Paris via Vermont Part 2: Bohemian Bakery

 

If the secret to French cooking is butter (and I’m pretty sure it is), that explains the succès fou of the croissants at Bohemian Bakery in Montpelier, Vermont.

Add a chic, luminous space with white walls and bentwood chairs, espresso worth standing in line for, and a wooden coffee bar that overlooks a modest side street—and you might think you’ve stumbled into a pâtisserie near the Canal St Martin in Paris.

In the French tradition, Bohemian’s croissants are made with butter. Their motto, “Tout le beurre…tout le temps, All butter…all the time” hangs on a chalkboard just inside the front door.

The alchemy that results from layering sheets of butter with yeast-infused dough and folding the layers over themselves again and again is what sets these croissants apart. The plump, flaky pastries have moist, multi-layered insides and deeply-toasted, crunchy outsides.

While Bohemian’s butter croissant is almost ethereal in its flakiness, their almond croissant is a more solid confection. Nearly twice the size and heft of its cousin, it’s filled with almond paste, studded with slivered almonds, and coated in confectioner’s sugar.

A third variation—and my favorite—is the kouign amann (pictured above, pronounced “queen ahmahn”). This little jewel is both delicate and lavish. Its secret? Le beurre, naturellement, and more of it.

Bohemian’s black-aproned bakers (another French tradition is an on-site bakery) fill the center of a square of croissant dough with additional butter, pinch the corners together to seal in the sweetness, and sprinkle top and bottom with sugar and bit of salt.

The pastry that emerges from the busy oven has an intensely caramelized, almost glassy outside, and an exquisitely tender, sweet, rich inside.

Ahhh, Paris… Bohemian does you proud!

Have you had the croissants at Bohemian? What did you think?

Paris via Vermont: Beau Butchery and Bar

 

A surprise and a delight on an unassuming side street in Montpelier (Vermont), Beau Butchery and Bar reminds me of a Paris wine bar, where high quality food and drink are served simply, and the clientele are regulars.

I return most often for the charcuterie. One night recently, my husband and I tucked into silky chicken liver pâté, traditional pork rillettes, and marvelous house-smoked salmon, accompanied by a lesser-known French wine from the Jura mountains.

Nearby, two women gossiped over plates of French Kiss oysters and glasses of cava. One of the women works down the street, and stops in at least once a week.

Across the narrow room, a couple who had left their young kids at home sat at a table fashioned from an ironing board. They celebrated their freedom with mid-century cocktails, oysters, and bowls of long-simmered beef broth, brimming with noodles and fermented cabbage. Beau is their favorite date-night spot.

Home cooks came and left in a steady stream, lining up at the meat counter for dry aged, pastured pork, cut-to-order Vermont beef steaks, locally grown roasting chickens, hand cut bacon, and jars of nutrient-rich broth. Jules, Beau’s co-owner and affable butcher, offered cooking tips and asked after friends and family members.

With seating for 10, shelves of vintage glassware, bovine artwork, and stacks of meat-centric cookbooks for browsing, Beau is indeed beau — beautiful — a bit of urban Paris in small town Vermont.

Are you interested in exploring French cuisine in Paris or Montreal? Check out our Montreal Gardens and Gastronomy weekend in June, and Authentic Flavors of Paris tour in October!