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Really good french macaroons at Au Couer De Paris in Westminster (OC)

adamclyde Mar 17, 2011 08:35 PM

Has anyone been to this place on Edinger in Westminster? I first stopped not long after I moved here last year... The pastry chef is a young French guy, though the place is owned by Vietnamese. The owner made a point to making sure I understood it was a pure french bakery (eg pointing out his baguettes were NOT made with rice flour) and I did see the french pastry chef whipping a pate choux in the back quite vigorously.

All that said, he's near the heart of little saigon, so while the majority of their offerings are purely french, he did have a few of the standard Viet-French offerings too.

Overall, I liked it better than, say Boulangerie Pierre on Brookhurst.

I loved their pate chaud (pate choux filled with a viet meatball, (xui mai?). at only $1 a piece they are a great snack. I liked theirs better than the ones I've gotten at Banh Mi Che Cali, though I don't have many other local places to compare them to as I haven't tried many in town.

But the best thing I've tried there have been the french macaroons. Perfect and rich with almond sweetness. Creamy with a slight crunch to the exterior. I was really impressed. And they are beautiful too... green, pink, purple and brown... (pistachio, raspberry - I think, lavender and coffee).

I also liked the croissants the first time I went. Buttery and flaky. But the second time I went... they were terrible (both the regular and the chocolate croissant). Not even resembling the first. Not sure what the norm is... bad or quite good.

The baguettes were OK for what they are. (I'm still in search of a truly great bread bakery, and a baguette, in my opinion, is the hardest bread of all to get perfect, so I don't have unrealistic expectations.)

they do sell banh mi sandwiches at lunch time, as well as more traditional french sandwiches. However, I've only been there on Saturday mornings so I can't say whether they are any good or not. But those macaroons...

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    misseatalot RE: adamclyde Mar 17, 2011 09:27 PM

    Yes, Au Couer de Paris has good macaroons but what I like the most about this place is their almond croissant. Their almond croissant really has no words to describe it but I will try. It's almost like candy and pastry at the same time. It's a mound of buttery and flaky amazingness with a nice amount of marzipan. The heat of their oven bakes the marzipan and the croissant to a nice crispness and the marzipan and sugar almost carmelizes so it has a nice deep caramel flavor to it. Also their ice coffee is great and I really like their chicken banh mi. It's almost like a refreshing chicken salad on a french baguette.

    3 Replies
    1. re: misseatalot
      adamclyde RE: misseatalot Mar 17, 2011 09:49 PM

      Thanks for the almond croissant tip... definitely have to give it a try. On a related note, do you know of a place for consistently very good regular croissants? I've yet to get a great croissant in OC... but I'm sure they exist (I haven't searched extensively).

      1. re: adamclyde
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        misseatalot RE: adamclyde Mar 18, 2011 09:37 PM

        I haven't searched extensively either for croissants in the OC, but Au Couer de Paris is pretty consistent with theirs.

        1. re: adamclyde
          Professor Salt RE: adamclyde Mar 22, 2011 11:52 PM

          I like the croissants at ACdP, especially the almond ones which are as good as missealot describes. Also agree w/ you that the pate chaud are great. Very moist from plenty of onion mixed into the meat. It's not the rock-hard plug of meat that other places make. If you want to try a different pate chaud, try the fish ones at Corner View Bakery on Bolsa, across the street from Quan Hy and TK Food Warehouse. Pate chaud to avoid - Boulagerie Pierre's. Waaay greasy puff pastry.

          Try the regular croissants at Layer Cake Bakery in Irvine some morning. Crisp on the outside, pully-buttery on the inside.

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          Layer Cake Bakery
          4250 Barranca Pkwy Suite 1, Irvine, CA 92604

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        attran99 RE: adamclyde Mar 18, 2011 10:58 PM

        How much do they charge for the macarons?

        3 Replies
        1. re: attran99
          adamclyde RE: attran99 Mar 19, 2011 07:50 AM

          I can't remember for sure, but remember thinking it was a bit pricey. I think $1.25 each?

          1. re: adamclyde
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            attran99 RE: adamclyde Mar 19, 2011 09:07 AM

            $1.25 is not a bad price. They run for about $2 at Paulette in Beverly Hills. Euro Pane in Pasadena makes an amazing salted caramel macaron that's larger than the traditional size for $1.65 each. Thanks for the tip!

          2. re: attran99
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            wlo RE: attran99 Mar 19, 2011 11:34 PM

            was just there. bought a baguette and a chocolate macaron and paid less than $5. delicious on both accounts. will go back for the banh mi.

          3. Das Ubergeek RE: adamclyde Mar 20, 2011 02:13 PM

            Are the baguettes made fresh? A lot of the "French" bakeries in Little Saigon bake their baguettes, rice flour or no rice flour, from frozen, and it really affects the quality.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Das Ubergeek
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              wlo RE: Das Ubergeek Mar 20, 2011 02:32 PM

              I'm not sure, but it had the right mix of crusty on the outside and soft/spongy/chewy on the inside. Thinner than a lot of classic French baguettes, and definitely worth a taste test.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek
                adamclyde RE: Das Ubergeek Mar 20, 2011 08:57 PM

                It's been a while since I had the baguette. I remember it being above average, but don't recall it being revelatory. But again, I have a probably unrealistic expectation when it comes to pure baguettes.

                All that said, WLO has a more recent baguette tasting. I need to go back to check their croissants. My first was quite good, my second was just plain bad. Not sure what could possibly explain the complete difference in quality (saw the same french pastry chef there both times). Who knows. Maybe I'll try and check it out again tomorrow...

                1. re: adamclyde
                  Das Ubergeek RE: adamclyde Mar 21, 2011 09:07 AM

                  I usually buy my baguette from either Picket Lane or from Cream Pan... I am incredibly picky about them. When I want sourdough baguette I get it from Grampy Pat's.

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                  Cream Pan
                  602 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek
                    adamclyde RE: Das Ubergeek Mar 21, 2011 06:18 PM

                    I didn't try the baguette at Cream Pan... will have to next time. I have gotten a few from Picket Lane at the Irvine farmers market. They are good... I still haven't really found a great baguette down here though (but I know there are some great bakeries in LA I haven't tried). Like you, I'm really picky about the baguette. It needs to have a deeply colored crust, crackling crisp but (but still delicate... not crunchy hard!). And of course the crumb needs to have depth to its chew and flavor. A baguette, I think, must be the hardest of the artisan breads to really do, because I rarely find a great one... it's hard to find in any city, I think.

                    Where/what is Grampy Pat's?

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                    Cream Pan
                    602 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780

                    1. re: adamclyde
                      Das Ubergeek RE: adamclyde Mar 21, 2011 10:33 PM

                      It's a guy who bakes bread from a 120-year-old Alaskan sourdough starter that he brought down from, uh, Alaska. (Damn it, I hate it when I paint myself into a corner partway through a sentence.)

                      Really amazing sourdough in boules and baguettes, and only available Fri-Sun. I know for sure they're sold at Gallery on Glassell in the Orange Circle and also at Wine Exchange. They may sell at the Bruery Provisions too, I'm not sure. Will spoil Boudin for you for the rest of your life, but honestly Boudin had that coming.

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                      Wine Exchange
                      1500 E Village Way # 2368, Orange, CA

                      The Bruery Provisions
                      143 N Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
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                        exilekiss RE: Das Ubergeek Mar 22, 2011 12:01 PM

                        Hi Das,

                        The bread sounds awesome. :) So Sun - Thurs... is Grampy Pat's just closed? Or Wholesale only or something?

                        1. re: exilekiss
                          Das Ubergeek RE: exilekiss Mar 23, 2011 08:34 AM

                          It's not actually a place... I mean, of course it's a place, the bread has to get baked somewhere, but there's no retail space called "Grampy Pat's". You have to get it from Gallery on Glassell, Wine Exchange, or (maybe) Bruery Provisions, which is four doors or whatever up Glassell from the Gallery on Glassell.

                          My suspicion perhaps "Grampy Pat" has a day job, or maybe only access to the ovens on weekends.

                          I did a write-up about it. Obviously I can't link to it (that would be naughty), but you can find it if you search.

                          -----
                          Wine Exchange
                          1500 E Village Way # 2368, Orange, CA

                          The Bruery Provisions
                          143 N Glassell St, Orange, CA 92866

                          1. re: Das Ubergeek
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                            exilekiss RE: Das Ubergeek Mar 23, 2011 09:36 AM

                            Hi Das,

                            Ah! Thanks for the clarification. I thought you meant that in addition a place (Grampy Pat's), that they also sold them at the Gallery, Bruery Provisions, etc. Thanks.

              2. Das Ubergeek RE: adamclyde Mar 23, 2011 01:55 PM

                Well, that wasn't what I expected to find in Westminster...

                The owner is French—from the Île-de-France region—and his wife is Vietnamese (but also French-speaking).

                I agree with you—the macarons were really quite surprising, and I say this as someone who thinks macarons are the most useless dessert on the planet, mostly because they're always either bad (Pascal... what ARE those things?) or ridiculously stuck-up (Ladurée). These were neither bad nor stuck up; in fact they were very, very good. The raspberry ones are probably the best, and for the price, they're without peer in OC. I think the lavender-coloured one was cassis; it had no discernible lavender taste, so I doubt it's lavender.

                The baguette is baked twice a day, at 7:00 a.m. and at 10:00 a.m., for a total of 70 baguettes per day made, but they're open until 7:00 p.m. (I have to admit I was kind of hoping for the later baking to be closer to closing time, because baguettes are ticking time bombs.)

                I got the same story—no rice flour and baked from fresh, not frozen. I believe the latter, but not the former. The telltale crackle of rice flour crust was there, and it was so light and airy and white that it's hard to believe there's not even a trace of it in there. Either that, or he is not letting his baguettes rise slowly enough—there's not much taste there.

                I don't want to give the impression that I didn't like the baguette—I did—but stack one of Paris' baguettes next to one from Cream Pan (even though the latter is run by Japanese bakers) and you will see the immediate difference. Au Cœur de Paris' baguettes would go well with ca ri ga or bo kho, the Vietnamese chicken curry and beef stew that are sold on nearly every corner.

                They offer jambon-fromage and jambon-beurre, which is a surprisingly difficult thing to find in Southern California, given that it's butter and boiled ham (and cheese for jambon-fromage) on baguette.

                I want to try the baguette again to see if it's different at different times of day, or on different days. I always want to support French businesses, bien sûr, so we will have to see how it goes. I also want to see if they will serve tartine and café-crème, since there was « une toute petite machine à espresso » behind the counter.

                Incidentally, the signs on Edinger (what an empty stretch of road!) say "Paris Bakery", the parking spot mini-K-rails say "Le Versailles" and the sign above the door says "Au ♥ de Paris", if you look closely.

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                Cream Pan
                602 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780

                2 Replies
                1. re: Das Ubergeek
                  adamclyde RE: Das Ubergeek Mar 24, 2011 12:49 AM

                  It took me a few times to figure out what the actual name of the place was... I ended up just going with what they had on their business cards. It seemed the place has gone through a few iterations.

                  I am with you on the baguette. i find it better than most of the little Saigon places. But there is just not enough character to the crumb, and i like the crust with a deeper flavor and color too. The only time I went to the cream pan it was late, and i went to the restaurant. I definitely need to get back for the bakery.

                  I'd like to try the baguette on a banh mi, i just haven't ever gone for lunch. Someday soon...

                  1. re: adamclyde
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                    I got nothin RE: adamclyde Mar 25, 2011 12:44 PM

                    I tried their banh mi after reading these posts. I ordered the equivalent of a dac biet sandwich on the baguette for $2.50. Overall, I thought it was good, but a bit different than your typical banh mi. It was a little smaller than usual, should have ordered 2 in hindsight. I thought the bread was good, but I'm no baguette-ophile. At first glance it appeared to have all the standard toppings: pickled carrots, very thinly sliced cucumbers, cilantro and jalapeno. As I was eating it, there was one sour flavor to the sandwich that I couldn't quite figure out; then about half way through I realized that the white chunks, which I originally thought were pickled daikon, were actually slivers of onion. I like onion, but I can't recall seeing it in a banh mi. If the onion slivers were a little thinner, the taste probably wouldn't have drowned everything else out quite as much. I also thought it could have used more jalapeno, because I like to feel a little burn to balance everything out in the sandwich. Again, it was a good sandwich that I'll try again when I go back to get more macaroons. I'll need to try the sandwich a few more times in order to accurately gauge it against the competition.

                    I'm not really a dessert guy, but those coffee macaroons were awesome. I'll have to give the croissants a try too.

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