Monday, March 02, 2009

I've never been able to resist a bakery. So when I spotted Tatte Bakery in the neighbhorhood where I was meeting a friend for lunch, I decided to stop by. I had admired their booth at the Copley Square Farmer's Market. Their set-up was beautiful in this antiquey, nostalgic sepia-toned way, and I wondered what other wonders their store might hold. It was as pretty as I had hoped: the displays of pastry and funny antique signs making my camera finger itch in an almost painful way, especially with no camera on me.

Their pastry offerings are artful and expensive. $6 for their signature "nut boxes" which, as promised, are a box made of shortbread filled with nuts in a caramel glaze. Simple and very elegant. So simple and elegant that I have to confess I am not crazy about them. I like some messiness in my pastry, cream squirting out the side or fruit on my nose. I want to be overcome when I bite into something because it fills my mouth and nose with flavor and texture. When something is so pretty and not really, well, bite-able, it turns it into sculpture rather than food. I like sculpture and I like playfulness with food, but if it's supposed to be a cookie, then I want to be able to bite into it. I'm still not sure how you are supposed to eat the nut box. Mr. Right and I mostly just picked the nuts out of the box and ate them, and then ate the sides. It definitely tasted good. And the puddle of caramel at the bottom of the box made up for the non-smooshy no cream factor.

They also have Hamantashen, which is much more biteable as a cookie and I adore them, if only because I love their story. Their name means Haman's Hats, and they are based on the Bible story about Queen Esther, who outsmarted and triumphed over the evil Haman who was out to have her killed. Traditionally they are made with poppy seed or fruit filling, but here they had nutella filling. Awesome! And to make it even more fun, as I was looking up how to spell the name and story about the cookie, I found out about this: which I'll leave you to read and enjoy on your own. And I was very happy with the hamantash I ate.

What is it about baked goods? Proust may have been one of the first to describe the emotional power of the pastry, but they definitely take me back to childhood. Maybe it's the memories of going to the bakeries with my mother when I was little where the lady at the counter would give every kid a cookie.

I'm glad I went in and wow, the place definitely got my blogger's juices flowing in a powerful way. My reaction surprised me a little -- with them it wasn't the product itself but the way they presented it. I loved how they packaged it. I would enjoy taking friends there. So I say hat's off to Tatte for doing something interesting and beautiful.