british-style scones with dried cherries

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On the plane ride back from Dublin, my father and I agreed that we were ruined. Our drama was rooted in the fact that we had the best scones, butter and chicken we’d ever had. Believe me when I say that our lamentations were real {with the exception of the hour we endured rolicking turbulence and I grabbed my pop’s hand, to which he replied, Your hands are so clammy!}, and for the first weeks we returned both of us refused scones and chicken. Because how could we dare taint our palates?

I remember our trip to Cobb, and how the owner of a small cafe told me that she whipped soft butter in order get that cake-like, aerated texture over which I had been fawning. Confused, I went back to the States and consulted my cookbooks — all of which read that scones MUST be made with chilled butter.

Until I found this Cook’s Illustrated recipe, and the world was set to rights. If you geek out on baked goods, you’ll appreciate the story and chemistry behind the British scone and its U.S. distant cousin. So often I’ve been instructed to not overwork the dough for fear of the HOCKEY PUCK, however, in the British scone version since all the flour is sealed with fat {butter}, gluten doesn’t form so readily, and A WOMAN CAN KNEAD TO HER HEART’S CONTENT.

The result was a marked departure from the scones of which I’ve been accustomed, but it was Ireland all over again. I smoothed some butter + preservatives on my still-warm scones and nearly cried my eyes out. Please. Make. These. Now.

On a separate note, I’ve been thinking about the comments on one of my recent posts. One in particular stuck out — the forced nature of some of my food posts — because it’s something I’ve been noticing myself. Sometimes I get so caught up in a thought or idea that I start writing and I dig where I’m going until I realize that I’ve posted a picture of a salad. Going forward, I’m going to be a bit more thoughtful here, which is not to say stories won’t be paired with food, but the pairing won’t be arbitrary, rather it’ll be deliberate and organic. So THANK YOU for your feedback — super helpful.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cane sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 tbsp {1 stick} of softened butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cups dried currants {I used cherries as that’s what I had on hand}
1 cup whole milk
2 eggs

DIRECTIONS
Pre heat oven to 500F and place rack on the upper-middle position.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Measure out all ingredients. In your food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and pulse into combined {5-7 pulses). Add butter to dry ingredients and pulse about 20 times, until butter is incorporated and there are no longer any large clumps. The mixture should resemble sand. Add the flour and butter mixture to a large bowl, and using a spatula mix in your currants {or cherries} until your dried fruit is coated in the mixture. Set aside.

In small bowl, whisk milk and eggs. Set aside 2 tbsp of the milk/egg mixture into a small bowl. Pour the milk egg mixture into the dry ingredient/butter mixture, folding together with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just incorporated. The dough will be wet and sticky — don’t freak out.

Heavily flour the counter where you will roll out the dough. I’m talking like 1/2 cup of flour heavy. Flour your hands as well. Gather dough into a ball on the floured counter top. Knead dough 25-30 times, until the dough forms a smooth ball. Using a floured wooden rolling pin, roll the dough out into a circle until it’s an inch thick. Cut out scones with a floured 2 1/2 inch round cutter. You’ll get 8 scones out of the first round. Gather dough scraps, form into ball, and roll out again same as before to get the remaining 4. Brush tops of scones with egg milk mixture that you set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 425 deg F and bake scones for 10-15 minutes, rotating halfway, until scones are golden brown. Transfer to a wire cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before eating. Add your preserves + butter and chow away. Keep the scones in a airtight container and re-heat them at 350 degrees for 5 minutes before eating.

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buttermilk biscuits + defining {or not} what’s next

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I spent the day with one of my closest friends, architecting a plan for her to build a brand based on mindful movement. Sarah’s this great light, and she has the ability to imbue any situation with calm. Whether she’s teaching yoga, coaching authors, or writing sketches for UCB, everything she does comes from a quiet reflection inward to create tremendous movement on the surface. Her ask of me was this: how do I bring this all together? Her question put me to thinking to the definition of yoga — a union of body and breath, and while I found it so simple to distill something simple from the seemingly complicated, I for some reason can do this for myself.

Within me I feel a fissure, a very noticeable division. I am the whole of three parts: business, food, writing. After decades of drift, I’ve found that I constantly cleave to creativity whether it be helping a multi-million dollar company re-envision its infrastructure to re-imagining words on a page. I live the puzzle of it all. How I’m able to move pieces around a board to create a new shape.

How do you sell that? How do you package it neat and tidy, when I’ve never been a woman who took on the shape of those words. I know I can’t drift; I can’t get be in this purgatory of sorts, skirting the in-betweens. Today I told my friend that I’ve no idea what it is that I should be doing. All I can do is move toward opportunities that excite me, right? Take it from there, right?

I honestly don’t know. So there’s me, gathering dough. There’s me trying to find the union between art and business. There’s me trying to figure it all out.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Southern Living, via @Emptychampagne
4 cups all-purpose soft-wheat flour, such as White Lily {I used 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour, and it turned out fine}
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup {2 sticks, 8oz} cold butter, cubed
2 cups buttermilk
Melted butter

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 450°. Sift together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until mixture resembles small peas. Stir in buttermilk with a fork until dough forms a ball. You can also do this in a food processor, blitzing the dry ingredients, adding in the butter (and pulsing for 10-12 times) and pouring in the milk through the tube. Your dough will be quite sticky — don’t let that drive you mad as it will come blissfully together and be smooth once you turn it out onto wax paper.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured sheet of wax paper. Sprinkle dough with flour, and flatten into a disk. Cover, and chill 15 minutes.

Remove wax paper, and turn dough out onto a well-floured surface; sprinkle with flour. Pat dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a 3-inch cutter, reshaping scraps once. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 450° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Brush immediately with melted butter.
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cheddar + dill biscuits + living this one great life

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Whenever you are faced with a choice between liberty and security, choose liberty. Otherwise you will end up with neither. People who sell their souls for the promise of a secure job and a secure salary are spat out as soon as they become dispensable. The more loyal to an institution you are, the more exploitable, and ultimately expendable, you become…You know you have only one life. You know it is a precious, extraordinary, unrepeatable thing: the product of billions of years of serendipity and evolution. So why waste it by handing it over to the living dead?George Monbiot

It’s easy to ghost through our waking life. Play the part of a somnambulant — a body that moves mechanically, with no purpose or passion. We live to be cartographed and programmed, and we cleave all too delicately to the everyday certainties that threaten to undo us: the traffic that is relentless, the job we slumber to, the boss who is possibly psychopathic, the beloved with whom we settle because considering options becomes a tiresome proposition.

My pop suffers from stiffened joints that make it sometimes difficult for him to walk, and when I press him on this, when I ask him to see a doctor, he says he’d rather carry this discomfort because the risk taken to learn that he may be sick, that something may be gravely wrong is too much from him to bear. So he chooses to live with this disquiet, this numb leg and the stiffness on a limb that used to move nimble, quick. I’m quiet as I know how far I can push him, that there might be a moment where his silence matches my own.

I have a friend who tells me she’s getting OUT. She says this in a voice that implies she’s speaking in all caps, and she often sends me notes reaffirming her need to quit his job. But the money’s so damn good, and it’s not all that bad, even during the dark moments when it is that bad. Sometimes she tells me that she’s an adult and it’s not like we’re twenty-three anymore; it’s not as if the world is still filled with so much possibility. There are mortgages to pay, purses to buy, expensive meds to refill. She sells herself a lemon life, and she’s masterful at it. Other times, late, she sends me texts and tells me that she lives vicariously through me, a single artist who can indulge in such flights! of! fancy!, and I have to remind her of my $130,000 student loan debt, the five-figure credit card debt, and, oh by the way, this artist has been working as a professional marketer for seventeen years. There is no flight of fancy. There is no ticker tape of golden skin on a Fijian beach, rather there is a decision to live your life uncomfortably comfortable or live your life with all the bandaids ripped off. And this puts me to thinking that sometimes a mortgage is not too far from a mortuary, and that safe is probably the more dangerous of all the four-letter words. Safe tells you that the world no longer glints and gleams, that there is no Santa Claus. Safe tells you that in 401K, we trust. Safe tells you that you’re an adult now, you can no longer dream now, the world is closing in on you now. Safe tells us you that your story has already been written.

We chose the hand we know we can play rather than the terrain undiscovered.

Seven years ago, I stopped drinking and told myself that I’d lead a safe, controlled life. I created routines, only cleave to that which was familiar, and I told myself to get serious about the business of being an adult. Because I’m someone who observes the extremes, I interpreted safe as the antithesis of reckless. No longer would I be the twenty-five-year old who brought drugs on a plane and woke up in a different state. No longer would I play detective with crumbled up receipts and call records. I got a cat and I lived this very vibrant and verbose life, online, but rarely did I leave my phone. And for a while this worked until my home and office resembled one another in the sense that they resembled the inside of a tomb. I wasn’t living life, I was hiding it from it with over 140-character count witticism and perfectly composed blog post. Exasperated, a friend once shouted through tears that I was impenetrable, and even after listening to my friend in pain nothing registered. I couldn’t feel anything, and it would be a year later until I’d realize that I traded in one form of anaesthesia (alcohol) for another (solitary confinement). It would be two years later until I’d started the long road to repair that friendship, to open all the doors and let people in.

When I read George Monbiot’s article, I paused because it reminded me that there is no joy living in the extremes, of inhabiting a word until it becomes you, and you are only defined by how you are not living. His words articulated that there is something brilliant and beautiful in the middle of reckless and safe, that there is color and sound and feeling in taking giant leaps of self-faith. As a woman inching toward 40 I’m finding that I need to revisit children’s books because they remind me that a story survives on its own velocity, that it can always be retold and rewritten as long as it’s good. As long as that story keeps a child’s eyes wide, but then softly sings them into a slumber.

So far I’ve booked trips to Ireland (a journey with my pop who’s from Dublin) and India this year, and while I still don’t know how my story ends, I like the art of writing it, and rewriting it as I go.

All this thought while working from home, making biscuits.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of A Pastry Affair.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold butter
2 tbsp fresh dill, minced
1 cup (4 ounces) cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 + 2 tbsp cup heavy cream
1/3 cup milk

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 425 degrees (220 degrees C).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or with two forks until mixture resembles a coarse sand. Mix in the fresh dill and cheddar cheese. Gradually pour in the heavy cream and milk, mixing until just combined.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and bring together until it forms a ball. If you need to knead the dough to bring it together, do so but no more than 10-12 times. Flatten the dough ball to roughly an 1-inch thick round and, using a 2-inch round cookie cutter or drinking glass of equivalent size dipped in flour, cut out biscuits until all dough is used. Place biscuits on a baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until tops of biscuits are lightly browned.

Allow to cool slightly on a rack before serving.
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potlikker in williamsburg, new york + lessons for spring…

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I saw my ex-husband in the street. I was sitting on the steps of the new library. Hello, my life, I said. We had once been married for twenty-seven years, so I felt justified. He said, What? What life? No life of mine. ― Grace Paley, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute: Stories

This morning I awoke, terrified. My hands were numb and I felt my body chill down to bone. Overcast and dark, no light came through my window and I was confused, shivering, wondering if the forecast called for thundersnow. Tossing aside the covers I paced my apartment, barefoot, waiting for the morning light to break sky. And in that small stretch of time before the night was relieved by the awakening of day, I doubted myself. Fear was that old friend who soft-knuckled the door that was my heart and I let it in and embraced it with my breath. Make no mistake, fear never really disappears, it hibernates, festers, waits for the moment when you are weak and shivering and slides in, pulls up a chair, wants to get to talking. Maybe, it whispers, you made a mistake. You do realize there’s no going back.

This put my heart on pause.

Here I was, so bold in my declarations I was practically bombastic. Telling everyone who would listen that March was the month before the first day of the rest of my life, and, imagine if I jettisoned off to Europe and never came back? Maybe once to cart off my kitty, but I’d hurry back to France, tumbling my way back to the country and the thicket of trees and orange groves and air. I rationalized that I was six years off the sauce {as of last week}, the most clarified I’ve ever been and everything felt right — so this was the right decision, right? To leave my job and run toward something other, right? But what if I was wrong? What if I was the wreckage?

And then the sun. I crept out on my deck, wrapped in a blanket, and for some reason I said, Hello, my life, and went back inside. And that was the end of it. I’m not kidding you. It was the strangest thing. I hopped in the shower, cut French class and went about my day.

Tipped off by a friend, I made the trek to Williamsburg to check out Potlikker, a place with its own story. Owner + chef, Liza Queen once ran a very eclectic spot in Greenpoint, lost her lease and took off for Vietnam to cook in a street shack. Two years later she returned, much like our Odysseus, and opened a place that’s an extension of her heart, her passion for flavor, and a menu that’s seasonal and filled with joie de vivre. Once inside I felt enveloped by warmth — from the staff to the open kitchen where you could hear the sizzle and snap of potatoes and sausage frying, to the serene green paint and wooden interior — and knew this was a place worth patroning.

And then there was the food. A flaky, buttery biscuit oozing with lemon curd and fresh berry compote, local eggs mixed with cheddar and served with applewood sausage and spicy potatoes, and the terrific, bottomless cup of coffee, I was DELIRIOUS. And while I was there, chowing away with aplomb, I thumbed through the latest issue of Kinkolk and found a photo essays, “Lessons for Spring,” a series of b+w images from another time and these simple instructions:

  • Leave the indoors behind
  • Choose a new hobby
  • Don’t be in such a hurry
  • Take matters into your own hands
  • Reawaken your youth
  • Sit in silence, alone
  • Draw close to those nearest and dearest
  • Don’t mind being eccentric
  • Fall in love with something new
  • Dive in deep

  • I tell myself to look for the signs. They may be minor, they may be innocuous, but just look for them. They’re my Northern Lights. Perhaps they can be yours, too.

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    local eats: back forty west, new york city

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    People who ask me for restaurant recommendations give me vertigo on the level of cringe-inducing, nail-biting terror. Make no mistake — I want to prattle on endlessly about the places I patron, but I tend to be a creature of habit. While there are so many extraordinary places to dine in New York, there are as equally many horrible, overpriced establishments. And it’s more often than not that I find myself tossing my napkin on the table, seething.

    I SPENT $40 FOR THAT?????

    I work in industry that values the power of word-of-mouth, so I rarely, if ever, visit a place that hasn’t been vetted by a swat team of friends and honest strangers on Yelp and Chowhound. And you better believe that I walked back Back Forty West at least forty times before I stepped in. On one particular occasion I made it in for a total of ten seconds only to scurry out and flee to the comfort that is Delicatessen. Call me strange, most do, but a mediocre meal is an experience rivaling the Saw movies.

    However, one day I cracked and found myself settling into a seat and ordering a pile of food. Suspicious, I expected that my well-done burger {don’t lecture me about eating medium-well meat} would be a hockey puck and my biscuit to be its bedfellow. But to my shock, pleasure and unexpected delight, the food was DELICIOUS. My burger was moist, yielding and the bacon was thick, salty and perfectly peppered. I hoovered that meal, plate and all, in 3 minutes flat. The biscuit, and its jam accoutrements, were sheer, flaky joy, and I got delirious and ordered a fluffy cheesecake.

    Suffice it to say, I’ve been back multiple times since and the local-minded, simple and flavorful menu is nothing short of extraordinary. From seasonal salads to grilled vegetables and tasty sandwiches, you will savor your meal at this corner eatery in the frightening bowels of SoHo. Manga.

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    get ready to weep: herb-gruyère biscuits

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    Every holiday I make the Odyssean trek to Connecticut to spend time in a warm home surrounded by a vast forest. The drive from New Haven is a long one, and the road ahead is wrapped in a ticker-tape of trees that were once deciduous but are now covered in bone-white snow. This year my friend’s husband collected me from the train station, and as we passed the time in catch-up conversation, I slid further down in my seat. Taking comfort in watching my oldest and dearest friend’s husband drive.

    I should tell you that I don’t like cars — they feel like metal coffins, and I’m always skittish when on the road. There’s not only you with your hands on the wheel and the road in front of you, but there’s all sorts of people, strangers really, to consider. So while my friend’s husband expertly navigated our way home, I found myself closing my eyes. Trying to forget the cars around me.

    During the ride I did what I’m wont to do, which is ask after the food. We spoke of grilled fillets and chipotle sweet potatoes, and when he mentioned the biscuits, THE BISCUITS, I went weak in the knees. It should be noted that my friend Elizabeth makes the BEST. BISCUITS. EVER.

    I mean, the BEST.

    And after I managed to consume four in one sitting, I begged my friend for the recipe and she was kind enough to slip it into a package she sent a week later. So it’s with love and light that I honor Elizabeth and her kind husband by re-creating my true love. THE BISCUIT.

    INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Food + Wine.
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
    1/2 teaspoon finely chopped sage leaves
    1 cup shredded Gruyère
    1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter—10 tablespoons cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled, 2 tablespoons melted
    1 cup buttermilk, chilled
    Flaky salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

    DIRECTIONS
    Preheat the oven to 425° and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. In a large shallow bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and fine salt. Add the chilled butter and use a pastry blender or 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour until it is the size of peas. Add the chopped thyme and sage, and the Gruyère. Stir in the buttermilk just until the dough is moistened. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together. Pat the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick disk.

    Using a floured 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out biscuit rounds as closely together as possible. Gather the scraps and knead them together 2 or 3 times, then flatten the dough and stamp out more biscuit rounds. Pat the remaining scraps together and gently press them into a biscuit.

    Transfer the biscuits to a large baking sheet and brush the tops with the melted butter. Lightly sprinkle the biscuits with a few grains of flaky salt and chill until firm, about 10 minutes.

    Bake the biscuits for 20 minutes, or until golden. Let the biscuits cool slightly on the baking sheet before serving.

    MAKE AHEAD The unbaked biscuits can be frozen: Freeze biscuits in a single layer and transfer to a resealable plastic bag for up to one month. Bake straight from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the cooking time.

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    the fat radish, new york city

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    Boys at the pool would tell me that I’d be beautiful, really beautiful — if only I had Violet’s face, her feathery hair, her silver rings on my fingers. And I closed my eyes and lived the rest of the summer like that, her head in mine, on mine.The Sky Isn’t Visible from Here, by yours truly.

    After weeks of contemplating a visit to The Fat Radish, I finally did it (Alice Gao’s vivid snaps had me swooning. So much so that I nixed my Sunday routine and made the trek into the city for brunch), and believe me when I say that I’ve no regrets. From the impeccable service to a dining space that you’d only dream of replicating in your home, to the flaky biscuits and farm-fresh eggs to the duck-fat fries and juicy burger, you will fall rapturously in love with the restaurant and proceed to HOOVER EVERYTHING ON THE MENU. And no one should stop you — it would be criminal to.

    But something else is gnawing at me. I witnessed a few comments on Alice’s site + read a few articles based on a very lovely foodie I’ve only started following — the strangeness of coveting someone else’s life. I’ll spare you the diatribe, but I’ll say this: a DSLR camera and a lithe figure are not worth making yourself blue. What people choose to publish online is only but a small fraction of their true selves — a representation of their life they feel comfortable sharing, but it’s not the whole of it. I’m sure these lovely ladies hurt like the rest of us, and instead of coveting a stranger’s life, let’s focus on finding the remarkable in our own. I have to repeat this to myself daily, as many of you probably think I live this very charmed existence and I definitely don’t.

    Find the remarkable in the ordinary. Ferret out the beauty in your life and celebrate it. Covet it.

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    a comprehensive guide to sweets in aix en provence

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    The Internet can be a cruel, cold and lonely place when one isn’t able to find exactly what they need. Would you believe that I spent hours (no seriously, HOURS) on the web searching for a list of boulangeries and patisseries to visit in Aix en Provence? Would you believe that after translating dozens of pages from the French, I found only a handful of places — a paltry list of tourist traps — to guide my first day in Provence?

    I WEPT CROISSANTS, PEOPLE. CROISSANTS AMANDES, TO BE PRECISE. THAT’S ALMONDS TO YOU, PEOPLE!

    After spending two days in Provence, hitting every alley way and every shop that sold confections, pastries + bread, I’m bringing you the very best of what I’ve discovered during my stay. In all candor, nearly all of the places I visited were a complete and utter delight. You’re instantly greeted with a waft of a hot oven, of things baking and cooling, and a pride, helpful proprietor. Oddly, I had a dream the other night where a woman told me that my constitution was built for bread and cakes, not for exquisite pastry. I was obsessive, methodical, passionate but not borderline psychotic. You need to be insane to devote that much minute detail to the art of pastry. And this is true. Although I’m a Type A personality, I tend to not have patience for pate-a-choux, and most of my achievements have been working with breads, loaves, cakes, pies, etc. I have a predilection for the grand in stature rather than the microscopic perfection. What this means is that I cared less for the fanciful Bechards of the world (the beautiful shop was a bit intimidating) and opt for more of the rustic bakeries. However, this is my taste and I encourage you to explore what suits your fancy.

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    If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a bit of a croissant rampage. For those who know me and know me well, there was the situation I’d like to call the Muffin Intervention of 2007. I devoted six straight months to the consumption of the blueberry muffin and wondered why I’d gained five pounds. Mysteries of the world, people. Riddle of the Sphinx, etc. In the past two years I’ve engaged in an outright war against the consumption of the CROISSANT. Specifically, the almond croissant. This pastry is much like crack cocaine, and I’ve found myself making the Muffin Intervention of 2007 look like a blip in the calendar. However, I’ve allowed a week of debauchery (I’m in France!), so it’s been a three-croissant/day situation. At this point I’m acutely aware of how bad this has gotten, and cannot wait to set foot in JFK, where I will properly mainline kale.

    But I digress. These two gems are from Banette and Pâtisserie Weibel, respectively. Banette is much like your local bake shop cum deli, serving up sandwiches, light eats, pastries, fresh bread and croissants. The place is a bit ordinary, but the chocolate croissants (at $1.30) are a pure and utter delight. Flaky and fresh with a warm chocolate center, you will order two, as I did, and have no regrets consuming the lot. As Edith Piaf so sagely sang, Je Non Regret Rien!

    Weibel is a bit fancier in nature, selling loads of the Aix sweet, callison (think fruity chalk), however, their almond croissant is probably one of the finest I’ve sampled in France. Subtly sweet, you have a hint of amaretto amidst the powdered sugar, cream and light pastry. It’s a symphony of flavor, I assure you, and I treasured EVERY. SINGLE. BITE.

    Remember when I waxed poetic about Stohrer? Sang its praises, etc? While Stohrer will always hold a dear, minimalist place in my heart, I fawned over the perfect eclairs at Lavarenne (below images). Like pages of a book, I love how this pastry unfolds. At first bite, you taste a thin layer of chocolate frosting and sheets of puff pastry. As you delve deeper, the pastry implodes, caves into a perfect chocolate center juxtaposed with a slight touch of cream.

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    While I felt intimidated by Bechard and its decadent pastry and bright lights, a much humbler Riederer (below images) is definitely worthy of a visit. Tucked away on a side street off Cours Mirebeau, Riederer feels like Bechard’s quirky cousin, mainly due to its current pâtissier, Philippe Segond, who is warm, effusive and constantly re-inventing biscuits, chocolates and the delicate cakes the shop sells. Instantly, you’ll be drawn into bakets filled with biscuits — an array of aromatics — lavender, almond, citrus, lemon, chocolate, and on it goes. Yet, you’ll leave with a slice of cake (the pistachio blueberry melted my cold heart) or a fig tart.

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    And let us not forget my lifelong affair with chocolate? As Nigella Lawson once said, whatever the question is, chocolate is ALWAYS the answer. If you’re seeking confectionary finery, I encourage you to check out Puyricard (below images). Whether you’re taking a tour of the chocolate factory in the Aix countryside where you see artisans hand-crafting exquisite confections, or you’re strolling around town aching for a bit of sweetness, Puyricard will easily satisfy all cravings. Not only did I sample coconut and almond-infused truffles, but indulged in chocolate-covered almonds, discs of dark chocolate studded with nuts, and pillowy marshmallows that melted in my mouth.

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    Notables: Don’t dismiss PAUL because it’s a chain. Serving up tasty sandwiches, fresh coffee and tarts that will put your heart on pause (I stood in front of a glazed fig tart for ten minutes, gawking like a lunatic). If you’re looking for a solid, affordable lunch or a quick sweet, definitely hit up this spot. Loved Gout de Pain’s bread.

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    SWEETS GUIDE (My Picks)
    Banette Puyricard
    5 Cheminement Ecoles
    13540 Aix en Provence

    Pâtisserie Weibel
    2 Rue Chabrier
    13100 Aix en Provence

    Lavarenne
    44 Place Richelme
    13100 Aix-en-Provence

    Riederer
    67 Cours Mirabeau
    13100 Aix-en-Provence

    Puyricard
    9 Rue Rifle Rafle
    13100 Aix-en-Provence, France