Today I want to talk about bakeries. Well one bakery in particular. Today I want to talk about the ButterCooky Bakery in Floral Park, New York because it’s not only a feast for the taste-buds, but it’s a total feast for the eyes as well. Sadly these days there are fewer and fewer real bakeries and more and more groceries with a bakery-ish that makes pastries and breads-ish. But real bakeries, aw, now those are a true national treasure!
To me, Bakeries are like art galleries in which you get to eat the art. I’ve always loved to look at the way the displays, but I’ve never actually seen a display quite so eye-popping as the one in the ButterCooky Bakery. In fact the ButterCooky is so stunning, that it’s become a place of pilgrimage for me. OK, so it’s only my second trip to NYC, and the ButterCooky is not actually in NYC, but it doesn’t matter, it’s still a very inspiring must-see.
This year I made the trip on my last day in New York. I had a 9:30 PM flight back to the UK, so plenty of time to hang out and write locally. We’ve stayed the last two visits to New York in Floral Park because Raymond has gone for martial arts training and the dojo where he trains is in Floral Park – an easy ride on the Long Island Railroad into Penn Station and Midtown Manhattan. The best of all worlds – he trains, I play tourist! But I digress. The ButterCooky Bakery has the distinction of being right across from the dojo. That was originally how I discovered it, and I have it on good authority from Raymond’s sensei that more than a few of his students are frequent visitors after workouts. Apparently the ButterCooky is quite famous in the area.
After several hours of writing, I made my move Mid-morning. I loaded up my backpack with my laptop and my
camera and headed off at a very slow trudge toward the ButterCooky. The TV in the breakfast room of the hotel had promised another scorcher with heat index of over 100 and, by 10:00, it already felt pretty close. It’s about a twenty minute walk from my hotel to the bakery and I arrived wilted and glowing, very much in-need of the cool breath of air conditioning wafting from the front entrance by the cake display.
I’ve never seen so many beautiful baked goods to choose from – dozens of kinds of cookies, whole display cases full of pastries and breads, a display case higher than my head full of cupcakes along with biscuits, buns, pies and croissants and probably a dozen other delectable I missed in the total overload of visual gluttony. I’m sure I would have been overwhelmed by it all and completely unable to make a choice if I hadn’t gone with one special treat in mind. The real reason for my perilous journey through the heat was a great big fat cream-filled chocolate éclairs. Even knowing exactly what I wanted and wanting it with a passion, I still stood stunned for the first five minutes, taking it all in, letting my eyes enjoy the calorie-free feast before my taste buds tackled the delectable calories. When it came my turn at the counter, I ordered one beautiful
éclair and a much-needed iced coffee and asked if I could take pictures. Apparently I’m not the only person to make that request. The manager only smiled knowingly and said go ahead.
But first things first. I found a quiet, marble-topped table with a view of the whole bakery and the street outside, then I sat down to write, enjoy my éclair, and gird my loins for the task of photographing so much yumminess.
Cakes! Beautiful cakes! Round, voluptuous layer cakes, frosted, piled high with fruit, latticed with butter cream frosting, covered with coconut and almonds and all manner of scrumptiousness. I watched several people
come in for special birthday cakes, often more sculpted than decorated. They all nodded their approval and then the cakes were lovingly boxed up and taken away. Oh, and cupcakes – everything from Big Bird to fluffy kittens, from French poodles to flower gardens. I watched one couple pick out a dozen and a half of these little masterpieces for their son’s birthday party. I’m pretty sure they walked out with a whole zoo of cupcakes. I wonder how much you can learn about someone’s personality by the kinds of cupcakes they choose – by the kinds of pastries they delight in. Now that would be an interesting study.
Oh, and the éclair! A total orgasm for the taste buds. I savored it, I made it last, I totally delighted in every chocolaty, cream-filled nibble. Now you might ask just how inspiring is a chocolate éclair? Well, I managed a thousand words sitting there in the yummy surrounds of the ButterCooky relishing my éclair and iced coffee. It’s especially nice when inspiration tastes so good, and how could I not be inspired by something so totally cream-filled?
Once the éclair was gone and I’d licked the last of the sticky, bitter-sweet chocolate off my fingers, I got about the
serious business of taking piccies. Then I thanked the clerk and headed back out into the heat.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a food Philistine. If it takes more than thirty minutes, I’m not likely to cook it. I baking repertoire consists of oatmeal cake, snicker doodles and coconut cream pie – all simple, all family recipes I learned by doing from the time I was a little girl. These days they only happen once a year if that. But even though I’m no foodie, the magic of cooking and baking and creating beautiful food isn’t lost on me, and there’s a very real magic involved in taking something into myself that’s as beautiful as it is tasty. As I walked back to my hotel room, a thousand words more done on my WIP, thinking about my ButterCooky pilgrimage, 2015, I could completely understand why food inspires in so many more ways than simply taste and nutrition.