Tuesday, December 18, 2012
While I've enjoyed many a delicacy in Paris and even done personal taste tests into things like macarons, I felt there was a stone I left uncovered by not giving the croissants its due.
I decided to conduct a croissant-off to see who I thought made Paris' best baked butter treat. While I can't say my research was exhaustive, I can say I ate some fabulous croissants. First off, it should be known that not all boulangeries in Paris make their own croissants. Horror, I know. Some buy frozen dough or croissants and then bake them, but no, no, I avoided those places and just went to the real deal, authentic, croissant au buerre spots.
First stop was Cyril & Esmeralda Cauvet, a family owned boulangerie in the 15th that always has a line outside - a good sign.
The croissant was crisp on the outside, and unfortunately not warm on the inside even though I was there early, but I won't hold it against them since you have to catch them right out of the oven for the wafting steam. There was still good buttery flavor, but the density wasn't quite working for me, and it seemed a little dwarfed.
I then stopped in to the beautiful Au Levain du Marais just up the street from my place.
Sometimes beauty is only skin deep, but they did indeed deliver a solid croissant. There was a golden glaze on the outside, good depth and a nice taste.
I stopped into Eric Kayser just to do a comparison. Kayser isn't exactly a boutique boulangerie, especially since they just opened an outpost in NY, but they still do great bread work, so I thought I'd pop in to try.
The croissant was good with the perfunctory points, except for the literal ones on the outside. Traditional croissants are supposed to be rolled up with a point on top, and 2 handlebar outcroppings, but not so much here. I just didn't feel its soul.
Last stop was Ble Sucre in the 12th. This was the real winner for me with a flaky outside that gets all down the front of your shirt, and a soft inside that had just the right amount of dough to air. It was also the biggest and well, sorry, sometimes size does matter.
As I was researching these boulangeries, I also asked people how they ate their croissants, and found the process similar to how people like to eat an Oreo cookie.
Everyone had their own method from starting with the end on the top and unraveling it to my favorite of eating the handlebars on the side then savoring the best part in the middle for last.
No matter how it goes down for you or from where, just make sure to visit an artisan boulangerie where they take the time to make everything from scratch.