Thomas Keller has been showing up all over my life lately, it seems – in my interviews with both Jami Curl and Marc Frankel, during my trip to NYC, and featured in a book I recently finished, “Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter”. For those who don’t know of Thomas Keller, he is a big time, world-renowned chef. He has won numerous James Beard awards, including Best Chef in America (like the Oscars for chefs). He is the only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings from the Michelin Guide, receiving seven in 2011, primarily for his two restaurants – Per Se in New York and The French Laundry in Napa Valley. So to sum it up, he is a pretty incredible chef.
Flaxseed, no eggs and no butter – not exactly the ingredient list I would think of to create delicious desserts. Yet somehow Lisa Clark, owner of Petunia’s Pies & Pastries has mastered it. She has been able to transform the world of vegan andgluten-free treats from inedible, crumbly messes to high-end, beautiful, delicious pastries that even those without dietary restrictions crave. Myself included.
I met Lisa about two years ago from one of my good friends, Hannah, who studied abroad with Lisa in college. Knowing of my love of dessert and life-long dream to open a bakery one day, Hannah introduced me to Lisa, who was starting her own bakery, specializing in a gluten-free and vegan menu. With a charismatic personality and an impressive resume including Papa Haydn, which is renowned for its desserts, I knew her bakery would do great. Petunia’s certainly has, with booths at several different Farmer’s Markets, products at Whole Foods grocery stores, and catering for weddings. With an ever-growing list of treats including cookies, pies, and now even donuts, all of which are gluten-free and vegan, Petunia’s never seems to disappoint its loyal customer base.
Conveniently our girls night dinner tonight was right across the street from Pix Patisserie and knowing of my Bakery Bingo list of places to visit, my friends were more than happy to stroll over for dessert. The French-inspired café has a great, fun decor – funky red wallpaper, old movie posters and a monkey theme as evidenced by stuffed animal monkeys and monkey tablecloths.
Most fun was the large pastry case filled with unique and elaborately designed desserts. We stood in front of the dessert case for about a good 8 or 9 minutes trying to figure out what to order. It was like a kid in a candy store – just now we’re somewhat older and have better sugary treats to choose from. The waiter said his current favorite is the Shazam! So of course, with a name like that, we had to try it, plus it looked and sounded incredible: chocolate artistically molded around caramel mousse – yum!