The Cronut, October 2014 addition - Pumpkin Chai

CRAZY FOR CRONUTS! Is Dominique Ansel Bakery worth the 2 Hours Wait at 7AM?

Is The Cronut worth waiting 2 hours at 7 AM in the rain for? I want to start off with two statements:

  1. Dominique Ansel is a genius
  2. He is the one and only creator of The Cronut; any other place that claims that they make “Cronuts” is just wrong

I went to visit a friend in Manhattan, NY for the weekend with the explicit intention of finally trying out the Cronut that many have raved about for awhile. Achieving The Cronut has strict rules; there is a limited supply every day. Please find below some information lifted from their website (http://dominiqueansel.com/cronut-101/).

How to Order the Cronut® Pastry?
Each Cronut® pastry retails for $5.00 (pre-tax), and there are three ways to score yourself one:

  1. Visit the Bakery – The lines start outside as early as 1 hour prior to opening (we open at 8am from Mon-Sat and 9am on Sun). As a rule of thumb, if you arrive prior to 7:30am on a week day, you have a great chance of getting the Cronut® pastry. (Weekends tend to be busier.) Please note there is a 2 Cronut® pastry per person limit for in-store purchases
  2. Get on the Pre-order List – Every Monday at 11am, we offer preorders ONLINE at www.cronutpreorder.com. Please keep in mind we are taking pre-orders for up to two weeks in advance. The limit per person for pre-orders is 6 Cronut® pastries. We can only take one pre-order per person. All pre-orders are non-refundable, non-exchangeable, and the date of pick up cannot be rescheduled
  3. Place a Large Order (Over 50) – Please email the shop at info@dominiqueansel.com. We would need a minimum of one (1) month’s advance notice. we can only take one large order a month from each individual

Wow! The high demand for The Cronut in NYC has allowed them to get away with such strict, exclusive ordering rules. I can only imagine how other bakeries feel about themselves during The Cronut hype. I can also only imagine how long this hype can sustain itself for. Heeding the warning from the website, my friend and I started to get in line at 7.30AM on Saturday. There was some slight rain, but not enough to deter a line that wrapped around the block from the bakery.

Dominique Ansel Bakery - Order Counter

The Order Counter – 1.5 hours later, we got through the door!

Dominique Ansel Bakery - Order Counter

The Iconic Keep Calm Sign- I laugh at this sometimes because it seems like almost mocking us sheep for getting so excited about The Cronut…

Dominique Ansel Bakery - Fresh Cronuts

Fresh Batch of Cronuts Spotted!

Dominique Ansel Bakery - Ordering Counter

The Other Side of The Ordering Counter – Getting up to order The Cronuts

Dominique Ansel Bakery - Pastry Gallery

Pastry Gallery – Perusing through the pastry gallery, it is clear that aside from The Cronut, Dominique Ansel’s other creations are also really good

Dominique Ansel Bakery - Pastry Gallery

Pastry Gallery – That owl in particular looks delicious. Everything looks very delicate and crafted with care

Dominique Ansel Bakery - Pastry Gallery

Pastry Gallery  – Some of these look incredibly interesting and somewhat distracting me from the original Cronut goal

The Menu - The pastries at Dominique Ansel Bakery is not cheap, but I suppose it's appropriate for Manhattan

The Menu – The pastries at Dominique Ansel Bakery is not cheap, but I suppose it’s appropriate for Manhattan

 

Finally. After what seemed like an eternity in line, I was finally able to order my Cronuts, a cup of coffee, and another pastry I sneaked in. The actual bakery is rather spacious with seating as they have an open patio in the back for diners to enjoy their fresh pastry. Unfortunately it was raining so we had to wait a few minutes for a small table against the wall in the hallway to open up.

Sake Plum Pavlova with Elder flower Cream and a Saint Germain Gelee

Sake Plum Pavlova with Elder flower Cream and a Saint Germain Gelee – A pavlova is a meringue cake with a crisp crust and soft, light inside. This delicate pastry with whipped cream and sweet sake-soaked plums was very well balanced and not overtly sweet. Furthermore the elder flower + St. Germaine, an elder flower flavored liqueur, gave it some additional fruity flavors floated on top a delicate whip cream and meringue.

The non-cronut pastry I snuck in was this Sake Plum Pavlova with Elder flower Cream and a Saint Germain Gelee. It looked beautiful and St. Germain is one of my favorite liqueur. A pavlova is a Russian meringue dessert that’s light and fluffy. With something so light and fluffy, its an appropriate sponge for both subtle and bold rich flavors. This pastry is clearly Asian influenced. Sweet Plum dipped in sake is cut up and put on top delivering rich, sweet, fruity flavors and succulent texture to an otherwise fluffy meringue cake. In addition, Saint Germaine is an elder flower liqueur, which tastes like lychee. So lychee-flavored cream and gelee is also sprinkled on top to give another style of rich, sweet, fruity flavors and a soft texture. While the description may make it seem like a fruit syrup-covered fluff cake, the pastry wasn’t overtly sweet. It had just the right amount of balance to it that I was able to taste the subtle sake flavors and enjoy the meringue.

Last but certainly not the least (since this is why I came to the bakery for), The Cronut!

The Cronut, October 2014 addition - Pumpkin Chai

The Cronut, October 2014 edition: Pumpkin Chai. 2 per person limit. The legendary croissant donut with pumpkin chai cream filling and a pumpkin chai glaze on top

The Cronut, October 2014 addition - Pumpkin Chai

The Cronut, October 2014 edition: Pumpkin Chai – Cut open, you could see the delicate croissant layers with the donut uumph!

The Cronut can be described as a croissant-doughnut hybrid and combines the best of both types of pastry. It is hearty without being heavy. It’s light without being flaky. One can feel and hear the crispy crunch of the layers breaking with each bite. The flavor is spot-on and balanced without being too sweet. The Pumpkin Chai cream inside was simply delicious that spices up my sense. Neither the cream or the dough overpowered each other in flavor, but it all came together harmoniously. The glaze on top was a little bit more rich in flavor, but if eaten correctly, the little bit of rich contrast from the glaze to each bite of cronut that, again, comes together harmoniously.

The construction of the Cronut is simple, but execution must be rather difficult. Here are the summary steps:

  1. Create a laminated dough likened to a croissant
  2. Fry the dough in grapeseed oil like a donut
  3. Once cooked, flavor The Cronut by rolling it in sugar, filling it with cream, and topping with glaze

 

Edit:

On October, 2014 Dominque Ansel released his recipes (including the recipe for The Cronut) in his book, The Secre Recipes (http://www.amazon.com/Dominique-Ansel-The-Secret-Recipes/dp/1476764190). It’s a really beautiful book. however, even with the recipe, I would challenge anyone to try the Cronut. At the end of the day, it might still be a lot easier and better to wait in line to fork over the $5.

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Review: Fish Tag Brunch

fishtag
Arriving at a humble-looking restaurant front in the Upper West End in New York City, we entered Fish Tag from the bar reception, through a corridor, and into a ceiling-lit dinning space. The dining area felt like a hide-away from the rest of the city. With only 4 other tables and 2 waiters on the floor, the clean, cozy atmosphere accompanied by soft jazzy background music promised a wonderful brunch experience in good company.

fishtag2

Fish Tag is a restaurant by Chef Michael Psilakis offering a Mediterranean-inspired seafood twist to common brunch menu items. The deal of the day seemed to be the $18 brunch prix fix that included fresh coffee or tea, a brunch drink (mimosa, bloody mary, bitter sweet, hair of the dogfish), and any brunch entre. Fresh hot coffee in the morning is always a welcomed pleasure. In addition, I chose to have glass of fresh mimosa and the Smoked Trout Hash, which included a fried egg and mustard seed hollandaise sauce.

The Smoked Trout Hash was a well-crafted dish composed of soft, savory, melt-in-your-mouth smoked trout; firm, snappy sautéed mince of peppers, carrots, and onions; and crispy, deep-fried cuts of potato hashes. Finally two lightly fried eggs were layered on top garnished with spring onions and dripped with delicious mustard seed hollandaise sauce.

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The Smoked Trout Hash offered a good mixture of textures in each bite. The minced vegetables provided hearty, soft flavors to support the more salty flavors of the smoked trout and fried potato hashes. The fried eggs with a runny yolk and the hollandaise sauce further enhanced the flavors of the dish all together.

The beautifully presented brunch was delicious. Although the service quality had some weaknesses, I would definitely come to Fish Tag again.