My job is in DUMBO, and I have come to find that DUMBO is its own little village, a kind of urban industrial waterfront arrondissement, replete with a French chocolate shop (Jacques Torres) and neighborhood bakery, the almighty Almondine. In Paris, there is this wonderful certainty that on every corner you can find a terrific baguette and a darn good croissant. In New York City, there is no such guarantee (in Ohio you are up shit's creek without a midwestern paddle).
It calms me to know that four short cobblestone blocks away I can find terrific baguettes, outstanding pretzel bread, financiers, fresh quiche, daily soup specials, sandwiches--with ingredient lists that read, for example, "prosciutto, butter, artichoke hearts(!)..." and a variety of cookies, pastries and cakes.
For Thanksgiving, I bought a pumpkin pie, and was corrected in my previous belief that pumpkin pie isn't worth eating. The pie, sadly, could not save Thanksgiving, but that wasn't the pie's fault. A pie can only do so much.
For Chanukah I bought a traditional German Christmas stollen, which may seem sacreligious, but our Chanukah parties need all the icing sugar they can get. A stollen is a light airy fruitcake made with yeast, water and flour, and usually dried citrus peel, dried fruit, nuts, and spices such as cardamom and cinnamon. The finished cake is sprinkled with icing sugar, and though it too cannot save a family dinner, it can provide you something with which to stuff your face and avoid conversation. Plus it is good for days and days and makes for a nice breakfast. Why Almondine is in the business of making German fruitcakes, I do not know, but mine is not to reason why, mine is only to eat the darn thing and then sing from the moutaintops that this limited edition loaf of loveliness is a MUST HAVE.