Tuesday, September 25, 2012
How I Met My Hero on My Lunch Hour
Today, just a few blocks from my Lower East Side office, I walked into the wonderful Essex Street Market and came face-to-face with one of my all-time pastry heroes -- Dorie Greenspan. (Reason number 2,045 I'm glad I live in New York.) I didn't have to wait on a long line or fight crowds to see her. There she was, manning counter of her tiny new cookie shop, Beurre & Sel, opened with her son Josh and a business partner Daniel Seehoff. Dorie was charming and unassuming and even more lovely than I'd imagined. (Ellen, my colleague who accompanied me to the market and whose mother is a huge Dorie fan, couldn't get over the fact that this pastry legend was simply there, selling her cookies.)
Those of my readers who bake, and those who simply follow the food world, surely know Dorie Greenspan. She's the author of nine cookbooks, star of an iPad ap (from which I finally learned to master pastry cream), creator of the world-famous World Peace Cookie and of one my very favorite cakes, French Yogurt Cake, much better than it sounds and the only cake that the French bake at home. There's also something called Tuesdays with Dorie, in which hundreds of bloggers bake one of her recipes each Tuesday, and then write about it, for that's what bloggers do.
Back to Beurre & Sel. I couldn't decide which cookies to choose so I did the only sensible thing, which was to buy one of each. I can't remember all the offerings, but among them were a lime coconut, the world peace, a plain sable with sparkling sugar, a really unusual sable with blueberry jam and struesel, an espresso with Vahlrona chocolate, one with white and dark chocolate chunks and a very buttery brown sugar pecan cookie.
I set up a sample table at my desk at Henry Street Settlement. It didn't take long for the pristine cookies above, to look like the cookie scraps, below. One cookie was better than the last, though the brown sugar pecan and the jam strusel cookies were considered the favorites. But let's just say they were all addicting. I took the remains of the day home to my grateful family and there were raves all around. When I want to get on their good side, I know just what to do -- bring home a box of whole cookies Or Dorie showed us some charming cylindrical packages, stacked with what she called cocktail cookies, miniature versions of the larger ones. A chocolate mint cookie only comes in the small size. What a fabulous hostess gift those would be.
For all you New Yorkers and all of you who will visit, get yourself to the Essex Market, one of only two remaining markets created by Mayor LaGuardia in 1940, in an attempt to bring the sidewalk pushcart vendors inside to a more sanitized and controlled environment. The modern day Essex is filled with a mixture of old and new, and not to be missed. For the history and, equally important, for these cookies. In what is probably not a coincidence the other branch of Beurre & Sel (and the one with the ovens) is in La Maqueta in East Harlem, which happens to be the second remaining LaGuardia era city market.