My 6 Favorite Croissants in Paris

Des Gâteaux et du Pain

I am very, very passionate about croissants; I think it’s about as close to perfection as a single baked good can get.

I love the contrast of textures between the crunchy tips, the thinly crisp outer shell, and the moist, tender insides. I love how the combined flavors of butter and flour are fundamentally enhanced by a properly conducted fermentation. I love a warm croissant fresh out of the oven, but I love one that’s been sitting for an hour or two even more. And in truth, I like a day-old, chewy croissant as well. (Unless I decide to turn it into an almond croissant.)

I find that the croissant is an excellent product to judge a baker by, as there is truly nowhere to hide: a croissant reveals the quality of your ingredients and your skill level in the most transparent manner. It is such a simple preparation in theory, yet one that is radically shaped by the hand that makes it.

I recently contributed an article about the best croissants in Paris to the spring 2016 issue of Bake from Scratch, an American magazine devoted to (you guessed it) baking. This particular issue is all about France, and my piece involved research and interviews, a lot of cycling around the city, and a lot of tasting.

I boiled it all down to (my personal selection of) the best croissants in Paris, which I’m delighted to share with you today. As you’ll see in the pictures below, each of these croissants has a distinctive personality, but all can be trusted to deliver the most delicious whoosh of flaky butteriness in an irresistibly golden, brittle package.

If you’re ever in Paris, here’s where I recommend you get your croissant fix:

French Food Cheat Sheet

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Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Pressure Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Spring has sprung in Paris, and we have had a few of those sky-so-blue, light-of-gold, fill-my-heart-to-bursting days, the kind that makes every Parisian mellow out and smile the way not other time of year does.

There is still a definite chill in the air, though, which is part of the charm of this particular turn of season, and we are not quite out of stew territory yet. It is an in-between I love and embrace, and the perfect time to make the quickest, easiest Beef Bourguignon you can imagine.

In my first cookbook I have a recipe for traditional Boeuf Bourguignon that is really really good (do you know my first book is full of staples from my repertoire?). But when I’m pressed for time, I streamline the process quite a bit to have it be ready in just two hours, most of which is just the pressure cooker working its magic while you paint your toenails (I wish) or herd the small people in your life (more like).

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Cooking with Young Children: 5 Lessons I’ve Learned

Rolling

Oh, hi! A quick heads-up: today, we’re going to be talking about kids in the kitchen! If this is of zero interest to you, I totally get it, and invite you to take a look at this springtime pot-au-feu, this fresh ginger cake, and these really fun food expressions in various languages. How does that sound? Okay then.

On to today’s topic! My eldest son is about to turn four, and for a little while now I’ve been wanting to post a few thoughts on what it’s like to share kitchen space with him. In short? It’s not easy. The good news? It can be done, but it’s good to keep a few guiding principles in mind. Here’s what I’ve learnt.

Photo credit: No Milk Today.

Photo credit: No Milk Today.

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Gluten-Free Almond Breadcrumbs

Gluten-Free Almond Breadcrumbs

I love to keep seasoned breadcrumbs on hand: they add a finely crunchy touch to salads and other vegetable preparations (incl. zucchini noodles), and they top pasta dishes and gratins beautifully. They are also a required ingredient if you want to make breaded chicken cutlets or eggplant slices.

But what if you’re trying to go easy on the gluten and the carbs? Do you have to envision a breadcrumb-free life? Not so with these gluten-free almond breadcrumbs!

They came into my own life by way of my friend Claire, who runs the cold-pressed juice company Nubio here in Paris. They make their own almond milk, so they process quite a lot of almonds, and they’ve been looking for creative ways to use the remaining solids so they don’t go straight to the compost.

This is made up of finely chopped almonds, slightly moist from the soaking and pressing process. It doesn’t quite have the flavor and nutrition of raw almonds — a good portion has gone into the almond milk — but it’s still a valuable byproduct.

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Best of March

Sainte-Gauburge priory in Saint-Cyr-la-Rosière, which houses the Perche's eco-museum.

Sainte-Gauburge priory in Saint-Cyr-la-Rosière, which houses the Perche's eco-museum.

Happy spring! I hope you’re enjoying the longer days, the switch to daylight saving time, and the first springtime crops that are starting to appear on market stalls. Asparagus, strawberries, and tender greens! Such a bright, exciting time of year, it warrants three exclamation marks in the same paragraph!

Best of March 2016

Good Eats

• I had the freshest, most lovely lunch at Health Inside, a vegetarian juice bar that recently opened on rue Charlot in the 3rd, an area that’s heaven for people who like that kind of veg-happy food (see also: Wild &The Moon, Café Pinson, Nanashi, Rose Bakery, the list goes on). I especially enjoyed my lentil salad, made with French green lentils and chunks of avocado. The dressing had a touch of honey in it, but what made the dish were the still-warm, just-roasted hazelnuts scattered on top. What’s your favorite kind of lentil salad? I’m also in love with this one.

• I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of the gianduja éclair I bought at Boulangerie BO in the 12th — intensely flavored, not too sweet, and generously studded with caramelized hazelnuts. (March was hazelnut month for me apparently!)

• I also had a very special guest in my kitchen: Mariah, a high school senior from Minnesota, was flown to Paris with the support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation to pursue her passion for baking. She was whip-smart and super sweet, and I was honored to bake my favorite French sablés with her.

• A sunny lunch at Taillevent ended on a wondrous note with an green apple and carrot plated dessert created by the young and talented François Daubinet. An inventive pairing he ran away with, expressing it with fresh and bright flavors.

Perpetual Giveaway!

Starting this month and every month after that, every subscriber of the C&Z newsletter will be automatically entered to win a copy of one of my books. He or she will be offered to choose between Chocolate & Zucchini, Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris, The French Market Cookbook, and Edible French, which I will ship to any mailing address in the world.

This is my way of showing my appreciation for your support and loyal readership. If you don’t yet subscribe, you can sign up now. Keep your fingers crossed and good luck! I will announce the winner in the next monthly newsletter.

Loving this

For years and years I’ve wanted to incorporate a meditation practice into my daily routine, but I could never make it stick until I got a meditation headband as a holiday gift last December.

Muse headbandIt’s a digital device that analyzes your brain activity, and gives you gentle feedback to help quiet your mind: you choose a soundscape (I like the rainforest and the desert best) and start meditating. When you’re completely calm, you start to hear birds chirping; when you are losing focus, the wind picks up and the weather gets gradually more intense, which reminds you to let go of your active thoughts, and bring your mind back to your breath.

It works in conjunction with a smart phone application that logs your meditation sessions and provides tips and encouragement as well.

The irony of buying something to engage in a minimalist activity that should only require one’s brain is not lost on me. But for those of us who have trouble committing to the practice without some sort of structure and accountability, this has proven to be a great tool to overcome my curiously powerful resistance.

I anticipate I will no longer need it after a while (and will give it away or resell it then), but for now I am enjoying my Muse band very much, and never before have I been so consistent with the practice. Do you meditate? If so, how do you do it? If not, is it something you’re curious about?

French food cheat sheet

Will you be visiting France soon? I have put together a printable cheat sheet of French terms and useful phrases to help you navigate the food scene like a pro. You are welcome to download it here; I hope you find it useful!

French Food Cheat Sheet

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