WLW: Amsterdam Apple Pie

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When last I was in Amsterdam, I was not on the hunt for desserts. (I was on the hunt for Van Gogh paintings which just so happened to be on loan to the Art Institute of Chicago – of allllll places.) When next I am in Amsterdam, desserts will be high on the priority list. (namely, a very specific apple pie, and no, “high on the list” pun not intended)

The Dutch are ABOUT their apple pies. You will find some version of appeltaart on every bakery and cafe menu. They are served in large portions, and are of the deep dish variety, so how do you avoid getting stuffed on subpar slices while seeking out the best? I’m here to point you in the right (and only) direction you’ll need. #imthenewricksteves

In the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam you will find Winkel 43, a cafe with a reputation for having the best apple tart. You guys, this is not a “world’s best coffee” situation where claims are thrown about willy-nilly. Literally EVERY review on EVERY place anyone could ever leave a review backs this up. The crust is sweet, crumbly, crunchy, thick but soft, pressed instead of rolled into a springform pan, and then filled with spiced apples (firmer than those in American apple pie). The result is something you dream about even if you’ve never actually eaten it. I can taste it now…….

Further support that this is the truly the best when I’ve yet to even taste it: How many other singular desserts – I’m talking one specific dessert from one specific restaurant – have had their own IG account created??

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*photos by: @gijskeadrienne and @juliezwing

Ipsento: when you just need a lil something with your coffee

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Ipsento’s focus is coffee. Let’s get that straight. But, of course, I came for the donuts (as well as the namesake spicy honey Ipsento latte, aaaand also a rose cardamom latte……)

The donut program has been recently relaunched after months of perfecting, well, everything, with an exacting focus on quality and consistency. The donuts are made daily until about 2pm and use in-house milled kamut and sweet potato as the donut batter. They are then fried in organic coconut oil before whatever rotating glaze and garnishes are added.

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Bottom line: they’re delicious and since they’re made with these unique ingredients you can eat several (SO MANY) without having to then slug home to wallow in your overserved donut disgustingness. Why else can you eat so many?? Um, because they’re about the size of a half dollar.

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SO. CUTE.

I seriously had to fight my inner 6yr old to not take the box home and have a Cabbage Patch tea party. I mean, come on:

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Today’s flavors included: cinnamon sugar, Ipsento (honey, espresso, coconut with a hint of cayenne), chocolate ganache with sprinkles, and chocolate ganache with pistachios.

Also, they serve booze. Also, they are next to the 606.

 

Ipsento Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Oak Park Bakery’s kolacky

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THE BEST.
THE END.

JK, JK.
Do I only love these because they were my first childhood kolacky and they remain nostalgically delicious? No. I can admit when a childhood fave is best left in the past (I’m looking at you, live-action Alice in Wonderland starring Sammy Davis Jr. as the Caterpillar. Shame.) These are, in fact, the best kolacky I have ever had. Please consider that I have eaten more than my fair share, and these remain gold medal.

Why are OP Bakery’s kolacky so good? I’ll tell you:

  1. They are made with flaky, light pasty, not hard shortbread.
  2. The jam/filling is fresh and the jam/pastry ratio is on point (it’s not some old gummy red or orange decorative blip).
  3. They are made fresh each morning, and since they basically fly off the front window display shelf, they’re not sitting around getting stale like those poser kolacky bowties oft found at the refreshment table in a funeral home basement (if I knew how to insert the SARS face mask emoji, you’d see it here).

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The bakery offers 12 flavors of kolacky and my faves are apricot, raspberry and cheese. I’ll usually throw in a cherry or almond or prune for good measure, and I have to don serious blinders not to also add an all butter coffee cake or a few butter cookies…..

 

will drive for treats

 

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I would walk drive 500 70 miles, and I would walk drive 500 70 more (bc round-trip)……

Yesterday I drove allllll the way to Atlanta (Illinois) in search of pie. I found it in a little retro cafe that dates back to 1934, is right off of Route 66, and is across the street from this gem:

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Though the town of Atlanta doesn’t quite boast the heavy traffic of its yesteryear, the Palms Grill Cafe was completely full at 1:45 on a Sunday afternoon. After sitting down, waving away the need for a menu (“I came for the pie” “Of course, you can’t come here and NOT get the pie!”), and settling the matter of “You want these *your order of 3 slices of pie* boxed up to go or warmed up with ice cream?”, I cleared the way for the heavy green-striped ceramic china and settled in.

On today’s made-from-scratch-award-winning pie menu was:

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I opted for cherry (perfectly tart with a flaky sugared crust!), blackberry (with whole, fresh blackberries!), and chocolate cream (light, whipped chocolate cream mousse, not sweetiesweet french silk – basically the best case scenario if you were to have a pie-to-the-face à la Three Stooges), and a cup of coffee to wash it all down. The adjacent table tried to take a sneaky pic of me with this collection, and I’m fairly certain I made it into their Route 66 spring break photo album….

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Driving home, via backroads for as long as possible, I happened upon a town called Funk’s Grove and obvs had to check it out. I mean, come on: Funk’s Grove. What’s there besides a dilapidated train station and an antiques shop that have gone the way of ghost town status? A little maple sirup grove that has been in production by the same family (the Funks) since 1824. 1824!! That’s no typo and neither is “sirup.” Sirup is the preferred oldtimey spelling by Webster’s when you’re referring to the product that results from the boiling down of sap, without the addition of extra sugar (and that’s what we’re referring to here – you won’t even find an ingredients list on the bottle, because sirup.)

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Polar dream realized – or am I still dreaming???

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If you currently live on the East Coast, you probably do not have this problem as you can find and drink Polar wherever/whenever. If you used to live on the East Coast but have moved away, you probably feel my pain and are fiending just like me.

Vanilla Polar. Ambrosia to the sparkling water gods. There is no comparison. LaCroix doesn’t have a vanilla option – I’ve searched, I’ve written letters – you know I have. Like cream soda but without the syrupy sugaryness, this bottle of heaven might be one of three things I’d choose to take with me on a desert island…….Vanilla Polar drunk out of a coconut?!?!?  No need for SOS flares here!

When I left Connecticut in 2009, I knew this might be a problem, but I never guessed it would be this crazy. Crazy as in: I dream (frequently) that I still live in CT, and in my dreams my main goal is to get to Stop & Shop so I can stock up on Vanilla Polar. For real. Like at least once a month.

In this day and age of instant gratification and online shopping, who knew that this little-seltzer-that-could would be so difficult to find and so expensive to ship?? It is not sold in stores outside of New England. It costs upwards of $12 for two 1-liter bottles and another $18 for shipping on Amazon. F that.

So imagine my elation when I awoke this weekend after yet another Polar dream, and went searching AGAIN (just to be sure it was still impossible to procure), and stumbled upon Boxed.com where they were selling 12 packs of 1-liter bottles for $9.99. NINENINETYNINE AND FREE SHIPPING. IS THIS REAL LIFE????

I did you all a favor and only bought 2 cases – for now – didn’t want to dry them out in case you’re in my same predicament/want to buy me a late bday prezzie. Also, here is a link for $15 off your purchase.

Dream update: it has been 1.5 days since my shipment arrived. I’ve had one nap and one full night’s sleep and another Polar dream. Or let me call it what it was: a nightmare. I dreamed that my shipment arrived and one case was all good. 12 bottles of beautiful vanilla bubbles. The second case, however, was a mistaken mixed bag: 2 bottles of vanilla – fine fine, then one of cranberry, one of lime, one of Trinity Berry??!?, one of vinegar flavor, and one of “dip” flavored seltzer illustrated with a cartoon hand holding a ruffled potato ship. Barf.

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Royal Donut: Beauty and the Yeast

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Destination: Danville – where Royal Donut has withstood rise of the mall and the fall of the Main Street.

Open 7 days a week (and 24hrs on weekends!), Royal has been serving up fresh donuts and legit coffee since 1973. Angel creams, smiley face cookies, Frisbee-sized cinnamon rolls, a psychedelic donut van and a drive-thru perfect for a cruisin’ pick-me-up…..I half expected to see Wooderson leaning up against the façade.

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Royal Donut keeps it classic and does it right with a few signature twists. 1) The toasted coconut – on top of either a classic fluffy glazed with vanilla icing or a classic fluffy glazed with chocolate icing (basically a donut in a Samoa costume):

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2) The bacon on the maple bacon long john. GET OUT. It is smoky and chewy and as loaded as a Friday’s potato skin (they also don’t skimp on sprinkles):

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3) The most unique thing I encountered at Royal comes by way of their most basic offering: anything with just a simple glaze. Plain raised, blueberry cake, chocolate cake, etc….. the glaze is only around the perimeter of the donut. At first I was like: oh, they put this donut in the box upside down, or…wait….this donut missed the glaze line…..or….wait, what is going on?!? Here’s the deal: they load all of the donuts intended for glaze onto a long rod – really stack em on there without any gaps in between – and then they’re dipped into a vat of glaze. So only the edges are covered! This is genius for two reasons: 1) not overly glazed so you can really taste the actual donut, 2) you can hold it without your fingers getting all sticky. Why don’t all donut shops do this?? Seriously.

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In case you need further proof of Royal’s staying power, let me share this:
They’re hiring.
Their roadside marquee has a timely Beauty and the Beast shout out.
College kids stop in to fill up boxes of hometown sugar before heading back to school.
Nurses in scrubs stride in to make sure they get a serving from the apex of the food pyramid.
All is well.

(quick poll: what is your topping of choice? angel cream, sprinkles or bacon? comment below to let me know!)