Just a few minutes walk from our Paris flat, on rue cherche-midi, was the venerable bakery or boulangerie, Poilâne. Early one morning, just as the bakery was scheduled to open, we vowed to do a “croissant crawl” through Paris, and we started at Poilâne (perhaps better known for its sourdough bread). The tragic circumstances of Lionel Poilâne’s passing along with his wife in a helicopter crash many years ago, just as his 18 year old daughter was set to matriculate at Harvard University, is a story that struck a chord for a parent of a single child. Kudos to the daughter, who continued with her studies while managing the business from afar, and she is now firmly at the helm of a huge enterprise.
My french is appalling compared with Mrs. MM’s Parisian accurate accent (and fluency) in the language, so she headed into the shop to nab a croissant or two while I stayed outside to photograph the façade. This is the best time to explain that there are really two types of croissants. The first, a croissant that is indeed in a shape of a crescent, is made with fat that is NOT necessarily all butter. It can be vegetable oil, etc. The second type of croissant is a “croissant au buerre” or all-butter croissant, that typically does NOT come in a crescent shape at all, but is rather “straight”. This is a distinction I only learned a few years ago, and it is essential to the enjoyment of a croissant, for the all-butter ones are divine, period. And if you are going to have the calorie intake, you might as well have the buttery ones. :)
We forgot to discuss what croissant to taste that morning, and Mrs. MM emerged from the shop with a single nicely burnished and rather plump croissant in a crescent shape. It had a flaky exterior and chewy interior. It was nice, but honestly, a bit of a letdown for Poilâne, where expectations are always high. But never mind, they have so many other spectacular nibbles at Poilâne, I am not going to quibble. Suffice it to say it was better than any croissant I can get in Manila, but not amongst the very top best we tasted in Paris.
It should also be said that croissants should only be enjoyed in the morning, when they have just come out of the ovens. So the taste challenge was also time sensitive. Suffice it to say we didn’t get to too many shops in all, as eating 3-4 croissants in a single morning is enough to blimp you out big-time!
Marketman enjoying the last bits of the Poilâne croissant, take note of the anatomically correct horse/human centaur statue in the background…I only mention it because of another photo of a statue I recently took in Shanghai which will appear in a post a few weeks from now I hope…
Now if only I thought to bring some of sister’s jam to enjoy with the croissants we would be tasting!