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Musette's Joyful New York Bakery

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 3/31/2002 - www.Littleviews.com ]

>>  Unlike auto-bound, suburban Americans, New Yorkers walk outside 24 hours a day. And while our nighttime sky is as dark as anywhere, most streets glitter with multi-colored neon, the effect of which attracts pedestrians to shops like moths to light. Evenings are fun.

Musette's Cut Out CookiesIt is during the evening that you're more likely to discover unique New York shops. Interior lights, of course, let you clearly see what's inside. Better, exterior darkness masks neighborhood imperfections (such as rolling paper tumbleweeds), making sparkling shops even more inviting.

During the day, 3rd Avenue, where Musette is located, is not particularly attractive, although it's a clean street, near family and student housing. You are more likely to notice all its attractions after dark, like I did when walking north along 3rd Avenue after an 8 PM class at Cooper Union (Astor Place & 4th Avenue).

Musette drew me to it from across the street. Upon entering, I was delighted to discover one of Manhattan's happiest-looking, small bakeries. This is a great place to bring kids, loved ones and anyone else you'd like to delight with cookie displays and the opportunity to eat world-class pastry.

Musette's Cut-Out CookiesAnd let's face it. It's rare to see a profusion of cut-out cookies anywhere. Musette's display, however, takes up half its front wall. There, cookies sit on shelves, are nested in baskets, peek out of wooden and plastic drawers and present themselves in an imaginative array of gift packs.

When seasonal themes aren't considered, you'll see barnyard critters, all brightly painted. Some cookies are as small as animal crackers (eggs pictured), while others are the size of a 6 year old's hand (poodles and ducks pictured).

The shopping area is no larger than a studio apartment, yet it contains a deli, packaged gourmet foods, and fabulous, fresh French pastry.

Pastry is produced under the supervision of Pastry Chef Richard Chirol. Prior to coming to New York, he worked for famed Jean Louis of the Paladin in Washington, DC's Watergate complex. (Note that Mr. Louis is deceased.) As Musette's Pastry Chef, Mr. Chirol is the artist who makes sure that bakery is as much a delight to see as it is perfect to eat.

The effect of his work? You'll feel a sense of excitement when entering the shop, even though the customer area is small.

Rasberry Bread Pudding by MusetteAmong Musette's offerings are its signature Raspberry Bread Pudding (pictured), tarts decorated with glazed fruit, ultra-thin chocolate cookies, crunchy biscotti, flaky pastries and lovely cakes.

If you are traveling, and want to return home with some of New York's finest French bakery, I recommend a box of Musette's bittersweet chocolate ganache-filled macaroons.

These bun-like, light brown macaroons are about an inch in diameter and a half-inch high. Fresh, they taste like soft chocolate candy. Once home, if you let them age without a tight cover, the bun becomes chewy, which, in my opinion, is also very good.

Union Square area in New YorkMusette, owned by Daniele Hendrix, is about three years old. Its warm, old-world appearance, however, makes it look like a neighborhood institution.

Located at approximately 19th Street and 3rd Avenue, it's a short walk from Union Square and the beautiful-but-gated Gramercy Park. Nearby attractions include the weekend Union Square Greenmarket, famous playhouses, art studios, Cooper Union, and the wonders of Broadway, 5th and 6th Avenue shopping.

Musette, 228 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10003. 212 477-3777.

Karen Little
March 31, 2002

CREDITS: All photos, Karen Little. Map produced through Microsoft Streets & Trips 2002, annotated by Karen Little.

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