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Best French-style Baguette on Peninsula?

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goodeatsgal Feb 11, 2010 09:43 AM

I'm looking for a place on the Peninsula to buy an authentic French-style baguette. The kind that is skinny, crispy crunchy and caramel brown on the outside, with a chewy interior and irregular holes. The baguettes I had in Paris were so perfect. Most of the breads I've found that are called "baguettes" or "French bread" have soft exteriors and Wonder bread-like interiors. Has anyone found a great baguette on the Peninsula? Or am I just dreaming?

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  1. Ruth Lafler RE: goodeatsgal Feb 11, 2010 11:40 AM

    Where have you been looking? What have you tried? Where on the Peninsula are you?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler
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      goodeatsgal RE: Ruth Lafler Feb 11, 2010 11:56 AM

      I'm in Redwood City, but would be willing to travel between San Mateo and Palo Alto. I've tried the usual grocery stores - Whole Foods, Andronico's, Safeway - for brands like Acme, Grace and I forget the name but it comes in a blue and white bag. I've also tried the chain bakery, Le Boulanger. Many of the breads are bigger in circumference than a traditional baguette, and are often soft on the outside. They don't contain the combination of the crisp exterior/chewy interior.

      1. re: goodeatsgal
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        ceekskat RE: goodeatsgal Feb 11, 2010 12:13 PM

        Had a great sandwich last year at Douce France in Palo Alto, with crusty exterior & airy interior but not sure if they sell the baguettes.

        Best baguette i've had in the area was from Copenhagen Bakery in Burlingame (enjoy their hot cross buns too).
        http://www.copenhagenbakery.com/baker...

        1. re: goodeatsgal
          Ruth Lafler RE: goodeatsgal Feb 11, 2010 12:17 PM

          I'm really confused now. I've never seen an Acme baguette lumped into the category of having a soft exterior and Wonderbread-like interior.

          That said, the baguettes in the Bay Area are a slightly different style from French baguette, since they grew out of the local sourdough tradition. The only locally made baguette that reminds me of baguettes I've had in Paris is the French baguette from Feel Good Bakery in Alameda, which has a thinner, crisper crust and a different texture than Bay Area style baguettes.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler
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            goodeatsgal RE: Ruth Lafler Feb 11, 2010 12:40 PM

            Sorry - I didn't specifically mean that Acme is soft and Wonder bread like. While a good bread in its own right, I was just saying that even Acme didn't live up to my memory of what the baguettes in Paris were like. Ceekskat - I'll have to try Douce France and Copenhagen - thanks!

            1. re: Ruth Lafler
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              gnomatic RE: Ruth Lafler Jul 13, 2010 05:28 PM

              Awhile back I did a taste test of around 10 (including Acme, Thorough, Brioche, Bay Bread, Bakers of Paris, Italian-French, Arizmendi and a few others I can't even remember) mostly from SF, I found the Acme Rustic breads (including the baguette) to be the closest thing to what I had in Paris. However, they only sell that at the Berkeley & Ferry Terminal store. Their sweet baguette (what is found at Whole Foods, farmer's markets) isn't nearly as good.

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              Bay Bread
              2325 Pine St, San Francisco, CA 94115

              Arizmendi
              3265 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA

              1. re: gnomatic
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                goodeatsgal RE: gnomatic Aug 8, 2010 09:35 PM

                Thanks, gnomatic. I'll have to try the Acme Rustic next time I get up to the Ferry Plaza. So far, the baguette at Cocola has been my favorite. I've only bought it at the RC main bakery location, and when we went on a Saturday a few weeks ago at about 1:00 p.m. to pick up 6 baguettes for a party, they had only 3 left! The guy said that you have to get there early on weekends. And now I know.

        2. m
          mistressofspices RE: goodeatsgal Feb 11, 2010 01:20 PM

          Twist Bistro in Campbell serves the best baguettes outside of Paris. Hot from the oven they arrive at your table in small paper sacks. The crust is so crisp and light that it resembles an eggshell. The warm goodness inside is soft and buttery. These are supplied by Le Boulanger as half baked baguettes. They are the same diameter of the traditional baguette but only about 7inches long. They are divine!

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            chipman RE: goodeatsgal Feb 11, 2010 02:49 PM

            Look for the baguette from Bakers Of Paris. it is as close to an authentic french baguette as you can find. Call them and ask where the closest place on the Peninsula for you to shop.

            Bakers of Paris

            99 Park Lane
            Brisbane, CA 94005
            U.S.A.

            You can reach us at (415) 468-9100
            ext 2215

            2 Replies
            1. re: chipman
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              Sophiewells RE: chipman Jul 13, 2010 04:58 PM

              Bakers of Paris does sell a variety of breads in the Safeway in Redwood City.

              They have bread and pastries at the Whole Foods, Emerald Market, and Key Market in Redwood City.

              1. re: Sophiewells
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                stanbee RE: Sophiewells Aug 8, 2010 10:48 PM

                maybe because of climate, terroir local Baguettes are not as appropriately alveolized with the fine lung like cells that apotheosize these loaves with fire. Not to mention crust.

                Some claimants produce cottony "French" Bread, French in shape alone.

            2. t
              TropiCal RE: goodeatsgal Feb 11, 2010 07:35 PM

              I'm really happy with the baguettes at Cocola Bakery. When you break through the thin, crispy crust, you'll find a firm but light interior.

              There's a shop in RWC at 2810 Bay Rd. This is where they bake most of the goods for the other Cocola locations, so come with a bit of patience, as they're busy in the back kneading and mixing. Give it a try!

              2 Replies
              1. re: TropiCal
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                goodeatsgal RE: TropiCal Feb 12, 2010 08:10 AM

                Thanks, TropiCal! (Great name, too!) I hadn't heard of Cocola, but I stopped there this morning and bought a baguette (and, I couldn't resist, some other things). The baguette was really good. Not quite as crispy crunchy on the outside as I wanted, but there were definitely bits of crunch as I was chewing. The inside had the irregular holes and chewiness and texture that I like. There's a bit of a tang to the bread, but by no means is it a sourdough. I've probably inflated my memory of the baguettes in Paris, but this was definitely a good substitute.

                For those who are interested, they had a number of other pastries - croissants, macarons, eclairs, creme brulee, apple tarts, and more. I'm looking forward to trying them all! BTW, they didn't have the baguettes displayed in the shop (maybe it was too early?), but the person who helped me said they had plenty in the back. So be sure to ask. (You may have to wait a few minutes for someone in the back to notice you standing there; there wasn't a bell, but there's a large plate glass window between the front shop and the baking area.)

                1. re: goodeatsgal
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                  ceekskat RE: goodeatsgal Feb 12, 2010 09:33 AM

                  Thanks for reporting back. BTW, Cocola is set to open a branch at Stanford Shopping Center (if they haven't already done so). One of my favorite items there is the celery root salad. DD loves their chocolate pound cake. Also, RWC Costco had their macaroons for sale during the holidays, a bit sweet for my taste.

              2. l
                lk2eat RE: goodeatsgal Aug 27, 2010 01:16 AM

                If you ever head down to San Jose, the baguettes at L'Amour Des Baguettes are AMAZING!!!!!
                This place is a Vietnamese Bakery that makes baguettes all day everyday. They also make
                Vietnamese Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwiches) and they are SOOOO GOOOOOD. If you've
                never had one you should definitely try one!! Here's a link for more info:

                http://www.yelp.com/biz/lamour-des-ba...

                1. m
                  missdemo RE: goodeatsgal Aug 27, 2010 06:25 AM

                  I was delighted to see this post because the search for the perfect french style baguette is a passion of mine - and I am always looking for tips.

                  I do want to echo two recommendations in this post as being really worth seeking out:

                  Firstly is the the French baguette at Feel Good Bakery in the Alameda Marketplace. This one gets "top honors" from me - it is simply divine. When fresh it is perfect unadorned or with some Brebirousse d'Argental (purchased at the cheese store in the same market) what a combination!! And if you have any left over - it is still wonderful when sliced open and toasted up with butter and roasted garlic (which I always have in my fridge) mmmmm...

                  In a very respectable second place (originally first place but displaced by discovery of Feel Good Bakery!!) is Acme's Rustic Baguette. Lot's of places carry Acme's regular French Baguette - but you need to ask them to carry the rustic for you - there is no comparision. Their rustic is similiar in style to the Feel Good french,.. but this bread is more available outside the East Bay due to their distribution channels...

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                  Feel Good Bakery
                  1650 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

                  1. unclefishbits RE: goodeatsgal May 24, 2012 11:34 AM

                    Just got back from Paris, and now I am on the prowl. Asking this question gets a lot of different answers, because, like me, if you grew up here, our bread is the best, and there is a disconnect between our bread, and what "French baguette" really means. I am so desperate to find one. Copenhagen is always tasty...

                    (sorry to bump an old thread).

                    But this may help:

                    http://triroute.com/looking-for-the-b...

                    1. If you see rows of Braille-like dots on the bottom of the loaf, it’s been baked industrially – avoid at all costs

                    2. A good baguette should be sturdy and hold its shape when you pick it up

                    3. An inferior loaf will have a smooth appearance with regularly-spaced holes when sliced. It will taste ‘cottony’ and bland and will dissolve in the mouth.

                    4. A good baguette will have an ‘apricot-like’ aroma

                    5. A superior loaf will likewise have large, irregular holes inside and uneven coloration on the crust

                    6. The innards should be pale-ivory in color and be chewy.

                    7. Look for a sign that reads ‘Artisan Boulangerie’ in the bakery, indicating that the bread is baked on the premises.

                    8. Bakeries that have won the Grand Prix for making the best baguettes in Paris will also have signs affixed to their windows.

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