We skipped dessert at Faustina and decided instead to take a walk down to Alphabet City to visit a little pretzel shop called Sigmund.

Alphabet City is one of those neighborhoods that New Yorkers love to reminisce about. The stories about drugs, crimes, and rampant debauchery all paint a picture of the New York that natives love to use to remind both transplants and the younger generation of how good they’ve got. Alphabet City was the section of town you dared not enter. You’d be hard pressed to find a legitimate cab that would bring you past 1st ave, since the subway system doesn’t exist in those parts, and frankly even now, you can’t easily convince me to want to venture out there without a couple shots of liquid courage first. Not for the fear of what might happen to my life and well being, but for the fear of what might happen to my poor Fancy Shoe clad feet. Alcohol does well to numb the senses… right down to my toes.

So on that Sigmund Saturday, I was armed with my sandals and just pedicured and massaged feet. They were refreshed and ready to take on long grimey New York avenues. We walked past the storefronts (a combination of age old bodegas, new old vintage shops, and cute little specialty shops) to Sigmund’s Pretzelshop, an airy and white painted space with a chalkboard menu and fancy sodas lining a serving counter. For 8 dollars we bought 2 pretzels and a seltzer.

The garlic parsley pretzel was amazing. Served warm, the inside was tender, and the outside was coated in that delicious flavor that only garlic can impart. The cinnamon raisin pretzel was a bit more of a disappointment. Though also toasted, it was hard and chewy, and partly due to my ghetto upbringing, I couldn’t help but compare it to an Auntie Anne’s cinnamon dusted pretzel… and how much I wished I was eating that instead. (I know — Blasphemy!! I’ve just shamed home cooks and bakers everywhere! Damn you, fast food establishments!) All pretzels are served with a dip, and we chose dijon mustard for the savory and nutella for the sweet. I didn’t care much for the dips. Sigmund’s also has a couple of pretzel sandwiches that I would’ve loved to have tried (if we already didn’t have a 1st dinner and a 2nd dinner in the waiting). I was reminded of the sandwiches at Hannah’s Bretzels… and god, how I missed them.

Inspired, I set out to make bretzel rolls last night, but due to a recent moth infestation, I had to toss out my all purpose and resort to using the whole wheat flour my mom had cleverly suggested I keep in a recycled tin saltine crackers container. (Mothers… they know everything!!)

The bread was tender enough, but the crust wasn’t as crispy as pretzels usually are. And especially with the use of the wheat flour, the taste was drastically different from a normal pretzel. The recipe was easy enough to follow, however, and I hope to be giving it a another shot in the future.

Bretzel Rolls

  • 1 cup + 6 tbsp flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt and sugar
  • 9 tbsp of hot water
  • cornmeal
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • coarse salt

Mix the flour, yeast, salt and sugar together, and slowly add the warm water until dough sticks together. Knead and set aside in a well oiled bowl to rise until doubled in size. Divide into 4, roll each and cut an X into the tops. Pour 8 cups of water into a pot and bring to boil. Add the baking soda and sugar, stir. Set a baking sheet aside, cover with parchment paper and sprinkle some cornmeal on the surface. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Take each roll and cook it in the boiling water for 30 seconds on each side. Use a slotted spoon to drain and place on the parchment. Use the egg white as a wash, and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake in oven for 25 minutes.

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