Friday, April 29, 2011

Modern Pastry, North End, Boston

It was a few years ago that I realized the power of the pen.  Rankled by a terrible experience at the "beloved" Mike's Pastry, I used this blog as an outlet for my anger.  I took pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to key board and I vented.  I ranted, I raved, I inferred, I implied, I down right blamed.  I lofted my voice high and stood on my soap box to alert the masses to the terrible experience I had at Mike's.  Today, I stand by my decision, however my actions made it necessary for my family and I to find another supplier for our Italian Pastry obsession.  It didn't take long, or much hardship, to find that new place.  The same day as my mistreatment at Mike's, I had picked up some Sfogliatella, a favorite of my mother's, for breakfast.  They were fresh, crisp and ultimately better than Mike's, and so we began frequenting Modern for all of our Italian Pastry needs.

Easter, in our house, is celebrated not with chocolate bunnies or jelly beans.  Rather it is exalted with Italian delicacies.  This year, we made the annual trek to Modern and purchased the standard Sfogliatella, a Ricotta Pie, and a few of their Rum Soaked Baba's.

Sfogliatella are a unique beast.  Often confused with a Lobster Tail pastry, they couldn't be more different.  Their crust is flaky and crisp, a bite rewards you with a satisfying crunch giving way to a flavorful dough, deceivingly light in texture.  You might be able to kid yourself that it isn't such an indulgence, but be sure, those light, crisp layers of dough are separated with the almighty butter.  Any thoughts of lightness however are immediately done away with once you reach the filling inside this clam shell shaped crust. Inside exists a dense filling made of mix of yellow cream with semolina to thicken it, and flavored with citrus and cinnamon.  It is thick and rich but beautifully flavored making it rather addictive. 

Ricotta pie is my all time favorite.  Ricotta cheese is just such a wonderful, versatile and clean tasting cheese.  It's flavor is light enough to adapt to both savory and sweet uses, and Ricotta Pie is one of its shining moments.  Utterly simplistic in its form, Ricotta Pie is basically sweetened Ricotta Cheese, baked between two sheets of Pasta Frolla pastry dough- an incredibly straightforward dough of flour, butter, and egg yolks.  The result is a golden yellow crust, soft to the fork but with hints of citrus here at Modern, that gives way to the very dense filling.  Lets face it, as great as the crust is, we're here for the filling, and that ricotta is perfectly sweetened -just enough to feel dessert like, but not so much that beauty of the fresh ricotta is lost. This one goes down for the books.

Rum soaked Baba's (or as we call them- Baba Rum's) are one of my families traditions.  Light sponge cake is doused with rum, and filled with custard finally topped with a cherry.  The sponge cake maintains its almost grainy texture, though absorbs the bounty of the rum, and then with each bite, fades into the delicate custard.  

Modern is well known throughout Boston as making some of the freshest pastries possible.  As a testament, the Sfogliatella that we purchased had just come out of the oven, and were almost too hot to handle.  It just doesn't get much better than that.

Modern is no second place to any other bakery on Hanover Street.  Their pastries are of the highest quality, their stock of Italian specialty products is extensive and their staff patient and helpful.     

10 comments:

kitchenmisfit said...

I 110% prefer Modern over Mike's. I think Mike's is totally overrated!

Daisy said...

AGREED! thought come the holidays I skip the line and go to Bova's. ;)

When it comes to modern vs mike, modern wins hands down! great review!

Jen said...

Amen! I prefer Modern as well. Good review!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I prefer Modern over Mike's too! Love the mini cannolis.

Meesh said...

definitely agree...just thinking about modern pastries puts a smile on my face (sounds corny but im 100% serious)

Hungry? City Guides said...

Kindly add me for those who've favor in Modern! Nice review!

Jen said...

I've never been to Modern. I think that makes me a bad Bostonian...

uhockey said...

From one blogger to another I'd just like to offer kudos - your writing is lovely and has been quite helpful in planning my meals this weekend in Boston.

Boston Food Diary said...

Oh that is so nice to hear! Thank you! I'll be reading you as well!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that Modern Pastry is way better than Mike's. Not only is the pastry quality better but the employees are nicer!

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