Snacking at Milk Bar with a Pastry Goddess
As far as I’m concerned, pastry chef Christina Tosi became New York City’s It Girl the second Momofuku Noodle Bar started serving soft-serve ice cream in her inspired flavors in late 2007. She climbed even higher up my hero list when Momofuku Milk Bar opened a few months ago and started serving candy bar pie, based on my all-time-favorite candy bar, the Take 5 (it's a dream come true, with pretzels, caramel, peanuts and peanut butter, covered in chocolate). And now that T magazine’s cool blog has profiled her—revealing, among other things, that her winter survival tip is to “shamelessly love your winter hat (never take it off, wear it to bed!)”—I flat-out idolize her.
So when another baker whom I admire very much, Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery, not to mention Pizzeria and Osteria Mozza, was in town recently, I immediately dragged her to Milk Bar. Nancy had of course heard of it, but I think she was secretly skeptical. “I’m very hesitant about places that could come across as gimmicky,” she says. “Mario Batali puts it very eloquently: This is the year when restaurants that have desserts with mustard in them are going to be eliminated.” While the description of some Milk Bar specialties might have given her pause, she converted pretty quickly to items like cereal milk after she tasted a few things. “What Christina does is something I do,” says Nancy. “She duplicates already-proven flavors and textures. And she works to get the flavor—she doesn’t just open a box of sweet cereal and pour it into milk.” A few of Nancy’s favorite things that night: the candy pie (she’s never had a Take 5 bar, but now knows she’d love it); the root beer float and Orange Julius soft serves; and the soft-serve toppings of brown-butter solids and peanut-butter halvah (which she compared to a Butterfinger bar—in a good way). Next time I see Nancy, I'll bring her a Milk Bar compost cookie (which has all kinds of chips and coffee in it, and which you'll see more of in the April issue of F&W) and a Take 5 bar.