The Cronut Craze…
So you’re dying to try a Cronut, aren’t you? What? You haven’t heard of them? The croissant-donut hybrid that’s taken New York by storm, enticing people to line up at 5:30 am at Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo—the only place in The City that makes these trademarked babies—or pay a Craigslist scalper or white-glove service $100 for delivery? Well, as far as we know, the Cronut scalping trade has yet to infiltrate Westchester, and worse yet, Metro-North doesn’t even run early enough to get you a decent spot on line.
But where there’s a hot food item, there will be ripoffs—I mean, knockoffs—and so far we know of two local bakeries where you can get your fix of…of what a Cronut looks like it tastes like. (A brief note about Cronut anatomy, which is its main appeal: tall, fluffy, Slinky-like layers with the pliability of a croissant and sweetness of a donut, cream wedged in between, glaze on top.)
Enrico’s in Hartsdale gives us “Westchester’s Answer to the New York Cronut”—and unlike the place in the city, they make more than one flavor at a time: Bavarian cream with chocolate topping, lemon with salted caramel, and Madagascar vanilla bean with raspberry topping (which was probably my favorite, although they’re all stuff-your-face worthy).
Meanwhile, Chantilly Patisserie in Bronxville has introduced “Dossants™” (Dossies™), selling out in 24 minutes on their first day. So they’ve decided to make it a regular Sunday thing (10 to 11 am) and have instituted a limit of 2 per person, just like Dominique Ansel—now you know the craze has truly reached the county. When we arrived half an hour early, the line was already five deep. Flavors include vanilla, chocolate, and possibly a third, seasonal one (they’re currently eyeing PB & J).
A tad smaller than Enrico’s and a bit more on the flaky side, these pastries represent another strong effort in the Cronut copycat arena. But an additional stroke of genius here is that they’re making a secondary treatout of the “Cronut” holes, covered with powdered sugar and vaguely reminiscent of a zeppole.
Oh, you still want to try the real thing, don’t you? You find this exercise almost pointless without a comparison with the actual goods? We know, we know. Until some enterprising soul starts smuggling them in, your only options for the Great Cronut Run are to sleep (or not sleep) overnight in Manhattan, drive in, or wait until Dominique Ansel goes all Magnolia Bakery on us and opens a stand in Grand Central. We hear they’re also going to be starting a lottery.
Austin Sweet Corn Shrimp Tamale at Palomino
After my last attempt at making tamales, I decided that this is a dish I had best eat out. But at Palomino, if you think you’re ordering the usual filling-stuffed packet of masa steamed in a corn husk, your expectations will be turned inside out when this deconstructed beauty arrives at your table: an unfilled tamale resting on a banana leaf, surrounded by pieces of shrimp, corn, and tomato, and scallion in a zingy lemongrass/corn/Chardonnay sauce and topped with microgreens.
And if you were expecting standard Mexican cuisine at this newest outpost of Chef Rafael Palomino (of Sonora and other upscale Latino joints), the freshness and sophistication of the food will delight, enhanced by the modern, earth-toned decor featuring large paintings of Palomino horses. Savoring every bite of this one-tamale starter, I would have been happy to have more. Now what to do with that leftover package of dried corn husks….
Prosciutto-wrapped figs stuffed with goat cheese, a classic combination, is elevated to summer perfection at Mint, which has added seating outdoors and up front. Whole, plump Mission figs, stems protruding, are wrapped lavishly in charred Prosciutto di Parma, yielding to a burst of molten goat cheese when cut. Offsetting these bundles is a salad of young greens at the center of the plate, and it’s all drizzled with a balsamic dressing. (And if you ever shopped at Mint back when it was a gourmet shop across the street, before they added a restaurant, you know the quality of the ingredients.) To accompany this small plate, a special that might earn a place on the regular menu, try some of Mint’s more surprising pairings—a bread plate with a dip of honey pooled in olive oil, and Moroccan iced tea with rose water.
In Larchmont, a village with a sizeable French American population, a good croissant has never been hard to come by, but there’s a new contender in town: La Parisienne café and bakery (in the former location of Local Heros). Variations on their mini croissant include apricot, apple, and raisin, and if you get a warm, cream-filled croissant straight out of the oven, you’ve hit the jackpot. Walk in on any given day and you might also find macarons, an unusual selection of mini financiers and petits fours, tarte Provençale, green olive baguettes, and smoked salmon or chicken sandwiches; the plan is to extend the menu to omelets and crêpes and to hold free cooking and baking classes. Seating is available, right by the iced coffee and iced tea.