Kouign Aman in Paris - 12 arr. or reasonably close by
Bon soir, French chowhounds. My wife will be traveling in Paris with a friend this weekend and early into next week. I've given her the task, readily and quickly accepted, to find the best kouign aman in Paris. My sister-in-law has already suggested Laduree, and a Sept '10 posting on the France board suggested Hugo and Victor and Philippe Conticini's La Patisserie des Reves.
Wife and friend are keen to try out the pastry in its natural habitat (yes, yes, I know it's Breton; Paris at least is in France while we are in DC!) and would like to sample different version.
Merci for any and all suggestions.
75 Champs-Élysées, Paris, Île-de-France 75008, FR
There's a fairly new place on St Germain, at the Odeon metro, that specializes in kouign amann. They have the traditional version as well as other flavored varieties - pistachio, chocolate, rum raisin, etc. They also carry chocolates and other candies. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it's right on the corner of Blvd St. Germain and Rue Mazarine, next to the Indiana cafe. A bit far from the 12th, but might be worth the trip if you're really interested in this kind of pastry.
La Pâtisserie des Rêves's "kouign amann" is technically not a kouign-amann but some sort of caramelized flaky brioche. I don't believe in elegant interpretations of that earthy, extreme pastry. For that reason I wouldn't put two pennies on Ladurée's industrial version. Avoid trendy pâtissiers, reach for the source. You can find it in Paris. Two possibilities:
- Go to a good, vast supermarket or épicerie fine like Lafayette Gourmet, La Grande Epicerie du Bon Marché or Les Galeries Gourmandes (Porte Maillot). Go to the wrapped pastries department, where the pain d'épices and madeleines are. You're likely to find perfectly decent kouign-amann imported from Douarnenez, Brittany, in aluminum dishes covered with clear plastic wrap. You can also buy those at Chemins de Bretagne, 15 rue de Prague (12th). Reheat in oven, serve with hot tea, you couldn't find better in Paris.
- You could also try Larnicol's "kouignettes", small versions of the original, either plain or flavored with chocolate, pistachio, etc., (which in my opinion betrays the very notion of kouign-amann). Larnicol has a big store in Paris, boulevard Saint-Germain at Carrefour de l'Odéon. I find the shop on the verge of tacky and the kouignettes not really up to the real deal (a bit too hard and dry). Anyway Larnicol's shop is a branch of his Breton empire so I think it should be mentioned and perhaps you'll like what he does. But you're more likely to get the real taste and experience from the store-bought versions I mentioned above.
Right on, Pti. I would add, have a sense of what you are looking for. Some years back, i made one at home. Since the dough was yeasted, buttered and folded, I expected something like a sweet, round croissant, and was taken aback when it was much flatter and denser. Yes, the essence of butter and sugar, but certainly not light. More recently, in Brittany, I found that we had indeed produced a rather decent, in fact spectacular Kouign amann. You have to know the territory.
Here is more info on Larnicol from David Lebovitz. http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2011/01/larnicol-kouign-amann-in-paris/ plus his recipe for kouign aman: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/08/...
I've tasted them at Larnicol and concur with Ptipois. But I did not warm up the kouignettes. I'm sure they would have benefitted from a little heat and softening up.