UPDATE 9/9/09: Banana Fig: Not Vegan. Tis the final official review from the folks at Le Pain. Apologies from them regarding the confusion.
"We've discontinued the Ginger Green Tea Muffin." The counter man said. Gasp!
Tales from Le Pain. I adore Le Pain Quotidian. If you don't have one in-town, my condolences. Hopefully they will be coming to you soon. I go there every weekend for a morning muffin run (or dine-in brunch). However, I was shocked and saddened by the news today. My beloved Ginger Green Tea Muffin was outed. The replacement? A newfangled vegan Banana Fig Muffin. But does this new treat on the bakery shelf live up to my muffin standards? Find out in part two of my muffin tale....
7/20 UPDATE: Le Pain Quotidian confirmed to me that the Ginger Green Tea muffin will indeed be back on the menu in the future. Yippee! Now I don't have to work tirelessly to attempt to re-create the recipe! Banana Fig Muffin tale and review ahead...
Banana Fig. I peered through the bakery-shelf glass searching desperately for my favorite muffin, with its light green tea muffin-top dusted with an opaque ginger sweet powder. I searched and searched and saw nothing. "Are you out of the Green Tea muffins today?" I asked. But instead of the "yes" reply I expected, the counter man bluntly informed me that the Ginger Green tea muffins were no more. Just a passing special on the ever-changing muffin carousel at Le Pain. My eyes widened and I turned to my husband who was equally shocked. His jaw dropped open (mirroring my expression) and when he saw the wide-eyed look on my face he began to snicker a little at my dramatization of the news. I quickly replied to the counter men, "what is that?" I pointed desperately at a 'new' looking muffin on the shelf, sitting where my Green Tea muffins usually sat, right next to the stand-by blueberry muffins. The counter man replied. "Banana Fig." And yes they are vegan. All the muffins are organic and usually vegan at Le Pain. I quickly decided to get four of them to-go. To last us the weekend. I am quite fond of banana and fig flavors, so I had high hopes. But would these new bronzed-looking dark horse muffins fill the void of the utterly perfect Ginger Green tea muffins???
My Review: Banana Fig Muffin
from Le Pain Quotidian, NYC
Shelf Appeal: Honestly, these muffins do not look incredibly appealing. They are a tinge too dark, almost burnt looking. They are a dark glossy banana muffin with a thin slice of dark baked fig on top. It looks mysterious and I wondered if it would taste, well, good!
Label Check: Vegan. Organic. No calorie data online. But I'd guess they are around 350 calories each. The larger, sweeter blueberry muffins are 400 calories each. Huge chunks of fig and plentiful strands of banana are easy to find in the muffin. High quality flour is used-it's got a dense texture-earthy flavor. Le Pain is of course known for their high quality flour and breads. It tastes homemade, so it's not oily or overly sweet. The high quantity of fruit really ups the moisture and fiber, while keeping the sugar/flour calories down.
Taste Test: Nice! The texture is dense and heavier than the ginger green tea muffin-less fluffy. The top is glazed over and glossy. The figs are dried up, yet still moist. The banana is apparent and the two fruit flavors mingle quite nicely together. Not nuts, no overpowering spice flavor as in some banana breads. It actually almost has a molasses flavor to it. It tastes cozy. Like my mom baked them. Smaller than the other muffins. But that's OK since they are more dense.
Price Check: Same as the other Le Pain muffins. Around $3. I always think that this is an awesome price for such awesome vegan muffins in NYC.
Last Word: Bring back the Ginger Green tea muffins! But do keep these yummy Banana Fig Muffins too. But then again, I can get Banana bread at Babycakes NYC too...(They don't have Ginger Green tea.)