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Bouchon Bakery

May 06, 2006

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What happens when you get two girls with a terrrrrible weakness for sweets and pastries? Eager visitors to the grand opening of Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center! I met Robyn around noon and we quickly subway-ed our way up with visions of cakes, muffins and brioches dancing in our minds. And the weather was so nice, too.

The “Bakery” includes both a sit down service area (oddly located behind a massive Samsung sign) and a takeout bakery counter. We hemmed and hawwed a bit before deciding to opt for the bakery counter. Why? Well we wanted SWEETS…and maybe some salty, but our goal here was to sample alllll, or as many as possible baked goods and desserts. Not to mention the fact that we’d rather invest $20 in a trio of cakes than one sandwich. Yahhh!

I just thought this was an interesting shot. The window though which all the bistro orders are sent out. Love the colors. Soft green pastels and whites, reminds me of Financier. Bakery. Serious business, you know, with all those black ties and suits.

That’s Sarah in behind the counter. A good friend of Robyn, I only got to meet her this once before break ended (how quickly 10 days passes) but she was awfully sweet and made plenty of delicious recommendations. (Oh man, I’d get so fat from working here…one day I’ll tell you about my summer working at the Japanese bakery Saint Germain back home in Hawaii).

Overwhelmed by the options, Robyn and I had to make a plan. We’d start with a couple, or three items. Eat our way though those and then strategize what to have next. Brilliant, no? :) First, a picture perfect brioche. On the small side, but we’ll call it “dainty.” All at once richly eggy, yet light with a golden brown surface dotted by sugar crystal. But I daresay, I do love Claude’s brioches more, they’ve got more of a rustic loving feel and buttery flavor.

Banana muffins don’t get more banana-ey than this. Honestly, it tasted like banana…transformed into muffin! Sheer sweet taste of bananas alone in the texture of soft, moist batter. The sticky bun was a little too sweet for me and I would have preferred thicker layers of dough to soak up the caramel. Nonetheless, contrasts between nutty bites of pecans, melty caramel and round ribbons of sweet dough make for a pretty happy snack.

Having covered a decent round of baked goods, we huvveyed (another word for “joyfully jogged”) back to the bakery counter and returned with a Paris Brest and a seasonal Apple Tart. Note: this was not just any apple tart. It was like all the best pudding, tart and pie components combined. The base of the shell was filled with a thin layer of apple puree, then layers of sweet sliced apples. The top was the best: a half-inch thick layer of a caramel flavored gelatin-like meringue/mousse. Meringue or mousse? Almost jello – on the verge of agar-agar? I don’t know! Put all that together in the flavor of a mellow smooth caramel. A glimmering puddle of thinned caramel liquid, toss of chopped nuts and a sweet apple was the ideal way to top off the tart. Oh yeahh…
The Paris Brest was decent, but we were both slight disappointed – so much lost potential! It was beautiful to look at but the cream filling hovered on bland and wasn’t rich enough to balance the crispy pastry shell.

A part of me would have felt guilty if we didn’t leave with at least one savory item, hence the ham and cheese on baguette. We asked for it to be pressed but were told that the kitchen was doing that at the moment (opening day chaos perhaps?) Accompanied by a brush of sweet butter and dijon mustard, it was simple well prepared sandwich. But it was cold. And baguette sandwiches shouldn’t be eaten cold, in my opinion. Those of you who’ve eaten sandwiches with me might have noticed that I eat in layers. haha. Even sandwiches (it does NOT defeat the purpose of a sandwich). I think it’s cause I have a need to taste everything individually. First the top half of the baguette, then cheese and ham…the butter. I liked the butter the best. It was a soft sweet, very full tasting butter. I read that Keller sources his signature “sweet butter” from a single lady in northern California who produces only for him. Does that mean I can’t buy a pound or two for myself?

The madeline on the left was barely flavored with hints of lemon, light and soft cookie/cake like. I haven’t had enough madelines to make comparison, but it something I’d eat again if it was given to me, though I wouldn’t make a ride up here for it. Though what I would make ride for is the sexy sexy caraaaamel macaron. Aside from skimping a tad on the caramel creme, the cookie itself rivaled that of Financiers. A smooth surface giving way to moist, sweetly caramel innards with a slight chew – it quickly vanishes in your mouth leaving only a hint of caramel…smoking there, in the air somewhere… Did I tell you I love macarons? I could eat them day and night and never cease to by amazed by the complexity of flavors and changing texture for the very moment it passes your lips.

Thank god for ovens.

Bouchon Bakery
10 Columbus Circle
nr. 59th St., third flr.
(212)823-9366



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