Cafe Besalu

This week’s Happy Cookie Friday is brought to you by Cafe Besalu in Ballard. There’s not a lot of information on their website, but I can tell you this: they’re open from 7-3 Wednesday through Sunday and seem to be packed the entire time. They claim to have the best croissants this side of the Mississip’, which, seriously, what is it with the croissant wars in this town? Since I wasn’t up to defending Bakery Nouveau’s honor (first Le Panier and now Besalu), I decided that a croissant challenge at a later date was due. Instead I ordered my usual. Every cookie in the joint.

The very friendly lady behind the counter helped me to one of each: a lemon-icing cookie, a chocolate chocolate chip, a cornmeal apricot, a checkerboard shortbread, a Russian tea cookie, a snickerdoodle, and a coconut macaroon. That’s right, Cookie Palooza 2010 v2.0 (version 1.0 here).

We arrived at Besalu at around 2:40 and only had to wait in line behind one guy who was waiting on his coffee. He was kind enough to let me snap a shot of the exquisite latte art.

I do love a froofed up coffee. In the time it took us to order our cookies, the place filled up with the last closing-time rush. We took our plate of cookies and headed to the nearest window to get to tasting.

I know! It’s a cookie party! The Russian tea cookie is a cakey ball of spice puffed up and rolled in powdered sugar. No whistling ’til a half hour after eating. The snickerdoodles and chocolate chocolate chip were soft cookies, each with subtle flavors. As much as I like saying the word “snickerdoodle,” I’ve never been big on them as they always tend to be soft and rarely crunchy. You’d think a doodle would be snicky, and snicky must mean crunchy, right? The choc-chocolate chip had a subtle flavor of cocoa powder as opposed to the overwhelming dark chocolate that’s to be expected. And it was soft, no crunch about it.

The lemon icing cookie was James’ favorite, and I liked it, too. It had a lemonbar texture about it, very chewy but nicely cooked. I wasn’t expecting any crunch because of the nature of the icing, which is very well done. Very good cookie, highly recommended.

I know they (ohhhh, they) say tastes change with age, and I have to admit they’re right. I have grown to love macaroons. Even the ones not dipped in chocolate! The same thing has happened to me with onions and the reality is that both onions and coconut taste better when toasted–the caramelization of the sugars, the change in texture. Magic, Jerry. Pure magic. Cafe Besalu has some fantastical macaroons–I don’t know if their croissants will live up to all they’re supposed to be, but the macaroons are awesome.

The cornmeal apricot cookie. The texture was, well, cornmeal. I think it could’ve had more apricot and maybe some dried cherries for a tartness. It’s a nice something different, but I wouldn’t order it again.

Subtle was the word of the day for the Besalu cookies (with the exception of the macaroon because there is nothing subtle about its awesomeness), and the checkerboard shortbread was no exception. I couldn’t really taste much vanilla or chocolate, but they sure were cute.

There are a ton of things left to try at Besalu and my first visit has just left me with a list of things to order on our next visit. Sandwiches, quiche, pastry, and somebody’s gotta see if they can beat the Nouveau in the croissant department (although I didn’t see any pimped almond ones, so I don’t know if they’ll have a chance). Meantime, check out this plateful of happiness one more time:


Happy Cookie Friday, man.

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