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Berkeley: La Farine

October 25, 2006

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Aww crap. My post was deleted! Ok, here’s a rewrite – though surely not as good as the original :( Follow up on the last post:

I went to sleep on Sunday with an almond croissant-less belly. It was a sad evening. I had searched fruitlessly all day for these creatures only to be turned down by one bakery after another. All sold out. But when Kathy wants pastries, she damn well gets them! Monday morning I bolted out of bed at 7am sharp, didn’t even both with contacts, much less brush my hair. I literally RAN the two miles to La Farine. I was going to GET THAT ALMOND CROISSANT. Am I slightly crazy? Perhaps. In love with food? Oh yeah.
The bakery had just opened it’s doors and the warm cozy scent of fresh baked parties and bread was borderline intoxicating. I spied gorgeous morning buns – creatures of croissant dough dusted in cinnamon sugar, rolled and baked in muffin tins. To the left were Swiss Twinkies, puff pastry rolled in cigar/croissant-like style with a sweet nut puree. Brioches, big and small lay company to the golden apple croissants and soft mounds of tender orange scones.

Talk about sensory overload. But I had only one object of affection in mind. Almond Croissant. They sat next to the register in all their crisp brown glory. Rich as heaven and light as a feather.

“One almond croissant please,” and it was mine. I took my dear pastry, carefully enclosed in a paper bag to the bakery’s single communal table. A swift rip of the bag, revealed all its natural beauty of butter, yeast, flour and almonds, a creature to behold. It resembled a snail in architecture and was perfectly browned from all angles and dotted with sliced almonds. Out at the base of the croissant lay some of the almond filling that oozed out but clung on, making for a wonderfully crunchy sweet reward. To beautiful to eat. Almost.

I worked my way from the inside out, peeling apart seemingly endless layers of soft buttery dough twined with a nutty crunchy almond mix. It was not the traditional type of almond paste filling, but rather a rough mix of almonds, butter and sugar. Delightful, nonetheless. Bites at the top layer resulted in flying shards of crisp croissant flakes. Just as I like it. All at once soft and doughy with nibbles of almonds and a nearly flaky, properly crisp shell. I took bite and bite, nibble after nibble, till there was nothing left.

It was quite fantastic; though I would be lying if I didn’t say I was the slightest bit let down. I hyped myself up so much for this one croissant. Everything from research of Berkeley croissants weeks in advanced, to being THISCLOSE to getting one at Masse’s and La Farine yesterday and everything else in between, built up my anticipation to the point where expectations were far too high to ever be satisfied. Silly me. This always happens. I often think about nothing but one dish or food item for days on end. I build up wondrous ideas of it’s flavor, taste and appearance. And when I finally get it, it is good. But not as good as I had hope. Not nearly as good. But then again, food is rarely that excellent. Especially when you build up unreachable expectations. I suppose if I had come across La Farine’s croissants on a random morning walk, I would have been taken aback by its sheer simplicity and deliciousness. But because I had analyzed it left and right down to a science, there wasn’t too much to enjoy. I had asked for too much.

I’m taking off to NYC tonight. TOP SECRECT MISSION. Will be back next Tuesday. I will not go crazy with food like I did during spring break (7 days, over $1000 spent, 9 pounds gained) and I will not research and make up crazy lists of things I HAVE to do HAVE to eat. Instead, I will come across little spots, encounter unexpected delights and bask in the beauty of it all.

La Farine
6323 College Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 654-0338



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