For some Fourth of July means fireworks. For me it means barking. No rather, first fireworks, then barking. Unlike some dogs, my two little Miniature Pinschers are not afraid at all–no, they fully participate. My house is very festive on this day of the year. My little Ciel and Sarah tell off every firework pop that goes off. Then lie down on the couch triumphantly. Until another goes off. So sometimes on the Fourth I like to take them to the dog park or somewhere with a big back yard where they can run so that they will be too tired to bark, then I look for festive party treats.
It seems that the best restaurants and venues are always word of mouth. A friend of my husband’s who is gluten intolerant told him about Ms. Michelle’s Urban Gourmet in Bayport (NY). My love affair with chocolate mousse cake and peanut butter cups began. I don’t care if you’re gluten-free or not, this is an awesome bakery. Their flourless chocolate mousse cake is divine. It melts away upon tasting, but does not have an oily or heavy residue, most likely because the bakery is dedicated to quality organic ingredients. Their peanut butter cups are peanut butter mousse inside a chocolate shell with berry syrup on the bottom. And recently, they had chocolate strawberry shortcakes with a delicate whipped cream. The consistency of the chocolate shortcake was the lightest I ever tasted.
I also like that Michelle’s serves non-dessert food–they have a gooey, flavorful quiche (ham and cheddar is my favorite), along with soups in winter. Their chili is truly the best chili I have ever had. They also serve muffins, cake balls covered in chocolate and Tiramisu. For holidays, I definitely go for their decorative cakes because they look stunning and taste oh, so good. My favorite cake of theirs is a lemon cake that is white and dusted with coconut shavings. It’s light and tangy, yet sweet and incredibly mild. Their American flag chocolate cake is eye candy as much as it is real candy. The red swirls are colored vanilla shavings and the center is a soft, moist chocolate sponge cake with frosting in between that isn’t too sweet. At a barbeque on Memorial day this summer, my family–celiac and gluten-eaters alike–commented how much they loved this cake. The tasting of the peanut butter cups was met with cries of ecstasy and then cries of agony that I didn’t buy enough for eight people. Even Ciel and Sarah sniffed heavily at the cakes, but alas, no chocolate for doggies.
Being a chocolate fiend, I can barely stand looking at my own photo of their chocolate mousse cake above without trembling and looking for my keys to go down there. If you think this photo looks good…yes, it does taste as good as it looks. Your wildest chocolate fantasies will be fulfilled. This Fourth of July a tropical storm or mild hurricane is headed our way, so I might actually be spared the barking and fireworks…ahh…I can just picture curling up on the couch with a good movie and chocolate cake and some tea instead of running around looking for ingredients, cooking and asking not-so-politely for my doggie girls to please be quiet. Oh, tropical storm Arthur, you may bring peace and quiet to my Fourth of July.
Michelle’s is situated in what looks like a historic home along a fairly busy two-way road in a quiet area of Bayport. I love to bring my order outdoors and sit in one of their Adirondack chairs in the sun. There is an atmosphere of homeliness and small-town village life. The name of the bakery even has a history. Apparently the house was built by a German couple in 1820 named Urban, hence the Urban in the name of the bakery, which seems like a kind acknowledgement to the history of the place. Together with pure ingredients on my plate and luxurious, truly gourmet flavor I see why this place is listed as one of the best bakeries in the country. There is even a New York Times Article about it.
I grew up just north of the bakery and I remember heading to Bayport as a teenager to take my PSATs. Since then I hated Bayport, particularly the ridiculously named Snedecor Ave. where I toiled over empty bubbles on a white page with a number two pencil. Of course that is totally undeserving, Bayport is a lovely town, but driving by Snedecor still makes me shudder a little. Although finding the bakery, I am slowly learning to like Bayport much more.
Yes, chocolate cake is theraputic, especially on a slow sunny day in summer in Adirondack chairs. Most likely that won’t be Fourth of July this year, but at least it will be a quiet one.
Ms. Michelle’s Urban Gourmet is located at 572 Middle Road, Bayport.