Results tagged bakery from David Lebovitz

Vandermeersch: King of the Paris Kouglof

kouglof

I was browsing through my archives this weekend and landed on a post that I wrote back in 2005, about Vandermeersch. The bakery is really out in the middle of nowhere and for most visitors and even local, whether you’re going by foot or even by métro. But I was looking at the pictures I’d taken back then, which didn’t do the kouglof justice, that I hadn’t been back there in a while and since I had friends in town, I figured there was no time like today.

When I arrived in the nondescript area just at the perimeter of Paris, my friends were a few minutes late and I noticed—then panicked—because there were only five large kouglofs left in the shop, and just a few individual ones. Certain they’d arrive just as the last ones were being bought up by someone less-worthy than me, I was a little rude and went ahead and bought two of the pastries, and stashed them in my bag.

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The French Bread Machine

I was a little surprised when I moved to France and learned that bread machines were popular here. I was equally surprised to see a generous selection of frozen breads at Picard, the chain of stores that spans across France which sport a comprehensive, and somewhat impressive, selection of frozen entrées, appetizers, main courses, and fancy desserts. Out of curiosity, I’ve tried a few things, and came to the conclusion that most of it tastes like the food you hoped to be served on an airplane, and might be if you were seated in business class.

Interestingly, I have not met a French person that ever had a bad think to say about Picard. In fact, a survey showed that it’s the most popular chain in France. Even people I know who are accomplished home cooks rave about it. I have to say that I like the frozen pitted sour cherries, and the corn kernels taste good to homesick Americans, especially when sautéed with ancho chile powder, butter, and cilantro, but I don’t crave frozen sushi nor do I need (or have space in my freezer for) a bag of already chopped onion pieces.

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Favorite Cookbooks of 2010

2010 was a very big year for cookbooks. And when I say “big”, I don’t just mean there were plenty of great cookbooks published this year, but some of them were huge. Ready for Dessert tipped the baker’s scale at over 3-pounds, and subsequent books that continued throughout the year tested the limits of my strength, such as Bon Appétit Desserts, which weighs in at a whopping 6-pounds.

But as they say, “Size doesn’t matter” and I found myself attracted to a variety of cookbooks of all dimensions. Here are a few cookbooks, baking tomes, and food-related books that were released this year or that I featured on the site in 2010.


Around My French Table

You’d never know that Dorie Greenspan only spends one-third of her time in Paris because after reading through this massive collection of three hundred fabulous recipes, she nails the city and the food, including stories and recipes from the restaurants, markets, and most endearingly, her stable of Parisian friends—which makes mine look like the unwashed masses. Her moist French Apple Cake was enjoyed from breakfast around here, and eating cake for breakfast probably isn’t very French, but tant pis.

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How Much Butter Can Be in a Croissant?

croissant

Living in France for a number of years, my French has gotten pretty good. As long as I’m talking about food, that is.

Last night I was having dinner at Le Vin au Vert (70, rue de Dunkerque) wine bar with a few friends. One talks really quickly and with the noisy bobo patrons at the surrounding tables, chattering on les smartphones and getting up and down all night to race out into the sub-zero cold for a cigarette (at one point, there were more people outside than inside), it was hard to hear anything. So I really had to pay attention, and my attention wanes in direct proportion to how many bottles of wine have been emptied.

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Baked Apricot Bars

chocolate frosted cake renato of baked

I’d been planning for this trip for years, ever since I first laid my hands on a copy of Baked, the cookbook. Quite a few baking books come out and a lot are really good, but this one spoke to me. I mean, each and every dessert sounded like something I not only wanted to bake, but wanted to eat. As in right away.

As I read through the pages, I have to say that I fell in love with everything in there, from the Baked brownies to the Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake. With those swirls and swirls of shiny, dark chocolate, I just wanted to dive right into that cake headfirst. And I know this might get me into a little trouble, but I found I had a sweet spot for the authors as well.

cupcakes at Baked

I was entranced because Renato Poliafito and Matt Lewis of Baked share with me a similar sensibility about desserts: we seem to agree that forceful, dynamic flavors, trump elaborate presentations, and prefer to let just a few great ingredients shine. Unfortunately it took me about a year after I read their book (and an interesting bus ride from Manhattan) to get there, but it was worth the wait.

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Brown Bread Ice Cream

brown bread ice cream

When I was in Ireland, after a wonderful dinner at an old country inn, I was served a big bowl of Brown Bread Ice Cream. I had heard about this unusual ice cream quite a while back and like Grape-Nuts Ice Cream, which is something apparently enjoyed in New England (although I was born and live there for eighteen years and never saw or tasted even a lick of it), I was intrigued by the idea of bits of dark crunchies embedded in scoops of cool, creamy ice cream.

One bite, of course, and I was hooked and wanted to make it when I got home. I wasn’t quite sure how to go about it, and I sent a message to the inn inquiring about the process, but after a few weeks of checking my Inbox every three minutes, I just couldn’t wait any longer and decided to come up with one on my own.
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Babycakes NYC

agave-sweetened chocolate cake

The first place I had on my list of places to go in New York City was BabycakesNYC. Ever since I saw the video of the staff having a blast, I was transfixed on going there to participate in the fun and frolic.

babycakes cupcakes vita spelt

Babycakes NYC is owned by Erin McKenna, and features vegan desserts made without gluten or refined sugar. There’s also treats for people who keep kosher, and those on soy, egg, and casein-free regimes. Not all desserts fit into those categories, but for people on various diets, this place is a godsend. When a few people I mentioned it to said to me, “Gluten-free? No sugar? Is the stuff any good?”

agave sweetened cakes

If you’re wrinkling your nose, if Salted Butter Caramel Doughnuts dripping with caramel syrup and Chocolate Cake, moist from sweet agave nectar don’t sound appealing to you (like they do to me), then fine. More for the rest of us.

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Doing an Internship in France

deux chefs

Many people who embark on professional cooking careers, or just interested in having an experience in an French kitchen, are interested in coming to France to do an internship, called a stage.

I posted on Twitter, to find out how people got their stages in France. Here are some of their responses:


“I walked in and asked.”

“…sent in a cover letter, followed up, and had a contact.”

“Emails and phone calls. A lot.”

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