When Mike and I ate at Daniel in summer 2011, the entire meal was epic, but the desserts were hands down the best I can remember. I looked up the pastry chef when I got home and found out that it was Dominque Ansel. I also caught some news that he would shortly be leaving Daniel for his own venture.
Thankfully, that venture maintained his presence in New York and he opened up his own bakery in SoHo.
I got down there a few weeks after they opened, and I had a stepping into Willy Wonka moment.
They had cases filled with beautiful pastries.
They have a few shelves of packaged goods.
And a huge menu of goodies, including their famous Madeleines, which are made to order after 3pm on Fridays and Saturdays. I was impressed to see Dominique Ansel behind the counter and going to the back to make the madeleines. I wanted to tell him how much we enjoyed his desserts at Daniel, but never had the chance (that’s a lie… I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to him… you have your celebrities, I have mine).
I ordered up some macrons to bring to my team in London. While it was a gift, I did manage to snag one to try. It was the best macaron I’ve ever had. By far. And I’ve had many. Every time I’m within 2 neighborhoods from SoHo, I think “maybe we should drop by there to get some macarons.” Sadly, we haven’t been back yet. Though I foresee these in my very near future.
We also ordered one of the pastries that looked divine. It was packaged in the most elegant box I have ever seen.
Inside was like a perfect prize.
It was absolutely beautiful. Sadly, I was just too full to eat this and was off to London that night, so Mike had to take one for the team and eat it himself. To quote his opinion: “Deeeeeeeeeee-licious!”
Why was I so full? Well… because these little babies were just captivating. When we had these at Daniel, I have a distinct memory of the waitress unfolding the napkin on top of these warm, steaming madeleines and the smell just being totally overwhelmingly delicious. It was a similar moment upon opening up this paper bag and peering inside.
They were definitely smaller than the ones at Daniel.
And I don’t think they were QUITE the same. They still tasted great, and that warm, lemony, sweet pillow is still something other-wordly, bit it just wasn’t 100% there. Perhaps nothing can ever be as good as your first time.