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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Coffee Break

By Tom

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.

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Blogger Alnysie said...

I live in Montreal and I had them once! (The place itself is called Kouign Amann.) You remind me I have to go back and eat some more!

2:20 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think was the place I read about. They're pretty great; I hope you'll do a post about it!

2:29 AM EDT  
Blogger Louise said...

Well, hard to pick a favorite, but I adore the Tarte Tatin at a little cafe in Paris (6eme, just near St Germain).

But an easy tip-the frozen croissant and pain au chocolat from Trader Joe's are really quite good. You just leave them to thaw and rise the night before, and they bake up to a fairly authentic, delicious treat. Surprise!

5:13 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for making my tummy rumble! We have a grocery store here that sells croissants with a really delicious apricot puree filling. I've tried replicating with ordinary croissants and apricot conserve, but they're just not the same.

"Thyroidal" .... brilliant description, never used before in a culinary sense. Writing as a hypothyroid person, I was wondering which of the many attributes struck you? I often feel gross, tired and flabby, and that seems to conjure up just whay you mean!


5:26 AM EDT  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

OMG, Tom, now I have to try to make those "Kouign Amann" !!! Martha, where are you ?

7:46 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Louise- Nice to know!

8:22 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


That's what I meant exactly!

8:23 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'd love to hear how they turned out..

8:24 PM EDT  
Anonymous ElizabethC said...

There is a wonderful bakery in Seattle (Honore Artisan Bakery) that makes Kouign Amann. Amazing, the top of the pastry is almost caramelized. My husband loves their canelés (which I've never seen in another bakery). About a mile away is another amazing bakery called Cafe Besalu. Just before Christmas they make an assortment of holiday cookies like springerles (sp?) and basler brunsli. One of our favorite treats during the winter!

12:13 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

And yet another reason to visit Seattle!

I hope that Bouchon is taking notes..

12:28 AM EDT  
Blogger queen_cupcake said...

There is a European bakery on Main Street in Saratoga Springs, NY that makes THE best almond croissant I have ever had. Large, crisp & flaky on the outside, rich and chewy inside with a generous dollop of almond paste, a small portion of which demurely dribbles out around the edges to caramelize on the baking sheet. Unfortunately, or fortunately for my waistline, they are at least 300 miles away from where I live! Good coffee is rare at the chain places...I usually prefer to make it myself.

9:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Karin said...

When I visited Quebec City a few years ago, I discovered the most amazing croissants - almond + chocolate - at a bakery/cafe called Paillard. OMG. I've been dreaming about these things ever since.

10:39 AM EDT  

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