I’ve been feeling the strawberry love this summer, eating them as much as possible and in every sort of combination, always coming back to my favorite: a big old bowl of greenmarket babies with some real whipped cream. Sadly, it seems that they are already moving on to make way for the heartier berries, peaches and cherries, and with my severe allergy to stone fruit, I find that I’m left longing. Even the organic ones at Whole Foods look as if they have been left to dehydrate in the summer heat. Strawberries are one of those rare fruit exceptions that I allow to possess me despite my devotion to all things chocolate.
So I was deliciously surprised to find a most excellent strawberry treat at Paris Baguette, a high-end Korean bakery in midtown. Green tea cake layered with strawberries and whipped cream — as soon as I saw it I knew it would be mine. Having spent lots of time traveling Asia as a classical musician, I was already an expert on the classic hot dog wrapped in the equivalent of a potato roll and I’ve definitely eaten my fair share of coconut cream buns in Chinatown, but this place was on a different level. When I walked in I was greeted with the typical Asian bakery-style display of help-yourself buns and simple pastries. There was variation upon variation of cream cheese–filled goodies, buns, and brioche. I got as many as I could fit on my tray. They also had what was called soft cake, and I got one in strawberry. It looked like a strawberry cake mix and I knew my elder child would be all over it. I wanted to get one of their fun flavored baguettes but apparently I was much too late as there was not a single one left.
When I reached the back of the store I found what made Paris Baguette a cut above the rest. There was a case of the prettiest looking cakes I have seen in a while next to a case of the yummiest looking slices of cakes and cups of delicious treats, including that green tea and strawberry momma. The cakes are really something — not fancy in a classic French way, but almost cartoonish-ly pretty. They had lots of cakes devoted to strawberries and fruit, some really fun baby shower cakes and my favorite, the cappuccino cup cake. I was wishing I could rationalize buying a whole cake to take home just so I could look at how pretty it was while I ate it. Alas, reason gave way to calorie consumption.
At the register there are also a variety of coffee drinks, bubble teas and bubble smoothies. Never one to turn down anything resembling a frappuccino, I ordered a mocha frappé. It was delicious in a “contains more calories than all the cake I bought but a million times better than Starbucks”–kind of way. I happily sipped my way down the block, planning a future trip with a stop at the Mandoo Bar for some dumplings next time.