The Gentleman kept asking me what I wanted to do for my birthday, and nothing truly special came to mind. I even started to get down about it – I couldn’t think of one fun excursion? Am I really that lame? It was too cold to be outside, and there’s nothing I really wanted to buy…. oh, well except for a birthday cake for my party.
And that’s how the best birthday excursion began!
Why not go on a bakery tour of South Philly? There were plenty of bakeries I’d never been to. Heck, there are whole neighborhoods I haven’t been to. I used Yelp to zero in on three much loved bakeries, all very different, and all of which proved to be special in their own ways.
We started with Artisan Boulanger Patissier, one of the most amazing, yet unassuming bakeries on the East Coast. Don’t believe me? Check out its 70+ five-star reviews on Yelp. The entirety of what’s for sale is photographed here:
The owners are Vietnamese and trained in France. The craziest part is that the reviews all rave about the croissants, yet I tried the totally unmentioned almond cake and it BLEW MY MIND. So much so that I couldn’t be bothered to take a picture. Now the decor is really nothing special at all. But what they don’t invest in ambiance, they invest in good ingredients. I suspect every single thing you see above, as well as its coffee, are i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-e. I cannot wait to return!
Next up, my Italian bakery selection: Varallo Brothers Bakery.
Around since 1981, this bakery makes a mind-boggling variety of sweets. I’m not sure how they can possibly sell it all. It’s serious Italian, seriously well-done. There’s a feeling of going back in time, in the best way.
I walked away with this amazing amaretto cake for $29. It must be the most expensive thing there, but soooooo worth it. Mounds and mounds of almond paste must have gone into this.
With my cake boxed up, the Gentleman and I continued on to Belle Cakery, a relative newcomer in the Passyunk Square area. I knew from looking at the website that the cakes were $30-80ish, and they seemed to be mostly made to order. That’s more than I wanted to spend, and it was much too late to order anything, but I still wanted to check it out.
What I saw were truly perfect pastries, French-style and beyond precious. Everything in the case was personal portion size. I definitely would return for a special treat, but for now, I walked away with these meringues – coconut passionfruit and sour cherry saffron. (What!?)
Even Cookie Monster knows that sweets should be “sometimes foods,” but for a birthday treat, this bakery tour was… will I go for the joke? Yeah… sweet.