September 19, 2008

Ravelin Bakery

I have a sister-in-law who regularly performs in musical theatre, and she tells me a performer’s (any performer’s) pet peeve is when friends, family, and random audience members come up to her after a performance and say, “You were great, and that kid was amazing!”

And I feel like that’s what I just did.

I fell all over myself praising the pastry at the new kid on the block, The Funky Eclectic, without even acknowledging the seasoned pro that helps make my appreciation of their danish possible. I’m talking about Ravelin Bakery.

If you live in Denton (and not under a rock), of course you know Ravelin. You may remember them from their original location, across from The Greenhouse, which they are still supplying with desserts, or you may only know them from their current location on Elm Street, but if you’ve somehow missed them (or are a newbie or visitor), you definitely want to get to know them. I have to admit, I wrestled with mentioning them at all. One already has to get there early, to get a full selection, but in the end, my better self (The FND) won out, and, if you are unfamiliar with Ravelin, you did too.

First of all - and this should go without saying - everything is made onsite and made from scratch. The hunky baker and his lovely wife own this business and they are always there. (What makes the baker so hunky, you ask? Good question! He IS sandy blond and blue, but his tattoo really ices the cake, so to speak. What is it? A skull? A mermaid? Taz?! No, No, and certainly not! He has a tattoo, on one of his forearms, of a fist clutching a sheaf of wheat, with a sunflower, a poppy [and maybe another bit of flora] thrown in for good measure. What else would a bad ass baker have? I know I like him all the more for it. Check it out, next time you visit.)

Now, what does your Friendly Neighborhood Dentonista recommend?  That’s so difficult, and so easy; they have so many excellent things!
Bearing in mind you can hardly go wrong:

  • The ham and swiss croissants
    I love them, and you can fool yourself into thinking you're having a balanced breakfast. Also feel free to try the ham and cheddar, spinach and feta, and mushroom and swiss, if you like.

  • The chocolate almond croissants
    Imagine a fresh croissant filled with dark chocolate and topped with a sliced almond and sugar paste. It is a diabetic coma on a plate, but goes down sweet as sin with a cup of strong coffee.

  • The walnut or pecan sticky buns
    See above, and know the squirrels will fight you for them, if you're taking your leisure on the patio. Oh sweet Jesus.

  • The muffins
    All the muffins. They come in various combinations of berries and fruits, and they are win-wins every time. Weekend guests? Stock up on a variety and be the hostess with the most-est. Men, I am not discriminating; they will work for you too.

  • And do not miss the fresh bread!
    They'll slice it for you there, and each and every variety beats all hell out of any supermarket loaf.

    Go on, go! But please, leave some for me.

    Oh, and sad news - I've heard from a few folks that The Funky Eclectic is already out of business. I've heard eveything from family illness to a business loan that didn't come through, and I can hardly believe it. No matter what the reason, there IS a for sale sign up.
    Drat!
    Anyone know the whole story?

    Ravelin Baking Co on Urbanspoon
  • September 17, 2008

    Update from GrapeFest

    I have a friend who says things are ‘ish’ when he means they’re just so-so, and I LOVE that idiom. As you know, anything that is ‘somethingish’ is not quite something.
    And Grapefest was ish.
    I wouldn’t discourage you from checking it out next year, but I might not hurry back. Why?

    Well, a few reasons.

    With free-flowing wine (with 9 tickets, $4.50) - and beer - you can expect a fair amount of stumbling, slurring, and poor crowd navigation. People with strollers, too.
    What you might not expect, and I came to view as an added bonus, is pretentiousness.

    I felt like the Not So Friendly Dentonista as I slowly got steamed trying to flow around pontificating yuppies planted stock-still in the street road\ the sidewalk\ my way just gassing on about anything and everything.

    Or maybe I was just a grouch.
    Was there anything to enjoy? Oh yes. The usual arts and crafts, with a nicely cheesy wine theme, AND Inka Wayra!.

    My friends, you haven’t fully appreciated “Hotel California” until you’ve heard it played on the Pan flute.
    I kid you not.
    The minute I realized what my eyes were seeing and my ears were hearing, I leaned over to the Significant Other (SO) and said, “I’m telling you right now, this is the coolest thing I am going to see all night.
    It was.

    Now, if you’re wondering how the Joe Ely show was, I’m happy to say, it was fantastic.
    That night he was playing with Joel Guzman. (I did whisper to the SO, “I’ve never seen an accordion looking less Italian.”) Nor have I enjoyed listening to one so much.
    Two thumbs up.

    But, overall, just 'ish', and since this blog is The BEST Of and not the also rans, I'm thinking I'll take these entries down after a bit.
    What do you think?

    September 11, 2008

    Plans For GrapeFest

    My significant other (SO) is a significant music geek.
    (Not that his preferences are significant, but that his fanaticism is significant. You follow?) Music is the insulin that allows him to process dull weeks and the marinade for a cold-beer, all-day barbecue kind of week. It revives, sustains and excites him.

    And Joe Ely, a recent interest, is playing Grapevine's GrapeFest Friday night.

    Now, the SO had recently taken me to the DMA to see Mr. Ely play and read selections from his new book, and that show met my most important requirements for enjoying most of the SO's musical choices - A/C, seating, no smoking, not too loud, not too late. (You, dear reader, may surmise those same requirements keep me from being the SO's frequent companion to many musical outings. You would be correct.) In addition, I really enjoyed hearing Mr. Ely tell his stories from the road, and tomorrow, Mr. Ely is playing outside on a clement Friday evening, where vendors and purveyors of local (!! and not) wines should be abundant. So I allowed that an amendment to those requirements might be justified.

    I'll let you know how it goes.
    OR, you can go on over yourself; I'd love to see you there! I'll be the one with the long hair and glass of wine!

    September 7, 2008

    The Funky Eclectic

    Your Dentonista is going to do something she hasn’t done yet – write about something she found the-same-day-she-found-it!
    It’s not that there is a lack of agreeable, indeed outright fantastic, things in Denton to inspire me, it’s just that, sadly, your Dentonista has more than a touch of the lazy slug in her (I do hope you are not shocked to read that), and the fabulous bits that make up Denton tend to be tried, true, and durable.

    However, what I found Saturday morning was so serendipitous and pleasing, that I want to share it with you ASAP, and YOU dear reader will want to zip over to The Funky Eclectic, at 503 Bolivar without delay! (You know I’d give you a link, but they are, for now, Web site free. *People! You have a business, get a Web site!*)

    Their signage describes them as a coffee shop & bakery, but Saturday’s menu, featuring quiche, tomato basil soup, and some tasty sounding turkey sandwich compilation seemed to me a bit nicer, a bit more varied than the bland food I associate with the Greek coffee shops of my youth. But you know, coffee shops have become much hipper, so maybe my perceptions are out of date…

    ANYWAY

    Let’s DO discuss their baked goods for a minute, because that’s what’s got me so het up.
    Saturday morning, I loaded up my favorite breakfast companion and went off looking for a little nosh to carry out, and ended up grabbing a muffin, 2 chocolate chip cookies (for later) and a little cheese danish.

    The cheese danish of destinty, as it would turn out.

    Kids, I have to tell you, if anything in the baked goods’ display or, indeed, my life had prepared me for the absolute perfection of this danish, I would have bought up all of them.

    Actually, while we were browsing the baked goods, one of the sweetly loquacious owners did mention a cordon bleu baker. I admit the thought, “Sure, whatever” went through my head, though never would have made it out of my mouth. (You may not be shocked to learn I have an inner, snarky dialogue.)

    What more can I say? I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of baked goods (at least an enthusiast), and this was phenomenal. In one bite I knew it. In fact, it was so good, I snarfed it all up, standing at the counter, without even pouring myself a cup of coffee.

    In fact, the only other pastry I know of that is this delicious (flavorful and perfectly tender, without the least bit of toughness or dryness) is baked in Spring, TX (just outside of Houston). By a woman who only bakes for friends and family.
    Sad really.
    Happily, I’m her friend.

    Seriously, you will want to run, not walk, to The Funky Eclectic.
    Not just because the danish is delish, but also because it’s a new, unique and local business, and we want to make sure it’s around to stay!
    Hipsters will love the vintage late 50s, 60’s formica and vinyl table and chairs sets.
    Cheapsters will love the prices – nothing over $7.95.
    Students will love the 24-7 hours (I know! We’ll see if they keep it up.)
    Hot-to-trotsters will love the cool AC…
    Everyone will love that danish.

    Get there quick my dears. If I beat you in, you may not find any of that danish left.
    Although the menu mentions pie, cobbler, casserole, quiche and soups of the day, amongst other dishes, and there is a separate menu for beverages, so there is plenty more for you (and me) to explore...