Andrew and I got married last year and one item I was 100% sure of before Andrew asked to have me permanently attached to his hip, is where I was getting my dessert for the Wedding. I knew it was coming from NYC, as after coordinating weddings the last 5 years, I realized that nothing in the local area would satisfy my pallet. My family is particular about their sweets, which in turn makes me not a huge fan of your standard cake and cupcakes. SIDE BAR: I will admit that if a couple has ordered s'mores bars for their "dessert station" from Cake Placid, I instantly get the craving to make my own at home. My mouth waters when I walk by them and upon return home I usually ask to have a fire out back to make my own.
How it all started...
When I was little and went to an after school 'French School' on the Upper East Side I would first stop at a French Pastry shop I believe was located somewhere on 2nd and 3rd between 70-80th street. They had to-die-for coffee & chocolate eclairs, colorful petite fours, cream puffs with decorative strawberries on top, etc. For my birthday, wearing one of my mom's newest creations, I would have a decadent white and dark chocolate filled mousse cake with a fancy pink sugar bow. I'm pretty sure I had the same cake a few years in a row. I can still remember walking into this shop on the corner, all white inside with no room to sit and I would just walk between the two displays picking my next victims.
Once french classes stopped and the shop closed, we started going to Payard. This shop opened in 1997 on Lexington, which just so happened to be on my route from school to my mom's studio. On the days I had either an after school workshop or religious class, I would stop by the restaurant to do the weekly pick-up. The Louvre and Notre Dame were favorites. There would be many times at home when we would cut the cake into a few slices, with plans to make the cake last for a few days. In the morning I would run to the fridge in hopes of cutting a sliver for breakfast and it would be gone. GONE! I checked everywhere and it was nowhere to be found. I of course could not ask outright where it was because then my intentions would be obvious, so I would casually ask what happened to the cake. My father would then, without even an ounce of hesitation, say he ate it. ALL OF IT! His reasoning... he didn't want it to get old. OLD! We just bought it! "No." he said. It was best if consumed on the first day. "Uhhh." My mother's and my heart would break whenever this would happen. Our dreams of enjoying some cake with our tea were dashed. Eventually, there were less and less pastries available, then they closed. They re-opened with a new spot in SOHO, but after trying their goods last year, I have to admit, they are not what they used to be.
Next came Le Pain Quotidien, which was also along my route from school, and within the limits that my high school allowed you to go out for lunch, so I was a frequent visitor. The Chocolate Mousse Cake, which is dome shaped with a white crispy cake layer on the bottom with all decadent chocolate mousse above it, sprinkled in cocoa powder. This was my younger brother's cake of choice for many of his birthdays. They also have their mixed berry tart and apricot almond tart, which we would buy for all holiday events, plus the occasional "just because." I hadn't been in a long while, but I recently found myself walking those downtown streets with my brother and ran into one of their restaurants. I ordered a raspberry tart with black tea and my brother ordered the Chocolate Mousse with a large glass of milk. Delicious! My favorite part of this place is that they have large tables to encourage family seating. This is a great way to meet new people or to just people watch.
Back to present day:
Andrew's favorite shop is Charlotte Patisserie in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He can not get enough of the double chocolate cake. It was all he wanted post cleanse (and didn't get). Their pastries are all very beautiful and colorful with a variety of different flavors from creamy passion fruit, to chocolate, to fruit tarts. My favorite shop is Cafe Riviera, also in Greenpoint. Their macaroons are delicious, their strawberry cheesecake is heavenly, and the mango tart melts in your mouth. I strongly encourage you to try both, maybe not on the same day since you should try 2-4 pastries at each place, but order anything and take it home to your family and friends and they will be happy.
Back to the wedding. So I knew I wanted all of our recent favorites to be available for our friends and family to try. With my mother coming up almost a week prior to the wedding, it fell upon my adopted aunt and uncle to bring them up. I placed my order at Charlotte Patisserie and Cafe Riviera a week prior for 7 different cakes (raspberry tart - for my matron of honor, double chocolate - for Andrew, chocolate granola - my office said it sounded good, chocolate orange - for my bffl Patrick, whose parents were bringing the goods, strawberry cheesecake - (who doesn't like cheesecake?), red velvet - my maid of honor, passion fruit - because it is different, and 120 macaroons (coffee, lemon & pistachio) - for me again). I should add that we also ordered a double chocolate cake for Andrew personally to be stored in our fridge and 20 extra coffee macaroons for me (we are very gluttonous). Their entire trunk was full of these cake boxes. They delivered them the night prior and we stored them in various refrigerators. The display turned out beautifully and while I am not sure if everyone tried them, they sure looked nice. The leftovers were used for the following nights festivities. And yes we ate our own private items within a few short days.
I highly encourage trying to get your everyday favorites at your own wedding. The wedding is about you, so have your guests try what you love and share with them something that makes you happy. Plus, they will appreciate the variety. Or at least your true sweet lovers will.
Photos courtesy of Jared & Debbie Photography , our fabulous photographers