Moving down to Monmouth County a couple of years ago has proved a culinary challenge to some degree. Sure, I’ve found some great restaurants in the area and recently found a good pizza place (Denino’s in Aberdeen). But there have been some areas where it’s been lacking. And bakeries were no exception. I’ve tried a few in the area and they were all terrible. Growing up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, I was spoiled by Saraceno’s Italian Bakery. I can still remember going there after church on Sunday at St. Anthony’s and getting a cream puff or chocolate eclair. But alas…even Saraceno’s isn’t the same anymore….
But then I started hearing all this buzz over on the boards at Chowhound…. Everyone was talking about a little bakery, not far from my home (7.4 miles to be exact, 12 minutes) in Atlantic Highlands. So Mother’s Day was coming up and I needed something for mom. Years ago, while in college, I started a tradition for Mother’s Day by giving her a baby cake from Cafe Beethoven in Chatham, NJ. I continued this tradition while I lived in the area for several years but when I moved down to Monmouth County, that tradition faded due to the lack of bakery. So I figured The Flakey Tart would definitely have something for her. And I was right.
As I stepped into the tiny bakery, my heart started to pitter patter. Trays and shelves full of brownies, croissants, scones, cakes and other beautiful pastries. Now reading all the buzz over at Chowhound, I was looking for a few things in particular. First things first though, something for mom. And there it was, a lovely baby carrot cake. I’ll take it. And then the fat girl in me came out. I then got started on those buzz-worthy items from my fellow chowhounds – the mac ‘n’ cheese, pan au chocolat, and a ham and Gruyere croissant. Then I tried a few other items – a maple-walnut scone, a spinach-bacon frittata, and a little cinnamon-cream cheese muffin with “Monkey” in the name I think?? And not all in the shop people, please! I took it home and pigged out!
I was having heart palpitations as I drove home with those pastry boxes next to me. Oh dear God, please just let me make it home before I tear into these I thought. As soon as I got home, before I touched one heavenly morsel, I paused and remembered you my dear readers and whipped out the camera.
Everything was out of this world. I closed my eyes with each taste and wondered why I hadn’t taken the 7 mile ride down there before. The mac “n” cheese were made with a combo of cheeses and a delicate topping. It was gooey and cheesy and sinful. The frittata was bursting with flavors of smoky bacon, spinach, and some other vegetables that have escaped me. The maple-walnut scone, covered with a light layer of sweet glaze, was moist, light, and delicious. The ham-gruyere croissant was fabulous with the ham and cheese baked right into the croissant. A few seconds in the microwave to warm the ham and melt the cheese. Perfection. The monkey muffin was a little tart with a sweet, danish-like flavor that was great. And last but not least, my favorite, the pan au chocolat, a flaky, delicate croissant with just the right amount of chocolate. To die for. The next day, my family enjoyed the moist, spicy carrot cake with a light, sweet cream cheese frosting with crushed walnuts on the rim of the cake.
The Flakey Tart has found a place in my heart. I am thrilled to have found some an incredible bakery where it’s obvious that the owners care about the quality of the product. I urge you to take a trip out there and give it a try. In fact, if you are a visitor to the Jersey shore and have to head down Route 36 to hit up Sandy Hook or any of those locations in the vicinity, the Flakey Tart is on your way there! A few minutes right off of Route 36 at 145 First Ave., Atlantic Highlands, NJ.
I know I’ll be making the trek many, many times in the near future….