Seattle Sweet Week Exhibit One: Columbia City Bakery

From top to bottom: Harvest Fruit Vatrushka, Ferdinand Graham, and Chocolate and Chocolate Bite

“I don’t have a sweet tooth, I have all sweet teeth,” I used to say when I was in my twenties and a scoop of gelato was my preferred dinner entree.

Even though my palate has definitely steered steadily toward savory flavors over the past few years, I still love sweets. A recent trip to Portland, introduced me to Salt and Straw, whose creamy, slightly savoury ice cream flavors like Arequina Olive Oil reawakened my old sweet cream for dinner habit.

So now I am in the Columbia City Bakery on a sunny Tuesday morning, and the despite the fact I just finished a perfect pain au chocolate, buttery, rich, decadent, I have just now gone up to the counter to order the bakery’s Seattle Sweet Week $5 tasting, trio of pastries: Harvest Fruit Vatrushka, Chocolate and Chocolate bite, and Ferdinand Grahams. The pastries come packaged in a cardboard takeout box so in theory they can go home with me. We’ll see.

  1. Harvest Fruit Vatrushka: The description posted on the Seattle Sweet Week website does not do this brioche pastry justice. The harvest fruit are raspberry and apple, each one pleasantly tangy, less sweet than I would have expected. The cream cheese filling rounds out the fresh fruit flavor, and its smoothness compliments the slightly crunchy texture of the apple. The brioche pastry has a breadlike consistency which makes the Harevest Vatrushka lighter than many pastries. The Harvest Vatrushka feels like it would make a healthy-ish on the go breakfast, not too sweet, not too heavy.
  2. Chocolate and Chocolate Bite: Gooey, dense, and loaded with chocolate (call this the chocolate and chocolate and chocolate and chocolate bite), this pastry option is the polar opposite of the Harvest Vatrushka. The website describes it as a cookie, but I found it to be much more reminiscent of a cake bite, with a smooth texture and intense flavor similar to flourless chocolate cake. This pastry would appeal most as a dessert or late night snack for the chocoholic. The 5$ tasting provides two bites, which means you will probably want to share.
  3. Ferdinand Graham: An exceptionally buttery thin shortbread style cookie, the Ferdinand Graham is crunchy, and like the Chocolate and Chocolate Bite, quite dense. The website advertises it has being made with whole wheat flour, which gives a slightly nuttier flavor than most shortbread cookies. As a child every Christmas I looked forward to the tins of Royal Dansk butter cookies that my grandmothers would set out, and I found the Ferdinand Graham to be similarly appealing for my adult tastebuds. Heartier and less sweet than the Royal Dansk cookies, the Ferdinand Graham is perfect for dipping in coffee.

The verdict: if you are looking to stretch $5 dollars really far (I ended up needing the box to take the remaining pastries home), Columbia City Bakery’s entry into the Seattle Sweet Week is a good choice. The pastry trio showcases three very different types of menu options from the bakery, each of which seems to fall into a different mealtime category (Harvest Vatrushka, breakfast; Ferdinand Graham, midday coffee break; Chocolate and Chocolate Bite, evening dessert.) It should also be said that I would not consider any of these items to be pastries, which is misleading marketing.

But if you are looking for a broad, if a little eclectic, sampling of Columbia City Bakery’s products, this $5 tasting provides a nice introduction.

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