Happy Thanksgiving (croissant)! - Ann Mah | Ann Mah

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Happy Thanksgiving (croissant)!

By Ann | November 25, 2013

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It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without turkey. But in New York’s East Village, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Momofuku Milk Bar’s Thanksgiving croissant. I first spotted this hot-pocket-esque beauty a few weeks ago when I stopped in the hipster (for lack of a better term) bakery to buy cookies. “It’s one of our most popular items,” the cashier told me. “We sell out every day by late afternoon.” A few weeks later, I was back in the morning, early enough to catch a new shipment of the popular meal-in-a-hand.

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What is a Thanksgiving croissant? As the name — and sign — suggest, it combines stuffing-flavored bread, shredded turkey, gravy, a dab of cranberry sauce, and lots and lots  and lots of butter. Purists have criticized the pastry, saying it is nothing like a real croissant. That is true. The pastry is like stuffing (er, obvy?), savory with celery salt and thyme, greasy (but in a good way), a contrast of textures — crackly on the outside, soft and steamy within — reminiscent of a crusty pan of baked dressing.

For a place as self-consciously ironic as Momofuku Milk Bar is, I’m always surprised by the genuine friendliness of the staff. The guy behind the counter cheerfully heated up my Thanksgiving croissant (and this after I hemmed and hawed over compost cookies vs. birthday cake truffles) and I ferried the warm, foil-wrapped package to my office a few blocks away. That’s where I’ve been spending a chunk of my day lately, writing email and, well, mainly writing email. In the aftermath of book and baby, I’m still thinking about the next big project and I’m beginning to suspect that contemplation may go on for a while. Anyway, as I ate in the office’s communal kitchen, it occurred to me that the Thanksgiving croissant is misnamed. With its doughy crust, shredded meat, and savory heft, it’s more like a Cornish pasty. (Which is a term I don’t like to use because I don’t know how to pronounce it. Is it “pasty” like “paste”? Isn’t that something worn by burlesque dancers? Or is it pasty, with a short “a” like “pat”?) I thought about the Cornish pasties I used to eat after country walks in Scotland. We’d come in from the rain, and my trousers would be soaked from wading through wet heather, and my friend Andrea’s mum would pour us cups of tea and heat pasties in the Aga. You had to be careful biting into them for fear of burning your mouth on the scalding beef stew within. We’d eat and drink tea, page through the Guardian and relax against the warmth of the kitchen because it’s always cold in Scotland, even in the summer. Eventually the tea would become glasses of wine, and we’d drift toward the stove and start cooking dinner. Those are some of my happiest memories.

I don’t know if it was the light filtering in from the skylight above, or the long table, or the newspapers scattered about, or the Thanksgiving croissant pasty, but sitting in the kitchen of the communal writers workspace, I was back in Scotland again, transported by food and nostalgia. And then, in a second, I was back in New York with greasy fingers and an eye on the clock, ready to dash home to relieve the nanny once the long hand on the clock hit the hour.

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Like most of the best things in life, the Thanksgiving croissant is a fleeting pleasure, available only November. Find out more details here.

Topics: New York City | 17 Comments »

17 Responses to “Happy Thanksgiving (croissant)!”

  1. Lindy Says:
    November 25th, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I think they are mad to call it a croissant. It is more like a pasty. Sorry I can’t help you with the pronounciation. You never trust an Aussie to pronounce Englishf food stuffs. But I’m glad you enjoyed it, if it’s a bit mad.

  2. Ann Says:
    November 25th, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Lindy — It’s definitely a pasty, right? It’s also delicious. And guilt-free — if you like consuming all your day’s calories in one go.

  3. Natalie Says:
    November 25th, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Just so you know – it’s a short “a” like pat….. Us Brits have different ways of pronouncing certain words depending if you are from the North or South (like bath – short ‘a’ is northern and ‘barth’ which sounds like you’ve added a ‘r’ to it, is southern) but we all say pasty the same way!!!

  4. Christine Griffith Says:
    November 25th, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    You are correct Ann,pasty is pronounced with a short “a” as in pat. The new craze in NZ is cronuts! A cross between a croissant and a doughnut….needless to say, I have not been tempted by this cholesterol laden item!

  5. Ann Says:
    November 25th, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Natalie — Fascinating! Thank you for the mini linguistics lesson! Where do you come down on scone (pronounced like “on”) vs. scone (pronounced like “own”)?

    Christine — Ah, yes, we New Yorkers have the great misfortune of being the birthplace of the cronut. My least favorite word of 2013!

  6. Gillian Says:
    November 25th, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    This sounds absolutely heavenly! So many of my favorite things in one delicious flaky package.

  7. Lindsey Says:
    November 25th, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    How curious! I can’t even imagine what the French would think of such a delicious monstrosity in croissant-ish form (I’ve established with my French friends that egg sandwiches in a croissant are sacrilegious so one can only assume they’d take issue with this too)

  8. Suzanne in New Jersey Says:
    November 26th, 2013 at 3:16 am

    Love Momofuku Milk Bar! Just won’t be there around Thanksgiving. And what he does with pork belly is amazing.

  9. Sandy Maberly Says:
    November 26th, 2013 at 10:45 am

    I don’t care WHAT’S it’s called. It looks delicious! I’d amost forgotten about Thanksgiving until I had an email from a friend in the States. Perhaps I’ll try that with the Christmas turkey. We have Welsh pasties in my part of the world, made with the abundant availability of lamb which we have roaming our hills. You need to pay us a visit and try out our local delicacies….locally sourced mussles, wild sea bass, laver bread (which is not bread at all, but a seaweed paste which is used in seafood dishes…yummy!) Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Ann. Don’t start up any new projects too soon. Take some time and enjoy “today”.

  10. CK Says:
    November 26th, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Prêt à Manger in NY now has a holiday triangular sandwich on offer — turkey, stuffing, cranberry. It’s decent, but probably not as good as the “croissant” from Momofuku Milk Bar. Love their cookies, by the way …

  11. Edna Says:
    November 26th, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    that sounds so lovely. the power of food to transport us back to happy memories and places is so beautiful.

  12. Ann Says:
    November 26th, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    Gillian — And convenient enough to eat on the street — à la New Yorkaise!

    Lindsey — It comes from Brooklyn, which means every single French person will love it!

    Suzanne in NJ — Hm, I wonder… a pork bun croissant… overkill? :)

    Sandy — Ooh, ooh! You had me at Welsh pasties! It sounds just marvelous there. I hope you’re enjoying *today* too (thanks for your sweet words!).

    CK — Especially the corn cookie.

    Edna — The power of the pasty!

  13. katy Says:
    November 27th, 2013 at 12:47 am

    Oh my gosh, Ann, my jealousy knows no bounds! I follow Momofuku Milk Bar on Instagram and I’m constantly salivating over their baked goods and seasonal products…The birthday cake truffles are a real favorite, though.

  14. Jeanne Says:
    November 27th, 2013 at 5:20 am

    Sounds just delicious! I am glad you are finding the time to get away and have some alone writing and reading time.

  15. Shannon Says:
    November 27th, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Ann, you are such a temptress!

  16. Heather in Arles Says:
    November 28th, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Madness! If I ever move back to Manhattan I do believe I will have to find an apartment within walking distance of MMB–or maybe really far away so I could walk it off! teehee

    My dear Ann, what a big Thanksgiving for you this year!! Whoohoo!!! So much to be grateful for and the littl’uns very first. Lovely. I am hoping it is lovely–you deserve it!

    Sending Gros Bisous and thanks for thinking of me today,
    H

  17. Adeline Says:
    December 7th, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Hope you had a good turn out at the Smithsonian today. Our friends Hal and SiJu Zimmerman said they will stop by.
    Thinking of you because you are probably speaking at this very moment. Love, Mom

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