Dans la famille Coquelicot, je voudrais le pain!

Pain au coquelicot

[In the Poppy family, I would like the bread!*]

Coquelicot is the name of a bakery on Place des Abbesses, a couple of blocks away from our apartment. Their baguettes are fabulous and hold a special place in our hearts and our bread rotation. In addition to baguettes, Coquelicot makes a variety of specialty breads over the course of the week. And because they’re thoughtful and know how vital bread is, they give out a little time table for you to know which kind can be found on which day.

To their list of specialty breads they recently added a Pain au Coquelicot, red poppy bread, available on Saturdays and Sundays. Since I have been on a red poppy kick lately, this sounded too interesting to pass up and my Saturday morning errand run included a stop at Coquelicot for their namesake bread.

The loaf was beautiful to look at, shaped like a flower and sprinkled with — of course! — poppy seeds. When I sliced off one of the petals (loves me, loves me not) I was sort of expecting little bits of red, but the inside was simply white and speckled with a few grains. Samples were promptly tasted, and while the texture and basic flavor were close to Coquelicot’s classic multigrain bread (golden crusty crust and moist, tightly knit interior), something in the smell of the bread (thus affecting the taste too) was unusual and most intriguing. Strong but not obnoxious, strange but pleasantly so.

After a few bites we were still trying to figure out what it reminded us of exactly, when Maxence said it tasted like summer, and from there pinned it down: monoï! The scent of that loaf of bread was a close cousin of monoï, a Thaitian beauty oil made with tiare flowers and coconut oil, that vahines slather on their skin and hair. It is also an often-used fragrance for sunscreen, hence the summery impression.

Now, I realize that comparing a bread’s scent to sunscreen may not be the most tempting of descriptions but surprisingly enough I, who normally dislike cosmetic tastes in my food, loved that bread. It has a strong personality and it’s definitely not your average oh-I-go-with-everything kind of bread, but I find it interesting to let this trait shine through by pairing it with soft-spoken ingredients. It will perk up a simple butter and ham sandwich superbly, it will work wonders with a salad of young greens and fresh goat cheese, and it is just great for breakfast too, under a thin layer of salted butter and blackcurrant jam.

(* The title of this post refers to the typical phrase that one uses when playing the popular jeu des sept familles card game, called happy families in English, in which you have to collect all the members of one family and then as many complete families as you can — a favorite of mine when I was little.)

24 rue des Abbesses – 75018 Paris – 01 46 06 18 77
By the same owners:
Le Grenier de Félix
64 av. Félix Faure – 75015 Paris – 01 45 54 57 48

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  • suzy

    Your jeu des sept familles sounds reminiscent of our Go Fish!, in which we ask, “Do you have any sevens?” (for instance), in an attempt to collect all the sevens, and so on. If the answer is negative, one is told to “go fish!” and choose a card from the “pond”.

  • Last time when I was in Paris, I stayed right around rue des Abbesses — and went to get bread at Coquelicot every morning! I couldn’t get enough it – it was so delicious!!

  • Your papounet

    Maxence is a poet… “This bread smells like summer” ! How perfect. How infinitely better than saying “this bread stinks like suntan oil…” ;°)

  • joan

    Clotilde, that photo is tasteable! Ah, Bread!!!

  • clotilde,
    mind telling me what font you used for the “zucchini” on your logo? it’s very pretty.

  • Michele

    any ideas as to how one would store such bread? or is it a one day delight only?

  • liz fazenda

    Monoï so that’s what it is !! After much sniffing and synapse connecting we simply could not figure out what on earth that intriguing smell was in the poppy seed bread that my friend brought over the other day, we unglamorously came to the conclusion that it was artificial vanilla scent like in those unmentionable little tree scent air fresheners that people hang on their car mirrors (rétroviseur). I know, I know does’nt make you pray for the weekend so u can dash out and buy it but I must say I basked in some guilt ridden pleasure while munching toasted slices with salted butter and apricot jam. I thought it was just my occasional craving and bad taste for really artificial tasting flavours (fraises tagada, sherbet sweets etc) that clinched it. ps. it keeps perfectly for a few days if u toast it, in fact I have only eaten it toasted but it was delicious.
    Keep up your absolutely astounding gold mine of a blog, I love it !

  • Rachel

    Ahhhhh… Coquelicot used to be my local boulangerie! And the best one I’ve ever tried in Paris (well, Boris Portolan in the 19th is a close second). Even though I lived less than 2 minutes’ walk from it, 90% of the time I could never resist biting into my baguette before I got it home. (And off she goes on a little nostalgia trip… ;) )

  • Thanks Clotilde for the suggestion of Coquelicot: I’ve been in Paris the lat 5 days and have fantastic breakfast there every day (except monday of course ;o) )!!!


  • Rz

    Like many others, I, too enjoyed many mornings and afternoons spent devouring the many delights at Coquelicot when I had the chance to live in Paris, just around the corner from this wonderful place. This may seem silly but I miss drinking my hot cocoa or cafe out of a bowl!

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