When I heard the news that Soutine, my favorite postage stamp-size bakery in the whole world, had closed its doors late last week, the news hit me like a pound of frozen French butter. From the day owner Madge Rosenberg and her late husband Barry opened the doors more than thirty years ago, I have been an all-too-steady-for-my-waistline's-good customer. Let me count the ways and the things that I will miss about my beloved Soutine:
Concorde Cake: For many years the Concorde Cake was my go-to cake when I was asked to bring dessert to a dinner party. It's an irresistible combination of meringue, chocolate, and mousse. Kathy YL Chan agreed with me.
Cheddar Rolls: tangy, cheesy, crunchy twisted knots of pure pleasure. Each roll was a perfect light walking meal.
Coconut Cake: When I did a coconut cake tasting more than a few years ago, I don't remember if Soutine's won. I do know that it's a damn serious coconut cake, light, moist, and not too sweet.
Pear Walnut Muffins: Damn near every muffin in this town is too big, too dry, and too dull-tasting. Not Madge's Pear Walnut muffin, with its big chunks of pears, its moist and light cakey texture, and just the right number of walnuts.
Birthday Cake: When I think about Soutine's occasion cakes I start to feel totally bereft. I've built more birthday cakes to order from Soutine than any other bakery. Mocha buttercream? Check. Chocolate ganache? Absolutely. Moist, light, yellow or white cake base? Oh yeah. I really don't know what I'm going to do now that Soutine is gone.
Other Soutine favorites are double-crusted fruit pies, crisp and buttery chocolate chip cookies, excellent apple turnovers, and flourless cakes for Passover that were so good I didn't miss the flour, and insanely cute gingerbread houses that tasted as good as they looked.
Our trusty sweets correspondent Kathy YL Chan has been to Soutine almost as many times as I have, based on how many posts she has done about it.
The good news is that Madge's baked goods magic is not leaving us forever. Here's what the West Side Rag is reporting:
"Madge sold the lease to Muffins Cafe, the muffin shop on Columbus between 70th and 71st Streets. The name of the bakery may change, but some of the food may be familiar: Madge said she sold them her recipes too."
"She also sold recipes to Jessica Echevarria, a former Soutine employee who opened bakery One Cup Two Cupcakes on 107th and Columbus earlier this year. Madge (pictured below) plans to help bake at One Cup too."
But neither of those alternatives can take the place of Soutine, the magical little bake shop all serious eaters deserve.