As usual I experienced so much serious deliciousness this year, so when Max asked me to come up with a list of my favorite must-eats, I found it excruciatingly difficult to limit myself to the usual ten, so I didn't.
'Balthazar Bakery' on Serious Eats
In 1997, Balthazar opened its doors on Spring Street. Downstairs in the basement, a corner was set aside for a little bread-making operation. On the first day, every table was decorated with a basket containing house-made breads: a baguette, a whole wheat, a rye, and so on. Fifteen years later, nearly identical loaves are still sold by the Balthazar Bakery, which has grown to be one of the city's biggest and most consistently excellent artisan bakeries.
Regardless of when you visit Balthazar Bakery, you will always find a Rustic Galette ($5.95) on the menu. The seasonal fruit toppings change often—think plums, berries, and peaches—but you can always count on that generously sized and supremely flaky tart.
This is a gorgeously crisp, beautifully buttery pastry showcase for rich, jammy plums and deeply nutty almonds. It's plenty sweet, but in a plush, luxurious way—and just tart enough to stay balanced.
Come fall, all I can think about are apples. Mainly apple pie, in about a dozen different forms, but sometimes you have to branch out. Apples in turnovers, or paired with cinnamon and dusted in powdered sugar—or turned into sorbet and served alongside butterscotch panna cotta. Here are five apple desserts we love; let us know if we've missed yours!
Who doesn't love the delicate, sweet crunch of a lightly caramelized surface? There's nothing like the satisfying tap of spoon on sugar before you make your way into a deep bowl of custard and pudding. A sprinkle of sugar, a light torch or a trip in the broiler; that simple touch makes all the difference.
Dense, but plenty moist vanilla cake is layered with an utterly smooth and sufficiently tart passion fruit curd.
Warmer weather means outdoor eating, and one of my favorite places to grab a quick lunch to-go in Soho with guaranteed seating at benches right outside is Balthazar Bakery. Sink in your teeth into their into one of their two savory croissant sandwiches ($7.25 each). My heart lies with the fresh Asparagus and Mushroom, oozing Gruyere; but for something meatier, the Ham and Béchamel combination is just as good.
Sometimes they're topped with chocolate, other times with a crisp shatter of caramel. Often they're filled with vanilla pastry cream, but on other occasions you can score caramel or chocolate cream.