We interrupt this Rhode Island Foodfest to bring you an important, although unrelated, post. This took place on March 16, a few days before my trip to Providence. I had kind of forgotten that I had pictures left over from this day, so I just wanted to get them onto my blog instead of letting them fester in my hard drive until the next time I happen to see them.
So do you remember how I visited the local farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago? And do you recall how I found out that the famous Balthazar Restaurant and Bakery in New York gets all of their breadstuffs shipped to them from the bakery in Englewood? Well, that definitely piqued my interest in exploring the local food scene; I just HAD to go there and see for myself what this place was actually like. I mean, it sounds like the stuff that dreams are made of!
So after doing a bit of research, I headed over to this giant, imposing, red-bricked factory that was ONLY A 20 MINUTE DRIVE AWAY FROM MY HOUSE. Jeez, have I been missing out…
The bakery itself was pretty easy to find – it’s huge, square, and red, after all. But it is in a kind of out-of-the-way area of Englewood, and parking was reaaally annoying. The lot is really small, and street parking wasn’t readily available, so we just had to circle around until a spot opened up. But our patience was soon rewarded.
Next to the bakery, you can also see a bunch of pale yellow Balthazar trucks hogging up space in the parking lot; I can only guess that they’re getting filled with breads that will be shipped over to the NYC location.
The first thing that hits you when you first walk into the bakery (other than the heady aroma of freshly baked breads and pastry) is this:
The store itself is pretty cramped, but there’s a huge window along one wall that lets you look into the actual bakery portion of the building.
It’s pretty cool because you can see pounds and pounds of bread being made from start to finish; there are workers kneading and measuring out dough, shaping it on trays, pushing along carts of dough towards the oven… It’s all organized chaos, and a delicious one at that.
I was ogling at the window forever because I’d never seen the inside of such a large-scale bakery before. I tried not to look to creeper-y while I took pictures, but after a while my mom told me to choose first and take photos later. So I turned around and focused attention on this heavenly sight:
ZOMG SO MANY DELICIOUS CARBY THINGS. Where to begin? Which one to get? It was overwhelming, but in the best way possible.
Like seriously, I didn’t even know what some of this stuff was! But it sure looked good…
Are you drooling yet?
Balthazar also has a seasonal menu that changes with, well, the season. They’ll also sell traditional holiday breads; the day we went, they had a bunch of Irish soda bread, as well as these:
Behind the pastries, there is an entire wall dedicated to more savory breads like loaves, dinner rolls, and biscuits. Scones and croissants can also be found in this area.
And in case you want something for later, they have packaged cookies of various flavors.
See what I mean by overwhelming? How could I POSSIBLY choose from such delightful pastries and breads? Well, I was starting to hold up the line, so my mom (being the rational, logical woman that she is) got a whole wheat Pullman loaf and herbed focaccia bread for sandwich-making at home. This was an incredibly smart move on her part, because it not only took care of my sister’s lunch, it also gave me a little more time to decide what to get.
Madeleines have always been dear to my heart; my mom likes them a lot too, so when I was young, we would make these together. So I guess I kind of got this for nostalgia’s sake? It had been a while since I’ve eaten one. And I’m so glad I got the madeleine here. It was perfect, with a light, delicate crumb and the characteristic lemony, madeleine flavor.
I also got a mini currant-oatmeal scone:
Like the madeleine, this scone was also really delicate; it crumble oh-so-gently when I bit into it; each morsel was studded with dried currants and rolled oats, the former giving it sweetness and the latter giving it texture.
I’m not sure if you can tell from these pictures, but both of these were pretty small, about half the size of my palm. Of course, once I finished them, I felt like they had disappeared way too fast ):
What my mom and I liked best about these 2 pastries was how their sweetness was so carefully controlled and tempered. Baked goods often tend to be too sweet for our tastes, and all you really get is sugar and butter. But with Balthazar’s goods, you could really taste the ingredients and their quality. Even with its dusting of powdered sugar, the lemon flavor shone beautifully in the madeleine; and the scone just barely bordered on sweet – there were distinctive salty bits that I really enjoyed.
Of course, these just barely scratch the surface of Balthazar’s wonderful deliciousness; I have yet to tap the depths of their carby delights. I really want to go back and try some of their other treats; they’re definitely on the pricey side, but I think that they’re totally worth it. And since this place is pretty close to my house, I’m bringing my sister and my dad here the next time I’m home. I also want to go to the restaurant in New York City – what do the breads and pastries taste like there, I wonder?
For all you Bergen County-ers, if you’re too lazy to go out to the city, this is probably the next best place for quality baked goods. Surprisingly, not a lot of people know about it, even if they have heard about the Balthazar in Manhattan. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth stopping by if only to see the bakery part of Balthazar, but of course, the plethora of yummy, freshly-baked goods doesn’t hurt either. (;
214 S Dean Street
Englewood, NJ 07631