Foodie Sunday: Coffee Break
I'm not a big coffee drinker anymore. I used to have it a lot more often when I lived back east; maybe I needed the fuel. I'm more of an iced tea kind of guy these days.
But this week a new place opened really close to me. Thomas Keller's Bouchon opened a bakery on the ground floor of the building that houses their restaurant and bar (which if you're in the area has a great happy hour). Since pastry was involved I was there for the opening ceremonies. I had a croissant, a lemon macaron and a latte. The macaron was good, but Paulette (to paraphrase Marina) isn't in the corner smoking nervously. The latte was wonderful: rich and hot but without that take-the-enamel-off-your-teeth harshness that some of the chains do.
The real revelation was the croissant. These days we get croissants that would make a Frenchman weep: limp, gummy thyroidal horrors that have about as much taste as the paper bag they came in. These were crisp on the outside with crunchy edges just begging to be dipped in the foam of that latte. Inside was fluffy, buttery and delicious. I could have eaten two more. I've been back three times to try. Each time the line was out the door; I was thwarted. I'm glad they're getting the business, but really..
This Sunday I actually managed to score a couple of the bakeries speciality: Kouign Amann, a sort of cross between a croissant and a bread. It's basically a risen bread dough that's treated like puff pastry: rolled out butter is placed on the twice-risen and rolled-out dough, the butter is sealed in and the dough is rolled out, folded in three, dusted with sugar, rolled out again, lather, rinse, repeat. Martha Stewart has a recipe for it, which, like many of her recipes (sorry Martha) make it seem very simple when I was told by the chef that it's devilishly complex, hence the fact that they don't have it all the time. I went four times and they were kind enough to put two aside and call me when they were done- a good four after my first visit (Yes, I am persistent. Polite, but persistent). As a matter of fact, the Bouchon in Beverly is the only one who's even trying. I hope they won't prove too difficult to be viable as an everyday product. Because they are incredible..
They aren't really croissant because the dough is slightly heavier, but they layer like puff pastry. They are full of butter but aren't so heavy that you feel, well, gross after eating one. The sugar between the layers make it delightfully crunchy on top and give a paper-thin layer of crème brûlée-like crispy caramel at the bottom. It ain't diet food and I don't want to have it every day, but it's nice to know that it's there. I'll call ahead next time and reserve. If you're visiting, you should too. If you have this in your area you are lucky indeed. Apparently there is a place in Montreal that does them a treat.
What's your favorite coffee break? Please share in the comments.