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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Le petit déjeneur parisienne

     So how do Parisians start their day?

     Simply and efficiently. Just a café au lait, or a straight espresso for some, taken at the counter of their favorite spot on their way to work, along with a croissant or a slice of baguette with creamy butter (made with true unpasteurized cream yes!) and very good preserves. In this succinct version of a breakfast, we have 3 elements worth contemplating. For starters, the coffee.

     Most of the coffee drank in France is from the very strong, robusta variety, which hails from Ethiopia. This is a truly strong roast. If you live outside of Paris (or even outside of France as is my case), you may experience this very effective pick me up with Lavazza’s Crema e Gusto espresso roast, which is made of a blend of 70% robusta beans.

     It is the ideal blend to be brewed in the typical French press cafetière.
The Bodum Chambord French press brews
2 to 3 cups of coffee.

    This particular way of starting the day reminds me very much of the confiterías in Buenos Aires – which for a very good reason is called “the Paris of South America” – serving “le petit noir” (as it is known in Paris) or a “café con leche”, along with a “medialuna” (our croissant), a great antidote against the cold mornings of the porteños.

This more relaxed version of the Paris breakfast, along with
a glass of grapefruit juice, is more of the weekends

    Croissants and baguettes in Paris are one of the quintessential trademarks of the city.  Paris has this culture du pain, and hundreds of different ones are made in its local boulangeries.  I have found some very good croissants in Orlando at a place called Croissant Gourmet, in Winter Park.  Their croissants are double the size of the ones from Paris or Buenos Aires, and the best ones are the almond croissants.  Truly scrumptious and fulfilling, they leave one with no need for sustenance until dinner.  For plain, scrumptiously fluffy croissants, Rosa at the Windermere Farmers Market has the best ones I’ve managed to find so far.  You can get her croissants, excellent sourdough boules, baguettes with kalamata olives et al, every Friday from 9:00 to 14:00 hrs.

Rosa’s baguette with kalamata olives is the perfect 
complement to home-marinated chèvre.

Best almond croissants in Orlando

     My other local good place for French patisseries and breads is My French Café, where plain croissants are a bit more normal in size, yet are crispy golden brown on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  I love these with some salted butter and very good preserves, either from Bonne Mamman, Hédiard or some extra special Confiture à la Ancienne.  I managed to find one online cooked in cauldron from The Frenchy Bee

     The baguette is the Parisian bread par excellence, and people generally buy 1 every day, sometimes queuing in front of their favorite boulangerie for the prized loaf.  A very good baguette should be crispy and golden on the outside, with an interior that is cream in colour and soft.  French bread tastes good because it is fresh, made every day, and contains no preservatives.  I am always appalled by how long a loaf of bread lasts here in the USA, making for less than tolerable flavor and a true abortion of the good principles of bread-making.  In France, it is illegal to use preservatives in the bread or dairy (or anything for that matter); hence products last less, but had incredible flavor and natural properties.

     One the best boulangeries in Paris are those of Jean-Luc Poujauran (which now caters exclusively to high end restaurants), and that of the Poilâne family.  The latter now ships breads directly to the United States.  If one is willing to pay, Poilâne will send some very expensive, although very fresh bread right to your door by next day air.

     After a fulfilling, yet not so heavy, breakfast, Parisians grab their écharpes, fasten their trench coats, and head on to work.  No snacking till lunch time.

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