Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Ceci Cela Patisserie
Nolita, NY
212-274-9179

Review by SuSu

Ceci CelaWith the popularity of "low carb lifestyles" you'd think that high fat, high carb classics like croissants would end up not doing so well. But the nice thing about such extreme diets is that they make you grateful for certain things that you used to take for granted. There is a commercial of people crying over the loss of their cereal bowls; bet you'll never take breakfast cereal for granted again, eh?

I think that's why there are so many patisseries opening with delectable sandwiches, superbly made artisinal breads and pastries still in business, and some new ones opening, too. I think it's that not taking things for granted sentiment ... that if you are going to put a high-fat, high-carb thing in your mouth, it'd better be worth it.

In French, Ceci Cela means "this and that," and they make all manner of things, including beautiful cakes and tartes, cookies, cakes, (there is usually a little plate of langues des chats (cat's tongues) on the counter for nibbling), breads, quiches, sandwiches, sorbets ... anything having to do with the dreaded carb, that's their comfort zone.

Among pastry students, Ceci Cela is considered a gem, a place where they'd love to apprentice if only to soak up the knowledge and ambiance, hoping it rubs off a little on them. It's tiny and the store front is easy to miss, sitting at it does in a fashionably dilapidated block of old, old buildings. It's primarily a take-out place though there is a small number of tables and chairs in the back to enjoy a café and croissant.

Speaking of croissants, that's what drew me into here. I also bought pain au chocolat, and the palmiers looked so nicely darkly caramelized ... The palmier was indeed wondrous, cooked long enough to snap rather than crumble. I couldn't make it last long enough!

I've complained before that croissants in America are puffy things without flavor, and often not even made with real butter. These certainly were made with the proper ingredients, but they were too much on the puffy aerated side for me. Undoubtedly, that's how Americans like them and expect them. The pain au chocolat was the same, though the chocolate they used was perfect -- smooth, it broke cleanly without being crumbly and tasted of chocolate, without any grittiness. To be fair, I have been told by frequent travelers that the pastries in Paris have fallen somewhat toward the American wayside too, and what's worse, the chocolate is bad in Paris and there ain't enough of it. Horrors!

I would like to have tried cakes and tartes, but I had exceeded by carb and fat allotment for the month with these treats, as it was. But it was wholly worth it, even though the croissants were overly puffy. Of the croissants one normally encounters outside of American supermarkets, these are easily several levels apart, not even in the same league. So if you want to fall off the diet wagon in a big way, do it properly and visit Ceci Cela.


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