Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bakery Review: Paris Baguette

Paris Baguette - July 12, 2013
I'm continuing my mini quest to try all the local, small business bakeries I can go to and assess their offerings. Next in the lineup is Paris Baguette.  They're not as small business as the mom-and-pop places I try to patronize; in the US, they have 15-22 locations in California, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and they're actually a subdivision of a much larger food and food services company based in Korea.  But they were nearby and they got good reviews on yelp so I decided to throw them on the list.
Like many Asian bakeries, they're set up in a self-service style where you take a tray and a pair of long-handled tongs and walk through the bakeshop which has trays of individual-sized baked goods lining the shelves and atop the table in the middle of the shop.  You choose which ones you want and place them on your tray, using the tongs (please don't use your fingers to fondle the baked goods) then you end up at the cashier where you pay for your purchases and the cashier bags them for you. Ironically, the first time I was exposed to that type of setup was at a Chinese bakery in Melbourne, Australia.  Yes, I had to travel halfway across the world to experience a layout that was in every Asian bakery within walking and easy driving distance of my home.  Go figure.

Also like many Asian bakeries, Paris Baguette is pretty cheap.  I got an apple pastry, a castella and a cannele - all for $5.60.  The castella was the most expensive at $2; the other two were $1.80 each.  First up on the taste test was the apple pastry since that's what I felt like having for breakfast that day.  It was really good, the pastry was flaky and the apples weren't too tart or too sweet.  They could've used a few more apple slices in there and I would've preferred it without raisins but for what it was, it was very good.  Certainly not something I'd go to the trouble of making myself when I can get a delicious one for $1.80. Not to mention laminated doughs are not my strength.
Apple Pastry - pretty good

Cannele - overbaked
The cannele was my post-lunch snack and that was the disappointment of the three things I bought.  I had some reservations about it based on how it looked because the bottom was burnt.  Canneles are supposed to be dark but this was beyond that to burnt.  I had to take a picture of the bottom so you can see what I mean.  Given that, it wasn't surprising that the cannele itself was overcooked.  The middle part had the right texture albeit a little too firm but the outer shell of the canele was hard.  I'd first had caneles from La Boulange bakery in San Francisco, based on a friend's recommendation, so I know what a good cannele tastes like.  It should be like a firm (but not too firm) custard that isn't too eggy-tasting or too sweet.  If you could have a dry custard verging on a dense cake, that's what this overcooked cannele was like.  The taste itself, minus the slight burnt aftertaste, was good but the texture was too hard for a cannele.


Fortunately, the taste test ended on a good note with the castella.  It was almost exactly like mamon (French sponge cake) that I've bought from Goldilocks, a Filipino bakery chain known for its mamon.  The castella was similar in taste and texture, very light and fluffy, lightly sweetened - think of it like a yellow chiffon cake.  It was only slightly more dense than a mamon which tends to be more chiffon-like but it wasn't a heavy denseness, just that there was less airiness and more cake fluff, if that makes sense.  In any case, I enjoyed it.  Of the three, I'd have to give the nod to the apple pastry as the winner though.
All in all, the things I tried were decent.  I'd go back to Paris Baguette to try more of their offerings.  They do a lot of croissants, both plain and filled, cream-filled custard buns and pastries filled with more Asian flavors like red bean, sesame, tapioca, etc.  If you don't want anything too exotic, they also have pain au chocolat and almond croissants.  Ironically, I forgot to look for baguettes.  Since it's in their name, I would assume they make a good one but I would need to try it to test that assumption.

2 comments:

  1. I love french pastries and bread. I haven't seen them in NYC, but I will look into it. The cannele does look very dark to me too. I see you went to the CIA, my stepson is a graduate from Hyde Park. He didn't do the pastry program, but is a chef in Denver.

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  2. Their website lists NYC locations so I hope you find them. Although I've done a bakery tour of Manhattan and they have lots of competition. How cool about your stepson! I've always wanted to visit the Hyde Park campus.

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