Thursday, October 4, 2007

Andi Igusti, Pinisi Bakery

Since September 2006, the inhabitants of East Village have been blessed by a gift from the Far East.

No, it’s not the Indian version of Dumbo, black market opium or Chinese firecrackers. Rather, it involves a much more edible and enjoyable import.

Inside you’ll find golden delicacies - intricate works of art handcrafted with the utmost attention to detail. They glisten. They sparkle. They beg to be taken.

What I speak of is not illegal contraband, but instead of the pies, pastries, cookies and cakes of Andi Igusti’s Pinisi Bakery.

Originally from Bali, Indonesia, he spent 20 years cooking around the world before settling in New York. He pulls influences from French, Italian and most prominently American baking styles.

Pinisi, a reference to an old style of Indonesian fishing ships, plays as an ode to his homeland.

His approach is simple and earnest, “I wanted to create a bakery of bold, basic tastes,” he states.

“You have Payard doing upscale French, Veniero’s covering Italian and Magnolia appealing to teenagers,” he said. “I wanted to do something traditional, nothing too fancy.”

Palmiers, rugelach, turnovers, muffins, scones and croissants are just the tip of his repertoire.

On the glass pane window outside, it proudly claims “All Baking Done on Premises” – a creed he thoroughly stands by.

“I bake it all by myself, it’s easier that way” he cheeringly says.

If that’s what works best, please do continue.

The croissants he bakes are perplexingly flaky and buttery on the outside, yet tangy and doughy on the inside. Enfolded by a delicate crunch, the yeasty interior offers a pleasant chew.

Sweet as honey and leaden as a brick, the raspberry Rugelach was like that of a Fig Newton upgraded thoroughly. Incorporating raisins, almonds and what tasted like bits of fig almost, it left a tingling on my tongue after each bite.

Yet Igusti’s personal favorite, as is the customers’, remains the Red Velvet Cake. Available both in slice and cupcake form; it truly is unlike any other. In a case where Magnolia might opt for more sugar, Pinisi instead aims for a true, bold flavor. Paired with a rich cream cheese icing, the two combine for a wonderful balance.

For $3.50 though, it seems supply and demand have made a noticeable influence.

Nonetheless, the rest of his sweets – rainbow cookies, cannolis, blueberry crumb cake along with a hot and spicy chocolate dome reflect his broad range of talent. Filled with a dense, mousse-like interior, the dome is an original creation of Igusti.

In terms of cakes and pie - pecan pie, carrot cake and a berry-topped cheesecake are just a tidbit of the flavors he cycles through.

The crème brulee, is less of a thick custard and more of a sweet, vanilla pudding. Topped with a fanned strawberry and fragile sugar crust, the rich, eggy syrup inside was rather delightful.

What was most noticeable though, is the dedicated neighborhood presence within Pinisi. Loyal patrons from just around the corner or down the street offered positive remarks and praise for the year-old establishment.

Even an old woman by the name of Maria felt compelled to bring me aside and extol Igusti’s baked goods.

Their treats may not have yet reached world-famous status, but there’s always the potential. After being around for one year, I’d say this quaint little place has done quite well without the support of a Carrie Bradshaw cameo. I suppose we’ll all just have to wait and see - whether or not one of those double-decker tour buses, eventually sails on over.

Pinisi Bakery
128 E 4th St @ 1st Avenue
212 614 9079

7am – 11pm, 7 days a week

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you like it sweet and spicy, then try the spicy cupcakes. They are very hot and not to be taken by mistake for the heat. The cold water only makes it hotter too.