Saturday, May 3, 2008

Banette

To get to the Metro from our apartment, we passed this boulangerie, so it quickly became our stop to grab some breakfast on the way to see the sights.


Banette is actually situated right in front of a Metro stop (Cardinal Lemoine), so it was often quite busy when we stopped in. We noticed that the busier a boulangerie, the better the goods.


The baguettes here are very long and narrow. I often had to break the baguette into three pieces to get it to a manageable size where I wasn't jousting people as I walked down the street. The baguettes have a delicate and thin crust that easily tears to reveal soft and fluffy innards. Compared to the baguettes from Eric Kayser though, this baguette was just air.


Alongside the baguettes, croissants are a staple found at boulangeries. When my eye caught an almond croissant at Banette, I made an executive decision to forgo the plain croissant I was going to get and instead try their croissant aux amandes. The first thing I noted about this croissant is its shape. Plain croissants have beautiful lines as they spiral inward, but this croissant was lumpy and had no defining lines. I might not have known it was a croissant except for the small sign in the pastry case. But do not be deceived by its exterior, as a treasure lies within! As I was handed my almond croissant, the second thing I noticed was the weight. This was a hefty croissant, heavy from the almond filling. The almond croissant was very moist and instead of the airy layers of dough found in plain croissants, this croissant was filled with a sweet almond paste whose nutty flavor went well with the buttery dough. It was a luscious treat that we tried to savor, but as all good eats, it was quickly devoured.


In the deli case, I saw a variety of meat sandwiches, so I asked the woman helping me whether she had any vegetarian sandwiches available. She offered to make me a sandwiche de crudites, to which I happily agreed. Before our trip, I was afraid that I would have trouble requesting vegetarian meals, but the woman helping me was very accommodating and I waited as she went in the back to make me a vegetarian sandwich. The sandwich that I later unwrapped had lettuce, tomatoes, and boiled eggs, which aren't necessarily vegetarian-friendly, but luckily I subscribe to a very liberal vegetarian diet and eat eggs in addition to dairy and fish. The creamy egg yolks acted as a condiment to flavor and moisten the sandwich. Although with its total of four ingredients this was a minimalist sandwich, it was made with flavorful vegetables and freshly baked bread, making for a great sandwich.


On a visit the next day, I again requested a vegetarian sandwich and was given a camembert sandwich. Like the crudite sandwich of the previous day, this sandwich had few ingredients, this time only slices of soft camembert and a baguette. The plain baguette was the perfect vehicle upon which to enjoy the creamy and slightly salty camembert.


It's good fortune that the first macaron to grace my tastebuds was one that I enjoyed as we walked through the Tuileries Garden towards the Louvre. The French macaron is not to be confused with the coconut macaroon that is very familiar in the United States, as this macaron consists of ganache encased between two meringue cookies. The fragile exterior of the meringue cookies gave way to a vibrant green interior that was moist and very sweet. Accompanied by the thin layer of pistachio ganache, this macaron was pretty tooth-achingly sweet. It had a nutty flavor that was only background to the heavy amount of sugar.

Banette
46 Rue Cardinal Lemoine
75005
Paris, France

2 comments:

chochotte said...

You might want to avoid any bakery selling Banette bread: Banette supply bakeries with industrially-made, frozen dough. This link explains a little more:
http://www.whytraveltofrance.com/2005/07/19/the-baguette-and-its-slow-extinction/

Afishionado said...

chochotte: That's a very interesting link. Thank you for sharing it with me, as I was unaware that Banette uses industrial frozen dough.

Although I had not known the source of Banette's bread, I could definitely tell the difference between Banette's bread and the bread from a true boulangerie such as Eric Kayser. Even just viewing the breads from the window, Eric Kayser's bread is multicolored deep browns from the different grains used in the dough and the heat from the oven. Additionally, Eric Kayser's bread is uniquely shaped, as evidenced when you compare the two baguettes I purchased from Eric Kayser (one was quite odd-shaped). Biting into the two different breads is fantastically different, in taste, texture, and even smell (which you can read about in my post of Eric Kayser). I can see why the line at Eric Kayser is always very long, but since this particular Banette is directly at the entrance of a Metro stop, I can also see why Banette has substantial traffic.