Results tagged boulanger from David Lebovitz

How to Find a Good Baguette in Paris

Baguette

There are a lot of people who come to Paris and can’t wait to get their hands on one of the amazing baguettes that are packed in baskets and lined up on flour-dusted bakery counters seemingly on just every street corner. (And people still ask me why I moved here?) Well I have good news and bad news for you – there are plenty of great baguettes in Paris, and unfortunately a few not-so-great ones out there as well.

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You just can’t assume that every bakery makes great bread, just like not all wine companies make great wine or all restaurants serve good food. Paris is a large city with lots of bakeries of various quality. And in Paris, a baguette generally isn’t something worthy of great adulation or bread that someone would take two métros to buy – a baguette is simply part of everyday life and something you’d pick up on your way home from work for dinner. And they come in all different sizes, shapes, dimensions, and colors.

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Aki Boulanger

green tea swirl bread

I had the good fortune to go to Japan many years ago. I was teaching at culinary schools and didn’t have time to see much, but I ate very, very well when I managed to go to a restaurant in the evenings. The Japanese people I ate with seemed surprised at how much I liked – and wanted to eat – Japanese food. One night we went to a restaurant that set bowls of soy milk on a heater in the center of our table and as a skin formed, we carefully peeled it off with chopsticks and slid the thin slippery skins in our mouths. Another night at a simple sashimi restaurant, one of the courses was set down in front of me, a few pieces of raw seafood in an elaborate, and enormous bowl made of shimmering pieces of glass attached together. Except when I touched it, the whole thing shattered and I realized it was made of ice chips, each one somehow magically attached to each other.

But best of all was the wagyu beef restaurant: a bib was tied around my neck, slender rectangles of meat were brought out, and each piece of beef was singed for perhaps one-half of a second on each side then placed on my plate. And for a moment, everything around me stopped and I sighed as this rich, incredibly tender and juicy morsel of warm beef literally dissolved in my mouth. It was nearly eight years ago, yet I remember every bite I had in Japan.

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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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Rue Montorgueil-Les Halles

l'escargot

You might not remember the days before the internet, but when we used to travel somewhere, we’d ask a friend to scribble down a list of suggestions. And we’d often be asked to do the same in return. Then when computers became widely used, other ‘favorites’ lists started circulating, including suggestions posted in online forums and in blogs.

So think of this list as my modern-day scribblings of places to go on the rue Montorgueil. Aside from it being perfectly located in the center of Paris, it’s a great place to take a stroll, and is pedestrian-friendly and wheelchair accessible, as it’s flat and closed off to cars. It’s a lovely walk, and everything is in a three block radius, making it easy to sample some of the best food shops, bakeries, chocolate shops, and kitchenware stores in Paris in one fell swoop.

roast chicken list meringues

The area was, for centuries, the home of the famous Les Halles covered market, which stood in the center of the city. As part of the modernization of Paris it was dismantled in the 1970s, replaced by an unattractive shopping mall (which is widely reviled), and the merchants were dispatched to Rungis, a large industrial complex on the outskirts of Paris. Still, reminders of Les Halles remain, including restaurant supply shops, late night dining spots, and the rue Montorgueil, which has become a vibrant street lined with restaurants, food stores, chocolate shops, and lively cafés.

The street is the perfect place go if have just a short time in Paris, as there’s a lot to see—and eat, in a very concentrated space. Depending on where you’re coming from, you can take the métro and get off at Etienne Marcel, Les Halles, or Sentier.

You’ll probably want to visit the restaurant supply shops, which you might want to schedule at the end of your stroll, so you don’t have to lug purchases around with you.

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Fermeture Définitive

This always happens. You go away, then come back, and something hits you like a ton of bricks. This morning, after being away for a little more than a week, Romain looked at me, and said, “Daveed…je veux te dire quelque chose…” And before he could finish la phrase, I knew exactly what he was going to say, and I finished the sentence for him.

He was stunned that I knew what he was about to say, before he even told me. But I could tell by the look on his face exactly what was wrong: the boulangerie that makes My Crack Baguette is closing for good—Fermeture Définitive.

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I’ve been trying to organize a manifestation (demonstration) to keep the doors, and ovens, open. But I’m not having much success. Which is kind of odd in a country of people that seem all-too happy to go en grêve, but I forgot that the all-important summer vacation season is beginning, which takes precedence over everything else.

So far I’ve enlisted me, Romain, and his neighbor, the one who buys three at a time.

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Ble Sucré: The Best Madeleines in Paris

The best Madeleines in the world are right here in Paris.

Well…duh. You don’t need to visit my blog to know that, do you? I’ve never been one of those people who waxed poetically about Madeleines, invoking Proust’s name whenever I can.
(As if I’ve even read Proust.)

So although I don’t have nostalgic ties to Madeleines, I do like the idea of something a bit buttery, with a gilded crust, relatively portable, and not too-sweet for my afternoon gouter, or le snack, as it’s often referred to around town.

But most of the time I’m disappointed. The Madeleine I buy is either too dry, too floury, or worse, has the acrid taste of baking powder. But then the skies parted one day when I was at a new bakery in Paris, blé sucré, in the vastly pleasant, but out-of-the-way Square Trousseau. This new boulangerie and pastry shop is owned by Fabrice Le Bourdat, who worked with Gilles Marchal, the pastry chef at the esteemed Bristol.

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Madeleines are the proverbial ‘little something’ that goes well with tea. But to be honest, there’s nothing that makes me cringe more than when I read in the headnote of a recipe in a cookbook, “This goes well with tea in the afternoon.”

I mean, what little sweet thing doesn’t?
And if that’s the most exciting thing you can say about your recipe, then what the hell’s it doing in your cookbook?

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Boulangerie 140

At last count, there are 1263 bakeries in Paris.

On just about every street, there’s at least one, if not two, or even three bakeries. Some of them are very good, a few are perhaps not so fabulous, and several are excellent. Parisians eat a lot of bread, far more than their American counterparts.

Visitors often wonder, “How come we don’t have bakeries like this is America?”

“Because people won’t eat bread in America anymore. Everyone’s afraid of it.” I respond

Tragically, most nod in agreement.

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Luckily there’s not too much of that nonsense here in Paris. From early in the morning, until the last baguette de levain is handed across the counter for dinner, you’ll find folks en queue, lined up impatiently waiting to get their daily bread.

And for some reason, I’m always in front of the most impatient one, who firmly keeps nudging me forward. My strategy against those Parisian pests is to gently innocently start backing up, which kinda freaks them out and invariably causes a chain reaction, since the person behind them is usually pressed up against them as well, nudging them forward too.

It causes a certain amount of shuffling and mild hysteria, but tant pis.
Anyone who wants to get that close to me better buy me a drink first.

Or at least a loaf of bread.

But when there’s a bakery as good as 140 in town, Parisians have good reason to get pushy about their bread. And neighborhood residents buy stop here once, or even twice daily to get theirs. And like many of them, I’m happy to stand my ground for a crisp, golden baguette de campagne that feels crisp and warm when it’s handed over the counter to me. Or for the buttery-mouthful of a flaky croissant that shatters into a gazillion crackly shards when you bite into it.

These are some of the daily rituals that go on around here, of which I’m frequently guilty of taking part.

(The pushing part I’m still getting used to.)

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Although I don’t live close enough to 140 to go two or three times a day, it’s one of the handful of bakeries here that I’ll happily scamper across the city to visit. Aside from their numeric name, which always gives me a chuckle, they bake some of the best breads in Paris. And recently, I was lucky enough to go behind the scenes of this top-notch boulangerie.

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Financiers from Kayser Bakery, Paris

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If you’ve never had financiers before, prepare yourself for a treat. But even if you’ve had them, you’ve likely never had financiers from Kayser bakery. Each little moist button is the perfect taste of ground almonds and French butter. They’re available in a few flavors, such as dark chocolate, and nature (Almond). I can never resist getting a little bag of them at the bakery, and I consider them one of the best things in Paris.

While you’re there, check out his wonderful chocolate-chip cookies, which rival anything in America, as well as his extraordinary pain aux céreales, a lovely, crusty loaf studded with lots of grains and seeds.

Eric Kayser
85, Boulevard Malesherbes
and
8, rue Monge

(Many other locations throughout Paris-check website for other locations.)



For other tasty Paris addresses, check out my Paris Pastry App, a guide to over 300 of the best pastry and chocolate shops in Paris. The Paris Pastry guide is also available for Kindle devices and as an e-book, compatible with Android and other devices.