March 11, 2014 Paris France Europe

Du Pain et des Idees: An Award Winning Bakery

A simple image I got tagged into on Instagram made me want to discover this place. What is said to be one of the best bakeries in Paris for serving the best bread in the capital has won three awards to date. I liked the place, its authenticity and innovative creations but, without sounding too pretentious, I personally don't understand what is so special about them.
 
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We woke up early and went there on a cold morning when almost everyone in the city was still asleep. We reached an authentic style bakery on a corner of a hidden street only Google maps knows how to locate. Outside, a large wooden table welcomes people like us who are are ready to eat on the spot. We went in, ordered and sat on a table to have breakfast.
 
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"Pick one of everything" I told my wife. Even though we always argue about the issue of ordering a lot just to taste, we ended buying two croissants and few viennoiseries rolls; a chocolate banana croissant, one plain, pistachio palmier, lemon nougat palmier and stick filled with cream...
 
I loved how simplicity takes over. Just a few choices and that's it. Bread, croissants and some pastry choices; a dozen maximum. What caught my attention are the large pieces of brown bread. I wished if I could have tasted them.
As it would have been a century ago, the range of breads is limited, but they are all crispy and delicious (and they are still great days later, assuming you haven't already devoured them). The reason for this is that I work with sourdough (and, occasionally, yeast - but only in very limited quantities), and I put a lot of time into the creation of the bread, which is the only way to give it a natural and strong flavor. Consequently, it takes me seven hours to make a baguette whereas the majority of Parisian bakers take only an hour and a half.
Christophe Vasseur won the Gault-Millau prize for Best Bakery. Among his specialties are Le Rabelais - pain brioché with saffron, honey and nuts; and Le Pagnol aux Pommes, a bread studded with royal gala apple (skin on), raisins and orange flower water.
 
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Starting with the croissant was not the best of ideas. It was a disappointment. A simple croissant with a slight crunchy envelop and a thick condensed dough inside. It's shocking. I expected something fresh, more airy, more fluffy and more buttery or at least different. This croissant is fresh and has nice flavors but not the best of croissants I've had in the capital or outside. Lebanon's Pate A Choux is way better.
 
The stick on another hand is great. Sacristain is a long 25 cm stick of rolled pastry that's crunchy and filled with pastry cream that keeps an interesting taste. Crunchy on the outside and covered in sugar, the dough is one of its kind as well as the textures constituting this creation. Two thumbs up
 
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Chocolate and banana croissant: The idea to start with is interesting. A simple invention which only a few have developed. A crunchy envelop with a hollow inside and a hint of a tasty chocolate and an adequate sweetness. The croissant is covered with sugar syrup to give it more taste while the banana feeling appears at the end to add some finesse and softness. It's good but not great!
 
Palmier pistachio; we all know the usual palmier that has a strong crunch and sugar taste. Du Pain et des Idees added an innovative touch to that by integrating pistachio and cream to the roll. A beautiful green color, a nice dough, interesting aromas and fine flavors but something was missing. I expected to be amazed but wasn't.
 
Another palmier but now with lemon and nougat. A new and interesting flavor and the best of what we had this morning. A strong lemon taste, a fine crunchiness of the nougat and subtle sweetness that ends up every bite in style.
 
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This is one of those places you should visit for sure. But go with no high expectation - this is when you will get disappointed. You'll enjoy it even more f you're not expecting perfection. Just forget that they have won some awards and go discover.
 
Du Pain et des Idees, 34 rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris. Tel: +33 1 42 40 44 52
 

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