Frank Bruni

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1. The small baguettes with butter and raspberry jam at Levain Bakery. "I never eat a big breakfast because there's so much food on my agenda for the rest of the day. But at least two or three times a week, I walk half a block from my apartment to Levain Bakery near the corner of West 74th Street and Amsterdam for one of these. So many of my meals involve such intricately composed dishes that it's wonderful to be reminded of how something so simple can be so delicious. Bread that's crunchy and fresh, a thick coat of rich butter, the sweet zip of raspberry jam: totally divine. I demolish it in four or five bites, squeezing it so tight the jam drips from the edges, and I sometimes have to change my shirt afterward because of the jam stains."

2. Travis, The Man Who. "While I buy new music all the time, I always seem to become fixated on something I've owned but haven't listened to in years. That's the case with this disc. It's sunny but not silly, crazily hummable, and I've been playing it so often at such loud volumes that I'm shocked my neighbors haven't taken out a restraining order against me and it."

3. Illume Balsam and Cedar candles. "I've long been a sucker for overpriced candles, and I like Illume the best. This scent smells like the essence of Christmas. I bought it for the first time about a week ago and it hadn't been burning for an hour when I was back out the door to stock up on more. I'm always convinced that things I fall in love with will disappear when I least expect it. Better to stock up."

4. The Presidential election. "Is this a great one or what? The stakes are high, the candidates are feisty, their spouses are unpredictable, there's the possibility of history (a first woman president, a first black president) in the making. I watched the CNN-You Tube Republican debate the other night and was riveted. Could the glances between Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have been icier? Broadway can't match theater like this.

5. The New England Patriots. "I'm a huge professional football fan, and I don't think I've ever seen a football team show such dominance. It's not just that the Patriots are undefeated 11 games into a 16-game season. They flat-out demolish most of the teams they play. Have they made some kind of deal with the devil or what?"

Frank Bruni is the restaurant critic at The New York Times.


1. The small baguettes with butter and raspberry jam at Levain Bakery. "I never eat a big breakfast because there's so much food on my agenda for the rest of the day. But at least two or three times a week, I walk half a block from my apartment to Levain Bakery..."
2. Illume Balsam and Cedar candles. "I've long been a sucker for overpriced candles, and I like Illume the best. This scent smells like the essence of Christmas..."