What do you get when you put a non-vegan, non-baker from New York into a vegan bakery in New Jersey? The winner of the 2013 Food Network Cupcake Wars… of course!
The vegan bakery Papa Ganache in Matawan, New Jersey is run by a licensed clinical social worker named Lisa Siroti. When Siroti isn’t offering psychotherapy services or doing intensive in-home and community therapy for at risk youth and families, she is baking her big heart out. Unbelievably, aside from running a very successful bakery, she is a huge part of the Papa Ganache Project. PGP combines vegan baking with a life skills program for kids. Basically- Lisa Siroti is living my dream. On one hand, I truly envy her chutzpah and success, on the other hand, I am inspired by her initiative and positive attitude. Learn more about this incredible project at: http://www.pgpnj.com/
Now, let’s get to the fun part: the food! I’ve been going to Papa Ganache every chance I get for the past 3 years. In those years, I’ve seen the food options increase and improve. I am never disappointed by lack of new creations and tummy satisfying treats! Donuts and ice cream and cookies and pies… you have your kosher, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free… they even have sugar-free options, no trans fat, no preservatives, no cholesterol, and best and most of all: NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS!
Lest we forget that Papa Ganache is not only a sweets haven, but they offer savory delights, as well! With a very Italian food menu, I really can’t stress how much I want you all to try the eggplant Stromboli! Heat up a big slice in the oven for 15-20 minutes and I have myself a very satisfying lunch. If that’s not your thing, though, there’s more! Yes- more! Pizza, mac n cheese, lots of soup options, rice balls, fettuccini alfredo, and even quiche… the list gets longer and longer! Kids love it, adults love it, and your grumpy great-grandfather will love it (if he’ll just put his dentures in and keep an open mind!)
The menu at Papa Ganache is so extensive that everyone is bound to be happy! Plus, there aren’t a million add-ons and options and switches, unless you specifically request them, so you don’t have to have a minor panic attack in order to achieve lunch (+1! DING!)
The million dollar question is: just HOW GOOD is the food? Is it good enough to ditch steak, lobster, and the stinkiest, greenest cheese ever? Or just good enough to pass on the fried pig butt on a stick at the county fair? These things matter! The thing is, I believe in vegan food. I believe it can be just as good, if not better than the foods I ate as a non-vegan. However, it’s not this good everywhere. I would say in the year 2016, 45% of the vegan food I eat makes me want to throw my morals to the wind. Sometimes I’ll eat something so tasteless or hard or boring that I just want to go grab a baby chicken and chew on its crispy, salty little beak for relief. Papa Ganache and the other 65% has kept me on the clean and righteous path. Thank goodness.
To date, I’ve tried Papa Ganache’s eggplant stromboli, the rice ball, the mac n cheese, and one of the quiches. Let’s start with the mac n cheese. This is hard to mess up, right? Particularly with today’s vegan cheese options. The mac was your average mac, I didn’t go gluten-free. I paid for gluten, I got my gluten. The cheese was great, I really didn’t have any issues with it. Like any other safe food, I am sure it could have gone above and beyond with a few added spices or something to really give it a special kick. But, hey, I ordered the mac, I ordered the cheese, and that’s what I got. As for the other food, I was really quite blown away. Some of my vehemently non-vegan acquaintances whom I have force-fed have also been blown away. The stromboli is as good as Oprah’s curls would taste if they were chocolate ramen noodles.
“Stromboli” is not a word that has ever otherwise been in my vocabulary, yet here I am. Passionate and devout. Crisp bread that requires work is what’s up. I want to sink my teeth in and fight that sandwich for all I’m worth, and these guys deliver. The eggplant is also breaded perfectly. Like it went to Fashion Week and took notes. The rice balls were just as good; the cilantro knew what it was doing. It entered the Oscars award show like it had funded the Oscars award show. The quiche? Well, I’m out of similes. Let’s just say, if your vegan spouse gives birth to a quiche, you’ll know who to blame.
Now… the cupcakes. You know, since that’s what really came here to talk about. Can we talk about cupcakes for a moment, please? I’d really like to discuss cupcakes if you have a moment. Do you have a moment for our Lord and saviour, Cupcake?
Papa Ganache cupcakes are really worth discussing. As are their tarts and pies and cookies and what have you, but if you forgot that thing I mentioned up there, Papa Ganache’s cupcakes went up against some of America’s most popular and beloved NON-VEGAN cupcakes and it freakin’ won. They won. The vegan cupcakes won the whole dang thing. There was a cupcake war and the vegans took it home, to the animal sanctuary, to the pet store to buy some dog food, and back home again. They killed it- without actually killing anything. Amazing. I can’t really offer much more as far as accolades than that. It says it all. They’re good cupcakes. The variety is endless, as well. That’s the real winner in my opinion. One vegan cupcake option is good, but almost 40 flavours? Forty? With that many options, you better start saving your pennies and Weight Watchers points, because you have a lot of chewing to do.
Not every flavour and option is going to be life-changing, that’s something we all know. Sometimes a berry is one berry too many, or maybe you enjoy the apple pie, but the crumb cake doesn’t really do it for you…. I won’t chase you with any sharp objects, I understand. Therein lies the beauty of options. The potential to rise up tomorrow, start the day anew, and try something completely different! The doors are wide open, you just have to saunter in.
Admittedly, I would be remiss to not mention the two flaws of Papa Ganache. I write with honesty and bluntness, so I should mention, that if you intend to snack or dine here, you will do so with a price. It is not the sort of place one eats at on a daily basis. I see this delicious little bakery as a special treat once every few months. That is, unless you are truly committed to the food or your money-producing machine has a new ink cartridge. The other downside is that, although Papa Ganache is located walking distance from the NJTransit Matawan train station, that is about all it is near. If you are not a local, you have little reason or excuse to be cruising the hood. Then again, most of New Jersey is inconvenient! After all, it’s New Jersey! If you’re going to do so, make the travel for the sake of a chocolate hazelnut cupcake or a vegan cookie dough cheesecake cup; NOT to reach the mall mecca of America.
My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of snozberry. That’s right, if you’ve ever wanted to try snozberry, you can get that here, too!
In case you’re wondering, Papa Ganache isn’t just a place to order your snacks and run. It’s a great place to grab some food and sweets and take a seat. There are a bunch of seats indoors and a few outside, so your dog or cat or pet moose can come along for the ride! The inside is comfortable and as sweet as the cupcakes. I love looking at the old baking pans on the wall and trying to figure out for what purpose they are intended. Also tempted to lick them and see if any cake remnants are leftover. Ain’t too proud to taste test!
If you haven’t figured it out, I love visiting Papa Ganache. I find their food and their desserts delicious, their store is comfortable, and everything about it makes me feel like I’m celebrating something special. Everyone deserves to feel that way!
Get over to Matawan and try some amazing vegan baked foods and snacks. You definitely won’t be disappointed! For all these reasons and then some(that I may be forgetting,) with great confidence I give Papa Ganache…
10/10 unicorn hugs
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