Travel & Culture

Seduced by a Sweet Treat

Looking for a sweet treat? Bergen County is dotted with bake shops, but ones that prove to be the creme of the crop are L’Arte della Pasticceria on Main Street in Ramsey and Patisserie Florentine of Englewood. Their desserts’ visuals alone are a feast for the eyes and the taste is even better!

One can easily imagine being seduced by a man… or a woman. Yet when all the senses are considered, seduction is no longer limited to physical attraction.

Finding Delight in Every Sense. Close your eyes and breathe in the sweet scent of honeysuckle on a summer’s night, or let the saltiness of caviar burst over your tongue. While the sense of smell and taste both tempt and tantalize sight is surely the sense of allurement.

Yes indeed, the vision of Louboutin red soles on a fashion runway, or the radiance of D-colored, internally flawless diamond earrings can easily break down one’s resistance. For a foodie, the sight of an entrée meticulously arranged on a plate or the beauty of a double-layered chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sauce, is enough to entice and indulge.

Aesthetics is more relevant with sugared confections than anywhere else in the culinary arena

Dessert. As children, dessert was a reward we received for eating all the nutritional elements of our dinner. As an adult, it is the exclamation point to the end of a meal, one that sends the pleasure areas of our brain into overdrive. Cakes, as an example, are used to celebrate almost any occasion, starting with a toddler’s first birthday cake and marking every moment of importance, from weddings to anniversaries to retirement. It’s no wonder bakers have turned making a cake into an art form. There are television shows and countless websites devoted to the Art of Dessert and locally, more bakers are exercising their design artistry than ever before.

Bergen County is dotted with bake shops where design is king and resistance is futile

Walking into L’Arte della Pasticceria on Main Street in Ramsey, your eyes are immediately drawn to the showcases. One offers mini cheesecakes, strawberry shortcakes, colorful layer cakes, and fruit tarts that commands your mind to begin the difficult process of choosing.

Along with an assortment of biscotti and Italian cookies, the second showcase features the edible artwork of the bakery, their dazzling array of cakes, tortes, and an exquisite fruit crostata. Displayed like works of art, each dessert is given enough space to appreciate its full measure. The divine chocolate mousse cake covered in chocolate glaze is elegantly enhanced by fresh strawberry slices and a pirouette cookie.

With a mix of blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and apples peeking through the golden lattice pastry of the seasonal fruit crostata, the urge is overwhelming to sit down at one of the café’s tables and see if your sense of taste will be as satisfied as your sense of sight. But then your eyes drift over to the lemon mousse cake with macaroon cookies decorating the sides and you realize your purchasing decision just became much more difficult. The owners of L’Arte understand whatever cake or pastry you choose there is an importance in that decision. Whether it’s for a special occasion or just for a special treat, their mission is to provide something both delicious and worthwhile enough to make a return trip.

Patisserie Florentine of Englewood is much more than a place to grab a pastry. While the beauty of their creations is what lures you in, it is actually a bistro where the food is every bit as important as its place in the community. The works of local artists hang on the wall and the Patisserie is known for their charity involvement and conscious effort in keeping a small environmental footprint.

Chefs, baristas, and of course bakers, work together in providing a welcoming atmosphere where selecting from the menu or the showcase, is a win-win experience. Not feeling as if you can climb a mountain today? Perhaps conquering Everest, the individual raspberry mousse sponge cake topped with a peak of meringue, might be the antidote for the blahs.

With its dark chocolate base, Fondant au Chocolat Noir is the cure for any sweet craving. A different type of mountain, this cake is a volcano with a molten chocolate center. Looking for something not quite as decadent? Opting for the cherry tart with pistachios can make you believe there is happy medium between making a healthier choice and satiating your taste buds.

Visually, a classic dessert can’t be any more inviting than the triple tent design of Patisserie’s lemon meringue pie. The round pastry is filled with lemon curd and covered with three mounds of perfectly browned meringue, giving it the appearance of circus tents. The surrounding fresh blueberries add another layer of color and flavor.

Give in to the temptation; the seduction is complete.

If you travel through the many towns of Bergen County, chances are you will find a small bake shop or café where the idea of perfecting the presentation goes hand-in-hand with attaining perfection in taste. If you take the time to stop in, your sense of smell will likely be awakened by the aroma of fresh brewed coffee. Grab a cup and savor it as your eyes delight in the dazzling array of food items designed for only one reason – pleasure.

Let’s face it; dessert is not a nutritional necessity. It is however, a necessity for psychological well-being, it makes you feel good inside and out. Temptation comes in many forms, taste one today.

Kath Galasso

Wordworker, Observer, Force of Nature  @KatsTheory

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