Friday, November 4, 2011

Boulangerie-Patisserie Banette

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You can be some things to all people, or all things to some people, or even just some things to some people, but you can never be all things to all people. No wonder the French had a revolution, and perhaps it started when lines started blurring between boulangeries and patisseries. Even Marie Antoinette was confused suggesting that cake was a suitable substitute for daily bread. A boulangerie is a bread bakery while a patisserie is a pastry and cake bakery, but more and more you see hybrids on the streets of Paris and we're not talking automobiles. Some of us need more consistency in life, clearly defined parameters, but we won't find them in Parisian bakeries. Boulangerie Patisserie Banette is a good example of the new hybrid bakeries. Located on the Contrescarpe it is where I picked up croissants an pain du chocolat while staying at Hotel Des Grandes Ecoles.

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Banette goes one step further to blur the lines because it offers sandwiches and salads, clearly the realm of the cafe in Parisian culture. Is it the European Union that is responsible for this blurring of definition? As one who has traveled quite a bit over the years, I have noticed a big change in individual European countries since the Union began. You can find macarons in Italian bakeries, pizza in French bakeries and Guinness just about everywhere. There is no longer a bargain country, because as soon as the currency converted, inflation in the lesser expensive countries filled in the gap.

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No matter what you call it Banette does have some strong points, croissants and pain au chocolat are two of them. Their pain au chocolate were so good and so low in price, that I made a point to buy a plastic container, so they could be transported home on our last day in Paris. It worked out beautifully and co-workers at the office were delighted with the surprise. During our return to Paris this year, my plastic container will be in tow. I admit, the 6 euro lunches where you select a sandwich, a drink and a dessert looked like a real bargain too.

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The pastry can't be faulted, but the Banette selection was not as extensive as in many other shops. In all honesty, the shop wasn't large enough for a bigger selection. Maybe they're not trying to be all things to all people, but with a small chain bakery such as this one, they may be attempting to reach all people. There is a big controversy about the use of industrialized frozen bread in France and Banette is a part of it because their brand is associated with the frozen bread and what some consider the beginning of the end for the classic baguette. The frozen product is much cheaper to make and sells at lower prices. Unfair competition, yes.

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Speaking of blurred lines, do you see doughnuts? I've seen a few Italian doughnuts in my day, but didn't realize the French made them.  And cookies like those in the photo below, are they French? The financier and cannele  are definitely traditional French pastries, but somehow the brownies look out of place, even though the Coca Cola on the signboards does not. It's definitely a crazy mixed up world.

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French Bread Information from About-France 

Banette Website

Rue Mouffetard at Rue Thouin
75005 Paris France

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Patisserie Blavette Daniel

To this day, I'm not certain of the actual name of this patisserie, but the labels on their cakes read "Patisserie Blavette", the awning out front reads "Blavette" and the Internet follows it as Blavette Daniel and due in part to my original entries on Foodspotting, Daniel Blavette. Whatever you choose to call it, it's one wonderful bakery filled with classic French pastry.


The four photos above were the first taken of Blavette. We had looked into the window on Rue Mouffetard and noticed a sweet display of boxed macarons that seemed like a nice gift to bring to friends in Bologna, our next stop on that particular trip. The variety of pastries was  striking, because they were all very classic and beautifully executed. Not wanting to overstay the welcome, it seemed these four shots would be enough to give anyone an overall view of what was offered by the patisserie. Upon our return home, while editing the photos, it seemed far too few and I knew I would be returning for more photos, more macarons and a few pastries to try while I was at it.



It wasn't until my second trip that all the savory tarts, tortes and quiches were even noticed. Even pizza was represented in the bakery; the smoked salmon and creme fraiche pizza is on my short list of must try items. As I continued to look around there were breads and baguettes lined up against the back wall, like wallflowers at a dance, but these would find partners in no time, judging by the line forming behind me in the shop . One could furnish themselves three meals a day in this establishment and not repeat anything for a month.


Tucked in amongst the quiche and tortes were these two sandwiches. This place was a treasure trove of culinary gold! It's mystifying that so much was missed on the first trip. I must have been in a macaron induced haze at the time, or merely fixated upon the sweet pastries. They are definitely glazed to make them shimmer and sparkle in the pastry cases, so they cannot be missed as the light plays across their surfaces; it's a conspiracy.



Ah, the dainty, innocent looking macarons that beckoned us into the bakery from the street the first time, then lured us back a second and third time. A charming little item that distracts and delights, dances on the palate, then vanishes into thin air, leaving one hungry for more and in various other flavors. You have to try them all, don't you? One pays a hefty price for that moment of pleasure. At almost a euro each, the addiction can eat up a snack budget in a hurry. I found myself pricing them at every bakery I saw, trying to find a bargain. Even the large macarons at Blavette were reasonably priced compared to the more renowned patisseries (2.4 euro compared to 4 euro each). The way I calculate, if I buy Balvette macarons instead of some from say Lauderee, I'll save so much money I'll be able to afford a Hermes scarf in three more trips!


If you couldn't tell that I'm completely besotted by macarons, you might think so after I mention that I purchased two French cookbooks on the subject , and I neither read nor write French. Still, hope springs eternal and I have plans for making them one day, although I seem to be able to easily find them now, everywhere I go in Europe and even at home. I've saved the best for last, as one should always do with dessert.