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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Union Square Christmas Market

 

When I got back from China, Christmas had arrived in New York.  It was also dark at 4 p.m., which is rather depressing.  But with Christmas comes markets and the Union Square Christmas Market is so festive and cheery.  Last year, we bought many of our presents at this market, gifts that are totally unique and you can find inspiration for that impossible-to-buy-for family member.  You can also try a slice of Momfuku's famous Crack Pie, available here at a tiny pop-up Momofuku.  I don't get the hype with the Crack Pie; to me, it tasted like eating a stick of butter.  It is fun to watch fans of the pie inhale their slices, licking the oil off of their fingers. Yum. 

I love this fall snapshot with the leaves on the ground in Union Square and the Empire State Building looking small peeking through the trees and buildings.

Pumpkins at the Union Square Greenmarket

You know how much I love the Union Square Greenmarket.  Not on Saturdays around noon when there are way too many people, but during the week, I absolutely love it.  On a long walk from the China Visa office in Midtown back home, I stopped by the market and saw this.  Because I'm traveling so much this year, I am treasuring every fall moment even more. Soon, the snow will fall. 

 

Union Square Cafe, New York City

If someone is coming to New York for a short time and they have time for one great lunch, I tell them to go to Union Square Café.  Danny Meyer’s first restaurant opened in 1985 and has become a New York City classic.  There are two Union Square Cafe cookbooks.  It’s another one of those places I love to go to on a rainy day because I feel like I can linger longer, while the chaos of Union Square feels a world away. The bar serves their legendary bar nuts starting at 4:30 p.m. every day.  The famous sweet & savory nuts are loved by Giada de Laurentiis and Ina Garten (Ina's bar nut inspired recipe can be found here).