MERIDITH FORD GOLDMAN, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
In baking, leaveners — the thing that makes baked goods go boom — come in three forms: chemical, physical and biological. Chemical? Easy — baking powder and baking soda. Biological? Why, yeast and sours, mai oui! The trick — and technique — comes with getting physical. That's when air or steam, folded, whipped or beaten into a baked good, makes that genoise or eclair get puffier than a peacock. Here's to praising all thing puffy.
Sure, the steaks here are big, beautiful babies just waiting to be cut into. But the secret's been out for a while now — I'd go just for the big-as-your-head popovers that come prior to the meal. Omigod good.
Funky pastel cupcakes smile up at you from the counter; oversized communal pine tables make for interesting breakfast conversation with tablemates. A blackboard tells of goodies to start the day and lunchtime noshes, while the environs offer old-fashioned candies. Peek past those cupcakes to puffytown: huge — no, gi-nor-mous — cream puffs, filled with pastry cream and dipped in chocolate. The menu changes often, though, so if it's puff you seek, call ahead.
The best Latin bakery in the area (my favorite location is on Buford Highway) mixes up postres with lots of puff: Ojos del toro (ojo means eye; toro means bull) are special treats of soft pound cake surrounded by a ring of sugary puff pastry (it looks like — you guessed it — a bull's eye).
Croissants, when made well, are the kind of puffy doodad that can change your life. (At least for the 30 seconds it takes you to eat one. Did I say 30? I meant 15.) Well-made croissants, when stuffed with feisty, peppery house-made pimento cheese, may prevent you from being able to operate heavy machinery or make rational decisions. No trouble. There's a cozy spot at the window of this sister bakery to Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch Public House.
Want melt-in-your-mouth smoothness plus puffy, sweet lightness from something other than toothpaste? Found it: the melt-away meringues filled or piped into pretty stars at Joli Kobe's new Midtown location. Move over, Paris, Atlanta has obviously arrived.