Tonight I have been reminiscing about one of my favorite places to visit, New York City. One day I imagine myself living in this concrete jungle under the city’s bright lights. A girl can dream, right?
NYC is beaming with creative chefs and 2013 marked a pastry craze, which swept not only the country, but the world. The cronut stole my heart the first time I read about it on Twitter and the pastry inspired my summertime visit to NYC. My mind is constantly focused on food (especially sweets) and I needed to have Dominique Ansel’s cronut in my life.
I became obsessed. I stalked all of the national food blogs for tips on the next cronut flavor. My ridiculous obsession even inspired Chef Christopher Hill of the Oxford in Raleigh, NC to create a cronut during a Got To Be NC Competition Dining Series battle. Chris learned about the cronut thanks to my hundreds of tweets about this fascinating pastry, the perfect marriage of a croissant and a doughnut. Chris’ secret ingredient during his culinary battle was Joyce Farms poulet rouge and he created the highest scoring dish of the night. Chris’ “cronut” tart tatin, strawberry poultry compote, salted caramel and ginger ice cream won the hearts of all of the diners that evening at Competition Dining.
After eating Chris’ cronut, I had died and gone to heaven. I needed to pay homage to the pastry god who originated the idea, Chef Dominique Ansel. So, I visited NYC in July with two main objectives, to eat the cronut and meet the cronut god himself.
Although I had read Cronut 101 and was well-versed on how to successfully obtain one of these delicious pastries, I still didn’t wake up early enough. I also blame my horrible sense of direction for getting on the wrong subway. My heart sunk when I noticed a long line wrapping around the street corner from Dominique Ansel Bakery.
While standing in line I made new friends as I told them about the cronut from Competition Dining. Before too long, we had exchanged photographs of NC’s first cronut and phone numbers. We stared in awe as people walked out of the bakery with gold boxes housing the beloved pastries.
My new friends and I were hopeful as only a mere ten people remained ahead of us in line. Then, my dreams were crushed. I had waited in line for a few hours only to learn that the cronut was sold out. Seriously? They don’t keep a secret cronut stash in the back? I wanted to cry. Instead, I cornered a lady with a gold box to at least get a picture of her blackberry cronuts. Looking at me with bewilderment in her eyes, she slowly opened her cronut box. I snapped a few pictures and then she quickly shut the box without warning. I suppose she thought I was going to attack her!
Thankfully, Eater is my Bible. I read the website religiously and had learned about a new sensation created by Dominique Ansel, the frozen s’more. No line required!
Since I didn’t get into any fights in the cronut line, I entered the bakery to order a frozen s’more along with two of my new friends from New Jersey.
The frozen s’more fascinated me. Charred marshmallow was wrapped around cool vanilla ice cream and chocolate feulletine. The best part about eating the frozen s’more was that it was on a stick. Who knew that you could have the perks of camping in the heart of NYC?
Luckily, I made it back to NYC in September with my heart (still) set on getting the cronut. I convinced my friend Caryn to wake up at her Sunnyside apartment by 4:00 a.m. so we could get in line for the cronut. We stood outside of the Soho bakery in the misty rain and counted over 35 people already in front of us. But I was keeping my eye on the prize.
Two and half hours later filled with new friends and a plethora of coffee, Caryn and I had succeed. Tears of joy were in my eyes. We waited in line to pay for our cronuts and then the prize was handed over, a golden box. I was beaming for the rest of the day.
I was so caught up in receiving the cronut that I took a double take and noticed Dominique Ansel right before my eyes. Star struck and at a loss for words, I told him, “You’re a culinary genius.” I then warmed up and asked for his picture. Not only did Dominique Ansel leave his work behind the pastry counter to take a picture with Caryn and me, but he talked to us for a while. I excitedly told him how I had traveled all the way from NC to eat a cronut. He was soft-spoken and just a nice, genuine person. Most importantly, he was gracious for our support of his craft.
After meeting Dominique Ansel, Caryn and I sat down at the bakery to enjoy our fig marscapone cronuts. They were beautiful and sprinkled with sugar. Yes, the pastry was everything I had imagined; delicious, flaky and brilliant.
Sure, the cronut was amazing. Would I wait in line again? Probably not. Honestly, the cronut was proof of the special bonds you can form with strangers in just a few hours. The cronut experience will go down in food history and to say I was a part of the craze is something I will never forget.