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It’s So Delicious and Moist

March 8, 2012

Young Master Fussy has a new favorite song. And coincidentally it’s kind of about cake.

I say coincidentally because yesterday I had the chance to pop into Crisan, one of the best bakeries in the region and the wellspring of birthday cakes for the Fussy household. Really I was there because I had a little bit of time to kill in between a late breakfast at Sam’s Home Cooking and a coffee date across the street at Daily Grind.

So I thought, “What better way to pass the time than munching on something delightful?” And while cake isn’t exactly on my new diet, I had just finished a big bowl of hearty and heart-healthy oatmeal, and figured I could find something small that was on the more healthful side of decadent.

What I found exceeded all expectations, and made me recall why eating here is such a joy.

Cupcakes you eat with your hands. Cake comes on a plate with a utensil. And at Crisan even the plates and utensils are special. These details are not lost on me.

The plates are heavy, some with gilded edges, others with colorful patterns. The plates are also appropriately small, so that the modest pieces of cake they serve are well framed within their borders.

But it’s their utensils that steal the show. They too have some heft, which is impressive because they are so small. The three-tined fork is a fine instrument for savoring small bites of a precious morsel of cake. But what’s amazing about its design is how it doesn’t feel diminutive in my large man-hands.

My concern is that far too many people take their Crisan treats to go, and they never get to experience the added joy of the bakery’s tableware. Granted, in the winter there are only three tables, but if you go, it pays to be brave. Ask strangers if they would be so kind as to share the table with you. I’m guessing if you are polite, most would say yes.

If you follow me on twitter, you already know what I found to eat. But even if you do, there is only so much one can convey in 140 characters at a time. And short form isn’t my specialty.

The cake was called Olivia.

Before I tell you what it is, I should probably reiterate a few thoughts on the themes of trust, craftsmanship and creativity. Because these are central to why I ordered what many people might otherwise avoid.

Finding a great producer is amazing. That is to say, someone who is passionate and skilled at what they do, and whose taste lines up with your own. Harvest Spirits comes readily to mind. Now, I haven’t loved everything they have bottled. The first batches of grappa (the new stuff is much improved) and their raspberry infusion never wowed me.

So when Derek told me I should really try their peach schnapps, it took all my resolve not to roll my eyes. Could he seriously be making a craft version of the 1980s sugary cocktail staple? Would we soon be seeing Sex on the Hudson cocktails?

But his bore no resemblance to the dreck of the past. It was made from a massive quantity of fresh peaches and had deeply oaked applejack at its core to give the spirit some backbone and tannic balance.

Sometimes it pays to follow these people down their flights of fancy.

Claudia at Crisan is one such person. And I trust that if she decides to put a cake in her case that it is indeed going to be something special. From a consumer’s perspective, this is great, because it allows you to take risks and step a bit beyond your comfort zone to try flavors that might be new and unusual.

Like Olivia, which is two petite triangles of citrus olive-oil cake, layered and frosted with candied cherry tomato cream. Yes, it’s tomato and olive oil cake, and it’s delicious. After all, as Claudia reminded me, tomatoes are a fruit.

Despite how it may sound on paper, all of the flavors work harmoniously together, into a rich and tender morsel that has less butter than traditional cakes, and really only a hint of cream. So I think I did pretty well from a healthfulness perspective. Plus it brought me a ton of pleasure.

Perhaps the only thing I would change is the garnish. Instead of a single solitary white chocolate chip, I would replace it with a miniscule piece of candied citrus. But mostly because I’m against “white chocolate” on principle. And even that is picking nits.

Did I mention that the piece of cake was only a dollar? Now that is just crazy. It would be a bargain at twice the price. Don’t tell anybody. And if you get down there and Olivia is gone remember the immortal words of GLADOS:

There is no sense crying over every mistake
You just keep on trying till you run out of cake

Seriously, there are so many delicious cakes at Crisan, each served on a pretty plate with a perfectly proportioned utensil, that you could spend months trying to eat them all. Or you could spread the project out over years.

Look at me still talking when there’s science to do.

Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. I’ll be singing this song all to myself all day.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2012 11:22 am

    You probably know this already, but “the cake is a lie.”

  2. Darren Shupe permalink
    March 8, 2012 12:11 pm

    I think everyone north of Poughkeepsie has been to Crisan. It’s right there on Lark Street, after all. A great place, but everybody already knows that.

  3. Jazzngas permalink
    March 8, 2012 10:58 pm

    Problem is I live north of Albany and Mrs. London’s is an easy walk from home
    . ML is as Food and Wine magazine said the best bakery in North America. That said, I’ve got to get back back to my home town and visit Crisan. Are we blessed or what with these kind of problems?

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