Monday, May 7, 2012

A Tale of Two Cookies: Quincy Market

Let me first say that I'm a fan of Fanueil Hall and the whole downton vibe of new-city-old-city. And, incidentally, I'm a huge fan of food courts when they're done well. So I tried to keep an open mind when I wandered into Quincy market today, in search of that perfect slice of cake that had magically escaped the eye of every foodie in the blogosphere to date. Because you don't often hear elegiac praise for the lobster rolls, clam chowder, or anything else served up in the galleys of Quincy Market. It is, in essence, one long corridor of food-court style joints selling hot dogs, mac n' cheese, and what is advertised as authentic New England food. And while I can bliss out at a good food court, I frankly become a little cranky when presented with slop houses that charge $12 for a burger. You can guess which category I think Quincy Market falls into.

But the Babe is not one to be clouded by such judgements when it comes to baked goods. I found and decided to sample the cookies at two bakery-style counters at Quincy today. Call it a cookie showdown, or a tale of two cookies: Kilvert & Forbes Bakeshop vs. Carol Ann Bakeshop. First up was Kilvert & Forbes, which presents a counter crammed with cookies the size of flying saucers.

Give or take a few brownies and macaroons.

I balked at the price tag of $3.25 for a cookie, but was ultimately seduced by good looks. I mean, this looks yummy, doesn't it?

I will admit, as I nibbled and ambled that it was a pleasant cookie, flat and soft with a bit of vanilla having play. Did it rock my world? Will I wake up dreaming about it and plotting how to worm my way back into the cavern of food at Quincy? Nope. I wish I could say yes, as that $3.25 ain't coming back. But really, it was a decent cookie that perhaps would've been fairly priced at $2.

At the other end of Quincy, I stopped at Carol Ann's bakeshop. They too have cookies the size of frisbees for $3. I opted for the "mini" or regular cookie at $1.40.

I crunched and nibbled at a cookie that was still warm, had a slightly crunchy exterior and a soft interior. It wasn't a bad cookie a'tall. But again, I was not overcome with the urge to buy another twenty. And the cupcakes, with their spastic, haphazard decorations, weren't even contenders.

I slouched away from Quincy feeling a bit overdone with sugar, and my wallet $5 lighter. Why my discontent? I find that in very touristy areas, there are often stores that get away with selling things on a one-time basis to people who will think an item looks quite tasty, only to find that it is just okay and very, very expensive. That's why they call it a tourist "trap," right? When it comes to cookies and Quincy Market, consider this: a five minute walk will buy you a cannoli the size of a dump truck for $3 in the North End. Save your buckaroos for the good stuff, and satisfy yourself with a stroll around Quincy to admire the architecture not the food.

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