Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Off the Map: A Marzipan Frog Does Not a Prince Make

Marzipan -- Swedish Bakery, Chicago, IL
Swedish Bakery

After a long-awaited Chicago success story at Ann Sather, we meander up the street to Swedish Bakery, renewed in our spirits that maybe, just maybe, we have stumbled upon the neighborhood holding true Best Thing I Ever Ate greatness.  With Ted Allen's big win with the cinnamon roll, we are confident that we might have the same luck with his NUTTY choice of the marzipan baked goods.

Minor problem: we kind of hate marzipan.
And Now We Have to Eat a Box Full of It
Another minor problem is that we apparently hate people, too, as when everyone and their mother greets us the minute we walk into Swedish Bakery (in all seriousness, they have at least one employee per slice of marzipan), we are instantly overwhelmed and annoyed.
Who Knew the Swedes Were So "Friendly"?
Approaching the person who seems to be the least eager to serve us, we ask for one slice of the marzipan log and one miniature marzipan frog.
Kermit's Tribe
As this employee gathers our choices in a box, a different one asks us what we would like.

"We ordered already," Vodka assures her.

"Well, what about YOU?  What do YOU want?" she asks Ginger.

Um, lady.  Chill out.
Or It's 1-Star for You, My Pretty, And Your Little Frog, Too
We escape from Swedish Bakery as quickly as possible, box of marzipan goodies and silverware in hand (we have obviously learned our lesson from the "WE NEED SOME SILVERWARE" debacle with our concierge).
No Refrigeration Needed If Consumed Two Minutes Later
Finding a shaded bench a street corner away, we dodge hoards of traffic (how do people cross streets in this town?!) and settle down to eat.
Andersonville Shrubbery
Now, our general gripe with marzipan up until this point is twofold: its main use seems to be to hold complicated cakes together, which would not be such a problem if said marzipan weren't grainy, chewy, and paste-like in texture (not to mention virtually tasteless).  It is therefore with mild reluctance that we bite into the lime green marzipan frog.
It's Not Easy Being Green
Inside, we find a large (some would say "excessive") helping of raspberry cream resting on top of a vanilla cake.  The whole enterprise is coated with the green marzipan, topped with large frosting eyes and a chocolate base.  As we chew through our first bites, we find the whole thing a bit dry, and the marzipan itself is, as we feared, creating a very thick coating around the filling.  The taste of the raspberry inside is rather overpowering, and except for the frosting eyes, we are underwhelmed.
Biology Frog Dissection, Bakery Edition
Thankfully, the marzipan log is an improvement over this Kermit figure, as the coating itself pulls away easily and is much thinner.
This Would Be More Palatable If It Were Finger Food
The deeper we dive into the cake, the more taken we become with the homemade whipped cream and soft vanilla (almost angel food-like) layers that rest inside.
Rule of Thumb: Add Whipped Cream to Everything
In fact, the inside components are so much more pleasing than the outer coating that the marzipan itself is rendered completely irrelevant.
Eating Everything But the Marzipan
In the end, we decide that the one thing Swedish Bakery is lacking is ambiance -- with no cafe tables on which to consume the baked goods (only a sad-looking window counter exists), one would have very little impetus to return for a take-out piece of cake.  Perhaps it is time to do away with at least half of the employees waiting to jump down customers' throats and replace them with a zen-like area for sugary consumption.  Let them eat cake, indeed.

Swedish Bakery's Marzipan: 3 stars

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