This is part of an ongoing series to celebrate bodegas (and their owners) in New York City—each week, we're highlighting recipes from food writers and chefs made entirely from ingredients purchased in bodegas. Today: Food writer Gabriella Gershenson on the Chelsea bodega she frequents—and the architectural cake she makes with certain cult foods.
I live on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea and am literally flanked by bodegas. They’re where I go for newspapers, chit chat, the odd pack of cigarettes, a reminder of the guilty pleasure foods that I love, and a distinct hit of New York-ness. I chose the ingredients for this recipe as a way to showcase what makes bodegas bodegas. The randomness of their inventory facilitates reunions between you and long-forgotten beloved snacks, like Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies, which are the greatest shortbreads of all time. Bodegas are also the keepers of cult foods, of which Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, the garnish on this cake, may be the finest example. The bananas are a hat-tip to the single item of produce that you’re likely to find at any bodega, whether it carries fresh food or not. Martha Stewart, the source of the excellent peanut butter cream used in this cake, calls for natural peanut butter, which goes against every unwritten bodega law. I swap in Skippy.