While running errands this morning, I happened past the new Levain Bakery on Frederick Douglass. Being nosy, I stepped inside to see what the hype was about and judge for myself. The radio was loud, the look industrial. I was surprised. Not turned off, but surprised. It’s hipper than I expected. That’s a plus. And clean. I mean, it is new and all, but… I’m talking clean clean. I love that. The selection was smaller than I expected (it’s about time I quit having expectations, no?), but those blueberry muffins were calling my name. (“Joe… Joe!”) And then a really happy young lady named Maria came to greet me, with an impressive enough knowledge of the products and the business that I thought she was the owner. She wasn’t. See what I mean about me thinking for myself? Maria sold me on not one, but two pieces – the aforementioned blueberry muffin and this raspberry bomboloncini (a baked jelly donut) that had my taste buds sending my brain threatening messages unless I picked up one of those as well.
On my way out, I noticed a magazine clipping from the April 2011 Bon Appetit, where Tyler Perry praises Levain’s cookies “as the best cookies I’ve ever had.” He goes on to describe them as “so fresh and [they] taste homemade.” Well, clearly I had to grab one of those too. The chocolate chip walnut made its way into my bag and I was out the door. After a quick stop by Best Yet to grab a gallon of milk (they raised their price; I’m just saying), I was home in a dash to taste that cookie. No lie: I was in the house, large glass of milk and cookie in front of me in no time. As the cookie is huge, I decided to break it in half. The outside is crunchy; the inside gooey and moist. Man, this is good. Another bite. Wow… I’m talking delicious… This quite possibly is the best chocolate chip cookie in the world. I have eaten a lot of chocolate chip cookies in my life, but I honestly cannot remember one that was as close to perfection. I mean, Sesame Street‘s Cookie Monster would tear this to shreds. The contestants on Top Chef would feel like school children when comparing their versions. Put this cookie up against the baby cakes on Cupcake Wars and it will still win. No wonder the owners have been on Oprah, Barefoot Contessa and won their Throwdown with Bobby Flay!
The Harlem location is 2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd., between 116th and 117th. Their hours are Monday – Saturday: 8Am – 7PM and Sunday: 9AM – 7PM. They sell out daily, so go early and stock up. I will certainly be back. Thanks to owners Pam Weekes and Connie McDonald for bringing their own brand of happy to Harlem.