Sunday mornings when I was a mere lad meant attending church with my parents followed by a trip to the bakery. Each Sunday I had my choice of the following: a crumb bun, a cinnamon crueler or, my all time favorite, an apple fritter. I vividly remember enjoying each bite while having a cup of tea with some milk and just a tad bit of sugar. If the weekend was spent at my grandparent’s home, multiple bakery delicacies were served without a word about cereal, which to me always tastes so stale and lifeless. My fondness for bakeries began then.
For special occasions my father and I would drive to Benkert’s Bakery in Centereach to buy cakes for birthdays and holidays. Each cake was so skillfully decorated, pieces of art in my youthful mind and I still remember how delicious each tasted. In time my family moved onward and with such a move came the discovery of a new bakery, Alpine Pastry Shoppe in Smithtown.
The guys at Alpine.
Nestled in a shopping center on Route 111 just south of Jericho Turnpike, this bakery is a delight of baked goods and delicacies. When my family traveled to a family function or a friend’s cookout we always stopped to buy Alpine’s Black forest cake. Besides the cakes, there were black and white cookies and Oscar the Grouch cupcakes. I remember a philosophical conversation with a friend about the wonders and taste of their Linzer tarts.
As time passed, life took me on different paths and to different bakeries. I found some hits, such as the rainbow cookie cake at the Rolling Pin Bakery in Setauket but many misses. Then someone special entered my life; she brought me light and the cannoli. Soon a Sunday ritual was born and a return to Alpine Pasty Shoppe became a weekly necessity for their cannoli, a cannoli filled with such tender and rich cohesive creaminess surrounded by the right amount of crispness in its shell. I like to think myself non-judgmental, but to tell me there is a cannoli better than the ones orchestrated at Alpine Pastry Shoppe and my mind will surely close.
Bakeries on the island have been gathering places, some like Alpine are institutions, and we all have our favorites, but any attempt to mass produce their cannolis will not work. Do yourself a favor and make your own Sunday ritual: visit your local bakery and support Long Island small business.