Tag Archives: baking

Experimentation in Pastries at Craftsman & Wolves

craftsman and wolves the rebel within

the rebel within

Craftsman & Wolves is a new-ish bakery on Valencia St. It is not a carpentry supply store or a bizarre dance studio/cult. It’s one of those bakeries where it’s easy to be overcome with blind fear, the same fear a child experiences when they begin screaming after discovering they’re holding a stranger’s hand.

At first, everything looks delicious and I’m feeling confident.  I’m like, “Bakery….I know bakery. Bakery has cookie, has cake, has bread.” But then bakery turns out to have things called “the rebel within,” and “pain au cochon,” and a scone with “mango, ginger, coconut, and kaffir lime.” And when the woman helping boyfriend and me decide points to something and explains, “this is a financier,” I know that this is not the bakery of my homespun, capitalist youth (Panera).

Nevertheless, we persevere, wading through the muck of over-descriptive pastry names and decision-anxiety. We purchased one (1) brewed coffee, one (1) small latte, one (1) chocolate chip cookie, one (1) “rebel within,” and one (1) sesame passion fruit croissant. The total cost: a cool twenty (20) dollars. I wonder what my sister would say, the one that called $1 popcorn at the Wichita botanical garden “a rip-off.”

The place is packed and we’re forced to sit next to strangers. I’m not mad, I’m just telling it how it is.

We dig into the food, delicately placed on square ceramic plates that are clearly not from Ikea. The first surprise is that the rebel of “the rebel within” is a soft-boiled egg. BOOM. SURPRISE. The yoke is gooey and fairly delicious (if you like egg juice), adding to the flakey, hammy, biscuity, exterior. Unfortunately, the dough around the egg is a little raw, disappointing for a place that calls itself “a notion.”

The cookie was tantalizing, salty enough to make sure everyone knows there’s salt in it, and plenty of chocolate even for the women. It wasn’t doughy at all (though it was described as such by a review in 7×7), but I’d definitely stop back in on a day that I deserve a treat and dunk that mother-nucker in some Nescafe instant coffee (BRING ON THE BOOS! I FEED OFF YOUR HATRED!)

The third baked item, the croissant, was a little sad and dry. The flavor was good, but if I’d had a pat of softened butter or some edible lotion I would have moisturized the crap out of it.

Upon leaving Craftsman & Wolves, I knew I would probably return, if only for their carnitas and machengo mac and cheese. It was fairly tasty and certainly interesting. Maybe next time I’ll get something even more inscrutable, like a buckwheat, concord grape, and peanut butter cube cake.  Just try to figure that one out.

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Secret Cookie in my Pocket

Give me a book and the cookie. Spare me the class.

I didn’t read the book for class, but I did have a secret chocolate chip cookie in my pocket. Whereas the rest of the class intended to mire themselves in the angst of post-modernity, I intended to wait for a little bit and then eat my cookie.

Oh it was going to be delicious. It was by far the best cookie in the classroom, possibly the best in Cairo, and a certain contender for the best cookie in all space and time. Its buttery taste, the fluffy yet chewy texture of the crumb, the chocolateyness of the chocolate chips….yes, bringing this cookie to school was likely the best decision I was going to make all week.

The class begins and my eyes instantly glaze over. I am already far from this place, my mind slowly orbiting around three topics: “I have a cookie in my pocket. How will I make it in San Francisco? I need to do laundry today.”

As if through a window, I see the professor in front of me yammering about something, the other students nodding in agreement. I find myself doing the same, compelled by a primal instinct that forces the human to avoid scolding by pretending to listen.

Group work is vicious, dragging me to back to the classroom to offer my own fabricated insights. This is difficult to do because of the cookie distraction. One day the students will turn on me, pointing their fingers at me and saying in unison, “This one sucks.” But that day is not today. The work ends, and we return to our own worlds that are supposed to revolve around the professor and whatever she’s saying. I go back to thinking about the cookie.

My stomach growls and I know the moment has come.

I remove the cookie from my pocket, its tender body protected from my coat pocket by a thick layer of foil. As I unwrap it gently the foil yields forth its precious burden. The student next to me gasps.

I know what she is thinking. Yes, this is a chocolate chip cookie baked fresh from my kitchen. Yes, it is America itself contained in a bit of flour, butter, and sugar, and it is likely the most valuable thing at the university at this time. It is mine, and I’m going to eat it now, and as the crumbs dissolve on my lips, I too will dissolve away from here and from this classroom where words are being said about the novel I didn’t read, the point of which only the author could understand.

This cookie, however, I understand. Why couldn’t the author write something more like it?

P.S. You should try “The Chewy Recipe” for your cookies, courtesy of dude Alton Brown. They are very delicious and better than homework.

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Shame Eat With Ease!

Hi! Thank you for purchasing 8 oz. of Lynette’s “Seriously Chocolate” Homemade Fudge: Shame Eating Edition.

Through market research, we have determined that it’s highly likely you’ve considered not sharing this purchase with anyone. Right after you bought this butter and sugar brick, you may have been thinking about how much your spouse, kids, co-workers, or roommates would enjoy savoring its creamy texture and delicious chocolate taste. Then you started thinking about how much you would enjoy these same things, and how much longer you could enjoy it if you didn’t share. Hey, we’re with you there! We also think it would be lovely to sit and gobble this diabetes trap furtively like a woodland creature, discarding it before anyone you know sees you.

Just when you thought Lynette’s fudge couldn’t get any better, we’ve made it easier for you to shame eat and dispose of the evidence quickly and simply. For that reason, we’ve included a little plastic spoon right here in the container at no extra charge! By using a spoon to shame eat fudge, you can still retain some dignity and avoid a big post-fudge mess. Lynette’s recommended shame eating method is to drive to the nearest parking lot, make sure you’re mostly alone, and inhale the fudge-y goodness as soon as you park the car. If the weather is appropriate, Lynette likes to go to a different part of town and shame eat her fudge in a park while enjoying nature. We’re sure you’ll love it  too!

Currently we are developing a car-friendly way to devour fudge embarrassingly fast that doesn’t involve grubbing it with your hands and risking a stain on your work clothes or getting fudge fingers. If you’re interested in being put on our newsletter list, we can keep you updated on all the tricks we have up our sleeve to help keep you eating behind the backs of your loved ones. Just email us at eat@shame.org and we’ll put your name on our list.

Here at Lynette’s, we have always believed that you deserve complete privacy as you put away the treats you deserve. Thank you supporting our mission and happy shame eating!

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I Want to Open a Bakery in Egypt

This is almost incomprehensible. And it’s just the beginning.

We met three minutes ago and you just learned that I study Arabic. You don’t take the news well—your mind is reeling….why would she study Arabic? What is it about this language with its scribbly letters and random dots that has confused her so much that she wants to actually learn it?

You may not know this, but on the other side of the conversation I can see the thoughts swirling in your head and I know what you’re about to ask me. I can feel the question being formed in your mind as your lips, tongue, and chin prepare to pronounce the dreaded words. The sentence pours from your oral cavity in slow motion as my usual panic sets in.

“Why do you study Arabic?”

You might as well ask me why hippos seem friendlier than crocodiles despite their notorious aggression or why lotion doesn’t taste like yogurt even though it looks the same. You, my dear, blundering acquaintance have forced me to peer into the black abyss of my future post-Arabic fellowship and let me tell you this: I can see a darkness that no amount of graduate school could penetrate.

If you really must know, I’ve been studying Arabic since my senior year of high school because–and pay attention to this part—I liked it. Indeed, friend, I enjoyed the twisty letters and sounds that required new muscle growth. I didn’t even know that people wearing black suits and sunglasses would pay handsomely for my skillz.

But I smashed those sunglasses on the ground and threw white chalk on their coats. I was much too naïve for the men in black, and instead dreamed of working at an NGO in development work or something romantic like that where I could “help people.” On less romantic days, I entertained the thought of working in a think tank, of swimming in big wells of ideas and spending all my waking hours in front of a screen.

To my great relief, however, I found after only 2.5 months out of college that I have absolutely no interest in any of those careers. I won’t waste time describing the depths of my dread when I think about typing on a computer all day in a cage with people who start conversations with statements like, “So, President Obama has kind of an aggressive foreign policy.” Suffice it to say that I’m glad to be free of those business casual and business formal illusions.

But, you insist, what are you going to do with Arabic? I’ll be honest: anything I say will be a lie to myself and to you so let’s just leave the future as the black abyss it is and I’ll tell you about how I’ve always wanted to work at a bakery. If you can connect that to Arabic, be my guest and stop by for cookies, or should I say كوكيز?

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