Archive | April, 2011

What’s my name?

27 Apr

On a quaint street in the 17th filled with food vendors selling their wares on a beautiful sunny day, Le Stubli stands just a short walk from l’Arc de Triomphe nameless among four to five other bakeries.  We walked right by the bakery with no name, but quickly realized our destination was the one building without a sign. 

Upon entry, memories of sachertorte, linzetorte, and apple strudel flooded my brain.  Le Stubli stands out quite naturally as a German/Austrian bakery in Paris.  It was a refreshing change from the norm, but it didn’t stop us from purchasing a pastry composed of croissant dough and apricots that was delicious.

We rounded the dessert run with a lemon roll and poppy seed roll, which I guess seem more Austrian than French to me.  The lemon curd in the one roll was superb, a perfect combination of sweet and tangy.  The poppy seed roll was a bit different, but interesting in its own way.  It reminded Amy of a Polish dessert she savors on her trips to visit her sisters in New York, specifically Brooklyn.

Amy’s parents and sister arrive tomorrow and we’ll be sure to show them some of our favorite bakeries.  It’s time to be real tourists, lace up those sneakers, and hit the streets, which should help burn off some of the calories consumed during this epic bakery tour!


21 Apr

Yesterday was 75 and sunny in Paris; a great day for a long walk to Pierre Herme in the 15th arrondissement. We started out crossing the Seine via the Port de Grenelle, one of my favorite bridges in Paris. It has a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower, and I love the fancy lanterns it has under the covered part of the bridge supporting the metro above and lighting the car/bike/walking traffic below.

About 40 minutes into our walk, we were hot and I was developing some nice blisters on my feet since I decided to sport sandals for the first time this season. We bought 2 cold beers at a corner store and enjoyed them on a sidewalk bench, thus leading us to talk about why you can’t buy 2 cold beers and drink them on a hot day on a sidewalk bench in the US. Why?

Anyways, after that discussion with absolutely no conclusion, we continued to Pierre Herme to try out his famous macarons. Pierre Herme began his pastry career at the ripe age of 14 with an apprenticeship at Le Notre. That puts Chris and I 16 years behind this guy! Jokes aside, Pierre fine tuned his craft at two other famous patisseries in Paris, Fauchon and Laduree. He eventually ventured out on his own, opening up shop in Tokyo first and then returning to Paris where he now owns 9 shops. He is famous for his chocolates and macarons, and has gained attention for his creative and somewhat unusual flavor combinations.

We purchased a box of 7 macarons, from left to right we sampled, Carrot Orange and Cinnamon, Milk Chocolate and Passion Fruit, Olive Oil and Vanilla, Venezuelan Chocolate, Lemon, Quince and Rose, and Salted Butter Caramel. These little two bite wonders are so good and the flavors were really interesting. After eating them all over the course of the day, I didn’t feel half bad about the macarons I made and blogged about a while ago. I was pretty spot-on with the look and texture, although my flavors weren’t as fancy and refined as Pierre Herme’s, I felt accomplished and motivated to keep trying others at home.


13 Apr

A bakery we have read about a few times, Arnaud Delmontel sits not far from Montmartre and Le Moulin Rouge on Rue des Martyrs, one of those streets where you find a bakery, butcher, flower shop, corner store, and winery every block.  Delmontel boasts 1st prize in Paris’ best baguette 2007 and is well known for his viennoiserie.  The bakery certainly has a great location and building, situated on the corner of a busy intersection.

The bakery offers a bit of everything, including bread, viennoiserie, pastries, and lunch.

We walked into Delmontel earlier than usual, but they had already sold out of a lemon turnover we wanted to try.  So we stocked up on breakfast pastries with a croissant, pain au chocolat, and almond croissant, which were definitely worth the trip to the 9th. These impeccably light and flaky pastries reminded us how much further we are from reaching this level and how good it is when done right.


We’re talking about practice, man

12 Apr

Since Amy had success in making beautiful puff pastry, we made another attempt at croissants yesterday.  This is the third try, and although we may not have arrived at the level desired, we certainly improved.  We followed a different recipe this time, one that bears a similar process to that of bread making.  It includes a pre-ferment and an autolyse, allowing for gluten development without working the dough.  Once our dough was supple, elastic, and had chilled in the fridge, we made three turns and folds.  Another turn in the fridge, and the dough was ready.  We left some out at room temp, put some in the fridge, and froze others to calculate proofing times at different temperatures.  The end result was a light and flaky pastry.  There is still work to be done, however, to create something even lighter and flakier.  We actually need to buy a croissant for comparison.  Maybe tomorrow at the next bakery stop!

Proofing croissants

baked croissants

Bois de Boulogne

11 Apr

The weather has been unbelievable in Paris for the past week! We have been taking advantage of it and going for a lot of runs, walks, picnics, etc. Today we went to the Bois de Boulogne, which is Paris’ largest wooded area and it just so happens to be about a 10 minute walk from our apartment. We’ve actually frequented this park numerous times, especially before Roscoe hurt himself, but we just realized that it has never made it to a blog post. The Bois de Boulogne is over 2,000 acres (more than twice the size of Central Park in NYC) and it includes numerous lakes, running/biking paths, horse tracks, botanical gardens. I have been dying to rent a rowboat on one of the lakes so today we went to the park with a picnic in hopes to row. We enjoyed the sun, a delicious sandwich, and a long walk around the park…but unfortunately the rowboats weren’t for rent today. Maybe something they only do on the weekends? We’ll be back though!


6 Apr

Continuing on our bakery tour and the quest for varieties of flavor, we metro’d down to the 13th district today, home to Paris’ Chinatown.  It is nowhere near NY’s colossal Chinatown, but it offered some eccentricities not often found in our 16th district neighborhood.  The thirteenth proposed dim sum, Cantonese, and Thai, but we chose Vietnamese for a bowl of pho.  At Pho Mui on Rue d’Ivry, we relished a plate of crispy spring rolls served with mint leaves and large bowls of pho.  Although, in total lack of comprehension, I attempted to order two beers but we ended up drinking some strange coconut and tapioca concoction.

Our afternoon resumed with a twenty minute walk in the sun, helping to fight off the food coma, to Laurent Duchene, a bakery and chocolate shop all in one.  Although I prefer simple rustic tarts and pastries, we couldn’t help but choose an eye-catching pastry with lime and raspberry.

Since we don’t go the bakeries to buy only one item, we also picked up a baguette and a pistachio/berry viennoiserie, possibly made with croissant dough.  I’ll permit myself, after three full months of bread eating, to identifying some great flavors in this particular baguette.  The viennoiserie was good and different than the normal products sold at bakeries.

Halfway through our bakery odyssey, we’re already noting which ones need re-visiting.  But I’m hoping the final ten bakeries continue to be as entertaining as the first few.


5 Apr

1/2 dog, 1/2 machine…unstoppable!

Roscoe got his post-surgery X-Ray today and all looks good. A few more weeks of rest and he’ll be off the injured reserve list! Thank God, dogs only have two knees.

I knew this was coming.

2 Apr

I am not going to lie, I’m a bakery snob. I’ve known this for sometime now and I fully accept it. But, I thought I had found a city in which my snobbery would go undetected. I was wrong. We are nearing our halfway point in our 20 district bakery tour, and this weeks chosen bakery in the 2nd arrondissement just did not live up to the high standards of some of the others we have visited .

There are bakeries literally on every street corner in Paris, and they are all good. We just happen to have visited some of the best of the best already. Places where we walk in the door and I literally want to try everything on display (Du Pain et Des Idees and Bruno Solques to name a few). Chris always looks at me and asks me what I want, and I usually give him the “don’t rush me” look because I want to make sure I make the right decision. I don’t want to think to myself later, “Damn it, I should have gotten the ____ instead of the ____.” Seriously, you are getting the sad, but true, inside scoop on the inner workings of a bakery snob brain. I will drive myself crazy about something like this until I find an excuse to go back and purchase said item so that I can feel happy knowing I made the right decision.

I guess the important thing to express is I’ve realized that even in Paris, where they have perfected pastry and bread, there is still a hierarchy of skill to be noticed here. I’m not going to diss our 9th stop on our bakery tour, Au Panetier, because the items we purchased were good (a caramel financier and a pain au raisin). But, I will remember this bakery more for the really cool ceiling than the baked goods. I guess it does sound like I’m dissing them, doesn’t it? Well, sorry but here is the cool ceiling!