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Entries in new mexico (25)

Saturday
Mar162013

Pastry Profiles: the Montmartre from The French Pastry Shop and Creperie, Santa Fe

Montmartre

Now here's a pastry that makes me want to start singing "Isn't she lovely?". 

Beautiful red strawberries standing proudly at attention, gleaming under an apricot glaze. Thick whipped cream. Spongey cake. A rich layer of pastry cream. More cake to keep it all in place. That, my friends, is the Montmartre, a totally sweet pastry named after a Parisian neighborhood which I scored at The French Pastry Shop and Creperie in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

How did I choose this pastry above all the others in their delectably filled cases? Easy: I asked the employee working the counter what the very best thing was in the case. He kind of blushed, said of course everything was good, but that his personal favorite was this bad boy. And so I went with it.

I wasn't disappointed. The Montmartre was kind of like strawberry shortcake's more glamorous French cousin, with a little more sophistication and je ne sais quoi. But when it came down to it, the strawberries n cream was down-home delicious, to the very last bite. 

A sweet find indeed! 

The French Pastry Shop & Creperie, 100 E. San Francisco Street, Santa Fe NM; online here.

Sunday
Mar102013

CakeSpy Undercover: Banana-Coconut Cream Pie, Jambo Cafe, Santa Fe

Dessert, jambo cafe, santa fe

Totally sweet! This week will bring 3/14, otherwise known as "the other pie day". But rather than get involved in an argument over whether 1/23 (the day the American Pie Council deems National Pie Day) or 3/14 is the true Pie Day, I'd rather spend this valuable online word real estate to tell you about the best pie I've eaten recently: the Banana-Coconut Cream Pie from Jambo Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Now. A little briefing on Jambo Cafe. Their menu merges aspects of Jamaican, African, and Middle Eastern cuisine, and every single thing is delicious. While not dessert, their cinnamon-sugar dusted plantains as an appetizer are a great lightly sweet beginning, and it will definitely set the tone for a meal that must end with dessert.

You must get dessert here, because other than their baklava, which is made by an outside vendor, it's all baked in-house. I was pretty excited to try more of their sweets, as I had already tried their rum pecan pie at an event.

When I recently went there, I ordered the Banana-Coconut Cream Pie, and my dining companion got the Flourless Chocolate Cake. When they both arrived, we were so excited. We each took a respective bite of our own desserts, then politely offered each other a bite.

Flourless chocolate cake, Jambo Cafe, Santa Fe

After taking a bite of that flourless chocolate cake, I smiled and whispered in my companion's ear, "Mine's better". 

There was nothing wrong with the cake, of course. But the banana-coconut cream pie was just so good. Since I know my low-light photos don't quite do it justice, I'll tell you about it from the bottom up. 

Dessert, jambo cafe, santa fe

First up, a nice, sturdy crust. It wasn't soggy under the weight of all the custardy stuff. It was nice and crispy and had just slightly absorbed the flavors of the pie filling, making for a delightful cookie-esque backdrop.Jambo Cafe, Santa Fe NM

Next, the filling. Oh, the filling! If you imagine the best version of a rich, thick banana cream pudding (you know, the kind with real bananas), you're on the right track...but now, add an extra element of delight by putting in some coconut. Got the idea? This pie is just that: a mashup of the tastiest banana cream pudding and coconut cream pie you've ever tasted. 

But don't stop there. Top it with freshly made whipped cream and then dust it with cocoa and cinnamon sugar. Isn't your mouth happy just imagining this?

If you don't like banana, or you don't like coconut, please, for the love of all things tasty, just click away from this page now. But if you do love these flavors, then please, consider taking a road trip or airplane right, right this very minute, to try some of this pie. I don't think you'll regret it. 

Jambo Cafe, 2011 Cerillos Road, Santa Fe NM; online here.

Saturday
Feb022013

CakeSpy Undercover: Cocopelli, Santa Fe NM

tres leches cake, cocopelli

It's the age-old story: CakeSpy will tell you about something sweet she got to eat. I don't know about you, but for me, this never gets old!

This time, I'm going to tell you about a place called Cocopelli in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It's by a megatron movie theater. Honestly, by sight alone, this shopping complex is not the type of place you'd expect to find unique, baked-on-premises sweets. But looks can be deceiving.

Image: Cocopelli

After viewing a movie at aforementioned megatron jumpoplex theater, a friend and I were walking in the parking lot when a gentleman wearing a chef's hat, apron, and carrying a tray of cupcakes approached us. "Red Velvet Cupcake?" he asked? Well, I think you know my response. I know you're not supposed to take candy from strangers, but cupcakes from strangers are OK, right?

The cupcake was rather impressive--the cream cheese frosting was perfectly tangy, the cake was nice and rich. I wanted more.

Cocopelli

The marketing gentleman was kind enough to suggest that we visit the bakery, and we did. Cocopelli

Since it was getting late-ish, the supplies had dwindled, but I was delighted by what they had. One of the bakers, who was on-site, told us that the owner was a chocolatier, and that she had bakers who did the other sweets. The main offerings you'll see upon entering are chocolates and cupcakes, but there are some other items available, including ice cream from Taos Cow. The baker we spoke to knew her stuff--she's a trained pastry chef, and brings some serious love to her cakes and cupcakes.

Cocopelli

After viewing all the choices, we settled on the Tres Leches cupcake, which looked so saturated with sweet dairy that it was coming out of its jacket. It weighted about a pound (I say this as a compliment). It was very good. The almost-wet cake was so dairylicious that it almost felt like eating cake and ice cream at the same time. The frosting was rich and smooth and probably not even necessary with a cake that rich, but oh so welcome. The spice on top provided a nice roundness to the extreme dairy overload.

Cocopelli

This was a good cupcake, and the chocolates we sampled were very nice, too. I think it's well worth a visit, and not just if you find yourself at the movies next door!

Cocopelli, 3482 Zafarano Drive, Santa Fe; online here.

Saturday
Jan262013

CakeSpy Undercover: Revolution Bakery, Santa Fe NM

Gluten Free Cinnamon Roll

I'll be totally honest: sometimes, gluten-free baked goods just taste funny to me.

I know it's not their fault. They're made using a different type of flour--flours, in fact! It's not just a matter of swapping "all purpose" for "gluten-free". It's a little trickier than that. Most gluten-free baking is actually done with a mix of a few types of flour, to guarantee a good combination of flavor and texture.

And likewise, the taste doesn't always translate exactly. Some gluten-free flours will impart a more assertive flavor than white flour. That, I think, is what makes the goods kind of funny sometimes. Like, they taste too healthy or they have too crumbly a texture or something.

gluten free cinnamon roll

So when I taste a gluten-free baked good, do try to be aware of these things, that they will never taste exactly like their floury counterparts. 

But they still can be a thing of beauty in their own, gluten-free right. And an example of a bakery that has a good thing going on is Revolution Bakery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

At Revolution bakery, they have a big focus on bread as you walk into the cafe, but they also have a very nice selection of pastries and baked goods--they do cakes, too.

Keeping it simple, I chose a quinoa chocolate chip cookie (which was vegan, too) and a cinnamon roll. 

Gluten free cookie

The chocolate chip cookie was very nice. It was crispy around the edges but slightly softer inside. It crumbled lightly when bitten into, like a coarser sort of shortbread, and the flavor was slightly nutty and almost oat-y, which made it taste like a health cookie, sort of. I say "sort of" because it was assertively cookie-ish enough to not ever be confused with a granola bar. This is the type of healthy sweet I like: one that I can tell myself is virtuous, even if it really isn't.

Gluten free cinnamon roll

The cinnamon roll was likewise lightly nutty in flavor, which worked quite well with the yeastiness of the pastry. But what this treat is really all about is the cinnamon-sugar filling and frosting, which play together to create a symphony of sweet morning music tastes in your mouth. A very nicely done cinnamon roll. Had I tried this one not knowing it was gluten-free, I might believe that a hippie-ish sort had hid flax or something inside of the dough, but I wouldn't instantly proclaim it gluten-free just upon tasting it. It had a very nice texture, too.

Baked goods are a bit spendy at this spot, but a lot goes into making a gluten-free baked good, and I think they're worth seeking out. So if you find yourself in Santa Fe, hit them up! Just remember to go early in the day, because they can tend to sell out of some things later on.

Revolution Bakery, 1291 San Felipe Boulevard; online here.

Saturday
Jan122013

CakeSpy Undercover: Dragonfly Cafe and Bakery, Taos NM

Dragonfly Cafe and Bakery, Taos NM

Not so very long ago, I visited a magical place called Taos, New Mexico. It's a place famous for a few things

It also has a bookstore called Moby Dickens and another store called Unicorn School Supply. And it is the home of Taos Cow. So naturally I liked it there.

I also heard it is the occasional home of Julia Roberts, but she's not always beloved there. But I digress.

Taos, NM

While there, I heard over and over that I simply had to visit a place called Dragonfly Cafe and Bakery. Well, if you tell me I should go to a bakery, chances are, I will--immediately. So over I walked.

Here's how it looks from the outside. It looks kind of enchanted, behind all of the desert plants, doesn't it? I'm sure it's even more so in the summertime. 

Dragonfly Cafe and Bakery, Taos NM

When I walked in with a friend, it was very quiet, and we thought maybe it was closed. It's more a restaurant in the front part. But as we walked back, we found the pastry case. Oh, hello.

Dragonfly Cafe and Bakery, Taos NM

They had a lot of good-lookin' stuff, and while we browsed the offerings, we were offered free dragonfly-shaped cookies. Very nice.

Dragonfly Cafe and Bakery, Taos NM

Of course, it soon was revealed why the cookies are complimentary--because everything else is so expensive! We got a slice of the chocolate cake with red wine-soaked cherries, and a chocoalte salted caramel tart. And a coffee. And the bill came to nearly $20. Yowch!

But gosh-darn were they good. If the picture doesn't give you the idea, let me tell you that this cake was a pure chocolate-filled bite of heaven. And since it has cherries on the top, it's probably OK to consider it health food.

Dragonfly Cafe and Bakery, Taos NM

But as for the salted caramel tart.

I'll tell the truth, I found the crust pleasant, but it was the filling, oh the filling, that made it memorable! The perfect marriage of dark, bittersweet chocolate with smooth, velvety caramel. Topped with salt to bring that beautiful flavor combination home, all in your mouth. This was one of those "oh can I please eat my weight in it" sorts of foods.

Dragonfly Cafe and Bakery, Taos NM

Oh, one more shot!

Dragonfly Cafe and Bakery, Taos NM

Based on the price, I would not call Dragonfly Cafe and Bakery an everyday type of bakery/dessert spot. Consider it more a fancy dessert place, or a place to get dinner and dessert in style. But most importantly, enjoy!

402 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM; online here.

Wednesday
Jan092013

Pastry Profiles: Carrot Muffin, El Tesoro Cafe, Santa Fe NM

El Tesoro, Santa Fe NM

I've never known a muffin like this before.

I met this muffin at a place called El Tesoro, which is located in the Sanbusco Market Center in the Guadalupe District of Santa Fe. Per the Sanbusco Center website, "This treasure, as the name El Tesoro implies, has been serving food to Santa Feans for the past ten years.  Breakfast and lunch are served daily.  The menus are a beautiful blend of New Mexican, Central American and American entrees; it is a local’s favorite for fresh guacamole, great green chile, pupusas, salvadorean tamales, salads and salmon tacos.  The food is prepared fresh daily with items made to order."

Now, a New Mexican-Central American eatery wouldn't be the place I'd expect to find a top-tier muffin...or to have a muffin on the menu at all...but that's just what they have here.

It's a carrot zucchini muffin you see in the picture above, and while the taste is just fantastic--spicy, lightly sweet, very moist--what is really intriguing about this muffin is the texture.

El Tesoro, Santa Fe NM

It's soft and cakey on the inside, but has a firm yet silky-smooth crust on the exterior. It's almost like the exterior of a popover. It makes you want to keep eating just for another bite of that perfect texture. How on earth did they do it? I would love to know!

But mostly, I'd like to eat another, and soon!

El Tesoro, 500 Montezuma Avenue, at the Sanbusco Center; online here.

Tuesday
Jan082013

CakeSpy Undercover: Rebel Donut, Albuquerque NM

Rebel Donut

When, with a rebel yell, she cried mo', mo', mo'...I'm pretty sure she was talking about donuts.

And if she was in Albuquerque, she was probably talking about Rebel Donut, a very cool place for donuts in the Land of Enchantment.

As their website entices, "Rebel Donut is Albuquerque's premier artisan donut and pastry shop specializing in designer donuts, baked goods, coffee and more. We pride ourselves in using quality ingredients to create worthwhile indulgence. Our menu consists of over 30 flavors that change daily. Come in and try our Maple Bacon, Rocky Road, Red Velvet Rebels, Raised Glazed, Fritters and much, much more. Come on....be a rebel."

Avec plaisir!

And it's not hard to love them from the get-go, with a donut counter filled with holey treats as bountiful as this:

Rebel Donut Rebel Donut

Ranging from the old standards to the new and funky, Rebel Donut has a lot of choices.Rebel Donut

And of course, because it's New Mexico, they have a flavor inspired by the Official State Cookie, the biscochito:

Rebel Donut

As well as a donut containing green chile, a staple food in the state.

Rebel Donut

And with a nod to the famous TV show which takes place and is filmed in Albuquerque, a "Breaking Bad" themed donut, complete with blue rock candy to resemble crystal meth (it's actually pretty cute):

Rebel Donut

Well. After much deliberation, we decided on a few flavors: a "birthday cake", glazed vanilla cake, and maple walnut. The donuts were affordable--I forget exactly how much each one was, but the total was less than $4 for everything.

Rebel Donut

These donuts, while not so rebellious in the taste department, were quite good and fairly traditional donuts. And that is a good thing, people! Slightly on the soft side (not as much of a crispy "crust" as some donuts). Nice and cakey and soft inside. Delicately vanilla-scented dough. Very nice icings and frostings.

Rebel Donut

A very nice pit stop for holey treats if you find yourself in Albuquerque, and the shop's decor is fun, too.

Rebel Donut, 2435 Wyoming Blvd., Albuquqerque NM; online here.

Wednesday
Jan022013

CakeSpy Undercover: Saratori's di Tully, Albuquerque NM

Saratori's, Albuquerque

When you think of an old-school Italian bakery, you probably think...New York. Boston. Providence. New Jersey. Or at least I do. I don't have actual evidence, but I feel like there is probably a higher concentration of such bakeries in the Northeast. 

Albuquerque, New Mexico probably wouldn't even cross my mind in pondering old-fashioned Italian bakeries.

But as it turns out, such a place does exist--a bakery called Saratori's di Tully

Saratori's

It's next-door to Tully's, an Italian specialty market that made me feel like I was in Philadelphia or New Jersey for a few moments--big, fat sandwiches at the deli counter, homemade ravioli both in the deli department and freezer, and more types of pasta than you can count. A great place, but you'll have to trust me on that. I'm here to talk about the sweets.

Saratori's di Tully, I hear, is named after two girls in the family--Sara and Tori. If that is true, I hope that both girls are extremely proud to have this establishment bear their names, because it's chock full of  tasty stuff.

They make their cannoli to order, I should tell you that first. Although I have not tried one of these heavenly treats for myself, I have it on very good authority that they're good stuff.

Saratori's, Albuquerque

I started with the "Spruzzare Biscotto", which was nice and tender and almond-y--a perfect cookie bite. The texture was very nice--slightly dry, but not like dry-out-yer-mouth. It would have been even better with an espresso, I think!

Saratori's, Albuquerque

Next up was a fennel biscotto, which was lightly licorice-y (but not offensive to licorice haters) and not extremely sweet but more like a nice tea cookie. See the fennel seed? It added a nice little burst of flavor at irregular intervals. Sometimes it is nice to have your cookies challenge you a little, you know?

Saratori's, Albuquerque

Finally, the "Nonna's Lemon Drop" cookie. It's a general rule that I hold that if it's named after Grandma, it's probably gonna be good. For me, this cookie led to several moments of nostalgia--not for my upbringing, but for the cookies I used to buy at Rocco's Pastry on Bleecker Street when I lived in New York City. If you've been there, you know what an excellent experience it is. Here's the cookie.

 Saratori's, Albuquerque

Very, very good stuff. And a charming and sweet staff.

Saratori's, Albuquerque

For a taste of the East Coast in the middle of Albuquerque...dudes and dudettes, you've got to go to Saratori's!

Saratori's di Tully, 1425 San Mateo Blvd, Albuquerque; more info here.

Monday
Dec172012

CakeSpy Undercover: Taos Cow, Taos NM

Taos Cow Ice Cream

In Taos, New Mexico, when you drive up a steep road into a sort of hippie utopia called Arroyo Seco, there's a clearing which gives way to a place called Taos Cow.

It's off the beaten path of the town—far from the plaza, or town center. But it's worth a visit.

Taos Cow Ice Cream

One of their specialties is ice cream, which has a most unique texture. In fact, I am tempted to say it's more gelato-like—sort of smooth and with a different texture than say, Haagen daz. In asking the employee what made for that unique texture, she couldn't say—maybe the cows are just happier in New Mexico. 

Taos Cow Ice Cream

Dairy is, after all, one of the major industries in New Mexico, and all of the dairy used in their products is from the state. I tried three types of ice cream: Caramel Pinon (pine nut), which is smooth and mellow and rich, with a deep, sophisticated aftertaste. I wanted to commit to this flavor, but they only had the tiniest bit left so I settled for a taste and got a hearty scoop of another flavor: the strawberry chocolate.Taos Cow Ice Cream

Probably this was one of the nicest strawberry ice creams I've ever tasted, with a distinct strawberry taste and a wonderful accompaniment of bittersweet and white chocolate. The high sweetness of the white chocolate, the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate, and the natural sweetness of the strawberry, all coming together in creamy matrimony, sure made my mouth happy.

A friend got the chocolate pecan ice cream as a shake, and it contained about 6 heaping scoops of ice cream. It was absolutely delicious, and at the end of it, there were nutty bits coated in melty chocolate like a treat at the end of the milkshake road.

Taos Cow Ice Cream

But wait, there's more! Although Taos Cow is famous for their ice cream, it's not all they have to offer. They also have a pastry case full of cookies, pies, and pastries. Taos Cow Ice Cream

For instance, the apple pastry, which had a beautiful, flaky crust and a sweet, brown sugary apple filling. It was most impressive for breakfast the next morning.

Apple turnover, Taos Cow Ice Cream

Taos Cow is a hippie place with tourist prices, but it's certainly a sweet stop in New Mexico.

485 Hwy 150, Arroyo Seco, NM; online here.

Sunday
Nov252012

Southern Belle Cupcake from Dream Cakes Gourmet Cupcakes, Santa Fe

Dream Cakes, Santa Fe

Sometimes, a cupcake makes you want to purr. 

This is an experience I had recently (as in, there are probably still cake crumbs on my shirt) at a place called Dream Cakes Cupcakes in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

The retail space is small, tucked in a mall just off of the city's Plaza (downtown area). It is somewhat unassuming when you walk in, and the prices are somewhat hefty--$4.50 per cupcake. 

But the cupcakes are serious fatties--I don't like sharing cupcakes (at all) but here's one that I'd consider cutting in half and saving part 2 for later (sort of like...sharing with my future self). Because it's not quite 2 times the size of a regular cupcake, but 1.6 times the size of a regular cupcake. 

This picture (from their facebook page) may not portray the size, but it will show you the unusual square-ish shape they have.

Here's the menu.

Menu, Dream Cakes

The menu is pretty immense, about 50 flavors, but only certain ones are available daily. Generally, those will include their two bestsellers, the Chocolate-chocolate cupcake (I forget the name) and the "Armadillo"--the red velvet. I wanted to get the "Santa Fe" - a cornbread cupcake with green chile topped with a honey buttercream--but alas they were out for the day. The friendly man behind the register removed that flavor from the daily menu after he realized this cupcake was not in attendance.

He did give me a frosting shooter to soothe my broken heart.

So I went for my second choice--the "Southern Belle", a pecan cupcake with praline filling topped with cream cheese frosting. 

Looking into the Chinese takeout-style container (filled with cupcake!) this is what I saw. The man behind the counter (one of the owners) commented that he thought it was the prettiest of their cupcakes, and I agree that it was quite a looker. I didn't want to shut the lid for fear of disrupting the frosting.

Dream Cakes, Santa Fe

I dug in to the container, using a fork. 

And after one bite, I wanted to go back and demand that they stop stuffing their cupcakes with crack, because that's just illegal.

Dream Cakes, Santa Fe

OK, so the cupcakes are not stuffed with crack. But this one had an unmistakably buttery, rich vanilla birthday cake-y flavor, studded with delicious, sweet-salty praline gobs. It was good enough based on these merits, but add the cream cheese frosting and you have a combo that can make CakeSpy swoon.

I'll confess: based on the tiny interior and the prices and location, I had been slightly wary about this place as a tourist trap. But now that I have been, I must say that I am very impressed, and I am looking forward to going back and trying at least a baker's dozen more flavors.

66 E. San Francisco Street, Santa Fe NM; find out more info here.

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