The way I see it you only get a weekend birthday every six years. Saturday birthdays are the most glorious of the post-work week b.day variety. Hence this has been a day of full-fledged celebration. I cannot even count the number of times I have said “It’s my birthday.” Tone is everything with that little sentence. Say it in a whiny way and you get the dishes washed for you. Say it in a cheerful way and you get a smile. Say it loudly at a restaurant and you get a free dessert.
The day began with a tough workout. A 45 minute spin class in which I sweat more than anyone in the class because it’s my birthday. Then I did a leg and arm weight circuit that left my limbs feeling like jello. I even did an extra set of bench presses because it’s my birthday.
Naturally, a doozy in the gym warrants some quick nourishment. In route to one of my favorite vegan cafes in the neighborhood we stopped by Levain Bakery. I have been waiting to try one of their chocolate walnut cookies for about a year now. Constantly ranked among the big three for best chocolate chip cookie in the city, Levain is literally a hole.in.the.wall. It’s tiny. Down a flight of stairs and you enter the closet-sized wonderland. Trays of unbaked cookie dough the size and dimension of a giant snowballs sit next to the counter and register.Both inside and atop the display case is an array of drool-worthy bakery selections ranging from a line of massive cookies to bombolini’s to flatbread pizzas. It all looks and smells like Grandma’s kitchen making decision time tough. You have to put on your game face, steady your eyes and your stomach.
One time I passed by ready to sample myself a cookie and the line to get in was around the block. Because it’s my birthday, there was no crowd. Within three minutes we had a nice little white sack containing the behemoth monster of a cookie. In my opinion, it actually resembles a scone Luckily Chris and I love any dessert that is clearly bigger than it should be and that plays off our expectations. We were already in love, pre-first bite. There, perched on a little bench out front of Levain, in the foggy mist, we took bites of our birthday baby.
Stand-up dessert. Chris has decided it’s his favorite he’s had thus far (better than Bouchon and City Bakery). This chocolate chip cookie is baked lightly so as to remain gooey. The crust to center ratio leans toward center meaning for those of you out there who enjoy the crispy bits, this cookie may not win the contest. That being said, the crumbly consistency is quite a nice reprieve to the giant chunks of walnuts and chocolate chips throughout. The textural balance creates a rich eating experience. The brown sugar and butter are certainly discernible and balance the ample dark chocolate component. This cookie is the perfect exercise in opposites attract.
The Levain chocolate chip is best enjoyed in two parts or shared with a partner in cookie crime though I wouldn’t blame you if you ate the whole thing….even if it’s not your birthday.