Best Bites: Chocolate Babka from Breads

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I had no idea what babka was before I wandered over to Breads Bakery on 16th Street to try one of the lastest must-try bites in NYC to be sweeping the food blogs. Babka is a traditional Israeli dessert, breakfast or coffee cake that is spectacularly loaded with butter and chunks of chocolate. It pulls apart like a croissant and you can't eat it without your hands becoming covered with chocolatey babka flakes (helped by licking your fingers of course).

Breads is owned by an Israeli who owns one of Tel Aviv's most popular bakeries, Lehamim, so I knew there was a good chance I'd like it. I loved eating our way through Israel last year and I LOVE the falafel at Taim, also Israeli-owned.

It's right off Union Square and it has actual seats you can sit down in (very unlike Union Square). Of course, they are usually all full.

But that's not why you come.

You come for the chocolate babka.

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And oh man. You'll return for the chocolate babka.

They don't sell it by the slice so you'll have to get a loaf. They pour a syrup over the bread when it comes out of the oven so there's a beautiful, caramelized crust on top. 

It freezes REALLY well so slice yourself a s̶m̶a̶l̶l̶ piggish portion and freeze the rest. Or bring it over for a dinner party and you'll be the most popular person there.

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The babka line-upP.S. - There's also GREAT serve yourself iced tea!

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Reflections on a Another Big Adventure

Last big trip of 2013 - Cambodia! Angkor Wat at sunset

Last big trip of 2013 - Cambodia! Angkor Wat at sunset

Looking back, I actually can't believe it was ME that went to all of these places - a whirlwind of new friends, countless airports, amazing hotels, time with family & friends, thousands of miles traveled by car, plane, helicopter, train, and foot, & many pieces written. It is beyond my wildest dreams where my life and job have taken me in the past few years (reflections on 2011 & 2012).

Thank you for giving me YOUR travel tips, following along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and making me feel less lonely when I'm thousands of miles from home.

This year's adventures - in chronological order:

Winter in the Hamptons

Winter in the Hamptons

Breakfast at Hotel Bel-Air in L.A.

Breakfast at Hotel Bel-Air in L.A.

Rocco came with us to D.C., too! 

Rocco came with us to D.C., too! 

Back in the Hamptons

Back in the Hamptons

Brussels was surprisingly awesome

Brussels was surprisingly awesome

Bruges, Belgium - like Disneyland, but still cute

Bruges, Belgium - like Disneyland, but still cute

Loved this B&B, La Vigie, near the town of Spa, Wallonia - Belgium

Loved this B&B, La Vigie, near the town of Spa, Wallonia - Belgium

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

 Tel Aviv - a fast-paced, cool, changing-by-the-minute city

 Tel Aviv - a fast-paced, cool, changing-by-the-minute city

A complicated, beautiful city to explore - Jerusalem.

A complicated, beautiful city to explore - Jerusalem.

Adorable goats at Mizpe Hayamim in the Israel countryside.

Adorable goats at Mizpe Hayamim in the Israel countryside.

Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor

One of many Connecticut weekends

One of many Connecticut weekends

 I loved this exhilirating, gorgeous city - Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 I loved this exhilirating, gorgeous city - Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Emerald Coast of Brazil and Ponta dos Ganchos Resort.

The Emerald Coast of Brazil and Ponta dos Ganchos Resort.

With my dad at the Cliffs of Moher.

With my dad at the Cliffs of Moher.

My entire family rented a house outside Galway for a week.

My entire family rented a house outside Galway for a week.

Wedding in the Catskills.

Wedding in the Catskills.

Back in genteel, lovely Charleston, South Carolina.

Back in genteel, lovely Charleston, South Carolina.

One of my favorite places on the planet, Kiawah Island.

One of my favorite places on the planet, Kiawah Island.

A major highlight - attending the Coronation Festival & concert at Buckingham Palace in London.

A major highlight - attending the Coronation Festival & concert at Buckingham Palace in London.

A couple of days on the Isle of Wight, England.

A couple of days on the Isle of Wight, England.

Eloped and went to Paris for ten days.

Eloped and went to Paris for ten days.

Labor Day - Hiking in my hometown on Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Labor Day - Hiking in my hometown on Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona.

The start of two weeks in Mexico - Imanta Resort, Punta de Mita.

The start of two weeks in Mexico - Imanta Resort, Punta de Mita.

LOVED joyful Mexico City - and this seafood restaurant, Contramar.

LOVED joyful Mexico City - and this seafood restaurant, Contramar.

I want to go to Cabo every year - at Las Ventanas al Paraiso.

I want to go to Cabo every year - at Las Ventanas al Paraiso.

Oxford made me want to go back to school. 

Oxford made me want to go back to school. 

Barnsley House in the Cotswolds.

Barnsley House in the Cotswolds.

View from St. Paul's Cathedral on a sunny, cold London day.

View from St. Paul's Cathedral on a sunny, cold London day.

Teaching a travel writing workshop at Four Seasons Costa Rica.

Teaching a travel writing workshop at Four Seasons Costa Rica.

Mystical Laos - Southeast Asia

Mystical Laos - Southeast Asia

The King David Hotel, Jerusalem

Let's get to some photos of The King David Hotel in Jerusalem. I told you all about their massive, incredible breakfast in this video, but let's sit down at the kitchen table with a cup of tea to see the room. The panoramic view over Jerusalem and the hotel's iconic pool below was what made the room so incredibly special. The space itself was beautiful, comfortable, and complete with fluffy hotel bathrobe that I wanted to steal. But the view was what made me never want to leave. And indeed, I did leave kicking and whining all the way to the valet stand. I would be so bold as to say this should be in the top 25 hotels to see in your lifetime for its place in the history of Jerusalem and how you feel like royalty or the President when staying here.

My favorite photo of the view at dusk

Perfect Produce at Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda Market

We did an 8-hour private guided tour today with an amazing man, Meir More. I can't recommend him enough! While I'm working through the massive history lesson (kings, religions, destruction!), I wanted to post something lighter - gorgeous fruit and vegetable photos from Jerusalem's market, Mahane Yehuda. It is one of the best markets in the world, however, massively crowded on Fridays as the Jewish people prepare for Shabbat and a day of rest. Picture challah bread frantically being purchased.