Tag Archives: French

The Best Pancakes in Le Monde

Last Saturday around noon, I went to Community craving some pancakes, but upon arriving I realized that there was no way I was going to get in any time soon. There were so many people waiting around to get a table, and I was quite sad. But I decided to go next door to Le Monde and try it out, and I ended up having an amazing dining experience.

Le Monde is a cute French restaurant that’s just a short walk from campus. From the outside, you can’t tell just how cute it really is; the inside is paradoxically spacious and cozy at the same time. There are decorations that infuse some Frenchness into the atmosphere, and the tables are tiny and adorable. My table was by the window looking out on Broadway. I ordered pancakes and snacked on warm, delicious bread while I waited.

The interior of Le Monde.

When the pancakes arrived, I was blown away by how amazing they looked. The order consisted of a stack of three pancakes, all of which were slightly different sizes, making the stack resemble a tiered cake. The pancakes were round and golden, and there were blueberries and strawberries on top and cascading down the sides. There was a perfect amount of powdered sugar sprinkled on top, as well as a sprig of mint to finish it off. I could immediately tell that I was in for some high quality pancakes.

The buttermilk pancakes.
The buttermilk pancakes.

I drizzled some maple syrup on my pancakes and dug in. It was love at first bite. These pancakes were full of flavor and were perfectly balanced: not too sweet, not too savory. The fruit, the syrup, and the touch of powdered sugar really brought it all together. There’s not much to say except that these fluffy and flavorful pancakes were some of the best pancakes I’ve ever had. And combined with the charming atmosphere of the restaurant itself, this pancake experience was absolutely perfect.

Le Monde is certainly a pancake gem in Morningside Heights. Their pancakes are not that cheap ($12.75), but they leave you incredibly satisfied. Any pancake aficionado will thoroughly enjoy a stack at Le Monde.

Location: 2885 Broadway, New York, NY

Lunch: Monday – Friday from 11am to 5pm

Dinner: Sunday – Thursday from 5pm to 11pm, Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 11:30pm

Brunch: Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm

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Cozy French Bakery on the UWS – Mille-Feuille

In the midst of midterms, it seems like I am always overwhelmed and constantly counting the days till the warmth of spring break.  So when I was figuring out which bakery to try this week, I expected to just make a quick stop and hurry back to campus for some more studying.  But when I entered Mille-feuille Bakery, something made me want to stop and stay for a while.  Maybe it was the friendly smiles that greeted me as soon as I entered or the hip New York City atmosphere infused with the charm of a French patisserie. Or perhaps the bright and colorful display cases full of macarons, pastries, croissants, sandwiches, and so much more.  Whatever the reason, I quickly shed my heavy winter coat and claimed a seat with a prime view of the desserts.

the display cases
the display cases

Like always, I was immediately drawn to the seasonal fruit tart, a dense and flavorful cake topped with raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries.  Of course, I had to purchase some macarons to go, and the classic flavors of raspberry, dark chocolate, and salted caramel shone through in these hand-made treats.  The flavor that really stood out to me, however, was the rose macaron.  Although it seems like a strange flavor, the faint sweetness and scent of rose does not overwhelm the macaron, but rather, gives it a softer and more unique flavor.

the beauty of my seasonal fruit tart
the beauty of my seasonal fruit tart

However, possibly the best moment of my visit to Mille-feuille occurred when I was given a free baguette.  I still have no idea what I did to obtain said baguette, but I happily accepted it without question and enjoyed it later in my dorm room.

my free baguette accompanied by the chocolate, salted caramel, and raspberry macarons
my free baguette accompanied by the chocolate, salted caramel, and raspberry macarons

With these sweets in front of me, I let the soft guitar music with French vocals lull me into a much-needed moment of relaxation that I had not had in a very long time.  Although the space is relatively small with the atmosphere of a cozy neighborhood bakery, there is still plenty of space for me to return, this time with my backpack full of homework.  Because everyone knows that Environmental Science reading is much easier when accompanied by a macaron.

 

 

Address: 2175 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

Macaron Heaven

From the very first time I tried a macaron in Paris, I was instantly hooked.  Macarons (not to be confused with the coconut macaroons) have a unique texture that cannot be found anywhere else: a crunchy outer shell while soft and gooey on the inside.  And of course, their vibrant colors make them beautiful to just look at.  Although I have seen macarons as an option in many French bakeries, I had never been to a place whose main focus was the macaron, and I was eager to try a specific patisserie that I had read about over winter break.

the exterior of Macaron Parlor
the exterior of Macaron Parlor

Just a short walk from the 86th Street station, Macaron Parlor Patisserie is a safe haven for macaron addicts tucked away on the Upper West Side.  With a modest exterior and a cozy seating area, it has all the character of a small neighborhood bakery, allowing the macarons to take center stage.  The display case is full of a wide range of colors and flavors, and it will undoubtedly take a while to pick your perfect box (it took me a good five minutes of just staring at the options).

Macaron Parlor prides itself on offering traditional macaron flavors like dark chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, but the patisserie also has fun creating unconventional flavors that cannot be found anywhere else – notably Cheetos, Red Velvet, or Candied Bacon with Maple Cream Cheese.

the packed display case
the packed display case

As an avid lover of the raspberry/chocolate combination, I immediately fell in love with the chocolate ganache inside my raspberry macaron, and the bright pink interior helped to ease my sadness that Valentine’s Day (the day to eat chocolate and sweets with absolutely no shame) is over.  I was pleasantly surprised with how similar the red velvet macaron tasted like my favorite cake flavor, down to the cream cheese filling.

From bottom to top: creme brûlée, caramel fleur de sel, dark chocolate, red velvet, hazelnut, and raspberry chocolate
From bottom to top: creme brûlée, caramel fleur de sel, dark chocolate, red velvet, hazelnut, and raspberry chocolate

Though I was not feeling quite adventurous enough to try a savory flavor like Cheetos, I am excited to pick out new combinations for my future purchases.  These little, colorful pieces of heaven are just enough to brighten up any dreary winter day (and it is impossible to take a bad picture of them).

Paris is Just a Train Ride Away

Although I knew the 1 line could take me all over Manhattan, I had no idea that it could also transport me to Paris. That is, until I stepped into Maison Kayser. Nestled in Columbus Circle, this authentic French boulangerie uses traditional techniques to craft fresh pastries and desserts baked on site daily. French baker Eric Kayser opened his first New York boulangerie on the Upper East Side, and the high demand for his impeccable desserts resulted in more Maison Kayser locations opening across the city.

My first view of the boulangerie
My first view of the boulangerie

Walking into Maison Kayser – and out of the torrential downpour outside – felt like walking into heaven. Vibrant and delicate desserts were painstakingly arranged behind a glass case, and a variety of fresh baguettes and loaves covered an entire wall. The women working behind the register actually had to ask me if I was ready because I spent such a long time staring at the pastries in front of me.

The gorgeous display at Maison Kayser
The gorgeous display at Maison Kayser

Eventually, I decided upon the tarte au chocolat, brioche au sucre, and pain au chocolat aux amandes. The tarte was composed of a chocolate shell filled with a rich chocolate cream and topped with a truffle, also known as the chocolate lover’s ultimate dream.  Brioche is a light and airy French bread, and mine was covered with large bits of sugar.  My last purchase was a traditional French pastry, reinvented by combining chocolate with a thick almond paste inside a delicate pastry shell.  All three of my desserts melted in my mouth and transported me to a picnic along the River Seine in Paris.

A decadent tarte au chocolat
A decadent tarte au chocolat
Brioche au sucre and pain au chocolat aux amandes
Brioche au sucre and pain au chocolat aux amandes

Experiencing the quality of the pastries at Maison Kayser is an easy alternative to purchasing an expensive plane tickets to France, and I cannot wait to jump back on the 1 train and do it all over again.

The breads and pastries
The breads and pastries

Pumpkin Spice Madeleines Recipe

Soft, warm, and buttery, Madeleines are French tea cakes that are known for their distinct scallop shape. Spice up your madeleines this season with this autumn appropriate variation.

Ingredients

2 whole eggs

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp lemon zest

3 ½ tbsp pumpkin puree

½ cup all purpose flour

1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or make your own with ½ tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground clove)

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

¼ cup butter, melted

3 tsp powdered sugar for dusting

ingredients

Continue reading Pumpkin Spice Madeleines Recipe

A Complete Guide to Getting A Cronut

A brave dessert aficionado’s pursuit of all things fried, glazed, and sugary.

When you first move to New York, your first thought isn’t usually about food. It’s about finding an (reasonably priced) apartment, taking advantage of the cultural meccas, or visiting the famous sights before it becomes socially unacceptable to act like a tourist, and you’re too jaded with the frantic sight-seeing. You scope out a sufficient local café where you can become a regular, and drink black coffee like a grumpy New Yorker.

When I moved to New York, my first thought was, “Where can I find the food?”, and more specifically, “Where are the doughnuts?” I love food in all forms, but I have a special place in my heart for desserts, especially doughnuts. They’re the queen of basic desserts: acceptably eaten at any time of day, easily manipulated to fit any palate or diet (think vegan, paleo, or gluten free), and perfectly portable.

Coming from Massachusetts, I am accustomed to two types of doughnuts.

  1. The slightly stale, typically flavored doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts, which you can buy at the chain on every corner (there were seven in my town alone, and several more in the near vicinity).
  2. The quintessential New England doughnut: the apple cider doughnut, best enjoyed hot out of the fryer and coated generously in sugar. This doughnut is a staple of apple picking and pumpkin patches; the constant companion of hayrides and cool fall mornings.

But I expected New York to be different, and I was right. This is the homeland for all foods ordinary and obscure. There’s representation from every culture and country, good, bad, and just plain ridiculous. And of course, in a city well known for it’s cozy cafes and excessive coffee consumption, I knew there would be a strong selection of coffee’s best friend, the doughnut.

I started my NYC doughnut journey with the pinnacle of doughnut bastardization, the cronut. For those of you who live under a rock, let me welcome you to the extreme of an already excessive dessert. French pastry chef Dominique Ansel developed his infamous cronut in 2013, and as the name suggests, it is the lovechild of a croissant and doughnut. But that’s barely scratching the surface.

What makes a cronut different than a simple fried croissant dough is the way the dough is handled. The dough is laminated, which is what causes the flaky croissant layers, and proofed, so the dough rises before it is fried. After the dough is fried in grapeseed oil, the cronut is rolled in flavored sugar, filled with ganache, and topped with a glaze and decoration. It is an extensive, laborious process, with high risk and low reward.

Continue reading A Complete Guide to Getting A Cronut

The New French: Lafayette

Mesdames et Messieurs, the reviews are in: Lafayette you are juste magnifique!

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 If there’s one culinary bite of wisdom I’ve managed to chew off over my relatively short life it’s one thing: Taste is place. What first drew me to food was travel, that is to say when I experienced that one dish could so deliciously convey a history, a people, and capture the spice of most importantly, a culture. Food is no other than the expression of a land and of a certain terroir. When we savour a slice of Camembert, we’re tasting the beauty of the pastureland, plains and rolling hills that the creamy cows of the île de France and shores of Normandy are grazing on. In a glass of a really good Burgundy pinot noir, it’s the Jurassic period limestone soil and thousand year old vines unique to one of the world’s most geographically distinct regions that our palettes are really sipping on. And the best authentic French food, is of course going to taste the best in none other than the land of France. So what’s the point of trying to find “authentic” french restaurants in another country? Isn’t it all going to be a sort of sad copy, a nostalgic crusade for all deprived francophones, in search of their own culinary golden age? Well this week, Noho’s infamous Lafayette showed two staunchy traditionalists the beauty of culinary translation and of the American-French restaurant variation.There’s no going back to France, but there is a way to appreciate the value of cultural interpretation, and what American chefs might add to the interpretation of French flavors. This week we’re here to celebrate one of our new favorite culinary breeds: le nouveau style, “American-French.”Cher Lafayette, you are a beautiful hybrid.

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                                  Lafayette

DSC_0419380 Lafayette St.

Noho

So here’s the deal, Lafayette reigns currently as one of NYC’s top French restaurants and we’re stamping it with our wholehearted francophone seal of approval. And not because you’ll find the most authentic French food there, but rather because it offers innovative, delicious spins on traditional regional french classic dishes. Now we’ll be honest, we’re not on the “Boulud” bandwagon these days. Instead we’re joining “team Lafayette” for their ability to produce delicious, creative spins on the best of French cuisine. It’s that creamy quail egg on their “New Orleans” tabasco aioli beef tartare that really revamps original flavors and makes the classics, well, fun again! The quail egg is not a culinary face lift, but rather an inspired addition. Just like that refreshing layer of sweet sauternes gelée on good ole chicken liver paté done right on a light brioche was then “razzle dazzled” into the modern age with balsamic dressed frisée.  And the best New York-Franco translation of the night that we’re recommending: Duck au Poivre, a riff on French steak au poivre (filet mignon cooked with peppercorns) but reinvented with a meaty, double stuffed Muscovy duck breast and topped with vibrant bursts of orange candied kumquat, radishes, and smoked bacon. No disrespect to Duck à l’Orange, but Lafayette’s unique kumquat announces a new burst of tart citrus flavor with an added raw crunch to pair perfectly with your duck cooked to a perfect pink. It was one subtle ingredient that didn’t renovate one of my favorite dishes, but rather re-translated a transition.

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So why are we sending you on a date with duck at Lafayette next weekend? Quality, delicious dishes that fit a creative American-Franco fused menu. La service? Superbe. Lafayette’s waiters are well tasted and eager to talk you through their Holy Bible of a wine list. L’Atmosphere? It’s no comfy cave bistrot, but their art deco inspired interior and suspender strap wearin’ waiters will whisk you and your palette back to a time when dining was truly a celebration, an elegant affair, and a moment to shine your shoes for. A time when waiters still serve a “lady” first and will even delicately crack open your warm soufflé to pour in just the perfect amount of crème anglaise. Lafayette preserves the grace, tradition, and dedication to the craft of preparing and serving food in a way that embodies the very génie of the French Haute Cuisine. So come for cultural culinary innovation, but let yourself be transported back in time to a restaurant that preserves the very essence of Julia Child’s legacy.

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Menu Must Haves:

Winter Paté, foie gras, red cabbage, apple cider

Escarole Salad, pomegranate, hazelnut, parmesan, truffle vinaigrette

Prime Beef Tartare “New Orleans,” tabasco aioli, quail egg

Girandole, braised rabbit, picholine olives, oregano

Duck au Poivre, organic grains, radish, smoked bacon

Petite Orange Soufflé with earl grey crème anglaise, mandarin salad

*And supposively we hear the pommes frites sont divine!

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 French Check-In: An Afterthought from a Parisian Palette

What was your favorite Lafayette spin?

The French restaurant in NYC? Lafayette, definitely. And maybe because it’s not exactly a French restaurant serving very “typical” dishes that we don’t even really eat back at home.

The restaurant in NYC? Well, that’s a really tricky question obviously, but Lafayette could be in the top five, and considering that there are 16,251 restaurants in NYC (yes actual number), that’s something.

Seriously, this place is everything you can look for when it comes to food: simplicity and quality. I had the Girandole, braised rabbit, picholine olives, oregano (by the way, cheapest dish on the menu, 22 dollars, does it get better than that… ?). It’s a dish I regularly have, from time to time, at home or out. It basically contains pasta and rabbit, that’s it. But this version of it was the real thing because the pasta was perfectly cooked, the rabbit was tender and flavorful. Simple comme bonjour.

PS: Oh, and don’t even get me started on the bread.

-Jeanne Bernard

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 PARIS SUGGESTIONS: WHERE TO FIND JULIA CHILD OLD SCHOOL ROMANCE THESE DAYS:

Chez Dumonet (Josephine)
117, rue du Cherche-Midi (6th)

 

 

Three Restaurant Week Picks

And just like that, the second month of 2015 has gone by. An arctic blast, continued snow, ice and chilly misery, Lunar New Year celebrations, as well as a global debate over the color of a dress (white and gold/black and blue?). One very important event also took place in February – Restaurant Week 2015! Restaurant Week is actually three weeks long, and it’s the time of the year when restaurants all across the city offer up special Restaurant Week menus, usually including three courses, and almost always for the relatively reasonable price of $25 (for lunch). That’s right, for that amount, one can get the chance to dine at some pretty good, and otherwise prohibitively expensive restaurants for three weeks a year (there’s also a summer Restaurant Week, apparently, if you’ve missed this one).

Given that schoolwork and the weather have conspired to make February an altogether depressing month, I decided to take full advantage of the discounts on offer and indulge in New York’s finest. I went to four great restaurants over the course of a week, all for lunch, since lunch is cheaper. I will review three of them here, since I didn’t try the Restaurant Week menu at the fourth one because it turned out to be quite depressing we got the a la carte dishes instead.

 

Boulud Sud

The first place is called Boulud Sud, which is located near the fancy Lincoln Center area. The neighborhood around the Lincoln Center is not known for its terribly cheap food, and so this was an opportunity to dine at a place that would otherwise be really expensive. Boulud Sud is a relatively big restaurant, bright and airy, and full of the promise of the flavors of the Mediterranean. The food takes you from the sandy deserts of Morocco to the sandy beaches of Greece and thus there is a lot of variety to choose from.

For appetizer, I had the guinea hen, which was wrapped in a ham or bacon, and served with a frisse salad and toast. For the main, I tried the Moroccan chicken, which was served roasted with couscous and cauliflower, assembled attractively in a white tagine. Special mention for the chicken, which was really cooked to absolute perfection. The breast meat was tender and moist, and the skin was had a good crisp to it. Dessert was a strange concoction of rose panna cotta with a pistachio ice cream. The perfume of the rosewater threw me off initially but the dish works well together after a few bites.

As a whole, I would say that Boulud Sud really put together a fantastic Restaurant Week menu. It’s a great place with good food and truly excellent service, and I would love to go back and try their full menu (after I’ve saved up enough).

Guinea hen and salad
Guinea Hen and Salad
Moroccan chicken
Moroccan Chicken
rose panna cotta and pistachio ice cream
Rose Panna Cotta and Pistachio Ice Cream

 

Le Cirque

Next, I trekked across Manhattan to go to Le Cirque, at Lexington and 58th. It’s a French restaurant with quite a following (according to the large pictures of Nixon, Reagan and Kissinger) on the walls. It has its own Wikipedia page and every thing seems very prim and proper, just the kind of place you know you ought to behave yourself or shrivel up under an avalanche of judgement. For example, it has an impressive wine cabinet, which stretches from the floor all the way to the ceiling. Although we were expecting a snobbish Frenchman, our waiter was actually very friendly and made us feel comfortable.

For my appetizer I had the red snapper crudo, which is a sashimi dish, which was weird for me, as it had cauliflower and couscous. I had also been told you shouldn’t eat sashimi with a fork or cut it with a knife, so it was all kinds of strange, although the dish itself was very well-balanced. For the main, I got the braised pork with carrots and lettuce. Everything was very well-cooked, as should be expected. But more importantly, it came with an absolutely fantastic meatball that was packed full of flavor. The one element in the dish not mentioned on the menu ended up stealing the show. Dessert was kind of a 50-50, with the chocolate fondant not being gooey enough on the inside, but the Bailey’s ice cream providing a creamy foil to the rich chocolate cake.

Red snapper crudo
Red Snapper Crudo
braised pork, with meatball
Braised Pork, with Meatball
chocolate fondant
Chocolate Fondant

 

Les Halles

Last but certainly not least was Les Halles, which is a French restaurant located at Park Avenue and 28th Street, and is a total contrast with Le Cirque. It’s a lot more noisy and crowded, perhaps less professional but a lot more homely. We were served by a waiter with the most perfect French accent and that really helped set the tone for the rest of the afternoon.

The appetiser I had was the best of all the three restaurants I had been to. It was a simple lobster bisque, except that there was nothing simple about it. It had the most complex, intense seafoody flavor that hits you as soon as you taste it, like Sebastian the Crab from the Little Mermaid was filming the music video for “Under the Sea” in your mouth. It was creamy, smooth and really ridiculously delicious I could have had a whole vat of it for lunch and dinner and happily waived my claim to the main or the dessert. The main was a leg of lamb, which was very well cooked, and a little fatty, which is always helpful. The dessert was a Mocha Religieuse, which is a quaint little dessert consisting of two choux pastry buns stacked on top of each other, designed to look like a nun, hence the name, religieuse. The dessert was nothing much to shout about, it certainly wasn’t anything indulgent but it was satisfactory.

lobster bisque
Lobster Bisque
Leg of lamb, provencal- style
Leg of Lamb, Provencal- Style
mocha religieuse
Mocha Religieuse

 

Restaurant Week has been a gift for me this cold and desolate February, a true bright spot in a dreary month. There’s still a week left and I am hoping to squeeze in at least one more outing before time (and money) runs out!

 

The Search for a Good Baguette in NYC

This week we’d like to introduce you to a true crisis: the search for some good BREAD in NYC. It’s a problem that is intercultural, because once you’ve tasted French bread and tasted the central role it plays in everyday life, its hard to go back. Sometimes, American bread just never seems to get the job done anymore, and as two bread enthusiasts we’re on the search to find the best Boulangerie near us! Here’s a little anecdote to explain our sorrows:

                      Girl Meets and Leaves Bread: A Tale of Two Countries

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Jeanne: A Girl meets cracker and cheese first time.

“Last week, I went to a conference where they had a classy buffet with wine and cheese (I swear I didn’t know, that’s not why I attended this lecture). There, I had one of those moments when you hold on for a second, put your whole life in perspective, and ask the metaphysical question, where am I? In my case, the answer was: you’re in a country where they serve crackers with cheese. That’s right – crackers, not bread. My whole system of beliefs was shaken down. So, yes, writing this article was a kind of self-therapy for me.”

One of my first realizations upon arriving in France was that le “cracker” doesn’t exist. This was quite problematic especially when I found myself with an urge to consume large amounts of French cheese. So where did my American instincts lead me? I tried to replace the cracker’s duty with that of the rather bland, brioche toasts found in French supermarkets. Warning: this results in a very unpleasant combination. However, contrarily to what we may think, the cracker is somewhat of a fake in its relationship to cheese, as it actually has an original predecessor. Turns out, cheese’s true lover is that of bread and always has been across the Atlantic.

Point in case, French bread has had an immense impact upon both of us and we’re facing a “struggle” of finding good bread in the USA, nevertheless the culinary hub of NYC. So what is one to do?

“Finding good bread is totally possible in NYC because the city has so many various culinary resources. The only thing though is that, you have to work for it: literally it’s expensive and you have to do some research (or lucky you, just read this article!) to find a good place. Coming from France, I naively went to the first top-quality supermarket in the area and discovered that their “French baguette” was neither French or a real baguette. Go to a proper bakery that is known for its bread and be prepared to spend some money.”

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First, let’s go back a few steps here: why do we care about bread and how is it any different from Whole Foods 12 grains pre-sliced loaf?

Bread, amongst its food compatriots requires a very precise & mathematical precision that sometimes, like meringue-whisperers, is mastered by baker’s special techniques based on experience and tricky intuition. It’s a lot more than just its ingredients – flour, water, salt, and yeast – its a PROCESS! Basically, there is first the “pre-fermentation” starter, ou en français le “poolish,” where ingredients are weighed to specific measurement, combined, and the “leavening” process begins – this is where we make or break the bread because it’s all about the natural yeast we’re creating here. This is where those luscious bubbles and sourdough/any sort of flavor are going to be created, and without it the bread won’t develop its shape, texture or flavor. The poolish becomes your pet as you have to keep feeding it before you can start to use the damn thing (trust me the smelly jar occupies a seemingly permanent place on my countertop it seems.) Here, some bakers even “cheat” and add malt powder to speed this “feeding” process up.

Next, poolish + exact dry ingredients are going to finally get you a dough, where once again things get tricky. Now many of you may be familiar with a bread machine or dough hook- but here’s the thing, lots of bread bakers emphasize the key in “hand- kneading.” A good bread maker has “kneading instinct” – that is hand kneading ensures that air bubbles are not destroyed, the bread’s pigments might possibly change, and while its putting the “art” back in ensuring tasty “artisanal quality.”

Fast forward through a lengthy – sometimes 16 hours – rising process, where bakers adjust exact temperatures, “knocking” processes (that is deflating risen dough), and intricate shaping processes. And finally, a PIPING hot oven completes this delicate process (450 degrees & above) where the loaf finally takes shape and achieves its crispy crust and rich color. So bread is an odd one because unlike cooking you can’t “eyeball” any ingredients here and similar to baking, innovation and perfected skill are part of intense familiarity with exact measurements of ingredients and temperatures that must work in certain ways.

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Ok so now we get it: bread is really complicated to make an requires a real professional skill. BUT why are we freaking out about FRENCH bread withdrawals?

America has some really great bread bakers too, just read about what some of those sourdough guys over in San Francisco right now – America isn’t totally off the bread wagon right? While here, like the cracker, we’ve come into the food story a little bit late. French bread is and has been a pretty special deal, after all UNESCO Heritage even protects French baguettes as “intangible cultural heritage”! Bread places a quintessential role in the French person’s daily life – rather than getting their morning “coffee-run” in (which no worry they too are caffeine addicts!), everyone has to get their morning boulangerie run in for fresh baked baguettes!

In America do we really have distinct cultural conception of bread? Doesn’t a bagel, pizza dough, or for some even, the cracker, come to mind when you think of bread? Why are we carbohydrate-fearing people today when we’re like sandwich capital? Health conscious eaters we are today, we’ve been scared by preservative & chemical breads like the classic “Wonder bread” of the 50’s. It seems that today in America, we have a fear negative conception of “white bread.”

Q: French “Daily Bread”, Fact or Fiction? JEANNE PARLE:DSC_0669

Bread is really important from breakfast (even crucial in this case) to dinner. Someone has to “acheter le pain.” When, for some reason, there is no bread on the table, you have to argue about whose fault it is and in most cases, the youngest have to run to the corner bakery and buy whatever is left there. Storing bread is also an issue, because a baguette can be the most delicious thing on Monday, on Tuesday evening you won’t be happy with it if it’s still there… That’s one of the reasons why I gave up proper bread this year and opted for classic sandwich bread instead. It’s way more simple and honestly, it’s not the same thing at all, but it does the trick (N.B: any French person reading this would want to hurt me for having said that).

 

Our suggestion? 

Maison Kayser. 1800 Broadway, Columbus Circle

*Top Parisian baker, found in various NYC locations. Just hop on down to Columbus Circle for some quality pain! New location to even open on 89th soon!

Here we’re going to leave you with our suggestion of NYC’s best “French boulanger.” Kayser, takes pride in its ingredients- a secret poolish recipe- and traditional craft! You can just SPOT a crusty good baguette through Kayser’s flour stacked shelves and he’s currently offering some delicious savory Fall flavors like nutty pumpkin, a must try! We sampled a traditional baguette en epis (perfect for ripping off portioned rolls amongst friends!) and a baguette sarasin (buckwheat flour).

His traditional baguettes are highly recommended, the sarasin we can’t say the same for, but his baguette aux ceréales (grains) is INFALLIBLE! Crisp, crunchy, soft but pliable, enormous air bubbles, not sour. Look, taste, texture, Kayser gives you a loaf you can eat without any sandwich accompagnements, delicious on its own, and even better spooned with simple honey and tea on a Fall afternoon. They’re recreating parisian prices and snarky service but hey its part of the experience!

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Fun fact: Le Demi-Baguette Option- Did you know in France, you can buy HALF a baguette! How much should a Baguette cost in France? About 1 euro.

The Solution to Good Bread:

1. It’s pricey but keep it Artisan based, bread is a tricky business – especially when it comes to Baguettes!

2.  You CAN spot a “good baguette” – crisp, weighty texture, even dispersion of large (hand created) air bubbles, light & slightly chewy, and rich color. How to train your expertise? Go to France and eat LOTS OF BREAD!

3. Never forget, bread was meant for cheese. It is versatile in its many uses that we sandwich lovers sometimes forget. Vive le pain!

4. There’s a lot of hype around the “baguette” mania- there’s some truth to that obsession but moreover keep in mind that the French place so much emphasis around their bread for a quite obvious reason; IT’S DELICIOUS!

PARIS BOULANGERIE SUGGESTIONS:

Polâine, the GOD of Sourdough…and you can even carry these tasty loaves right back on your way through customs back on home to America!

http://www.poilane.com/pages/en/company_boutiques.php

 

Helpful Links!

Paris Baguette Tips:

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/08/baguettes/

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2012/05/how-to-find-a-good-baguette-in-paris

Bread Recipes:

https://food52.com/blog/9376-chad-robertson-s-5-essential-tips-for-baking-bread?from_related=1&related_src_type=post

Great Bread Cookbooks:

Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads, Richard Bertinet

(seriously probably the BEST French to English boulanger!)

Crêpe Expectations

Union Square is known for its shopping, from the giant Forever 21 to the Strand or the farmer’s market on the weekends. But apparently, there is little in way of dessert at ten o’clock on Valentine’s Day night – that is, other than the pocket-busting and painfully crowded (although delicious) Max Brenner. Not to worry, if you’re in the area and need a quick sugar fix, Vive Le Crêpe will do the trick.

The issue I have with many crêperies lies with the crêpes themselves. Often they are either too thin or under-cooked, and therefore taste more like uncooked pancake batter than the light and airy treat they are supposed to be. And it may just be me, but I think there should be more to crêpes than just Nutella and strawberries.

But Vive La Crêpe hits the jackpot – not only are the crêpes themselves just thick enough to be fluffy yet light, but the variety of fillings, ranging from the savory to the sweet, cover every desire. The fact that you can watch the chefs prepare your dessert, and that it’s still delightfully warm and melting when they hand it to you, is just the powdered sugar on top. Granted, the prices aren’t ideal, averaging from around eight to ten dollars a crêpe depending on fillings, but the giant size makes it easy to share or split among friends. Ranging from the classics like Nutella, to the only for the adventurous or foreign, like marmalade, Vive La Crêpe has enough options to ensure that there’s a combination for everyone.

My personal recommendation is Dulce de Leche with walnuts and strawberries. It’s so good, you’ll be fighting over it.

Check out Vive La Crêpe at one of their three locations – 51 Spring Street, 114 University Place (Union Square), or 189 Columbus Avenue.