Update: Breads at Au Coeur de Paris in Westminster
when I first came here mid year last year (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/772839) I was impressed by their macarons and pate chaud. But I was mixed about their baguette. It was better than most of the places in Westminster... a little more like a french baguette, but not quite. I liked the chocolate and almond croissants as well (though was really disappointed in a subsequent visit).
I went again today and it was better than it had ever been before. The pate chaud was great, the pistachio macaron was really, really good and the croissants were better than before. Not great, but I am yet to find a great croissant in the southland (admitting though that I haven't traversed LA for them).
But today they had a bread I hadn't seen there before. Shaped like a baguette, but deep, dark brown, like a real european bread. I asked about it... (they still claim that their normal baguette has no rice flour), but they said it's a "traditional bread." Whatever they call it, it has the best crust I've had for any bread in Orange County by far. This bread was still a little warm, so it was clearly fresh. But the crust was cracklingly crisp without being overly chewy. I was totally impressed. (See the attached pictures).
Now for the bad part. The interior of the bread was uninspiring. The crumb was a little too uniform and dense, without much character, which means they aren't giving the dough time to develop the needed character. Which is a total bummer, because the crust is just so, so good. At any rate, it beats the pants off of any bread you can get regularly in the area.
Oh, and they had a really nice pain d'epi there too for your next dinner party.
I don't know their bread schedule (and failed to ask) but I had their "traditional" loaf at 8 a.m. on a saturday morning. Hoping it's a daily thing.
Au Coeur de Paris
9441 Edinger Ave, Westminster, CA 92683
This is very encouraging, thanks for the report, adamclyde! The first two pictures look like an attempt at "baguette tradition", the more expensive of the two baguettes sold in Parisian bakeries. The regular kind ("baguette normale") I found to be very flimsy and Little Saigon-ny but I haven't been in months.
The best baguette tradition I've found in OC has been from Cream Pan in Tustin; the best sourdough baguette I've found has been from Grampy Pat's in Orange; the best baguette normale I've found came as a tartine at Jean-Paul's Goodies in Laguna Beach, but I don't know if he bakes them or buys them in, because he gets cranky when I ask questions.
As for your croissants—it depends what you want in your croissants. If you want crackling-crisp crust that is impossible to eat neatly, go to Christopher Garren in Costa Mesa; if you want the butter flavour to be more important than the crust, buy your croissants (freshly made, which means ordering them, since they don't have a retail storefront) from Picket Lane Bakery.
602 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780
re: Das Ubergeek
Man, that reminds me that I still need to get to the Cream Pan for bread. Shame on me.
I liked grampy pat's, though I didn't really like his crust. I bought it from him (or someone who works for him) at the Orange farmers market saturday morning though so it could have suffered from sitting for too long. I need au coeur de paris's and Grampy Pat's breads to have a love child resulting in the former's crust and the latter's crumb.
Croissants. My problem is exactly that... I have to choose between crisp, delicate crust and wonderful buttery flavor. I want both, dangit!! (haven't tried picket lane's, but I get some of their stuff at the Irvine farmers market. Will have to try their croissant). FWIW, my benchmark for a great croissant is Tartine's in SF. Perhaps an unrealistic benchmark, but still (a picture for reference: http://www.foodnut.com/i/Tartine-Bake...). Man, those are amazing...
602 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780