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Here we are again, or should I say, here I am?

It’s been over six months since I posted anything here. If I’ve been keeping track (I have), I’m a year behind on posts. My experience can be summed up by that phrase, it goes something like, “Even the best laid plans don’t work out.”

Let’s do a brief recap and start over.

Hi, I’m Aime. If you’re just tuning in, here’s how this whole food blog thing started.

I had a plan, a plan I knew was too ambitious, that slowly but surely came unhinged. One week would pass, then two, then three, a month, two months, and on it went. It’s like I was testing myself, to see how long I could put things off, a kind of self-sabotage if you will. I refused to skip posts and move on; I felt like if I skipped something, the memories would fade, and my writing would suffer or it’d feel forced.

Two months in I started going through a rough patch, which resulted in sharing less and less of my progress/recipes/adventures. I continued cooking (and eating) throughout the year, each month had it’s set cuisine, and every Sunday was religiously food blog day. I gathered exotic ingredients throughout the boroughs of NYC, set up shop in my no A/C, poor ventilation kitchen, and toiled away at roasting chili peppers for Mexican mole, simmering Indian curries, and working on my knife skills chopping lots and lots of veggies.

Between January 2017 and now, a lot has happened. I’ve started going to therapy, travelled to Iceland, considered moving to the west coast, considered quitting my job with nothing lined up, took some much-needed time-off, started a new job, took a ceramics class, and started volunteering at an animal shelter, while simultaneously trying to put myself first beyond anything else, including this blog.

Iceland was magical

When 2017 ended, I took an extended hiatus. I knew I had pushed myself too hard. There were many factors involved, but I was somewhat relieved that I wasn’t tied to this thing anymore (also sad). I’ve had a lot if time to think, set some realistic goals, and re-evaluate what I want in life.

I acknowledge the fact that my health and happiness have not been top priorities

My job keeps me in an office for 8+ hours a day,  plus 1 or more hours in subway cars commuting underground. If my calculations are correct, and I get enough sleep to stay sane, that leaves me about 4 hours  Monday-Friday and all day Saturday-Sunday for whatever the hell I want. After cleaning, running errands, catching up with friends, and decompressing on binges of Netflix and Youtube, it doesn’t seem like much. Personally, I find being in an office exhausting. When I get home, all I want to do is eat, be a couch potato, not talk to anyone, and go to bed.

Which brings me to self-care. When that extra time isn’t spent exercising, eating well, and doing things that bring me joy, it leaves me pretty down.

How do people have side projects? Where do they find the time?

These are questions I ask myself over and over again. Am I lazy? Am I making excuses? Are people passing me by? I need to make time. I’m not working hard enough. I’m working too hard. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others. There’s not enough time! There are so many things I want to do. I give up. Why even try. I’m weak for not trying. Success doesn’t define my worth. I’m worthless. I can’t do anything.

I’m wrong. I know I’m wrong. Knowing doesn’t prevent these thoughts, it just frustrates me more.

To answer my own question: people have side projects because they care about something, because they want to create, to share, to change, to grow, to feel, to escape. If I can do any of those things, I’ve succeeded. And I have.

So where do we go from here?

I’m working on doing more things that bring me joy, writing blog posts being one of them. No more strict schedules or pressure to fulfill expectations I made up. I’m going to create and write content I’m proud of (it’s why I started this bad boy in the first place). Wherever this leads will be what I make of it.

Thanks for reading,
Happy hopping.

The post Blogging is Hard – Thoughts on Side Projects and Self-Care appeared first on Food Hopping.

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This is quite possibly the richest casserole I’ve ever eaten.

When I think of casserole, I think of 50s housewives in frilly aprons, pulling ‘all-American,’ easy-bake meals out of hot ovens. The stereotype in the US for casseroles (at least while I was growing up) is not at all appetizing. Tuna casserole is the first thing that comes to mind, blech.

Who knew casseroles are originally French? Or at least, the word has a French origin.

Cassoulet (CASS-OO-LAY) is a French bean casserole made with an assortment of meats like duck, sausage, pork, and/or chicken.

“Cassoulet, that best of bean feasts, is everyday fare for a peasant but ambrosia for a gastronome, though its ideal consumer is a 300-pound blocking back who has been splitting firewood nonstop for the last twelve hours on a subzero day in Manitoba.”

—Julia Child

You right, Julia, you right. Cassoulet doesn’t suit a standard dinner (it’s much too decadent), but would do well for special occasions or holidays as a centerpiece or side dish. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients

1lb dried cannellini beans
2 medium yellow onions
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
6 cloves garlic
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp olive oil
1lb boneless pork shoulder
1 quart chicken stock
4-6 duck legs
1lb chicken thighs
1lb sausage (I used garlic sausage from a local meat shop)
4.5oz stewed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

TIP: If you can’t find duck or it’s too expensive, chicken will do just fine, but you may need to add some extra oil or fat (lard) to make up for it. Sorry not sorry.

Step One: Rinse your cannellini beans, cover with a few inches of water, and let them soak overnight.

Step Two: The next day, dice the onions, celery, and carrots. Peel and smash the garlic cloves with the side of a chef’s knife and divide the chopped vegetables into two parts.

Step Three: Dice the pork into bite-sized pieces. Then tie your thyme and bay leaves together with string to make a bouquet garni.

Step Four: In a dutch oven or large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add half the chopped vegetables. Cook until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are slightly softened.

Step Five: Add the pork to the pot, browning it for a couple minutes. Drain the beans and add them to the pot. Add the bouquet garni, cover with the chicken stock and water, and let everything come to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and simmer until the beans are softened, but not mushy.

Step Six: While the beans are simmering, salt and pepper the duck legs and chicken thighs. Then, in a cast iron or frying pan, brown the duck legs skin side down to render out the fat. Do this on both sides until nicely browned. Then set them aside, and do the same with the chicken thighs and sausage in the duck fat left in the pan. When browned, set both aside.

Step Seven: When the meats cool down, remove the meat from the bones, and chop into bite-sized pieces. If you’re impatient like me, leave some (or all) of the duck legs whole.

Step Eight: In the same cast iron or frying pan, heat the oil on medium heat and add the other half of the chopped vegetables. Cook for a couple minutes, then add the stewed tomatoes, bringing it to a boil to let some of the liquid evaporate.

Step Nine: Add the chopped meat into the pan with the vegetables and cook for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors combine. (We’re going to continue cooking everything in the oven, so don’t worry if some of the meat is still underdone.) Leave any whole duck legs aside for when we assemble the casserole.

Step Ten: At this point, hopefully the beans are done and there’s some liquid remaining (this will vary, but it’s good to have some liquid still in the pot so nothing dries out). Salt the beans to your liking and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a roasting pan, add a layer of beans, followed by a layer of the tomato meat mixture, followed by the whole duck or chicken pieces (if you have any, skin side up), followed by a layer of the remaining beans.

Step Eleven: Bake it all uncovered for approximately three hours or until a crispy, brown crust has formed on top. (I was again, a bit impatient, so mine could’ve stayed in longer. I’ve seen some cassoulets that are practically black on top.)

Step Twelve: When you can’t wait any longer, pop it out of the oven and let it rest for five minutes. Then, break into that crispy top layer and serve it hot, as is. It will need nothing else (except a glass of wine).

Happy hopping.

Recipe adapted from Saveur, France the Cookbook, and NY Times Cooking.

Cassoulet Recipe - The Richest French Bean Casserole
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Rinse your cannellini beans, cover with a few inches of water, and let them soak overnight.
  2. The next day, dice the onions, celery, and carrots. Peel and smash the garlic cloves with the side of a chef’s knife and divide the chopped vegetables into two parts.
  3. Dice the pork into bite-sized pieces. Then tie your thyme and bay leaves together with string to make a bouquet garni.
  4. In a dutch oven or large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add half the chopped vegetables. Cook until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are slightly softened.
  5. Add the pork to the pot, browning it for a couple minutes. Drain the beans and add them to the pot. Add the bouquet garni, cover with the chicken stock and water, and let everything come to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and simmer until the beans are softened, but not mushy.
  6. While the beans are simmering, salt and pepper the duck legs and chicken thighs. Then, in a cast iron or frying pan, brown the duck legs skin side down to render out the fat. Do this on both sides until nicely browned. Then set them aside, and do the same with the chicken thighs and sausage in the duck fat left in the pan. When browned, set both aside.
  7. When the meats cool down, remove the meat from the bones, and chop into bite-sized pieces. If you’re impatient like me, leave some (or all) of the duck legs whole.
  8. In the same cast iron or frying pan, heat the oil on medium heat and add the other half of the chopped vegetables. Cook for a couple minutes, then add the stewed tomatoes, bringing it to a boil to let some of the liquid evaporate.
  9. Add the chopped meat into the pan with the vegetables and cook for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors combine. (We're going to continue cooking everything in the oven, so don't worry if some of the meat is still underdone.) Leave any whole duck legs aside for when we assemble the casserole.
  10. At this point, hopefully the beans are done and there’s some liquid remaining (this will vary, but it’s good to have some liquid still in the pot so nothing dries out). Salt the beans to your liking and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a roasting pan, add a layer of beans, followed by a layer of the tomato meat mixture, followed by the whole duck or chicken pieces (if you have any, skin side up), followed by a layer of the remaining beans.
  11. Bake it all uncovered for approximately three hours or until a crispy, brown crust has formed on top. (I was again, a bit impatient, so mine could’ve stayed in longer. I’ve seen some cassoulets that are practically black on top.)
  12. When you can’t wait any longer, pop it out of the oven and let it rest for five minutes. Then, break into that crispy top layer and serve it hot, as is. It will need nothing else (except a glass of wine).
Recipe Notes

TIP: If you can’t find duck or it’s too expensive, chicken will do just fine, but you may need to add some extra oil or fat (lard) to make up for it. Sorry not sorry.

The post Cassoulet – A Bean Casserole from the South of France appeared first on Food Hopping.

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When you do a Google search of “Dishes unique to France,” what comes up?
Or what do you think of first?

Beef bourguignon? Crème brûlée? Escargot? Ratatouille? It’s definitely not coq au vin (COCO-VEN).

What’s coq au vin?

Coq au vin or ‘cock in wine’ is a traditional French stew made with chicken, a whole bottle of red wine (oui oui), pearl onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a recipe with chicken that calls for red wine. Red wine is always used for dark meats like beef or pork, while white wine is used with fish or chicken. So, I was intrigued. Wouldn’t the wine dye my chicken red? Is that bad?

I decided to find out.

And…it came out great! Coq au vin is a rich stew to say the least of chicken and vegetables that are first marinated overnight, then slowly simmered to tender, ever-so-slightly sweet perfection. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients

20 pearl onions (or 1 large white onion)
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
4 sprigs parsley
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 whole chicken
1 750ml bottle of red wine (I used Bordeaux, you can also use a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Pinot Noir)
8oz thick-cut bacon
1lb mushrooms
1Tbsp all-purpose flour
salt to taste
fresh parsley for garnish

Step One: Peel the pearl onions. I sliced off the ends and removed the outer layers. Watch some Youtube while you peel. Try not to cry.

Step Two: Chop the celery and carrots. I don’t peel my carrots, seems like a waste of perfectly good food, a good wash is fine. Is that weird?

Step Three: Tie the parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together with string to make a bouquet garni.

Step Four: Cut up the chicken. If you’ve never done this before, it’ll probably feel a bit awkward. Basically, you’re aiming to separate the legs, wings, and thighs from the body at the joints. You can use your hands to feel for them, or bend the limbs in the opposite direction to find where they are. Google it if you have trouble, the more you do it the easier it’ll get!

Separate the wings, legs, thighs, and breasts. Put the remaining skeleton (carcass?) in a freezer bag or container and keep it in the freezer for making chicken broth or soup later.

Step Five: Uncork the wine, and toss the chicken, chopped vegetables, bouquet garni, peppercorns, and wine in a large bowl. Mix to make sure the chicken and bouquet is submerged and coated. Cover and marinate overnight up to two days, turning every twelve hours or so to make sure it gets into every piece.

Step Six: Who knew purple chicken could be so appealing. Strain the marinade, reserving it (you’ll need it later) and let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes to dry out. You can also pat the pieces dry with a paper towel.

Step Seven: While you’re letting the chicken rest, dice the bacon and fry it in a dutch oven until crisp and brown. Remove the bacon from the pan (leaving the grease) and set aside.

Step Eight: Brown the chicken in the bacon grease, working in batches to not crowd the pan. This seemed so wrong and so right. Once the chicken is brown, set it aside.

Step Nine: Add the pearl onions, carrots, and celery from the marinade into the same pot you browned the chicken in. Let them cook for five minutes, then add the mushrooms, and cook a few more minutes. Dust the veggies with the flour, stirring to combine. This will make the gravy nice and thick.

Step Ten: Add the liquid from the marinade, the bouquet garni, and the chicken into the pot and let it come to a boil. When it boils, lower the heat and let it simmer about 1 hour. Skim off any scum that may rise to the surface as it simmers.

Step Eleven: Serve with rice and a glass of your favorite red wine.

Recipe inspired by Julia Child, bon appetit, Raymond Blanc, epicurious, and Gimme Some Oven.

Happy hopping.

Coq Au Vin Recipe - Chicken Cooked in Red Wine
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Peel your pearl onions. I sliced off the ends and removed the outer layers. Watch some Youtube while you peel. Try not to cry.
  2. Chop your celery and carrots. I don’t peel my carrots, seems like a waste of perfectly good food, a good wash is fine. Is that weird?
  3. Tie your parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together with string to make a bouquet garni.
  4. Cut up your chicken. If you’ve never done this before, it’ll probably feel a bit awkward. Basically, you’re aiming to separate the legs, wings, and thighs from the body at the joints. You can use your hands to feel for them, or bend the limbs in the opposite direction to find where they are. Google it if you have trouble, the more you do it the easier it’ll get! Separate the wings, legs, thighs, and breasts. Put the remaining skeleton (carcass?) in a freezer bag or container and keep it in the freezer for making chicken broth or soup later.
  5. Uncork your wine, and toss the chicken, chopped vegetables, bouquet garni, peppercorns, and wine in a large bowl. Mix to make sure the chicken is submerged and coated. Cover and marinate overnight up to two days, turning every twelve hours or so to make sure it gets into every piece.
  6. Who knew purple chicken could be so appealing. Strain the marinade, reserving it (you’ll need it later) and let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes to dry out. You can also pat the pieces dry with a paper towel.
  7. While you’re letting the chicken rest, dice your bacon and fry it in a dutch oven until crisp and brown. Remove the bacon from the pan (leaving the grease) and set aside.
  8. Brown the chicken in the bacon grease, working in batches to not crowd the pan. This seemed so wrong and so right. Once the chicken is brown, set it aside.
  9. Add the pearl onions, carrots, and celery from the marinade into the same pot you browned the chicken in. Let them cook for five minutes, then add the mushrooms, and cook a few more minutes. Dust the veggies with the flour, stirring to combine. This will make the gravy nice and thick.
  10. Add the liquid from the marinade, the bouquet garni, and the chicken into the pot and let it come to a boil. When it boils, lower the heat and let it simmer about 1 hour.
  11. Serve with rice and a glass of your favorite red wine.
Recipe Notes

The post Coq Au Vin Recipe – Chicken Cooked in Red Wine appeared first on Food Hopping.

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I know, I know it’s been a while. Sorry guys and gals.

Summer is the busiest time of year at my job, so I’m finally starting to catch up. If you’re lucky enough to follow my insta, @food_hopping, you’ll see that I’m still cooking and taking photos each week, just behind on blog posts. Insta-stories are too easy.

Back in May, my friend Rima invited me over to her apartment to make a Syrian dessert. She sent me a list of ingredients, and I met her at her place, completely unaware of what she had planned.

Kunafeh or Kunafa is a middle-eastern dessert made with shredded fillo dough, cheese, and a sweet, sugar syrup. It’s super simple to make, rich, and tastes like home for many Arabs. Below is her dad’s recipe, here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients: serves 12-20

1 16oz Pack Shredded Fillo Dough
16oz Ricotta Cheese (You can substitute unsalted haloumi, but it’s quite expensive)
2 sticks or 1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Orange Blossom Water or Rose Water to taste

Step One: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a large baking dish (around 9″x13″) with butter. You’ll need a dish with some depth, a cookie sheet will be too thin.

Step Two: Open up your fillo dough and divide the strands into two equal parts. If it feels weird, it’s probably because you’ve never done this before.

Step Three: Place one half of the dough into the bottom of the baking dish, pressing down firmly to pack it down. I would recommend using a small cutting board or coaster to flatten it.

Step Four: Spread the ricotta cheese on top of the dough with a spoon or spatula, spreading it in an even layer without getting too close to the edges. We’re going to seal it in, so leave at least a half inch around the edges.

Step Five: Place the remaining dough on top of the ricotta, again pressing down hard with a small cutting board or coaster to flatten and remove any air pockets.

Step Six: Cut the sticks of butter into about a Tablespoon or thinner slices and arrange them evenly on top of the dough.

Step Seven: Bake it for 40 minutes until beautifully browned.

Step Eight: Moving quickly, carefully remove the pan from the oven and flip the entire fillo-ricotta sandwich upside down. It will be extremely hot, so be careful! Once flipped, place it back in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the entire thing is golden brown and crisp.

Step Nine: While it’s baking, bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan while constantly stirring. When it starts to thicken, add the lemon juice and orange blossom or rose water to combine. Once it’s a slightly syrupy texture, remove it from the heat. It should still be pretty viscous and not too thick.

Step Ten: When the baked fillo is completely golden brown, remove it from the oven and pour the syrup over the entire thing. Then admire your creation as the dough eats up that sweet, sweet syrup.

Ooh, aah

Step Eleven: Let it cool for five minutes, slice, and serve!

Oddly satisfying.


Kunafeh - Shredded fillo dough with cheese and oh, so much butter
Servings12-20 Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a large baking dish (around 9"x13") with butter. You'll need a dish with some depth, a cookie sheet will be too thin.
  2. Open up your fillo dough and divide the strands into two equal parts. If it feels weird, it's probably because you've never done this before.
  3. Place one half of the dough into the bottom of the baking dish, pressing down firmly to pack it down. I would recommend using a small cutting board or coaster to flatten it.
  4. Spread the ricotta cheese on top of the dough with a spoon or spatula, spreading it in an even layer without getting too close to the edges. We're going to seal it in, so leave at least a half inch around the edges.
  5. Place the remaining dough on top of the ricotta, again pressing down hard with a small cutting board or coaster to flatten and remove any air pockets.
  6. Cut the sticks of butter into about a Tablespoon or thinner slices and arrange them evenly on top of the dough.
  7. Bake it for 40 minutes until beautifully browned.
  8. Moving quickly, carefully remove the pan from the oven and flip the entire fillo-ricotta sandwich upside down. It will be extremely hot, so be careful! Once flipped, place it back in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the entire thing is golden brown and crisp.
  9. While it's baking, bring the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan while constantly stirring. When it starts to thicken, add the lemon juice and orange blossom or rose water to combine. Once it's a slightly syrupy texture, remove it from the heat. It should still be pretty viscous and not too thick.
  10. When the baked fillo is completely golden brown, remove it from the oven and pour the syrup over the entire thing. Then admire your creation as the dough eats up that sweet, sweet syrup.
  11. Let it cool for five minutes, slice, and serve!

The post Kunafeh – Shredded fillo dough, cheese, and oh, so much butter appeared first on Food Hopping.

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I’m sure wherever you’re reading this from, no matter what background you come from, that you’ve heard something about what’s going on in Syria. At the very least you’ve heard something about refugees. You may not know the details of how the country ended up where it is now, you may not realize how much has been lost, and you may not even know how you can help.

From what I’ve seen in the media in the US, there is a refugee crisis, there’s no question that millions of civilians, families, mothers, and children have been uprooted and forced to flee, to find somewhere they can call home, someplace they can feel safe. For many across the world it’s been hard to accept these people out of fear of terrorism and a lack of understanding of Islam and people from the middle east.

And though I’ve never been much into politics and I don’t want this blog to be about politics, I feel for these people and the countless others that have been affected. I hope that by featuring Syrian food here, I can bring some sense of humanity or relatability to the culture that’s now strewn across the globe. If I can share just some of the delicious foods and beautiful parts of Syrian/Middle-Eastern culture, I hope I can make at least some small difference.

A family playing in the snow in Bludan, Syria.

Out of sight, out of mind

I was a sophomore in college studying graphic design, when I met a petite girl with wild brown curls and an incredibly polite yet endearing demeanor.

At nearly twenty years old, even though I grew up near New Orleans, a melting pot of sorts, the majority of the kids I went to school with were Republican, conservative, caucasian, and/or some kind of Christian. 

I had traveled a good bit, to Asia, Europe, and South America, but at a certain point I formed a bubble around myself. When you don’t watch the news because you can’t stand it, anything happening in other parts of the world has little meaning, because I’m safe, and I’ve got my own things to worry about, and sometimes not knowing is more comforting than knowing. It’s something I’m working on.

Today, that girl I met (still with wild curls that she’s slowing embracing) is one of my best friends. Before I met her, Syria or the conflict there had never crossed my path. She would often find inspiration in Arabic text and middle-eastern patterns or use her pieces to bring attention to the crisis. Out of pure curiosity, I’d ask her about why she fasted during Ramadan, or why she didn’t wear a hijab while others did, if she’d ever be able to go back to Syria, or if she still had family there. When you hear about some of what’s happened, things that affect someone standing right in front of you, it’s hard to find the right thing to say.

I feel helpless at times and I’m sure she does too.

I find that I’m often fascinated by people different than me. I want to understand why they do the things they do and why they think the way they think. Should I think like that? Or should they think like me?

With the political climate in the US and around the world at the moment, I was hesitant to do this in May. I also wanted to make sure I’m not being insensitive, which is why it’s taken me so long to write this.

All I’d like for you to take away is this one thought:

We’re all human. We all have the same basic needs and wants. And we all need to be in this together.

If you’d like to help out in some way, you can check out 15 Ways You Can Help Syrian Refugees NOW, or if you’d like to support my best friend in her efforts, you can donate to her Generosity campaign here.

That girl with the curls went on a volunteer trip to Greece to teach art to child refugees and is now helping Syrian refugees through design. Proceeds go to the Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM), a charitable non-profit organization.

The post A month of Syrian food – Humanizing a Crisis appeared first on Food Hopping.

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In the middle of French month, I made it a mission to find the best croissants in New York City.

Growing up, the only croissants I ate were from Walmart, a shame I know. I can’t say they were good…but popped in a toaster oven for a few minutes and they became a warm and crispy treat. (You can’t really go wrong with warm bread, am I right?)

What makes a good croissant?

To me, a good croissant must be bought first thing in the morning from a local bakery. A true bakery makes its croissants fresh each day.

A good croissant will hold up throughout the day, but why buy it in the afternoon when it’s freshest in the morning? Because I’m hungry for carbs that’s why.

To me, a good croissant is crispy and flaky on the outside, with a soft inside. It should be served room temperature and you should taste the butter (preferably unsalted). Why room temperature? Think about it, butter at room temperature: soft, spreadable, creamy, perfect. Need I say more? The high butter content will also make the inside of the croissant feel slightly cool on your palette. Wow, I’ve come a long way from those Walmart croissants.

To me, a good croissant makes a mess of crumbs and flakes. Your first bite should be audible and you should think to yourself, “How does anyone eat this without making a mess?” They don’t.

Here’s my list of  the best plain croissants, best pain au chocolats, and best unconventional croissants in Manhattan, NYC: Best Plain Croissant

1. Bien Cuit
Grand Central Market
(Located on the corner of 43rd & Lexington Ave)
89 E 42nd St Manhattan, NY 10017

A plain croissant from Bien Cuit in Grand Central Market, NYC.

This one tops the charts in both presentation and taste. I’ve never seen a croissant like this. Dark on the outside, it seems overdone, and yet it isn’t. It was flaky and buttery, it had more visible layers on the outside and the inside than any other croissant I tried. It was dense, but light, delightfully crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.

Cross-section of a plain croissant from Bien Cuit, Grand Central Market, NYC.

2. Patisserie Chanson
The Flatiron District
20 W 23rd St New York, NY 10010

This croissant was particularly beautiful with its countless layers. It tasted slightly salty, I assume from using salted butter, but was amazingly dense and crispy on the outside, keeping the inside soft and cool.

A plain croissant from Patisserie Chanson in NYC.

3. Maison Kayser
Bryant Park
8 West 40th Street New York, NY 10018

This was the first croissant I tried and it did not disappoint. Super flaky, plenty of layers, and that distinct *crunch* you want. You can taste the butter in this one.

A plain croissant from Maison Kayser, Bryant Park, NYC.

Best Pain au Chocolat (AKA Chocolate Croissant)

It should be no surprise that we have some repeaters here. Shocking.

1. Domonique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring St New York, NY 10012

Pain au chocolat from Domonique Ansel Bakery, NYC.

Ah, Domonique Ansel, known for his Cronut, he has plenty of other baked goods up his sleeve. This by far, was the best pain au chocolat I’ve ever had. The outside had distinct swirls and stripes of chocolate dough wrapping around every inch, it immediately stands out. Inside is just as delightful with swirls of chocolate throughout. The distribution is insane. The choice of chocolate was also perfect, not too sweet and not too dark.

Cross-section of Domonique Ansel’s pain au chocolat in NYC. By far, the most chocolate I’ve ever seen in a chocolate croissant.

2. Maison Kayser
Bryant Park
8 West 40th Street New York, NY 10018

Again, Maison Kayser did not disappoint with its super flaky pain au chocolat. It had plenty of layers, and a small piping of chocolate on the inside that gave a little taste of chocolate in every other bite.

Pain au chocolat from Maison Kayser in Bryant Park, NYC. That glaze though.

3.Bien Cuit
Grand Central Market
(Located on the corner of 43rd & Lexington Ave)
89 E 42nd St Manhattan, NY 10017

This one was a tough choice. Just like it’s plain sibling, Bien Cuit’s pain au chocolat is dark on the outside, dense, flaky, and buttery. It didn’t appear to have as many layers as the plain, I suspect from how the chocolate affects the baking process. Regardless, I’d encourage anyone to get both and decide for themselves.

Pain au chocolat from Bien Cuit in Grand Central Market, NYC.

Best Unconventional Croissant

And now for the weirdos, the experiments, the hot new croissant trends that are going viral, the food combos that will blow your mind, well kinda.

1. Bibble & SipBlack Sesame Almond Croissant
253 West 51 St New York, NY 10019

A black sesame almond croissant from Bibble & Sip, NYC.

I’ve gotta say, I’m lucky I found this place. I stumbled upon it one evening after seeing an art show with a friend and have been hooked since.

If you’ve never tried black sesame, I can only describe it as nutty, almost like peanut butter, but not quite. This croissant was so crispy and crunchy on the outside, it was like there was a layer of caramelized sugar on the outside (not complaining). The layers inside were lined with black sesame distributed throughout the dough giving it a wonderfully nutty flavor. I usually find almond croissants too sweet, but this one is just right. It’s the perfect combo of nutty sweetness in a buttery, flaky croissant.

Cross-section of Bibble & Sip’s black sesame almond croissant, NYC.

2. Domonique Ansel BakeryCronut
189 Spring St New York, NY 10012

I know, I know, the Cronut has been all the rage for the last three (four?) years, so why number two? I’ve had the Cronut twice. The first time about two and a half years ago (when the hype was real), the second last month. The first time, it was worth the hour plus wait outside in the cold, the flavor was dark chocolate raspberry and it was so crisp and rich it gave me a stomach ache. It was the first thing I ate that day and it was worth it!

The dark chocolate raspberry Cronut in December 2014, pure magic. Also a cannelle and a DKA.

The second time, I went on a weekday before work (the lines are much shorter) to buy my two per customer blood orange almond Cronuts and was sorely disappointed. I guess with expansion comes growing pains, because I’m sure these wouldn’t have passed Domonique’s quality control. These were barely circular, greasy, and not as crispy as I remembered.

The blood orange almond Cronut in April 2017, sadness.

I feel like the quality has gone down since Domonique has expanded to London and Tokyo, but I’d still encourage you to give it a try if you know Domonique is in the house.

3.Bibble & SipEverything Bagel Croissant
253 West 51 Street New York, NY 10019

Two mentions in one list? Yep, they’re that good. As of April 2017, the trend in NYC for croissants is everything bagel, several bakeries are doing it, only some are doing it well.

Essentially this was a regular croissant filled with scallion ricotta, topped with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion, dried garlic and salt. It was too large to eat alone, so I shared it. My friend said it was a game-changer, a nice balance of salty and creamy with the croissant base. Not mind-blowing, but still really, really good.

An everything bagel croissant from Bibble & Sip, NYC.

Honorary Mention:  City BakeryPretzel Croissant
3 W 18th St New York, NY 10011

This croissant was all the rage in NYC about 2-3 years ago, The New Yorker even did a video featuring how it’s made. I remember trying it a couple times, not thinking anything special of it, and decided to give it another shot.

Pretzel croissant from City Bakery, NYC.

This one gets an honorary mention, because I wouldn’t quite consider it a croissant, as much as it looks and is made like one. Maybe it’s the pretzel combo throwing me off, but I can’t get past the saltiness brought on by the salt chunks on the outside. It’s salty, chewy, and much more dense than it’s counterparts. Still good, but more bread-like than croissant-like.

New Yorkers, transplants, and tourists, do you agree?

This is purely based off my own taste buds (and some of my coworkers). I may continue to update this list as I try more, who knows. It’s been fun, glad I was finally able to put the list together.

Happy hopping!

Bakeries that didn’t make the list (Yes, I ate a lot of croissants): Financier Patisserie, Pret, Le Pain Quotidien, Paris Baguette, Francois Payard Bakery, Mille-Feuille Bakery Cafe, Lafayette, Maman, and Breads Bakery.

Note: some of the the bakeries above still have great stuff (including croissants), they just didn’t make my top 3. Let me know if you’re interested in how each ranked!

The post The Best Croissants in New York City – Manhattan Edition appeared first on Food Hopping.

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