This post was originally meant to be about Baked one of New York’s top bakeries, but it got somewhat hijacked by my rediscovering the area known as Red Hook in Brooklyn. I set off to discover what sweet treats Baked had in their actual store having been eating their Chocolate cloud cookies and brownies which they wholesale throughout the city. My only other previous visit to Red Hook took place on a sweaty August evening last year when i was less than enamoured by the industrial landscape i was forced to trek through to get to our dinner reservation. Having moaned most of the way there (we were going to The Good Fork, an excellent New American restaurant deep in the Hook) i remembered passing the shuttered bakery and noting that i had to return in daylight hours to see what magic they were creating in their own place.
It’s still very pretty here in New York at the moment, the sky is a lush blue and the biting cold of winter is being held back by the low winter sun, although step into the shade and you are quickly reminded that it is late November. It’s a good couple of miles down to Red Hook and although there is a bus i prefer the walk. I worry i am becoming a believer in the idea that the journey is more important than the destination, that said, right now i have all the time in the world to enjoy the journey so the destination becomes a little less meaningful. Along the way i realise what it is that attracts people to this somewhat ugly and remote part of town.
It is true that there is an Ikea in Red hook but for me this is another glaring warning to avoid the area. Can anyone tell me they long to live near an Ikea store?!? The only other amenity is the Fairway store down by the water. Normally large supermarkets are eyesores of the highest order but this one is housed in the most amazing Pre-Civil War warehouse. Its right on the water and the bay looks out onto the Statue of Liberty.
Its pretty special for a supermarket. I couldn’t help but take a look around, the place is vast and has all kinds of sections, including ‘British Favourites’ where i found some treats to remind me of home.
Anyway, supermarket and Ikea aside, on the surface there is little of use or beauty in the area, however i think that this is what attracts me. The place is definitely residential in the sense that lots of people live here, but it retains a very urban and industrial feel to it. The docks are still working and every street off of Van Brunt (the main drag) is full of warehouses, work shops and small businesses. The scattering of restaurants, galleries and up market wine stores are heavily outnumbered by the daily activities of working men and women.
So photo tour of Red Hook over i will come back to Baked the original destination of my journey. The bakery is pretty well-known throughout the country having had the Oprah seal of approval, backed up by two cookbooks full of amazing recipes and pictures. My blogging friend over in Berlin Foodieinberlin will testify as she is baking her way through, me, i prefer just to eat.
I mentioned the cloud cookies, a kind of puffy double chocolate chip cookie with chewy centre, and the brownies are excellent, but i wanted to try some of the things only available in store. I ordered a small hot chocolate which when it arrived was in fact the largest beverage i have ever seen, it was very rich and reminded me of the most incredible hot chocolate in the world from Cafe Angelina in Paris (this blog post says it all), although not quite to the Parisian standard. I also took away some apple pie bar, which was very good, and brookie which is a cookie baked in a brownie, which probably sounds better than it was.
All in all the journey was greater than the destination, but this should not detract from the bakery which sells some of the best cakes in all NYC, and if you are looking for a gift for a pastry baking friend i can recommend either of their books.