Last summer, while in Paris, I arose at sunrise to take the Metro to the outskirts of the city because I had read of a boulangerie that made a pain au chocolat ET BANANA. I initially tried to remember the directions to my oasis that I had memorized just before bed the night before. However, the sound of my heart beating in my ears quickly pounded the way out of my mind. So after whipping out my big ol' map of Paris and drawing the attention of the Parisian locals, I found my oasis.
I swiftly purchased the delicate pastry, found a wooden bench on which to plop down and hopefully slow my heart rate, and proceeded to savor it's chards of butter-laced pastry and gooey, just-warmed banana chocolate filling. All the while, tears were streaming down my face. Needless to say, it was a rather sublime experience.
Once the final bite had melted on my tongue and I had come to, I looked up to see a sheek and beautiful French couple, perfectly golden croissants in hand, staring at me. While part of me thinks that they most likely thought that I was just a crazy American girl, the other part of believes that they understood what I was experiencing. I was in my happy place. The place where the entire experience of eating a particular food, whether it be a humble bowl of handmade pasta, a perfectly briny oyster, or that first lick of gelato in my favorite gelateria in Florence. Those moments of culinary bliss consistently ignite that gastronomic giddiness that sets my foodie soul on fire.
I will forever savor that moment sitting outside of the blessed boulangerie in Paris. I will use that wondrous pastry as my standard for all other confections, I have found a bakery whose breads and pastries never cease to impress me. That place is PB Boulangerie, a bakery and bistro owned and run by two authentic, classically-trained French pastry chefs. Their breads and pastries are phenomenal. There is always a line snaking out the door, which ultimately peaks my anticipation even more. This past weekend I returned to the beloved bakery for the first time this season. Immediately I felt the warm feeling in my chest develop and the ridiculous, yet genuine, gleeful smile spread across my face as I entered the store. And while I am no expert on French pastries, I can safely say that they produce quite possibly the most delicious pain au chocolat this side of the Atlantic.
Buon appetito (bon appétit)!