Sweet Mickey’s

November 5, 2016

Fudge is something we equate with summer, or at least I do. Boardwalks and beach towns, the chocolate melting onto your fingers, eating the brick of fudge you meant to bring back to friends… But this year, I found my fudge fix in the fall – specifically in a lovely candy store in Ballard called Sweet Mickey’s. They are a candy shop that not only sells all kind of fun candy, they also make their own amazing fudge.

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The fudge flavor of the season was pumpkin, and (a bit skeptically) I bought a small piece of that along with salted chocolate caramel and chocolate walnut.

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The pumpkin (center) was easily the best. Laced with a layer of caramel, the pumpkin flavor shone without tasting like a candy version of a pumpkin spiced latte. Texture was fudgy yet delicate, with the caramel layer adding gooey complexity. Runner up was the salted caramel – the fudge itself was dense and the flavors completed one another perfectly. The chocolate walnut was also good – just not as interesting as the other two. Overall, this was some of the best fudge I’ve ever had – my only mistake was not buying more of it.

Eastern Cafe

October 22, 2016

Looking for that coffee shop with outlets, free wifi, space to work, and most importantly, dessert? The Eastern Cafe is all of those. Ride the streetcar or light rail, take a stroll around one of Seattle’s most authentic neighborhoods, and then enjoy this pleasant cafe in the International District. Good coffee and a hip but friendly atmosphere, this is a great place to post up with your laptop or a book.

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Make your work-from-home experience complete with a tasty dessert crepe (savory options and sandwiches area also available). I got the fruit and nutella crepe:

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With plentiful nutella and bananas, real whipped cream, almonds, and powdered sugar, this is a treat worthy of Parisian sidewalk cafes.

Sea Wolf Bakers

October 9, 2016

If you’re more concerned with substance over style, or just want to grab some of the best bread in Seattle to up your dinner party game, check out bare bones Sea Wolf Bakers in Fremont. They do one thing, and do it really well – bread and pastries. They have a warehouse/wholesale type space with a couple tables and minimal service, but the folks there are friendly and hardworking and most importantly, excellent bakers of bread.

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I bought a baguette and a loaf of sourdough rye, as well as a couple pastries. The baguette was of the traditional French variety – meaning it cuts up the roof of your mouth and has a high crust to dough ratio. The rye was dark, very like Russian black bread, with a wonderful fermenty-tasting bite to it. As for the pastries, one was a chocolate croissant and the other a huckleberry danish. 

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Both were outstanding (especially since they were still warm), with crispy, flaky outsides and buttery but light innards. There is definitely a level of perfection and hand-made care that sets Sea Wolf apart from lesser, grocery-store ready spots (ahem, Essentials) and makes their bread worth seeking out whenever possible. I know I will.

Marketing in Magnolia

September 18, 2016

I’ve lived in Seattle for a decade and somehow I’ve never been to Magnolia – not even Discovery Park. I decided to rectify this situation while also checking a couple bakeries off my list, including Cereal Box Bakery. Cereal Box doesn’t have a storefront, but operates a delivery service (baked goods and fresh baked bread delivered to your doorstep!) and has a booth at the Magnolia Farmers Market. That’s where I found them, and selected a peach muffin top and a jam-filled scone.

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Both were notable in their lower-than-usual sugar levels, which I actually appreciated. It was more like breakfast and less like dessert, which was fine… because my next stop was Petit Pierre Bakery. No shortage of sugar here!

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I started with a homemade pop tart, which was nothing like the grocery store variety. Flakey, with a lovely jam filling and homemade icing – you don’t need to be a kid to appreciate these. For later, I got a raspberry chocolate brownie type thing, which was less impressive but still enjoyable:

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It was a little on the dry side. I would stick to the pastries and more traditional French desserts – their lemon tarts and macarons looked pretty good. The cafe itself was cute and popular, with excellent espresso and friendly service.

Market Treats Round II

September 7, 2016

The South Lake Union Saturday Market has a wealth of dessert options (including macaron ice cream sandwiches, as mentioned below). One spot that’s gotten a lot of hype is Susu, an on-trend rolled ice cream stand.  If you’re wondering what rolled ice cream is, it’s like a cooler, more modern version of Dippin Dots. The flavored cream is poured onto a freezing surface and spread out like a square crepe. Cookie crumbles or other toppings are added for texture.

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Then, sections are rolled up with the spatula, just like you’d roll up a yoga mat. Susu’s flavor/topping choices range from S’mores to Tiramisu. I got the earl grey tea with sesame seeds.

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The joy of Susu is partly in the flavors, partly in the texture, and largely in watching the process. It’s ice cream art and it’s worth savoring (and Instagramming).

Market Treats… Again!

August 3, 2016

It’s market season in Seattle and once again, my goal is to visit each and every one. It’s a great way to explore small, artisan bakers and dessert makers, and on my recent trip to the West Seattle market I found tiny Shambala Bakery, specializing in vegan and gluten-free desserts. Now, I’m not a huge fan of either category, but I have friends who are so I bought a few items for them:

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That’s a banana muffin and a lemon sugar cookie – both vegan and gluten-free. I missed the wheat more than the dairy – both seemed on the gritty side to me. But my vegan and gluten-free friends said both were really good.  Next up was the South Lake Union Saturday Market, where I found Macadons – Macarons by Donna. The fun part of this macaron stand was that they sell ice cream sandwiches (macaron style, naturally). I got the lychee:

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Mild and sweet, it was an interesting twist on the typical macaron – but I got some of those too:

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Let me take a minute to talk about the durian flavor – the yellow cookie on the left. As most folks know, the durian is a foul-smelling tropical fruit – not your typical macaron flavor (they are packaged separately to avoid contaminating the flavors of the other macarons). Honestly, I took a bite and threw the rest out – I was happy to try it but it wasn’t for me. Much friendlier to the palate was the tutti fruity (red) flavor, the nutella (brown) flavor, and the oreo (grey) flavor. But all (minus the durian) were excellent and recommended.

Pellegrini Italian Market

July 26, 2016

If you’ve lived in the Atlantic Northeast, it’s hard to eat Italian in the Pacific Northwest. Sure, places like Spinasse will impress, but when it comes to the neighborhood deli/market, pickings are slim. That’s why I was excited to try Pellegrini Italian Market in West Seattle – it brought me home for a minute and I could enjoy the very Seattle experience of the West Seattle Farmers Market while eating a Sicilian slice. The desserts were varied, colorful, and almost overwhelmingly abundant. It took some time to choose so I started with a nutella cookie and espresso while I thought things over.

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The cookie was nutty and fresh with a healthy dollup of nutella (and went well with the espresso) but I needed something a bit more iconic. Enter the rainbow cookie!

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These Italian confections are found all over the Northeast but are hard to get right, the main problem being that they get stale quickly (and this cookie was indeed on the dry side). They can also be too almondy or too sweet (this one had the right balance of both). But the real showstopper was the  peach sandwich cookie:

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Loved the crunchy sugar “crust” and loved the jam-like filling. With “pretty” desserts like this, I worry that the instagram value outweighs the flavor, but in this case, both were unbeatable. Verdict: Pellegrini tastes like home SWEET home. (Sorry for that one.)

Shug’s Soda Fountain

July 16, 2016

If you’re tired of the retro decor/food scene, Shug’s probably isn’t for you. But if you are looking for a spot you can take your kids, hipster friend, date, or silent reading group, Shug’s will work for you! (Yes, there was a silent reading group there when I visited, and no, I didn’t ask how to join even though I really, really wanted to.) The space is light, friendly, and hip without being pretentious or gimmicky, and the location makes it a perfect post-Pike Place Market cool-down.

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There are novelty items (which would actually be standard items in New York) like an egg cream and lime rickey, beer floats, shakes, sundaes, and house-made sodas. The Sundaes were the most intriguing part of the menu – the Brown Derby involves a Mighty-O donut – and I selected the Crested Lourie:

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Coconut ice cream, pineapple, Grenadine, and cashew-coconut brittle. I gave the sundae a thumbs up overall, although the pineapple could have been fresher and the brittle would have been easier to deal with if it were broken up. My date got the Kitty Canutt:

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Cinnamon ice cream, apple compote, and graham cracker crumble. I’d like to return and try their egg cream, malts, and sodas… and maybe that Brown Derby sundae. Because donut.

Choukette

July 9, 2016

I don’t spend a ton of time in Pike Place Market or downtown Seattle, but for various reasons I’ve found myself there several times in the last few weeks. I’ve been surprised to discover the many hidden gems to be found below the market, on Western, including the newly opened Choukette – a bakery specializing solely in eclairs. Apparently, however, it’s not secret enough, because the shop was almost sold out by noon thanks to some unexpected publicity from Seattle Met and an eclair-loving populace.

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There were, luckily, a few eclairs remaining and I was able to try the lemon curd and the salted caramel flavors.

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To be sure, these works of art are meant to be appreciated by aficionados – while they are neither large nor cheap, neither are they bland, stale, or overly sweet. The pastry dough was light and pillowy and was the perfect accompaniment to the cream. The best part, however, were the toppings. The lemon curd was bright and tart, and the salted caramel was the right notes of sweet-salty. Hopefully this little shop can keep up with demand so that I can come back and try other flavors!

Meet the Moon

May 21, 2016

After a few rainy weekends, it was time for some carbs and coziness at Leschi’s trendy-but-classic Meet the Moon.  The wide-plank floors and farmhouse feel complement the generously-sized cinnamon rolls and friendly service. Customers can get coffee and pastries to go at the counter or settle in at the bar or tables. Whichever you choose, do it early – cinnamon rolls were gone by the time I left (which was around noon).

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I had dessert for breakfast and lunch – that is, I got French toast as well as a cinnamon roll. The Challah French toast was thick and caramelized on the top and bottom, with a berry compote on top. Fancy and addictive, if a little less custardy than I usually prefer.

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The cinnamon roll was not only enormous, it was gooey, fresh, and simple with plenty of frosting. I wouldn’t have minded a heavier hand with the cinnamon but overall I think this place is a winner… and I still need to try the cocktails!