I don’t have a sweet tooth, never have had, even as a child. Apparently, as far back as when I was two or three instead of reaching for the platter of brownies, I’d be reaching for the olives and pickles. Odd, because both my parents liked sweets.
My father was discriminating. Way back when there was what would now be described as an artisanal chocolatier in Montreal — Andrée Chocolate. They had a small store on Park Avenue, in an area of the city called The Plateau. I can still see their boxes. White, with “Andrée Chocolate” written in script, in black.
They only used dark chocolate and my father loved their almond bark, chocolate-covered ginger and
chocolate-covered orange and lemon peel. He’d often come home with a pound or two. He also liked homemade fruit pies — particularly his mother’s. I must admit they were to die for, especially her apple and blueberry pies, although my dad’s favourites were either cherry or plum.
My mother, on the other hand, was an equal opportunity chocoholic. She didn’t care if was a hand-crafted bonbon or a convenience store chocolate bar. She woke up in the morning craving chocolate and went to bed at night craving chocolate. No matter what ailed her, she firmly believed that chocolate would make her feel better. It was her drug of choice and her favourite food group.
This is not to say I never eat sweets or dessert. I do occasionally enjoy a tart lemon tart. I do like ice cream, sorbet and gelato, especially on a hot summer day. If I am going to have a chocolate, a square or two is enough for me and I’m in my father’s camp — it has to be dark chocolate. But you’ll never see me licking the left-over icing off the spatula. I still prefer salty, savoury and spicy to sweet and ooey gooey.
Until a couple of weeks ago, when I was attacked by the cookie monster.
Oh, not just any cookie monster.
This was the Momofuku Noodle Bar Milk Bar cookie monster.
It was my cousin Dylan’s birthday. Her sister, Lana, happened to be in town. So her mother, Heidi, decided to come from Montreal for the weekend and surprise her. The plan was that we’d all meet at the Noodle Bar for dinner. While we were waiting, Lana mentioned that she wanted to check out the Milk Bar before we left.
Okay, I confess, I had no idea what she was talking about. It seems I’ve been living in a cave.
Turns out the Milk Bar is an award-winning American bakery, famous for their Cereal Milk™ soft serve, Compost Cookies®, Crack Pie®, cake truffles, naked layer cake and more. What did I know?
The instant we were done with dinner Lana took off for the tiny, closet-sized shop that was on our way out. Given my non-interest in desserts, I don’t know why I followed her, but I did. She was already rummaging through the baskets of cookies when I got there. She was on a mission — to find a Compost Cookie — triumphantly holding the last one aloft, apologizing for grabbing it, explaining that she’d wanted to try one forever.
Fine by me, I had no clue what it was or why it was so desirable.
But my interest was definitely piqued. Curious about why the Milk Bar cookies are special, I started rummaging through the baskets myself.
Lana had chosen three. So I thought, what the hell, I’ll try three too. I chose one Cornflake-Marshmallow-Chocolate Chip, one Chocolate-Chocolate and one Corn. I wasn’t sure about the Corn, to be honest. I like cornbread, I like corn muffins, but I was having trouble getting my head around a corn cookie. I’d pick it up and put it back, up and back, up and back until finally, I said: “Take the damn cookie already, what do you have to lose? If you don’t like it, you can throw the rest of it out. It’s only a cookie!”
All the way home I berated myself. “What’d you buy cookies for? You don’t even like cookies.”
None the less, the minute my coat and boots were off I laid the cookies out on my kitchen counter, trying to decide which one to try. My mother would have demolished all three in one sitting, but that was never going to happen with me.
After careful deliberation, I decided on the Cornflake-Marshmallow-Chocolate Chip. I have to admit it sounded gross to me — way too sweet (you have every right to question why I chose it then). So I broke off a small piece — the cookies are huge, by the way. Think of a large grapefruit, flattened.
That was like no cookie I’d ever tasted or even imagined. Not that I’ve tasted that many. But this was an experience. No word of a lie. It wasn’t sickly sweet. It melted on my tongue. My mouth is watering as I write this. Seriously.
How can I describe it? It tasted “pure,” real, chemical-and-imitation-flavour free. Even my virgin cookie taste buds could tell the difference.
Mustering every ounce of self-control I possessed, I forced myself to stop there. I forced myself to carefully wrap the rest of the cookie (which was most of it) and save it for the next day. And I forced myself not to sample the other two. To walk away. To wash my face and brush my teeth. To put on my jammies. To ignore the cookies in the kitchen. To forget I’d ever bought them.
Somehow I managed to do that.
You know what’s coming, don’t you? I polished it off for breakfast. Didn’t have my usual morning coffee. Didn’t want anything to interfere with the taste of that cookie.
Resisting temptation, I left the other two cookies untouched. Untasted. It wasn’t easy, but I did it.
Couldn’t wait for the next day. Waited all day. I’d already decided that the Corn cookie would be my after-dinner treat.
Scrumptious as the Cornflake-Marshmallow-Chocolate Chip cookie was, the Corn cookie left it in the dust. I’m getting emotional just thinking about it. It defies description. You’ll just have to try it for yourselves. I’m thinking that the next time I make a pot of chili I’ll serve it with those cookies, instead of cornbread. Or maybe I’ll just forget the chili altogether and have a bowl of Corn cookies, with a side of Corn cookies.
Embarrassing as it is to admit, when I was done swooning over the cookie and had searched the counter for any stray crumbs, I had to stop myself from calling the restaurant to see if they still had any. It was 9:00 at night but I swear on all that’s holy, I was crazy enough to consider going down there to get more. My better judgment won out in the end. But just barely.
Only one cookie was left. The Chocolate-Chocolate. I did wait for the next day, but couldn’t last until dinner. I had it after lunch. I was pleasantly surprised because it wasn’t sweet at all. And like the others, it was delicious. But my heart belonged (and still belongs) to the Corn cookie.
So much so, I think about them every day. And I have to fight the urge to stock up. They’re dangerous. I can’t have them in the house. This is new to me. I’m used to craving lettuce and hot peppers.
Lana, I love you dearly, but damn you. What have you done?????? All this time I’ve been blissfully unaware and now I’m an addict. I’ve turned into my mother. Next thing I know, I’ll have Milk Bar cookies stashed in all my drawers and cupboards.