Red Velvet Cupcake
Pistachio and Almond Macaron
Dream Cake – Walnut, Graham, Pastry Cream
Bird Milk Roll – Condensed Milk, Chocolate, Yellow Cake
Described as an Armenian bakery by the lovely woman behind the counter, an encyclopedic knowledge of the country’s baked goods along with those from Greece and Turkey, a Saturday afternoon visit at Manan Bakery would prove to be a rarity for me – a case of baked goods with more mystery than familiarity, and a delicious bit of education served in seven courses for a mere $14 after tax and a tip for such pleasant and patient service as I inquired about the origin, concept, and constituents of no less than a dozen items. Playing on instincts and personal tastes but more than happy to allow the clerk to guide my hand it was with a few “standards” that I began and with the cupcake moist and dense beneath light buttercream while the baklava arrived crisp and intensely sweet the ‘familiar’ products would only get better from there, the macarons my pick for most Parisian-authentic in the city as a crisp bite gave way to a light crumb and filling that was ever slightly too thick, but nicely flavored and richly textured like that of Laduree at nearly half the price. Moving on to more novel options, it was with personal interest and love for mille feuille that I ordered Manan’s “crispy version” and with crisp layers divided by light cream before being rolled in fluffy icing and crunchy coconut-tinged flakes the Napoleon was not a bit soggy, just light, lovely, and perhaps the best non-traditional version I’ve experienced to date; an impetus for a later return to check out the ‘standard’ version which I’d venture to be equally delicious, particularly with seasonal fruits incorporated in the cream. Focusing last on the two “must try” items suggested by my server, it was with the bird milk roll that I began and although good I personally found the cake to be a bit dry, my tastes instead trending toward the appropriately named “dream cake” whose Napoleon like crunchy layers of graham were divided by a lacquer of thick, nutty milk-jam while buttery crumble and light pastry cream added just enough levity to reign in the intense sweetness – a perfect complement to a good cup of coffee later that evening and something I’ll absolutely return for soon, along with the Gata, Yojik, Manan Cake, Kartoshka, and Mikado…maybe the Smiling Cake, Nutella Napoleon, and Fruit Cookies as well.