Angel Bakery and the Five Stages of Sweet, Flaky Grief
Angel Bakery is a cute, unassuming place, across the road from our hostel. After all the buzz I’d heard from other people in our group, I was expecting nothing short of finding Nirvana. Plenty of people packed in minutes after it opened, mostly Rabbis on their way to work and children on their way to school. Busy and frantic stores are often the norm in Israel, as I have learnt. This was no different, and was definitely one of the top five places I’ve had a claustrophobia related panic attack thus far. How kitsch!
The smell of the constant stream of baked goods is literally insatiable. It felt like someone had committed arson via a hundred scented candles. I am not ashamed to admit I scrambled to fit almost every pastry they had into a brown paper bag and bring it to the counter. And, admittedly, it was an amazing deal - five or six pastries for 14.10 shekel, something like five dollars. This is where much of the glowing review ends.
Despite my romantic description of my rose-coloured morning, I had secretly had my doubts. Most of the pastries were not fresh out of the oven, as I had hoped. I don’t really know why I was picturing a sweet French bakery with a withered but spirited old grandmother making croissants 24/7 being across the road from our hostel in Israel, but I still hold Angel to my own inane ideal. I knew in my heart it would never be what I was hoping, but I tried to believe it could be. Instead of enjoying tasty pastries I found myself involuntary strapped onto the rollercoaster of the five stages of grief.
1. DENIAL - SUFGANIYOT
The first foodstuff I tried, the jam donut, was literally just fresh out of the oven. I watched the decidedly not-French woman sprinkle the donuts with icing sugar and put them out on display. The donuts were warm and sugary and for a moment, everything was perfect. Sure, it was ridiculously sticky. So? I brushed it off. In fact, I even brushed off the fact Angel had committed the cardinal sin of jam donutry - putting the jam in before frying, rather than post frying for a refreshing bite. What was this, amateur hour? I was in Denial.
2. ANGER - POPPYSEED/CHOCOLATE RUGELACH
One half of a somewhat good jam donut down, I decided to take a wild choice and go for the poppy seed rugelach. My grandma has a certain affinity for poppy seed and so does my mother. Baruch Hashem I have not submitted to these grainy tasting ideals. Anyway - back to the rugelach. I have never thought of identity theft as a serious crime before, but I am seriously considering pressing charges.
Here - put yourself in my shoes. You’re undressing these pastries with your eyes. To the left of the regular rughs, a square folded pastry. Surely poppy seed. Surely.
And then, when I bit into this pastry, I was shocked. My mouth had been assaulted. This was not a poppy seed rugelach at all, but a damn chocolate one. I was furious and inconsolable. Why make two rugelach that were exactly the same, save for the shape? Was I a toddler using one of those things you shove blocks in to learn about shapes? Sorry Angel, I know what a circle and a square look like. I was experiencing Anger.
3. BARGAINING - CHEESE POCKET
The cheese pocket is the upside-down loops of this culinary rollercoaster, if you will. This rectangular melting pot of sweet and savoury almost made all of this worth it. As soon as Dinah and I bit into it, we knew. It was The One. This pastry was transcendent. This pastry called my therapist and cancelled any future appointments I had. Fresh out of the oven, crunchy and savoury and sweet, it almost made the rest of the experience worth it. I wanted to frame the crumbs that spilled onto my jumper. If I just had this moment in the sun, maybe that would be good enough. I was Bargaining.
4. DEPRESSION - IMPOSTER PAIN AU CHOCOLAT
Still on a cheese pocket high, we delved into the bag and took out a pain au chocolat. However, this was no normal pain au chocolat - it was a normal triangular shaped croissant, with chocolate filling. As we all know, only plain croissants are supposed to be crescent shaped, and chocolate square. This inside also had chocolate filling instead of the traditional two sticks of dark chocolate. Who had made this frankensteined croissant? Who had torn through all of this pastry red tape? I was outraged by the disrespect shown to the official rules of chocolate croissants. “How do you know all this?” Dinah asked. I had no reply.
That’s when it hit me. This wrath was for nothing. Angel bakery had done no wrong. Well - of course they had - but that’s not the point. The point was, my whole outlook was flawed. What was I doing searching for the perfect French patisserie when I was in Israel? What state were my morals in? Was I even worthy of the cheese pocket? I was in a state of Depression.
5. ACCEPTANCE - CHOCOLATE RUGELACH
One last reach into the bag. A rugelach. A sad, soulless rugelach. “It’s dry,” Dinah said. No, not just dry. These were a very particular type of rugelach. You know when it’s your birthday, or a festival, or an anniversary? And you get some flowers, and four or five rugelach in a little plastic container? And they suck, they’re not fresh, but you don’t throw them out, right? Who would throw them out? So, they sit on your countertop where the leftover baked goods normally are. And over the course of the week you tear and nibble and suddenly it’s three days later and though you haven’t ever eaten one in an isolated sitting, somehow, you’ve snacked on five. Somehow you ingested close to a thousand calories you didn’t even want to keep. Even a thousand miles away from home, I could taste the guilt in this rugelach. And I had finally come to understand acceptance.
Still emotionally raw from my experience at Angel Bakery, I hope this review was as good as the last, and one day I feel ready to let pastries in again.
Also, an additional review from Noah Felich: “Say that at first the hot chocolate was (various hand gestures) but then at the end it was (various positive hand gestures)”.
Sophie Rosen is a 15-year-old foodie who is also a Virgo. Her favourite cooks include Andrew Rea, Nadiya Hussain, Agi Adler, and herself. She currently lives in Sydney and prefers Camp Cove to Neilsen Beach.