Bouchon v. Levain

As you may or may not know, a week before my dad’s passing, Binks and I went to NY for a cousin’s wedding.  We took 4 days for the wedding and an additional 3 days of non-wedding time (can we say too much extended family time?).

Call it a Babymoon if you will – I will not.  Rather, the appropriate term would be my search for the best food ever.

I have an affinity/bias/love-affair with NY.  When my family first moved to America, we moved to NY for about a month.  We didn’t stay long but it left a lasting impression.  From things I remember as a kid, I remember having the best Indian food in NY (heard of Jackson Heights anyone?), obviously killer pizza and the like.

This time, was really my first time in NY.  Usually we spend our time with family and were deemed too young to travel outside of Queens.  So, Binks and I made full use of the times we got alone to walk the streets of NY.

One day, as were heading out of our hotel, a girl walked passed me with the most delectable chocolate chip cookie in hand. I wanted one.  Not just one.  I wanted to try as many chocolate chip cookies as possible and find the best in NY.  Call it pregnancy cravings if you will – I will not.  It’s just me being me.

Here are my requirements for the perfect chocolate chip cookie:

1.  Texture – Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside.  This is a balancing act like none other.  And, while I enjoy a good slightly under-cooked center as the rest of us, I don’t want the whole cookie to rest on that.  (You should remember that Otis – although I will devour you any day and in anyway!)

2.  Chip/cookie Ratio – Definitely more cookie that chip for me.  If it’s too much chocolate chip, then I miss the whole point of a cookie.

3.  Taste – buttery, deep, not too sweet, hint of salty – I know you know what I mean.

My first stop – Bouchon Bakery.

Luckily we had a bakery just one block from our hotel.  Talk about tastefully convenient!

And speaking of tasty – this was just that.  Dare I say perfect?  I do.  The dough is fantastic – sweet but not overly so with a nice rounded out flavor.  What stood out the most was the chocolate.  Far superior to any other chocolate chip I have had.  Overall, I was one happy NY foodie tourist.

Then, came Levain.  Known to many as offering the best cookies ever, I had to try.  We were walking around the Upper West Side (Binks wanted to see where Seinfeld lived), we trekked south towards our hotel before catching a bus to the airport.  With our time constraint, and the distance, I was sure we wouldn’t get time for a visit.  But, this is when determination hits hardest.

I told Binks that I would gladly walk another 4 miles just to get this cookie.  And, Binks being Binks, obliged.

Meet the chocolate chip walnut from Levain.

This is a beast at the least.  Heavy and dense.  A Goliath among chocolate chip cookies.  I broke into one to discovery an ooey and gooey center.  Yes, “ooey” and “gooey” is the ONLY way to describe it – I dare you to say differently.  It quite literally melts in your mouth.

I loved it.  The taste was there.  Full of chocolate chips and who could ever complain about portions?  Perfect?  Umm…..don’t hate me but No!  While nothing less than delicious, Bouchon ruined me (maybe for life).  I prefer a thinner chocolate chip cookie.  Levain was more like a giant dough ball.  Again, while I love an under-cooked center, this was too much.  And, there might have been too many chocolate chips.  Binks, the president of the chocolate addict club, agreed.

I said don’t hate me!

Would I ever deny myself one in the future?  Nope.  But if standing in a line offering Bouchon or Levain – Bouchon for me, please!

I do have to say there were many places we didn’t get to try:

–  Max Brenner
–  Pret A Manger
–   Almondine

Tasting only two cookies in my quest for the perfect cookie.  Call it a failure if you will – I will not.  Rather, I’ll be back – with a vengeance.

Tell me about your favorite chocolate chip cookie.  What do you look for?


Filed under Cookies, Favorites, Vacation

13 responses to “Bouchon v. Levain

  1. I visited Bouchon in July and didn’t have their cookie! What was I thinking? Luckily we have a Bouchon here in Beverly Hills so I will trek down there and let you know what I think.

    So far the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever had is from Patina. I have yet to replicate it.

    And yes, Max Brenner’s is on my list for NYC!

  2. Krissy Murphy

    I would love to try this taste test 😉 I LOVE chocolate chip cookies so much and am usually a fan of the ‘Levain’ style you described (thicker) but I think it would require me to definitely try both….yknow, for research 🙂

    Still have your family in my thoughts. I know I don’t comment a lot but I enjoy your blog and am glad to see you back!!

  3. Friend, I’m so sorry, but I just read about your Dad 😦 I’m sending you 1 million hugs and thoughts and prayers.

  4. This has me drooling at my desk and craving a warm chocolate chip cookie sooo bad (and to think that right now I am eating a chocolate bar. Yup.) I have not tried either and I’m in NYC all the time! Shame on me. I know people who swear by Levain so I want to check that out for sure. And the homemade oreo at Bouchon too!

  5. I personally like Levain… but it takes me at least 2 days to eat one cookie. You should try Tate’s Cookies… they are from South Hampton, NY and they are the best I have ever had!

  6. I’m so glad you got to visit NYC! You know it’s one of my favorite places in the whole world. And both of those cookies sounds pretty incredible!! Your descriptions made me drool a little bit. I love chocolate chip cookies, and snickerdoodles, and peanut butter cookies, too. But one of my favorite cookies is the perfect ginger cookie. One of the best I’ve had was in L.A. at Real Food Daily. It was amazing.

  7. Omg… I’m so picky about what makes a really good chocolate chip cookie!

    Definitely need it to be chewy- I’m not one for thin and crispy. But also, it cannot be overly doughy- that’s the worst!

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