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Cookie Hunt

I don’t know if it was the treasure island theme, the two tiered Italian carousel or a contact high from too many helium balloons, but in the late seventies, Omni International Mall sold the most incredible chocolate chip cookies ever made.  To this day, if any one in my family mentions that they had a really great cookie, the first question is always, “Omni International good?”  Although it’s hard to find a bad chocolate chip cookie, everyone has a different criteria for what makes a great one.  The Omni cookies met every possible criteria simultaneously. They were cakey but crisp, gooey but dunkable, and then they were gone.  The Omni went from being an upscale retail experiment housing Pucci and Hermes to a tropical shipwreck and sometimes Miami Vice location that prompted your parents to ask if your doors were locked when driving past. Read more

I Heart Cafe Pedlar

Given the dire state of our economy, it’s probably a mistake to take every business closing in my neighborhood to heart, but I can’t help it.  When Café Nova on the corner of Warren St. & Court St. closed down, I was crushed.  Naturally, I blamed myself.  Was it because I regularly took up their tables for an hour and 15 minutes to nurse a single latte while I did my laundry?  Was it because I refused to call it anything but Café Nova even though it had been Margaret Palca Bakes for a couple of years already?  Was I too aggressive when I stared down that spoiled 8 year old girl for a table?  Did I scare away the mommy money and help put them out of business?  Mostly, I love my neighborhood and don’t want to see it suffer.  Since my favorite coffee spot closed this January, my heart would sink a little every time I passed the shuttered corner. Read more

Shortbread Saints

I promised myself that it wouldn’t escalate.  An after-work dinner with a friend in a nearby restaurant became dinner with friends plural at my house.  I know it’s a mistake to try new things on guests. By the time people arrive, I’m too tense/excited/tired depending on how it went that I can’t enjoy myself.  But who can resist a captive audience? Read more

Lucky Red Cakes

Last night Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO hosted a party for Jennifer 8. Lee’s The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.  It was a great event with Chinese ice cream, Thai beer, and lucky cakes from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory.  Lee showed footage from her research into the true origins of General Tso’s chicken, chop suey and fortune cookies among others.  It’s a great story about cultural adaptation and reminds us all that immigrants who speak with accents don’t necessarily think with them.

I Get Baked

Baked in Red Hook is the dream coffee shop for anyone not fully recovered from the first season of Twin Peaks.  With its hunting lodge atmosphere and sleek design, you feel like Audrey is going to stroll in any minute.  Always busy despite its location in the lonely industrial stretch leading to the piers, it’s customers seem to materialize just outside it’s doors.  The bakery offers grown up versions of the sweets you would have wanted all the time when you were a kid, if only you could have found someone to make them for you.  Rows of chunky cookies, whoopie pies, malt ball covered cakes, and peppermint marshmallows to serve off little princess plates between cups of pretend tea to your (in my case imaginary) friends. Read more

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