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When Ah La Ko-Oh came to the United States for college, there were many things she missed about her Brazilian homeland. But one thing she missed more than any other was a delicious, crunch-yet-cheesy mouthful of homemade PDQ.
“PDQ stands for Pão de Queijo—a small, cheese-flavored tapioca roll,” she explains. “It’s a popular breakfast and snack food in my native Brazil. We eat it almost daily. It’s also eaten in other South American countries, but under different names.” Ah La describes PDQ as a perfect balance of crispy outside and chewy inside. It’s naturally gluten- and yeast-free, cheese is mixed in the dough, and is made with completely natural ingredients.
A perfect PDQ only stays fresh for about a day. But Ah La says she rarely sees hers last that long—especially at the bakery-cafe she recently opened in New York’s Seaport District, where she serves up freshly baked bite-sized PDQ all day long. When Ah La couldn’t find good PDQ in the United States, she got inspired to create her own—and share this flavor sensation with her friends in the bustling city of New York.
From this inspiration, Cafe Patoro was born.
“We started in 2013,” says Ah La. “We did street fairs for a summer. Then, last year, we were able to secure a location, do renovations and officially open our own bakery six months ago.” Ah La says at first she ran the business solo. Now, thanks to its success, her husband has sold his own venture and joined her in this tapioca cheese bread revolution.
Daily, the Cafe Patoro bakery creates PDQ in a variety of flavors, each offering a twist on the Original classic tapioca-and-cheese base. Mouthwatering options include Black Olives, Jalapeno, Maple Bacon, Pesto, and Roasted Garlic. The bakery also recently expanded their lineup of noshables to include traditional Brazilian sweets, as well as other bakery options like muffins.
So how does Ah La entice American foodies to try this unique kind of cheese bread most have never heard of? “I tell them, ‘If you like cheese and bread, you’re going to love it,’ she chuckles. And if they are gluten free, I tell them, ‘This is a kind of bread you can actually have.’” She finds that many of her happy customers do have gluten intolerance, including celiac disease—a life threatening gluten intolerance that makes eating out more challenging—or have traveled to Brazil, or have Brazilian family or friends. This latter demographic is incredibly thrilled to have found PDQ again, and to enjoy it in such warm, welcoming environment.
Which is where The Basket Lady comes in.
During the early street fair phase of Ah La’s business, she made extensive use of baskets for presentation. The handwoven aesthetic fit the homemade nature of her product. Plus, it matched the breezy, hand-made vibe of the fairs. At first, Ah La bought mass-produced baskets for her stand but quickly became frustrated with the quality. When the time came to open Cafe Patoro, she decided to honor her roots again with a warm basket-themed motif. “When you go over to someone’s house, you congregate around the kitchen table,” she says. “I wanted walking into Cafe Patoro to feel that exact same way.”
But this time, she needed higher-quality baskets to withstand rigorous every day use while accurately reflecting the quality of her product.
After doing online research on baskets, Ah La found herself attracted to The Basket Lady’s products on Amazon.com. She followed the link over to The Basket Lady website and was instantly impressed with the quality and selection. From there, Ah La reached out to Kelli Katch, COO of The Basket Lady, for advice on which baskets might best suit her unique needs. Kelli had plenty of options for Ah La to choose from—and today, the PDQ baker extraordinaire couldn’t be happier with the results in her new bakery space.
“I absolutely love it,” Ah La smiles. “And it works just as well as a non-fancy trash can.”
Ah La’s two top baskets, she says, are the Large Wicker Storage Trunk, which she keeps behind the counter full of napkins and other staples they use on a daily basis, and the Wicker Trash Can, which people say is the fanciest trash can they’ve ever seen. “I absolutely love it,” Ah La smiles. “And it works just as well as a non-fancy trash can.” The elegant styling combines with craftsmanship that stands up to Ah La’s seven-day-a-week schedule. And that’s pretty much a match made in heaven.
Ah La admits that while she is passionate about the products andquality she receives from The Basket Lady, the “clincher” for her washer initial email exchange with Kelli. Dealing with a real person whoknew the product inside out, and could advise her on selections,sealed her comfort with her investment in The Basket Lady’s heirloom products.
After all, for a product as hand-crafted as Ah La’s PDQs, nothing lessthan a hand-crafted accessory will do. Cafe Patoro and The BasketLady are proud to partner together, serving up this beauty and tastein this delicious but hard-to-find Brazilian treat.
Visit Cafe Patoro online at cafepatoro.com or enjoy the bakery at 223 Front Street, New York, NY 10038