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  • 2 months later...

A well-traveled guest at a recent dinner offered the opinion that Bouley's baguette was among the best she had ever had. All of my experience with Bouley's bread, and the knowledge that there are some very good baguettes being made in France these days (albeit not better than American and, yes, Japanese, examples), set off the alarms. Voicing my opinion that Bouley's quality barely qualifies it to use the term "bakery" to describe itself led to a challenge of the "I suppose you think you can do better?" variety. I agreed, and it was on.


So yesterday I went down to the bakery for a baguette. There were problems: no pointy ends, flabby shell (that is, poorly formed), no fermentation blisters, poor color, not great slashing. I bought one for $2.70. The first thing I did was to squeeze it. Squishy, no significant crackle to the crust. Smelled it. Nothing much on the nose, as it were. At home, cut it open and it was revealed to have a tight, undistinguished crumb that smelled of yeast, signs of hurried work, or at least of a quicker baking schedule than the kind of schedule that would produce a better result. Poor taste. Exactly the kind of baguette Parisians rejected some years ago, which gave rise to the current artisanal examples. Overall, a D.


I'll post photos and results of the comparison when (and if, under the rather laughable circumstances) it happens. For now, I wonder, what is Bouley thinking? It isn't that much more difficult to produce a high quality product. Has he given in to the ease of selling New Yorkers what they will accept (a condition that we see all over the food business in NY) at the expense of the loss of business from a very small number of people who care about better quality?


Other things I noticed in the five minutes I was in the shop: a very long line of happy customers; a huge flat screen tv displaying a slide show of photos of grapes; a rather thin-looking split pea soup of the day; a prefab oven, the temperature gauge for which read 150, which makes no sense either in farenheit or centigrade. Then the employee standing by the oven opened the door. It was empty inside.

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  • 4 months later...

I just had an almond croissant from Bergamote for the first time. Oh my.


It took a long time to eat, and was washed down with a couple of mugs of strong tea, but it still made me very sleepy. I think I had better go for a long swim in a bit.

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We now have a real French boulangerie here in Astoria: Le Petit Prince, Broadway between 33rd and 34th Streets. I haven't tried their baguette yet, but their almond croissant is out of this world.

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Daisy, you gots to get out here to the burbs. Up in Nyack, there's a table for two...(sorry, Fats Waller interlude) for you and me and two almond croissants at Didier Dumas. New-ish patisserie, with gorgeous wares AND a handsome French boulanger. :P

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  • 14 years later...

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