subject: The Baker's Palette
take-out vehicle: brown paper bag
I kinda feel bad for The Baker's Palette. Even before construction began on "The Gleason" downtown, it had a less-than-noticeable location on the far western edge of Garrett Street. Now, unless you know it's there, it's all but hidden.
Fortunately for them, they make "pop tarts," and, from I could see and smell, some rather enjoyable breakfast sandwiches. "Pop tarts," for those unaware, are the vastly superior, real butter-having hybrid of Pop-Tarts® and Toaster Strudels®—and this is coming from someone who ate his weight in Pop-Tarts in college and who still buys frozen Toaster Strudels.
Walking into the bakery, I had no idea what I wanted for breakfast (in all honesty, I was pretty disappointed that Carpe Donut, who just yesterday was in the Wachovia parking lot on Market Street, wasn't there today, as it was my first choice), but my attention was immediately captured by the plate of cinnamon buns in the display case. This came as no surprise as I, like probably everyone else, love cinnamon buns...but I was hesitant to order one. At first (and second) glance, they looked a little light on cinnamon and a little heavy on bun. On the other hand, I had yet to eat a bad cinnamon bun.
Then I saw the "pop tarts" plate. My head went back and forth. It was way too early for such a major decision. Luckily for me, the might-as-well-have-been-telepathic bakerista (that's a word, right?) was there to help me out.
"My favorite is the 'pop tart'," she said as she leaned on the opposite side of the case.
"Done!" Yay for having my breakfast decisions made by strangers!
After eating the "pop tart," I sat for a minute, reflecting. I thought back on all the chemical-laden Pop-Tarts I'd eaten at JMU. I remembered all the maddeningly-tear-resistant Toaster Strudel icing packets at which I'd screamed unrepeatable profanities. Never again, I decided. Never again.
When next I want a goo-filled breakfast pastry that could conceivably come out of a toaster, I shall get only this.
The crust of the "pop tart" made me think of a cross between a shortbread cookie and puff pastry. I could taste the butter and the sugar, just like shortbread, but the texture was simultaneously dense and flaky. A broken-off corner made for quite a tasty morsel.
According to the bakerista, the filling was made from a mix of cream cheese and seedless raspberry jelly. I could barely taste the cream cheese, but the flavor of the raspberries came through nicely and balanced well with the richness of the crust. A drizzle of confectioner's sugar glaze decorated the top.
It wasn't quite a Carpe donut, but The Baker's Palette "pop tart" was by no means a disappointing start to the day.