes borderline overboard with the parmesan on the fries. Parmesan can be an elusive flavor, and I think Red Rooster’s approach is ideal.

MDP ordered the fried yard bird with white mace gravy and buttermilk mashed potatoes. Red Rooster serves dark meat for its fried chicken, which MDP had no problem with. It was thickly crusted and flavorful. The mashed potatoes were delicious, as well. MDP enjoyed his meal, yet found the cornbread to be the overall highlight of his experience. And who can blame him?

red rooster cupcake

coconut cupcake

For dessert, we had to get something, because I knew this might be the only time I’d visit Red Rooster. When I searched for brunch reservations, they only had availability in about a month, and I’m not organized enough to plan that far ahead. So, dessert it was. They have a number of confections on their menu, including items from the Nook, such as whoopie pies. But we opted for the daily cupcake, which was a coconut cupcake today. Served alongside some of the most delicious Tahitian vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had, the coconut cupcake was short and sweet, and had a bit of preserves in the center–a welcome surprise. We polished the plate off in no time.

You must try Red Rooster. Anything you try there has got to be some of the best food you’ll ever have. Even if it takes months for you to get there, go. I implore you.

Red Rooster

310 Lenox Avenue (between 125th and 126th streets)

Harlem, New York

Take the 2/3 to 125th Street. Walk north half a block.

BabyCakes NYC

babycakes gluten-free banan cupcake

gluten-free banana cupcake with maple frosting

A throwback “BAKERY” sign hangs from the exterior of a hole-in-the wall bakery better known as BabyCakes. Once you approach it, you’re certain to be charmed.

If you know anyone with food allergies, BabyCakes is the place to send them. A vegan bakery, they serve up gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, vegan sugar/agave-sweetened confections that are quite delectable–even for the non-allergic.

I have been to BabyCakes many times. In fact, it’s one of my favorite bakeries, and I don’t even have a food allergy or autoimmune disease.

Today, My Dining Partner (MDP) and I opted for a few delectables from BabyCakes’ well-rounded menu.

I selected a favorite of mine: a gluten-free banana cupcake. It was frosted with a subtle maple-inflected icing that nicely complemented the dense banana cake underneath it. BabyCakes refrigerates their cupcakes at, what seems to be, a moderate temperature, so the cake actually tastes cool and more firm than it would were it left standing on the counter. We noticed you could order a frosting shot for $1.50  and I considered it for a moment, so good was the maple topping.

babycakes cookie crunch doughnut

cookie crunch doughnut

MDP decided to try one of BabyCakes’ doughnuts. He ordered the cookie crunch option, which is gluten-free and made with vegan sugar. It tasted lemony and had a surprisingly nice consistency–much better than anything you might find at cringeworthy Dunkin’ Donuts.

BabyCakes also sells brownies, biscuits, an array of cupcakes (some made with spelt), tea cakes, crumb cakes, pies and cookies.

And the staff are incredibly accommodating and knowledgable about the ins and outs of their product. One patron came in with her daughter, who sounded like she had celiac disease, and asked a ton of questions about the ingredients of the various items. Erin, the founder, was on site (which is kind of incredible since she’s pretty famous as far as bakery proprietors go) and was happy to provide useful, intelligent responses.

Try BabyCakes, no matter what your dietary needs are.

BabyCakes NYC

248 Broome Street (between Orchard and Ludlow streets)

Lower East Side, New York

Take the F/J/M/Z to Essex-Delancey or the B/D to Grand Street.

Emporio + Cake Boss Cafe

Last weekend, MDP and I went on a food tour of Nolita and Noho courtesy of MDP’s kind cousin Jan. The tour was extraordinary! We sampled Brooklyn blackout cupcakes and homemade ricotta on multigrain toast among other delightful treats on our three-hour culinary journey.

emporio prosciutto and arugola pizza

prosciutto and arugola pizza

One of the stops was Emporio, where we tried a beautiful slice of prosciutto and arugola Roman-style pizza. As I munched on the gigantic slice, extra virgin olive oil streamed down my sleeve–a delectable treat for later. I knew we would make our way back to Emporio some day. Who knew it would be a mere six days later?

Emporio is tucked away on Mott Street, down below Prince where high-end boutiques are the neighborhood norm. Emporio is nothing like it’s neighborhood would suggest, though. It isn’t boastful or cold, no. It exudes a warm, serene ambiance and a no-nonsense Italian menu that lingers on the palate for many delightful moments after the completion of the meal.

We ordered the kale salad for an appetizer, though we eyed the Fritto Misto and the burrata. Considering we were planning to have the prosciutto and arugola pizza, which is made with mozzarella, we decided against the burrata–though, it was, I must admit, a painful choice. The scrumptious kale salad was accompanied by delectable roasted squash and bits of pomegranate strewn throughout, and topped with rich slices of grana padano. It was a light, excellent way to begin our meal at Emporio.

For the main course, we split a special pasta course called I Casarecci made with eggplant, tomato and whole wheat, homemade pasta, and the prosciutto and arugola pizza. The pasta was divine! I highly recommend Emporio’s pasta, by way of the recommendation of our fantastic tour guide from last week. She raved about the homemade delicacies coming out of their pasta maker, and I second her support. The pizza was just incredible. Made with a not-quite-Neopolitan thin crust, the prosciutto and arugola pizza is a white pie (no sauce) cooked in a wood-fire oven where the convection of the heat is so strong, the pizza takes just four minutes to bake. Once the pizza is out of the oven, it is topped with handfuls of arugola, slices of prosciutto, cherry tomatoes and slices of grana padano. The result is one of the best pizzas I’ve had. Ever. I highly recommend Emporio’s pizza.

cake boss cafe treats

cake boss cafe treats

Instead of trying Emporio’s desserts (the Nutella calzone is the option to get for dessert, by the way), we went up to the newly minted Cake Boss Cafe up on 42nd and 8th, in the north wing of the inimitable Port Authority Bus Terminal. Cake Boss Cafe takes up a large chunk of the corner, and rightfully so. With good lighting and ample seating, it’s easy to make yourself at home at this Buddy Valastro establishment. Unlike Carlo’s Bakery, the line isn’t too overwhelming at Cake Boss Cafe. They have their signature cake in the form of beautifully decorated cupcakes, alongside cannolis, lobster tails, Napoleons, and other Italian treats (such as pignoli cookies which are, by far, my favorite cookies).

We ordered a lobster tail and an orange flower-topped cupcake. The lobster tail was divine! Think: a thick, crusty, flaky croissant filled with silky cream in the shape of a lobster tail. And the cupcake wasn’t bad either, although the sweet, soft bakery cake reminded me of Entenmann’s.

I’d recommend Cake Boss Cafe, especially if you’re getting on a bus to New Jersey (or somewhere else). But I can see it becoming a tourist trap, much like the sorry Five Guys outpost located on 42nd next to Chevy’s. What were they thinking?

Do try Emporio, at the very least!

Emporio

231 Mott Street

Nolita, New York

Take the N/R to Prince Street and walk east a few blocks.

Cake Boss Cafe

Corner of 42nd Street and 8th Avenue

Times Square, New York

Take the A/C/E to 42nd Street and exit near 8th Avenue.

Molly’s Cupcakes

I love cupcakes. There, I said it. If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you probably know that already, but I had to put it out there again.

Knowing I love cupcakes, someone once gave me a gift card for Molly’s Cupcakes that she couldn’t use. (She’s gluten-free and Molly’s offers nothing edible for her.)

molly's cupcakesLocated in the West Village down on Bleecker Street (by Carmine and Sixth Avenue), Molly’s Cupcakes brightens up the block with its bright yellow exterior and delicate sign with “Molly’s Cupcakes” emblazoned upon it. When you peer inside, you’ll notice a banquet up against the right wall with a number of tables and grade-school chairs in front of it. What will steal your attention are the swings, right smack in front of a coffee bar. I wasn’t so sure about the swings–can I really take a cupcake place seriously if it has swings indoors?–but the last time I went to Molly’s, I saw a number of people enjoying their cupcakes and coffees while merrily seated upon them. Swings work.

More important than the swings are Molly’s eponymous cupcakes. They’re incredible. Priced at a whopping $3.75 per serving, the cupcakes are dressed to impress. As My Dining Partner contended, the cupcakes involve a great deal of care and preparation, more so than those of Magnolia or Sugar Sweet Sunshine, making their high price point more palatable. Why so much care and preparation, you ask? If you get up close to the display case, you’ll notice an array of flavors, first of all. Molly’s is not about your standard vanilla/chocolate permutations. No, Molly’s is all about variety. Kahlua, Nutella, Peach, Red Velvet, and Cake Batter  are just a handful of the flavors you’ll find. And they’re beautiful. Hand-frosted and -decorated, Molly’s cupcakes are each filled with a corresponding substance (such as the frosting that’s on top of the cake) that delights the eater once he or she gets to the center of the cake. I know I was surprised the first time I bit into one, and even on my most recent visit, when I had forgotten about the prospect of filling, I found myself overwhelmed by the stuff in the middle.

kahlua and cake batter

kahlua and cake batter

So, how do they taste? In a word, delicious. Recently, we tried the Kahlua cupcake and the Cake Batter cupcake. The Kahlua cupcake is chocolate with Kahlua flavoring and a light chocolate-Kahlua-y frosting. In the center, the liquid filling tasted of Kahlua–a dream for any drinker. The Cake Batter cupcake was too big to finish (but I did anyway), and tasted of Funfetti with a rich buttercream frosting. Cake batter–that must have been injected post-oven–filled the middle and seeped out of the bottom of the cake. The real winner at Molly’s is the Peach cupcake. It’s a vanilla-peach cake topped with a white frosting and a wedge of peach perched on top. The peach was sweet and the frosting was creamy. It was fantastic.

If you’re tired of Magnolia’s hum-drum sugary offerings, you’ll want to try Molly’s. Mix up your cupcake consumption a bit with a giant, expensive, fun-filled (literally) cupcake from a cupcake shop that will steal your heart.

Molly’s Cupcakes

228 Bleecker Street (by Sixth Avenue)

West Village, New York

Take the A/C/E/F/M/B/D to West Fourth Street and walk south on Sixth Avenue.

Your NYC Alternatives to Hostess

cupcake cafe

cupcake cafe

In the wake of Hostess’ plight, it’s important that we come together and rally around confections–in particular, the kind that can’t be bought at 7-11. Now, I know, it’s convenient to just pick up a package of Twinkies and scarf ’em down, but better sweets await you.

Located in the deep west side, there are a number of bakeries (three, to my count) that can satisfy your sweet tooth. Though they aren’t nearly as convenient as 7-11–and my walking shoes can attest to that–they are each worth the walk it takes to find them.

Cupcake Cafe is one of those places that you’ve heard of and probably have never seen. A hole in the wall found on Ninth Avenue in the low 40s, Cupcake Cafe serves up ornately frosted buttercream cupcakes. The cupcakes are on the small side, but are beautiful. If you’re looking to impress a date or your coworkers, you should definitely buy cupcakes from Cupcake Cafe. Now, as for the taste, well, not so impressive. I ordered a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting cupcake. The cake itself is on the dry side and borderlines flavorless. And the frosting tastes a lot like butter–I suppose it puts the butter in buttercream, as it were. One of the places I interned for while I was in college used to order cupcakes from Cupcake Cafe, and I think everyone wondered why the cognitive dissonance–something that looks so beautiful yet tastes so … average. How could this be? Well, it was and it is, and I would only recommend Cupcake Cafe if you’re going to the hellhole that is Port Authority anyway. (Although, I’ve heard that Buddy Valastro is setting up a cafe in Port Authority soon–so maybe Cupcake Cafe will fall into further obscurity.)

empire cake snack cake and lemon bar

empire cake

Now, on the other hand, Empire Cake is worth going to. Found on Eighth Avenue down by Google’s sprawling office compound (you can tell it’s Google’s office building because the name “Google” is emblazoned across the fifth floor windows–because we were all wondering where the great and mighty search engine’s office was …. but I digress), Empire Cake is a very beautiful bakery. With just enough seating to satisfy their hungry customers, Empire Cake sells an array of cupcakes, snack cakes, bars, black-and-white cookies and a number of other comestibles. MDP and I ordered the Brooklyn Blackout snack cake which is a chocolate cake with chocolate pudding filling, dipped in chocolate. For the chocolate lover, this is heaven. Previously, we had tried the Chocolate-Covered snack cake and Lemon snack cake, both of which were outstanding. We also opted for the much-celebrated lemon bar, which I found to be just okay and nothing to write home about (yet here I am, penning a post about it). I didn’t try the cupcakes at Empire Cake because they looked like cupcakes I might not like–too much frosting and not enough cake. That cake/frosting balance is a tricky one, but well worth striving for.

billy's bakery

billy’s bakery

Last, but certainly not least, we went to Billy’s Bakery found on Ninth Avenue in the low 20s. I had been to Billy’s before to purchase some cupcakes for coworkers. When I was thinking about writing this post, I decided to go to Billy’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Bad idea. The line was out the door! But, I persisted and returned to Billy’s a few days later to pick up some cupcakes. Not only does Billy’s sell cupcakes, they also have cake, cookies, pies and other confections. I opted for the vanilla-vanilla cupcake and the banana cupcake, which has a cream cheese frosting. The cupcakes were fantastic, and when MDP asked me which I liked better, I struggled to choose, but ultimately decided upon the banana cupcake as the winner in this taste test. It looks like there’s a lot of frosting on these cupcakes–something I just lamented in the previous cupcake entry–but the frosting is high quality and not too sweet. The cake was moist and delicious. These cupcakes are irresistible! As an aside, but as something you might value, I found the service at Billy’s to be way below par. When I walked into Billy’s, I was the only patron around, yet waited five minutes to be served. Four workers ambled behind the counter, talking amongst themselves before waiting on me. Strange and annoying, and has made me think twice about returning to Billy’s.

So, who won this taste test? Well, I think Billy’s earned the highest marks, but, as I said, their service is nogu.

If you have any tips on good bakeries, let me know about them in the comments section!

Pink Icing Bakery

The wait is finally over. Pink Icing Bakery has opened.

pink icing cupcakes

pink icing cupcakes

The long-awaited bakery has been teasing Sunnyside residents for more than two months now. First, Sunnyside Post said it would open the first week of March. Then, Pink Icing’s sign went up some time in April. Then, I saw a “we’re hiring” sign a few weeks later. As of yesterday, Pink Icing is in business.

Nestled between a fish market and Mr. Wonton Chinese food eatery, Pink Icing (which took over a failed Indian restaurant’s space) is just a few doors down from The Sugar Room baking supply store, which is owned by Juan Arache, the man at the helm of the much-anticipated bakery.

So, what exactly does Pink Icing offer?

Well, tons of stuff.

Today, when I visited, they had mini and full-size key lime pies for a few bucks. There was also a pecan pie and what looked like an apple crumb pie (both in mini and full-size form). But the real attraction here is the cupcakes.

Available in big and small portions, the beautifully decorated cupcakes–at a fair $2 price point–are delicious. Without a thick slather of icing (who can bear that?) but rather a delicate application of it, the small cupcake has the ideal balance of frosting and cake. Moist and not-too-sweet, the vanilla cake was just right. I can’t speak for the larger cupcake, but, based on what I saw, I believe it mirrors the perfection of the smaller cake–just more of it.

In addition to the decorated, vanilla cupcakes, Pink Icing serves up red velvet cupcakes, in both large and small sizes. The woman ahead of me ordered a red velvet small, and I envied her. I’ll have to go back and try it. But, then again, I want to try everything at Pink Icing.

pink icing cupcakeThough the space is cozy, there’s room for a handful of tables and a countertop with stools. Several customers milled around the bakery, talking over coffee and cupcakes and enjoying the morning. It seems as though Pink Icing has already become a hallmark of the neighborhood in the mere two days it’s been open.

I sincerely hope Sunnyside residents partake in the wonder that is Pink Icing. After all this time–the waiting, the hand-wringing at the closed door–Pink Icing has finally arrived. Hopefully, to stay for a long time.

Do I think Pink Icing is a destination bakery? We’ll have to see. The cupcake trend in New York has certainly died down (is it fried pizza that everyone’s fascinated with now?), but the cupcakes are so good–and so cheap!–that it just might attract the non-Sunnysiders. Pink Icing is open until 8 p.m., which gives the Manhattanites who frequent Salt and Fat just enough time to grab dessert (before a late dinner, perhaps?) prior to heading back to the city.

If you’re in the neighborhood, try Pink Icing. It’s the kind of cupcake that wholly satisfies the body and soul. You don’t want to miss out.

Pink Icing

44-12 Queens Blvd.

Sunnyside, Queens

Take the 7 to 46th Street and walk west for two blocks on the north side of Queens Boulevard. Do check out The Sugar Room, too!

burgers and cupcakes, Hell’s Kitchen

Though they’re two of my favorite foods, I was skeptical about burgers and cupcakes. I love burgers and cupcakes, but is it possible for one establishment to do both justice? Methinks not.

And I was right, sorta.

burgers and cupcakes cheeseburger

cheddarburger with avocado

Don’t get your hopes up. The burger that was served to me looked nothing like the picture of a cheeseburger on their website. Instead of an artisanal roll, as depicted, the burger came with a standard squishy white bun, which was fine…but false advertising. Also, the fries are presented in a large basket, as was the burger, instead of a trendy tin. I’m not sure who they’re paying for stock imagery. Anyway.

I ordered my burger with cheddar and avocado, one of my favorite toppings. The avocado was fresh and just ripe enough. Though the burger was on the greasy side, I still enjoyed it.

The fries weren’t exceptional, but many in number and tasted fine. My dining partner ordered onion rings, which were slight, crisp strings and delicious (much better than the fries).

burgers and cupcakes chocolate frosted cupcake

chocolate frosted and vanilla cake cupcake

We both ordered cupcakes: vanilla cake with chocolate icing and chocolate cake with chocolate icing. The cake was dense and the icing not too sweet. You could explicitly taste the unsweetened chocolate they used to flavor the frosting. All said, the cupcakes, small and amply iced, are nothing to write home about.

burger and cupcakes’ decor is odd. As New York wrote, it’s straight outta Dunkin’ Donuts land with its pink and orange hues. Cramped chairs and tables litter the floor. There doesn’t appear to be any waitstaff, so you might be inclined to order at the front and wait for your food at your tiny table. But you’d be wrong. There is one waiter who tends to 15+ tables in the joint. Odd. Mitchel London is a well-known catering company. You’d think they could afford to hire another waiter.

Overall, the food was fine, but not worth going out of the way for. We happened to be in the neighborhood en route the 34th Street AMC theater, so it was local enough.

burgers and cupcakes

458 9th Avenue (between 35th and 36th streets)

Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan

Take the A/C/E to 34th Street and walk over to 9th. 

Astor Bake Shop, Astoria

Situated on the outskirts of Astoria, Astor Bake Shop may seem out-of-the-way to the average person. I assure you that the 10-minute walk from the train is completely worth it.

Astor Bake Shop is a small, many-windowed cafe with cute wooden tables and chairs. An enticing and appetizing display case filled with baked goodies faces the dining area. A small kitchen, at the far end of the cafe, runs perpendicular to the display case, encouraging an intimate feel to the dining space.

What is Astor Bake Shop known for? I can’t tell. What I do know is that they’ve got creative drinks (gingerade, sea salt lemonade) and solid burgers on their menu.

We started our meal with an heirloom tomato salad with watermelon and feta. The mild flavor of the cheese nicely accompanied the bursting fresh taste of the watermelon. Generously, the chef halved the salad and put it on two plates for us.

Astor Bake Shop burger

astor bake shop burger

I ordered the cheddar burger while my dining partner got the Croque Madame. Lacking the La Frieda blends of Manhattan, Astor Bake Shop quickly recovers with a solid, meaty burger. The toppings included were tomato, lettuce, and cucumber–an interesting addition. The crisp coolness of the cucumber accented the saltiness of the cheddar. Yum.

Though deluxe in flavor, the burger paled in comparison to MDP’s Croque Madame, which is a toasted sandwich filled with cheese, ham, and an egg. The saltiness of the ham delighted my tastebuds. I’m not a fan of salt, but both the burger and the Croque Madam contained *just* the right amount.

For dessert, we ordered a chocolate cupcake with white piping on top, so that it resembled a Tastykake cupcake of yore. The cake was dense and could have been moister, but MDP and I chalked up its dryness to the refrigeration of the display case. On the large side, the cupcake featured a thin layer of chocolate frosting on its top, which was, proportionally, not enough for the cupcake, in my opinion.

I wouldn’t recommend the baked goods at Astor Bake Shop–unless, of course, you arrive as they’re taking the confections from the oven–but wholeheartedly support their brunch and dinner menus.

Take a stroll down Astoria Boulevard to Astor Bake Shop. You won’t regret it.

Astor Bake Shop

12-23 Astoria Boulevard

Astoria, NY

Take the N, Q to Astoria Boulevard. Walk about 10 blocks northwest.


Carlo’s Bakery: an experience

Carlo's bakery

Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken

I had plenty of time to take this photo. I could have waited until people weren’t standing in front of the bakery. But wait, people are always standing in front of Carlo’s Bakery, posing for photographs or peering through the large glass windows. Carlo’s is best known by TLC viewers as the Cake Boss bakery, which is why people from all over the tri-state area spent their Saturday morning standing in line for confections.

We waited an hour to get in and then had to stand around about ten minutes for our order to be taken. We started our wait in front of Carlo’s, but were then  ushered by a police officer to a faraway corner. Apparently, the Carlo’s line disrupts the peace of Washington Street.

Carlo's cakes

Beautifully decorated cakes, their signature

People were buying cakes, loads of goodies, and even Carlo’s apparel. It was nuts! People were nuts.

Carlo's Mary

Mary, Buddy's sister

Here’s Mary, one of Buddy’s sisters. Her acrid personality grates on the nerves of most Cake Boss viewers, I’m sure. We also saw Mauro, who is as big as he seems on television. After we left, we peeked down the alley where their delivery car is parked and saw Buddy loading a cake. He was pretty adorable in his bakery outfit.

Carlo's lobster tail and cannoli

Lobster tail and cannoli

We bought cookies, cannolis, lobster tails, and a cupcake. The cookies were bleh; I commented that Hungarian Pastry Shop has much better fare. I enjoyed the cannoli. The shell was crisp and slightly sweetened by confectioner’s sugar. Its filling was creamy and not-too-sweet, dotted by mini chocolate chips. The lobster tails had filling slightly sweeter than the cannoli. Eating one was like biting into a giant cream-filled croissant.

Carlo's cupcake

Carlo's cupcake

My favorite treat was the cupcake. Its yellow cake was denser than that of Magnolia and its ilk.The frosting was rich and fudgy and there was just enough.

Overall, I think the trip was worth it. We got to see Buddy and the treats aren’t bad. I’m not sure I’d wait another hour to get into a bakery. This isn’t the Shake Shack, after all.