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Best Pastry Shops in the World?

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46 replies to this topic

#31 Explorer

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 03:51 PM

We were at Payard recently, and spent a good hour savoring several deserts and goodies. He definitely seems to have a high volume operation, bordering on service anarchy as Lesley hinted. There were some very creative pieces that I had not seen before, perhaps one of out of six failed to impress us, but in the US market, I would say that operation would rank highly.

How come nobody's saying anything about Torres?

Michael- Congratulations on the Bon Appetit feature. By the way, really- that chocolate caramel tartlet looks great, but- how many amateurs at home would really make it? It was probably the most complicated recipe of them all. I will choose driving to Detroit rather than making it at home. My wife jumped on Davis Guas's cheesecake recipe by saying "I found an easy cheesecake recipe- I am gonna make it right now". Not that we don't appreciate challenges, but I am curious as to how you decide or they decide what recipes to feature?

Question to the professionals: At what volume point does it become extremely difficult for a patisserie to maintain the "artisan style" of pasty making?

Since we are on that same topic, went to Rahier in Toronto today and had a bunch of several things ... not that I was a big fan previously- but there's something going downhill over there.

Sinclair, are you sure the room temperature wasn't more than room temperature? Which Senses was it? Tor or Vcr? Note that Thomas Haas is in Vancouver only. His awards so far are not too shabby, and I think he's up and coming.
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#32 nightscotsman

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 06:24 PM

How about the Bellagio in Vegas? I realize they are working in HUGE volume, but I'm told the quality is very high. Can anyone confirm or deny?

By the way, I asked Jacquy Pfeiffer to post some comments on the "French Chefs moving to the US" topic, and he said he would be happy to. Michael - were you going to start that thread?

#33 Michael Laiskonis

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 11:52 PM

Look here for loufood's summary of Herme's latest offerings.

nightscotsman, I'll work on that new topic this morning. There are so many interesting facets open to discussion... and it would be great to get Jacquy in here for his perspective!

And thanks for the kind words, Explorer. If you did make the drive, you wouldn't likely see that tart! Had you been at Susur when we were in town last month, you would have gotten a much more exciting series of tastes!

With regard to Payard, it seems with each visit, I'm less impressed than I was on the previous visit. I could attribute that to any number of factors, so I wouldn't say there has been necessarily any drop in quality. But his style, as Lesley noted, is decidedly French.

As for Torres, I think he has, in a very delibrate and calculated way, decided to market his product more toward the masses, sort of a 'give them what they want' attitude. While he may not be shooting for 'world class', at the same time he's probably educating some of those same folks, introducing them to a certain higher level they were unaware of. I've only been there once, but world-class... no. And he is now primarily a chocolatier anyway. Regardless of any compromises he makes, be they real or perceived, he still commands the respect of his peers, because he is showing us, by example, one more direction pastry chefs can take their knowledge and craft.
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#34 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 06:25 AM

Explorer-it was January of this year, we we're skiing at Whistler/Blackcomb. We took the day off and drove down to Vancouver for sightseeing. The Senses I went to was a small shop in a hotel. It was not hotter then room temp.. we're cool weather people-the car heater was not on.

#35 Explorer

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 06:36 AM

Sinclair- The reason I was struck by your comment is that a mousse cake (not chocolate) should be eaten chilled or cool NOT at room temperature. Chocolate cakes or chocolates taste in general best at room temperature. Sorry that your judgement got you in trouble.

Lesley- On second thoughts, don't you think that one of the logical requirements for a "world class" pastry shops is that it be driven by a pastry chef or owner. This is why for e.g. a place like Senses wouldn't qualify. And the same should apply to ohers.

Michael- I was just kidding a little about the level of difficulty. I didn't attend Susur's event because my last experience at this place left a sour taste in my mouth.
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#36 Lesley C

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 07:26 AM

Yes, good point. The pastry shop should be owned operated by a world-class pastry chef with a unique vision. There are lots of good pastry chefs out there copying Herme and the like. But in the same way a good restaurant is about a chef's style, so is a patisserie. throw in all the usual suspects -- lemon tarts, eclairs etc -- but you also have to have a line of entermets that are original to the house.

#37 Peter B Wolf

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 11:07 AM

Cafe Kranzler in Berlin
Kreuzkamm and Dallmayr in Munchen/Munich
Schafheutle in Heidelberg
Confiserie Haller in Mittenwald/Bavaria


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Posted 31 August 2003 - 04:50 PM

I've heard good things about Vanille Patisserie in Chicago. Has anyone had the chance to visit their shop yet?

#39 nightscotsman

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Posted 01 September 2003 - 08:53 AM

Vanille just opened a few weeks ago and I haven't made it there yet, but our instructors brought in some of their stuff for us to sample. Based on the tart and petit fours we tasted, I would say they may be the new best in Chicago (certainly better than Bittersweet, which we also sampled), but I would have to see more to tell if they were "world-class".

OK - the passion fruit tart filling was excellent, but we thought the crust was a bit too thick.

#40 mjc

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 07:21 AM

I don't know if you would consider it world class, but I think that Michel Willaume is doing more interesting work at Mondrian, than you can find at payard.
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#41 jschyun

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 10:05 PM

In regards to the Citizen Cake (San Fran) query, I feel this doesn't qualify as a world class pastry shop. I go here occasionally and am always struck by how much I am paying for what is essentially a cylinder/slice of buttercream. The tarts are good, but as I wouldn't consider it as good as L'Aduree and as I know that there's (got to be) places better than L'Aduree, I say nay.

As far as Sen5es in Vancouver is concerned, when I went there, it had just opened, so I think I got the best quality they have to offer. Also, the one time we went, we got only the small cakes, which I think go faster than the large ones, thus keeping the quality up, although it might have been irrelevant for us, since we basically opened the shop. Someone said their mousse was room temp, but ours was cold, in a chocolate crunchy shell. But if you are saying that you've gotten bad stuff from them, this is unacceptable, especially considering how expensive they are. That is not world class behavior. Their croissants are totally disgusting.

As for chocolates, Thomas Haas is good, but not first class, in my opinion. I've only been to a couple of chocolate places in Europe (Chocolats Rohr, La Fontaine au Chocolat, some other ones I forgot the name of). But even the crappiest pieces I had in France or Geneva outshined the stuff that Thomas Haas has to offer. Plus his chocolates are so small, it's not much of an experience. And it's expensive as heck.

I like the Kron shop in Beverly Hills for odd shaped chocolate truffles but it's exceptionally pricey. ($25 for a small bag when I last went). They do have those sex chocolates though, you know, the ones that help the female libido. I have often contemplated getting those... :laugh: The best deal here is to grab a handful of the free samples and run.
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#42 KatieLoeb

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 10:14 PM

Katie- Isn't the Sacher such a soothing and pristine experience? Although I was there many years ago, I almost remember it like yesterday.

Indeed! Makes you feel like a member of the Empire, or maybe the long lost Hapsburg heir for those last few delusional monarchists out there :biggrin: . Truly one the nicest experiences I can think of. Service is IMPECCABLE, everyone is dressed appropriately and on their very best behavior. It's like you can look around the room and suddenly imagine yourself there a hundred years before, and the only difference would be the fashions.

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#43 Louisa Chu

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 11:12 AM

How about the Bellagio in Vegas? I realize they are working in HUGE volume, but I'm told the quality is very high. Can anyone confirm or deny?

Where in the Bellagio? My friend, Frederic Larre - or just Freddy - is the pastry chef at Le Cirque and Circo there. We had a dessert tasting - with wine pairing - amazing stuff. Two particularly memorable elements - a Campari granita and tarte with a rasberry chiboust - I'm a sucker for chiboust. Beautiful quality - especially given that they'll easily serve 500 there on a busy night.

#44 Louisa Chu

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Posted 03 September 2003 - 11:24 AM

It is Hevin. It's definitely a chocolaterie, but he does sell pastries.

Just stopped in and they do have about a dozen different pastries year-round - strong emphasis on chocolate of course. The only pastry they've stopped doing for the season is rasberry. And then on Saturdays only they do eclairs and millefeuille in chocolate and coffee.

#45 schneich

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Posted 16 September 2003 - 06:51 AM

My favorite is L'Aduree in Paris for their macarons (oh yes), damn good little cakes, lovely lemon curd tartlet.  I had a wild strawberry tart but both times, the strawberries were a little old.

Second is Fauchon in Paris.  Pate de fruits are awesome (fruit gems on steroids).  They have a great little cakes section, that had a fabulous chocolate mousse in a molded chocolate shell.  They had other stuff, but that stands out in my mind.

laduree ROX !!!! just try a simple croissant and your in heaven (bets corissant in town)
the hot chocolate is THICK AS SYRUP !!!!

(pictures to follow) :-)

macaroons too sweet in ma eyes but done very well...

fauchon has seen better days for sure but the spice department is great
(the guy behind the spicecounter is cool & can give you hints to other spice places in paris) ;-)

vis a vis is "hediard" which is EONS better...

gotta go to "poilane" 4 the worlds best sourdogh bread... :wub:
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#46 KarenS

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Posted 17 September 2003 - 08:29 PM

I like the bread at Ganachaud. Bay Bread in SF (on Pine) is a great bakery. Excellent bread and pastries (they even sell canelles).

#47 artisanbaker

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Posted 15 October 2003 - 12:04 PM