Lee Lee's Baked Goods

Stopped by this small, old-fashioned bakery after brunch at Vinateria.  

Apparently the bake shop is known for its Rugelach, a traditional Jewish pastry. The story is (I googled this after I got home), the owner/baker, Mr Alvin Lee Smalls first came across a rugelach recipe on a newspaper over four decades ago. After making the rugelach per the recipe, he decided he didn't like the recipe. He then tinkered with the recipe for about six month and created his own version of the traditional Jewish treat!  How cool is that?!

I have to say, his version tastes amazing!  I got the traditional ones to go because I was simply too stuffed from brunch. But... when I realized that the rugelachs were still warm, I magically found room in my stomach. Nothing like freshly baked treats! I loved the touch of cinnamon and raisins in this "traditional" version.  Now that I know how amazing Mr. Lee's rugelach are, I will go back and try the other flavors.  

Rugelach  

Rugelach  

These round treats covered in a dusting of white powdered sugar are Sandies. At this shop, they are affectionately called Sandie Tots by the owner. One of the patrons called them Mexican Wedding Cookies. Whatever you want to call them, they are absolutely delicious!  I'm usually not a fan of these types of densely packed cookies. These Sandie Tots somehow managed to be crunchy, but light, with a slight nutty flavor. I can easily inhale a couple of these. 

Sandie Tots

Sandie Tots

I am never one to pass up on cinnamon rolls, especially since I have such a hard time finding good ones these days.  This cinnamon rolls are a bit thinner than most cinnamon rolls.  I was worried that they would be a bit dry, since I didn't get a chance to eat them on the day I bought them.  To my surprise, these cinnamon rolls were perfectly yummy when I had them for breakfast the next day. 

Cinnamon Rolls  

Cinnamon Rolls  

Verdict: AA+; This unassuming bakery is a great find. It is definitely worth trekking uptown for these special treats.  

Lee Lee's Baked Goods
283 West 118th Street (Between St. Nicholas & Frederick Douglas Blvd.), Harlem
http://leeleesrugelach.com

Best cookies ever! Levain Bakery

This tiny little bakery on the Upper West Side has the reputation of turning out one of the best cookies in New York City.  Even on a late Sunday afternoon, half an hour before closing, there was a long line out its door!  Thankfully the line moved quickly. The minute I stepped into the bakery, I was overwhelmed (in a good way) by the aroma of the freshly baked cookies.  

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Even though I had the good intention of just getting 1 cookie, somehow I walked out of the store with two =P.  The cookies are absolutely divine!! It's shaped more like a mount than a flat disk.  A mount of warm, gooey, goodness!  My photos don't do the cookies justice at all. 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip

Chocolate Chocolate Chip

The saltiness of the peanut butter chip really balanced out the sweetness of the chocolate nicely.  That said, I really love the chocolate chocolate chip cookie as well.  

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

The only thing missing was a tall glass of milk! 

Verdict: AAA.  Live up to the hype. It's possibility the best cookies that I have ever had…or at least in recent memory.  

Levain Bakery
167 West 74th Street (@Columbus Street)
http://www.levainbakery.com

Breads Bakery

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I have been wanting to check out this bakery ever since it opened. Despite multiple "window-shopping" expeditions, I always ended up walking out empty handed.  Paralyzed by too many choices perhaps... 

This morning I was determined to stop in for breakfast and actually purchase something. I settled on an almond croissant and a mini- Rugelach.  The Rugelach, is made of the same ingredients as the store's famous chocolate babka. Its miniature size is perfect for me to get a taste, without committing to a whole loaf of chocolate babka. Yes, I have commitment issues...  

Almond croissant, Rugelach, and a mint ice tea.

Almond croissant, Rugelach, and a mint ice tea.

It turned out that I had nothing to worry about.  Both of the pastries were amazingly good! Sometimes I find almond croissants to be a bit dense, but these were nice and flaky, with just the right amount of filling and slightly crispy edges.  The Rugelach was way too small to be satisfying.  I will need to come back and get a loaf of the Chocolate Babka for sure!

Almond croissant 

Almond croissant 

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

Mini-Rugelach

Mini-Rugelach

The kitchen is at the back of the bakery, so everything goes straight from the oven to the shelves.  This is definitely one of the best bakeries I have visited in the city. Now that I have tried the goods, I am hooked!

Breads Bakery
18 East 16th Street (Between Union Square West & 5th Ave.)
http://www.breadsbakery.com

Verdict: AAA

Smile To Go

I was craving for a cinnamon bun and someone recommended that I check out Smile To Go.  Well….the cinnamon bun was a big letdown.  Luckily, the soft, chewy, gooey chocolate sea salt cookie made up for the trek to this little bakery in NoHo.  

Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Cookie

Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Cookie

Smile To Go 
22 Howard Street (Between Lafayette & Crosby Street)
http://www.smiletogonyc.com