The Boastful Baker

because every cook praises her own broth

French bread and other delights.

| 8 Comments

Bread

Dark, crusty exterior

When we were in Paris on vacation last month, we were fortunate enough to be able to frequent Poilâne, a famous French bakery, nearly every day. Their shop near The Eiffel Tower was just a block from a metro stop on the metro line from our hotel, so most mornings when I was getting ready for the day, my husband would step out and pick up breakfast for us: croissants or pain au chocolat from either Poilâne or Pierre Hermé.

The Poilâne croissants were probably my favorite of the two – unbelievably flaky, better than any I’ve ever tried in the U.S. and not quite as heavy with butter as the Pierre Hermé croissants. Not that I didn’t absolutely adore those too – they were just much richer than the Poilâne croissants.

By the end of the week, we had also tried their butter cookies (called punitions and cut into bunny shapes while were there as we arrived in Paris the day after Easter) and a boule of their dark, crusty bread.

The bread is rumored to be some of the best bread in the world – a claim that I won’t weigh in on as I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten any other truly famous bread. The majority of our loaf of bread actually made the journey back to the U.S. with us (in my laptop bag) and we continued to eat it for a couple of days after our return. It’s rare that a loaf of artisan bread will still taste good several days after purchase (and an 8 hour plane ride), but this bread did.

As for the punitions, they were wholly addictive. Not too sweet and plenty buttery, my husband and I may have eaten a small bag of them in one sitting. A Paris food guide that we brought on the trip, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, recommended that we try these cookies and Clotilde steered us in the right direction (in addition to the sentence in the book about them, there is an entire blog post devoted to punitions on her website Chocolate and Zucchini). We liked them enough that we carefully packed two small bags of these cookies into our carry-on luggage to give to family members upon our return. I hope they enjoyed them as much as we did.

If you’d like to read a little more about Poilâne, expatriate pastry chef David Lebovitz wrote a great post about the bakery late last year. In fact, this post was one of the main reasons I was thrilled to discover that we could easily visit one of the Poilâne locations on our trip. David’s post also links to several other articles around the web about this famous bakery and its fabulous bread.

Meanwhile, here are a number of photos I took of the various Poilâne goodies we ate and some that I just enjoyed looking at through the shop windows.

April 15, 2012 - Poilane bread.

Poilâne bread

Mmm...buttery goodness

Poilâne croissant

Apple pastries in the Poilâne window

Poilâne pastries

Fish boule in the Poilâne window

Fish boule in the Poilâne window

Poilane

Apple tarts and pain au chocolat

Pain au chocolat at Poilane

Pain au chocolat

Poilane window

More of the fish bread

Bread

A classic Poilâne boule

Poilane

View from above

Crabby croissant

Crabby looking croissant

8 Comments

  1. We are heading to France for a month in mid-June. We will spend about 3 weeks in the Cote d’Azur and then 5 days in Paris. I hope to be able to squeeze a Poilane visit in at least once a day. I love that sweet shop and the street it is housed on. I have a bread knife from our last visit there and it makes me smile every time I use it. Lovely shots!

    • Dana, I think my next trip to Paris (and yes, there will be a next trip) should be planned around staying as close as possible to as many good bakeries/pastry shops as possible. Have a great trip and I hope you do actually get to go to Poilâne every day that you’re in Paris!

  2. After reading/seeing photos of your trip prep and then oo-ing over all the great stories and photos after your trip, I picked up a copy of The Sweet Life in Paris. And now I crave croissants. Bravo!

    • I love, love, love that book! Glad we inspired you to read it (and for the record, I don’t think the coffee in Paris was as bad as he makes it out to be in the book).

  3. Melissa, I love this post! I’m a hopeless francophile in all regards but I absolutely adore the pastries and breads to be found over there. When I studied abroad in France, I thought it was so amazing how there was a bakery in every single neighborhood with fresh bread and croissants every day. I think I had pain au chocolat every morning — good thing we walked a lot — and tried different types of bread from all over the city. In the US it is so hard to find a single place with that kind of variety and reliable freshness (and deliciousness!), but in France there’s one on every corner. Great pics and this makes me wish I was back there now!! XO

    • Thanks Anna! I agree with you about the dearth of great bread and pastries in the U.S. Even in big cities, you have to know where to go – unlike Paris where you’ll just stumble upon a great bakery. Hope you’re doing well! -Melissa

  4. As a hopeless carb-o-holic, every single picture looked amazing! My French teacher used to bring us pain au chocolat on special occasions, and who doesn’t LOVE artisan bread! I’m so glad you had such a great trip!

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