Confessions of a Pastry Addict

Everyone has a vice. Whether it be smoking, watching television, enjoying a nice glass of wine at night, it is something we look forward to everyday.  My addiction is pastries: cookies, pies, doughnuts, cakes, croissants, breads, scones, cupcakes, but especially muffins. There’s something almost orgasmic about coming home from class or work and making a quick stop at your favorite coffee shop to grab a pastry and a coffee — or at least, it is for me. Back home in Puerto Rico, pastries are usually way richer and high calorie than they are here, so you don’t really eat them unless it’s a special occasion. However, Boston is a pastry goldmine. I did not know how much I loved and needed pastries in my life until I moved here. After that, it was all downhill. As hard as I try to fight the temptation, I can’t help but think about the muffin and coffee I’m going to have when I get home. It’s no longer about indulging, it’s a lifestyle. While Boston might be a pastry addict’s paradise, that’s not to say that every café has good pastries. During my time here in Boston, I’ve lived in three different apartments, all scattered around the Boston area — the North End, East Somerville, and Davis Square. So, I have had the opportunity to discover some of the best pastry shops in the Boston area.

The North End is known for its excellent Italian restaurants and exciting nightlife, but if you happen to be there in the middle of the summer you’ll witness how tourists wait in ridiculously long lines for cannolis and other traditional italian pastries. The two competing pastry shops in the North End are the infamous Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry. Now, I’m not much of a cannoli girl myself, so I can’t speak of the quality of their pastries, but I can sure say that the quantity of people that stop by for some Mike’s is insane. But, I’m bias. In my opinion, Modern Pastry takes the trophy. It’s more gourmet, but still as traditional. However, my go-to in the North End is neither one, it’s Lulu’s Sweet Shoppe on Salem street. It’s a small pastry boutique that makes some of the best cupcakes in the city, not to mention homemade ice cream! If you happen to be a chocolate lover like myself, make sure to order the Chocolate Explosion (three layers of chocolate, ‘nuff said).

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Lucky for me (and unlucky for my figure), Somerville is overflowing with small cafés. Some of the most popular include Bloc 11 (best chocolate chip cookies ever), Diesel Cafe, and Forge Baking Company. They are all owned by the same person, so they feature similar pastries, great coffee, and a buzzing atmosphere. Among their many pastry options (most are vegan, gluten-free, and aesthetically mouth-watering) are blueberry streusel muffins, orange walnut rosemary muffins, chocolate croissants, maple toasted oat scones, and a variety of cookies, breads, and cakes. Another small, but just as tasty café is 3 Little Figs near Davis Square. All their pastries are made from scratch and they truly get creative with their baked goods. Some of my favorites include the lavender biscuit, the dirty chai muffin, the french toast muffin (orgasmic), and the apple cider donut muffin. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

For those who might have a difficult time going to the North End or to Somerville, there are always the more conventional options — Tatte Bakery & Cafe and Flour Bakery & Café. Both have multiple locations and to-die for baked goods! Tatte Bakery & Cafe has one of the largest selection of pastries I’ve seen. The first time I walked into their Charles street location, I thought I had gone to died and gone to heaven. They have various types of croissants (almond, pistachio, chocolate, plain, and so on), dozens of what they call “rose rolls”, a poached pear and almond muffin, the best selection of fruit or nut tarts (the pecan tart is my favorite), and an endless amount of cakes, pies, and other desserts.

Last but not least is Flour Bakery & Cafe. The moment you walk in, the smell of sugar and flour is intoxicating. Then you see the display of pastries and you know there’s no way you’re going to only go in there for some coffee. Nope.  They go all out — pies, muffins, breads, tarts, cakes, croissants, cookies, scones, and so on. It is definitely an overwhelming experience. The house favorite (or at least my favorite) is the sticky bun; it’s like a glorified cinnamon roll with nuts and a very sticky syrup. However, if you’re not too big on the overly sweet pastries, make sure to try the blueberry muffin. The blueberries taste like they’ve just been picked and the dough is moist but somehow crunchy too.

Being a pastry addict is more of a burden than anything else. I can’t walk past a coffee shop without peeking inside to see if they’ve got any good-looking pastries. It also means, I have to workout twice as much if I want to look like I’m addicted to veggies rather than pure carbohydrates and sugar. It’s definitely a love-hate relationship (ok, maybe more love than hate). I definitely have to find a way to satisfy my cravings without becoming a muffin myself. But, in the mean time, I’ll be nibbling on a lemon ginger scone (from Flour Bakery & Cafe) I have in the kitchen.

Photos by Hannah Antrim